Saturday, April 16, 2011

Board Game Review: Princess Bride 'Storming the Castle'

Today, I will be reviewing the board game based on the film The Princess Bride. This game is called 'Storming the Castle,' and the players in this game are attempting to storm the castle. The winner is the first to reach the castle.

Here's how it works. The ratings:

Strategy: 2
Randomness: 4
Complexity: 2
Humour: Derivative.
Attractiveness: Average.
Expected Length of Game Play: 30 minutes.

Play starts with each player selecting a character token. There are four from which to choose: Wesley, Buttercup, Fezzik, and Inigo. Each player also draws a number of terrain tiles (the number varies). These are arranged in a row leading from the player to the Castle tile in the centre of the table. Thus, the board is a cross (if there are four players; 3 players means the board is a T shape and 2 players means the board is just a straight line). They place their character on the terrain tile furthest from the castle. Finally, they draw a hand of five action cards.

Turns consist of a player taking four actions. An action may be used to move one terrain tile forward, or to play an action card. However, most terrain tiles require a certain card to be discarded in order to enter it (for example, you must play the 'Climbing Gear' or 'Dagger' card in order to enter the 'Cliff Top' terrain tile). Playing this card counts as part of the move, so even though you're playing a card to enter a new terrain tile, it only counts as one action (moving), not two (moving and playing a card).

In addition to being used to enter new terrain tiles, most cards can also be used for a specific effect. Many cards don't allow movement at all; they just have an effect.

The winner is the first player to reach the castle at the centre.

The cards and tiles are very durable, made of a high quality plastic-like paper, each printed with an image from the film. However, the durable nature of the card makes it somewhat unattractive, as well as unpleasant to hold because of its rough texture. The character tokens aren't well constructed either; the bases did not fit securely to the tokens themselves, and we ended up having to lay the tokens flat instead of trying to stand them up.

More annoying than this, however, is the annoying nature of gameplay. Many of the card combinations made no sense (for example, why does the '65 Silver' card allow you to bypass terrain tiles occupied by an 'R.O.U.S.' card?), and some were just confusing (the 'Ravine Floor' terrain can only be entered by a few very difficult methods, but the text on the card is misleading AND conflicts with the description in the rules).

In searching for the errata, I discovered that the game had originally been called 'Temple of the Monkey.' It was the same sort of thing; terrain tiles must be navigated using cards to get to the temple at the centre. However, the game was ham-fistedly translated to a Princess Bride knock-off with no concern for logic or setting. The producers simply took the game, gave everything a different name, and called it a day. Just as one example, the 'Parachute' card was renamed the 'Dagger' card. So it makes sense how, in the original game, you could use the 'Parachute' to jump off the 'Cliff' to move two tiles ahead. But how does it make sense for the 'Dagger' card to allow you to move two tiles ahead from the 'Cliff Top?'

Anyway. If you're just looking for pretty pictures from a really good film, this game does deliver. If you want game play, however, you might want to look elsewhere.