Review by Mark Jackson on a review copy provided by Fireside Games (4 plays with The Dark Titan, 13 plays with The Wizard’s Tower, 11 plays with the base game alone)
When last we left the heroes of Castle Panic, they were under siege from a torrent of new and more powerful monsters. Though ably assisted by a wizard (who insisted on having his own extra-tall tower with a forest view), things were getting pretty dicey for the good guys as the difficulty of defending the poorly-named castle was increased with each extra Mega-Boss.
As is the way of all bureaucracies, there’s always somebody above you. In the case of the Mega-Bosses, it’s Agranok, The Dark Titan. (He likes it when his title is capitalized – it makes him feel all warm & fuzzy.) He has finally escaped from exile… and boy is he ticked about the lack of room service and other amenities in the Void.
So, he’s replaced some of the weaker monsters with new Elite monsters (and one Boom Troll loaded with explosives)… and coupled with the Heralds of his arrival and his own innate abilities, the beleaguered castle faces an even greater foe. Thankfully, there are new resources for the heroes as well – if they can only get past the monsters laying siege to Castle Panic!
It’s a Sickness
The Jackson family continues to love cooperative games – from the dexterity silliness of HABA’s Castle Knights to the theme-rich card play of Sentinels of the Multiverse, it’s a pretty decent chance that a cooperative game hits the table here on a regular basis. (I just counted – we have 29 different cooperative games/game systems in our collection. Yes, it’s possibly a sickness.)
I liked the base game of Castle Panic – but I really thought that the Wizard’s Tower expansion kicked the game into high gear. (For more details on this, you can read my glowing review published here on the Opinionated Gamers back in the day.)
So, what about The Dark Titan? The classic game expansion questions loom before us:
– What’s in the box?
– Is it any good?
– Does it “jump the shark”?
– Do I really need to own this?
What’s In the Box?
It’s not a big box – but the folks at Fireside Games managed to pack in a selection of new monster & event “triangles”, as well as new cards for the base deck and the cards & pieces you need to face off against The Dark Titan himself, Agranok. (I’ll take a moment here to note that the monster/event tiles are not strictly triangles – drawing one of these in geometry class would not get you a passing grade – but “triangle” is the closest geometric figure I can come up with.)
There’s also a rulebook, which does a nice job of explaining how to use the expansion with the base set or with both the base set & the Wizard’s Tower expansion. (Much like Wizard’s Tower, you’re going to be removing some of the tiles in order not to imbalance the game.)
Our favorite new “hero helper” is The Cavalier – who can galavant about and sacrifice himself (“the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one”) to save the imperiled castle.
And it all fits nicely in the base box along with the first expansion. (I hide the “abandoned” pieces under the box insert, just in case I ever decide to put them back in the game. I know, I know… I could end up on an episode of Hoarders.)
Is it any good?
Short Answer: Yes.
Long Answer: Yes, as it gives you more balls to juggle (and/or tougher monsters to exterminate). And as far we can tell with four plays under our belt, it doesn’t throw the game out of balance.We’ve tried it with 2, 3, 4 and 6 players – and with Agranok set on Levels 1, 2 & 3 – and it worked well at all of those configurations. (Note: Agranok has 5 levels of difficulty… 6 if you count the promo card given out by Fireside Games. Pick your own level of nastiness – or let fate decide by shuffling them together.)
Does it “jump the shark”?
I don’t think so… while it adds some new wrinkles (in the form of new monsters & events), it doesn’t overburden the game system.My biggest concern when I unpacked the box was that Agranok would be so “big” that his appearance would unhinge the game in some way – a fear that proved to be false. (Of the four games we’ve played, our least stellar performance – a crushing loss – happened before the Dark Titan even reared his ugly head.)
Do I really need to own this?
Fireside Games Answer: Of course you do!
Opinionated Gamers Answer: If you enjoy Castle Panic, this is a well-designed, good-looking expansion to the base game with or without the Wizard’s Tower. I don’t think it’s essential (counter-example: Core Worlds: Galactic Orders is an essential expansion) – but I’m very glad it’s part of my set. As well, The Dark Titan is inexpensive enough that I would buy a copy if Fireside Games hadn’t kindly provided one.
As is typical of most expansion reviews, a caveat is in order: if you didn’t like Castle Panic to start with, The Dark Titan is unlikely to convince you to change your mind. On the other hand, fans of the game will find new challenges and interesting twists that don’t overwhelm the solid engine of the base game.
To the walls! Never give up… never surrender!