Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 1 August 2017

My castle has a tiled floor:- Castles of Caladale

GameCastles of Caladale

Publisher: Renegade Games

DesignerDavid Wilkinson

Castles of Caladale is a 1-4 player tile laying game in which you attempt to build a functional castle out of the wreckage of several previous castles, which evidently weren’t very functional as they are now piles of modular scrap. The game is either turn based or real time with you rushing to rotate and place your tiles to create a castle faster than your opponents while trying not to have spare tiles left over at the end or gaping holes in the side of your castle.

There are three castle types in the game, a traditional medieval stone design, a tudor design built by gnomes, or the enchanted forest preferred by fairies. The building rules have lots of nuances, but they can be summarised in 2 rules. 1) Don’t build anything that wouldn’t logically work (bridges that extend with no support on the other side, or sky touching a wall etc) and 2) the edge of each tile must connect to the same type as castle as the edges of each adjacent tile. There are plenty of tiles which allow you to change from one castle type to another, in fact a good chunk of the gameplay is disassembling and reassembling your castle to allow your newest tile to fit.

If you are playing turn based then you will be taking one tile at a time, either from the face up supply or at random, then adding it to your castle or flipping it upside-down if you can’t place it. At any time you are free to break and remake your castle to allow your new tile to fit. The game will end once there are no tiles in the supply, at which point you turn a 30 second timer giving players a last chance to finish their construction. At the end of the game you score 2 points for every tile in your castle, 1 point for every tile you couldn’t place and flipped upside-down and zero points of you had a tile you didn’t commit to flipping, but couldn’t place. You then get bonus points for placed flags, then lose points for leaving exposed edges on your castle and for using your wild card.

A "Functional" castle with no exposed edges and 2 flags
My preferred way to play is the speed variant, in this you are dealt out a supply of ~20 face down tiles, depending on player count. The supply board is built up with a selection of tiles which you can, at any point, exchange for one of the tiles in your building pool. You then have to build as quickly as possible, at any time a player may turn over the 30 second timer and trigger the end of the game at which point it’s scored as usual. Oh and if you made a mistake in construction, e.g. by connecting some fairy tree directly to stone castle, your castle falls apart, which is extremely painful to anyone standing below your castle, as well as your final score!

Castles of Caladale  is a pretty game, the tiles have wonderful vibrant art and the castles you build are always interesting. It’s unfortunate that I don’t like the game very much. The turn-based variant is too easy, you end up with everyone being able to build a competent castle which inevitably leads to draws, or someone getting victory simply because they had more opportunity to collect flags. The speed variant is better, but then the tiles you have are completely random, sure you can exchange, but if you get stuck and the tile you desperately need has been dealt to your opponent then there’s nothing you can do. The reality is Castles of Caladale has attempted to be 2 games with the speed and turn based modes, and as a result has failed to refine either. Resulting in 2 fairly average game modes. There are far better turn based tile laying games, and better quick-thinking logic games, so unfortunately Castles of Caladale isn’t staying on our shelf.


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