Castle Keep - a Keeper

Castle Keep is a tile placement game of luck, strategy and significant fun, for 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up.

There are 90 cardboard tiles (thick, colorful). There are three different kinds of tiles (corner pieces called "towers"), side pieces ("walls"), and central pieces ("keeps"). There are three different shapes of corner and side pieces (straight, zigzag and curvy), and three different colors. You start with any four of them. Your goal: build a complete castle of 9 tiles, with all the outside, adjacent tiles of the same color or shape, and a "keep" whose color matches any tile in the castle. Your other goal: destroy your opponent's castle. Accomplish either, and you win the game.

OK, so destroying an opponent's castle is a little harder than building your own. Well, it should be. You have to have a wall or corner tile that exactly matches (color and shape), and two Keep tiles of the same color as your opponent's Keep.

You might want to be careful about building a castle whose walls are both the same color and shape as their towers. Granted, it's a lot prettier. But there's a price for beauty: if one piece gets attacked, and adjacent pieces are the same color and shape, they are also, well, shall we say "obliterated?"

The two-player version is just different enough (you only build one castle, and try to be the player to complete it) to make it, well, different - different enough to make you have to find a different strategy in order to win. Which makes it like having two different games. And then there's a solitaire version. And then there are variations.

Designed by Richard D. Reece, Castle Keep has just enough strategic elements to entice the serious game player, just enough luck to keep everyone, adults and kids, from getting too serious to know when they're having fun, and is just long enough (around 20 minutes) to keep people deeply and happily engaged.

A definite keeper of Major FUN proportions.

A claimer (I was going to day "disclaimer," but it seemed too negative): rumors have it that Gamewright, the manufacturer of this certifiably Major FUN Award-Winning game, has contracted with Major FUN, him- (and my-) self, to produce a new card game actually designed by the aforementioned. Though these rumors are rumored to be true, this exceptionally good news for all fun kind has in no way impacted the impartiality and integrity of this reviewer. Castle Keep is a game worth keeping, no matter who manufactures it. And that's the troof.

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