Aint no party like a Pumpkin King party! Werewolves, skeletons, witches and more are invited to the flipping fun Castle Party by DEVIR games!

Publisher: DEVIR
Josep M. AlluéEugeni Castaño

Artist: Laurielle

Release date: 2021

2-4 Players

Age: 8+

30 mins

Favouritefoe score 7.5/10

*Pattern Matching * Grid * Fast Playing * Easy to Learn * Flip and Fill * Pen and Paper Game * Advanced Mode * Direct Player Interaction *

There aint no party like a Castle Party! Grab your skeletons and your spooks; it’s time to boogie on down at the Pumpkin King’s palatial pad!  

Designed by Josep Allué and Eugeni Castaño and published by DEVIR, Castle Party is a flip and write bingo style game where everybody draws the same symbols each turn. But, unlike many in the genre, you are going to have a direct impact on your opponents’ boards!

Monster Moves!  

So how do you meddle exactly?  Well, each turn one player flips a shape card from the shape card deck and decides the orientation of that shape. Then they add a monster card from their hand in the spot marked “X” to begin recreating that shape on the table in front of them. After that, every other player adds one monster card from their own hand to the same shape until it is complete.

But don’t grab your pens just yet, party people! Each monster card contains a matching symbol (e.g. triangle representing a witch hat, cross for skeleton etc), and when you draw the shape onto your own board, you can ignore the lines. What you’re actually drawing is  the configuration of the symbols assembled by everyone.

And, rather than everybody drawing the same thing, you are each drawing the symbols somewhere on your own board as they appear in the orientation facing you and only you! So the triangle might be at the top of the “L” shape but for somebody else it might be at the bottom!  

Now this is starting to feel like a Partaaaaay!

Throughout the game, you can see what other players’ parties are starting to look like. This is super handy when it comes to symbol selection and shape shifting! And that’s because there are 3 scoring phases during the game as well as end-game points.

So, when a clock card is revealed in the shape deck, each player gets to decide whether they score what they have done so far for (a) Fireworks – most symbols in front of a window (b) Conga – most connected symbols of the same type or (c) Toast – score the number of unique symbols around the Pumpkin King (who you site by drawing a crown on a clear square on your grid). Note that you can only use each scoring condition once, so you are going to want to prioritise what’s looking good at the relevant time!

And as you can probably guess, having one eye on what others are drawing lets you see how well they are working towards each goal. So when you’re orienting the shape on your turn, and adding a symbol to a shape every turn, you can seriously skew their efforts!

Party Powers!

Not only that, however, but you also have 3 special one-time bonus powers during the game. Plus, if you choose to use Lights Out (where you can switch monster positions to better suit your own goal progress) or Change (where you can reorient the shape), that is going to affect everybody! Masked Ball is the third power (where you turn one monster from the shape into a wild), but that won’t cause any changes to anybody else’s plans. Having said that, somebody could use one of their own bonus power on the same turn to flip-reverse your fiddling efforts!

Points for the Pumpkin Party!

When the third clock has struck, the party is over and it’s time to score your end game efforts. You’ll get points for your single largest connected group of identical symbols (and if there is a king in there you’ll get bonus points). You’ll also get points for any special power you didn’t use as well as incremental points for orthogonally adjacent unicorns on your board. Add these to your mid-game scores and whoever has the most points is the Castle Party Prom King or Queen!

Rave it up!

When you are popping bottles like pro party people, you can flip the board over and play the advanced mode. The rules of the basic game apply but there are 5 additional symbols which give extra points at end game if you can assemble the matching symbols around them.

Social Flipper!

We have a lot of flip and write games and we flipping love the genre! Cartographers aside however I think this is the only other one where we feel like we are consciously meddling with each other. We have plenty of games where flips or rolls impact everybody – Railroad Ink, Rustling Leaves, Metro X etc. But that is luck rather than judgment. In Castle Party, you have some level of control on your turn. Yes, that can be flip reversed, but abilities to reverse your efforts come at a cost.

Don’t get me wrong, I love multiplayer solitaire games – getting lost in my own efforts and being the architect of my own demise! But I also really love hate drafting and derailing my husband’s nearly-always superior efforts around the table. And games that bring in a perspective element (like Akrotiri and Durian Dash) fire up my spatially challenged mind in the best possible way. As such, Castle Party is a great choice for us.

Not only that but it fits nicely within our daily golden gaming hour (with time to spare for another!) and the rules are super easy to learn and teach. @minimeepleuk had no problems picking up the gameplay. He loves the family friendly artwork too which means this game is going to hit our table a lot. The dry wipe double-sided boards and cards are great. The pens could be a little better but that is a very minor niggle.

Castle Party also has more strategy than meets the eye. It’s not heavy by any means and you are always going to be scoring for the same things each time you play. Luck in terms of what monsters you draft each turn might be on your side or it might not. But there’s a fun thinkiness to Castle Party and I like the perspective and interactive quirks in an otherwise quite saturated genre.

For example, being able to draw shapes in the moat feels less restrictive than those games where you must fit everything inside your specified grid. It also adds an extra pop of decision making because losing a symbol might help you orient the remainder of a shape better for a scoring objective. But knowing you’ll get negative points at end game as well as the fact they are discounted in any majority group, definitely gives my pen pause for thought. Likewise, knowing I am going to be scoring 3 times during the game forces me to think ahead. What are you going to try and score first? Will you need to sacrifice one to sore higher on the other two? Is it worth using a special power knowing that another player could cancel out the effects?

When @minimeepleuk isn’t gaming with us, we rave it up on the advanced side. The extra consideration around grouping guests gives a little more pep to our party! Being able to play either way is a great choice to have, however, and it makes Castle Party a versatile and fun choice!

Please note that a copy of this game was kindly provided by the publishers for review. I am not paid for my comments, however, and all opinions are my own. I am also not affiliated to or sponsored by any retail store.