Robert Thompson is the owner and operator of KidRealm Camps, a summer camp focused on gaming and creativity in Chantilly, VA. He’s also the designer of Castle Combat, a self-published CCG for kids that takes place in the world of Sagaheim. I first saw the game at Toy Fair in 2013. I took home a sample card, and wrote Rob to see if I could get some cards to review. I’ve been playing with my kids ever since.
Recently Rob revamped Castle Combat in what he’s called the New Age of Sagaheim. Rules have been clarified, cards look better, and there’s new tournament Rules. The game has come a long way since I first found out about it, and Rob continues to support the product with new releases.
At it’s core Castle Combat is very basic, it’s War. Of course it’s not that simple. Each player has their own deck which is constructed using collectible cards and follows a few rules.
- You can use up to two different color cards. There are red, blue, yellow, brown, orange, purple, green, and black armies. You can also add in neutral grey cards as long as they follow the rest of the deckbuilding rules.
- Your deck can only be comprised of Good Guys or Bad Buys. No mixing!
- Decks are made up of 16 cards. Half of these can be Legendary. (Older cards that were Rare or Uncommon are now considered Legendary)
Every Castle Combat card has a battle value, special power, and traits. The battle value is just that, how powerful the card is. Each turn you’ll play a card and roll a d6. Add the die to the battle value and if it’s higher than your opponent’s battle value your card goes into your winner pile, while your opponent’s card goes into their dungeon. Of course there’s special powers that can change the basic rules. Sometimes you may roll 2d6 and take the highest number, or lowest, and add it to your value. Some cards go to the winner pile if they have the lowest value in a battle. Some cards call for an Epic Battle where players lay all 3 cards from their hand on the table to fight. The list goes on and on.
At the start of the game you’ll draw three cards from your deck to form your hand. Each turn players place a card face down, flip them over at the same time, and resolve the battle as I’ve described above. A new card is drawn after that, and play continues. As you the game goes on you’ll build up your dungeon pile and winner pile. Once your deck runs out you shuffle your winner pile and it becomes your new draw pile. Play continues until one player’s cards are all in their dungeon and they can’t continue. The other player is then declared the winner.
If Castle Combat where all just battle value and dice rolls it’d fall pretty flat. The game really shines with all the card’s special powers, and all the combos you can create with a well built deck. Just like any CCG, there’s tons of strategies to use, and different types of decks to build.
If you had asked me about the quality of the cards before Rob released the New Age of Sagaheim set, I’d give you a very mixed reaction. Cards weren’t always cut perfectly, art was inconsistent, and sometimes very pixelated of jaggy around the edges. Text was always readable, but again, quality of it was inconsistent as well. The game was fun to play, but was very rough around the edges, sometimes literally.
The New Age of Sagaheim has fixed all that. The art on the cards is large, crips, and professional. Text is uniform, as is its placement on the cards. Everything is easy to figure out at a glance, easy to read, and more professional looking. The cut of the cards is now perfect, too. The feel great, sleeve wonderfully, and are finally a quality to be proud of. Rob has come leaps and bounds to put out a solid, quality product.
I first introduced my 6-year-old to Castle Combat back in 2013 when he was a little over 3. It was great to have a CCG I could play with him so he didn’t feel left out when his older siblings got to play Magic, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh!. The older kids then took an interest because it was something they could also play with him. Now he’s the reigning Castle Combat champ in the house, and keeper of the family’s collection of cards.
It’s not the most complex CCG out there, but it’s a ton of fun and has a lot of charm. I always look forward to new cards, and it’s a game the kids constantly get out to play. Even my 2-year-old is starting to show interest, but is still too young to really play. You can’t get the cards anywhere except from Rob, but he’s quick to ship out orders, and his prices are fair. A booster pack of 7 cards costs $3.00, while a starter pack that contains a deluxe plastic case, two 16-card army decks, 2 rules cards, 2 battle mat cards, and 1 die is $12.
I highly recommend Castle Combat, especially for families with kids aged 4+. Younger kids will need a bit of help with the reading and math, but once they’re used to a deck you’ll be surprised with how much they remember of it’s capabilities.
Castle Combat cards were provided free for review by KidRealm