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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Thursday, 3 August 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Castles of Caladale

GameCastles of Caladale

Publisher: Renegade Games

DesignerDavid Wilkinson

Castles of Caladale is a title from Renegade Games. Renegade are certainly gaining a reputation as a publisher to watch, with many reviewers saying that they can do no wrong. So, rightly or wrongly, I was interested in Castles of Caladale, not  only based on publisher reputation, but also because the production of this game looked fantastic, with great artwork and even a box that game in its own sleeve. So, is this another hit from Renegade?

Castles of Caladale is a tile laying game for 1-4 players, where you each try to build the best castle with three types of castle tiles; Fairies, Tudor and Stone. There are two different variants in the box, as well as a solo variant, but typically you are trying to ensure that you can place every tile you pick up into a position in your castle where the 'terrain' matches on all sides, then you want to ensure that at the end of the game the edges of your castle are complete, rather than open and that you have lots of flags near the top of your castle to score points.

Every player gets a grass strip which limits the horizontal extent of their castle. Players then take turns to select a tile from the central face-up supply of nine tiles and add this to their castle, only building in sports which are structurally sound and where the 'terrain' matches. Some tiles have two types of terrain which allows you to switch the types your building and ultimately your castle will probably contain all three terrain types. If you really can't place a tile then you can flip it over and it will be worth one fewer point at the end of the game. When all tiles have been drawn you have one last chance to rearrange and try to ensure that all edges of the castle are completed.

A completed castle, which has no open edges.
In the speed variant, players start with an equal proportion of all the tiles face up in front of them. You can swap tiles with tiles in the central supply but ultimately, it's a race to build the best castle. When someone grabs the 30 second timer there's 30 seconds to make the best of what you have. All tiles must be kept face-up in this variant adding a small amount of difficulty, but it's still pretty easy to complete a castle. The speed variant can also probably be abused by a player who hoards all of the flags and then starts building as best they can.
The central supply.
In positive news, the castles you create always look really nice, but that's probably all the positives I have to say about it. The game doesn't feel like much of a game at all, there's no real difficulty there because not only can you flip a tile if you dot want to use it in your castle, you can also rearrange the castle at any time. We tried the speed variant to make sure that rearranging was penalised, but even without rearranging the game just seems too easy. Points are primarily scored for the number of tiles placed and since you both place the same number, the game always seems to end up with a one or two point lead getting the victory either due to one more open edge or one more flag at the top.

As you can tell, I'm really disappointed with Castles of Caladale. Perhaps it would be a fun, educational, matching activity with very young children but I just can't see it as a game for gamers or even for any adults. I so want it to be a good tile laying game with such awesome art work, but it's not and it's actually already left our collection. From the Yellow Meeple it's a 4/10 for Castles of Caladale.

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