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Rating: 4.8/5 (46 votes)
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dancemonkeycastlewars.jpgWhen I was kid we played an awesome game called Crossbows and Catapults, in which you would build a little castle with individual bricks and place your Vikings (or whatever) all over the structure. You would then either lob or shoot caroms at your opponent's castle with the objective, of course, being nothing less than total annihilation. That was the best game ever. The only thing that could have improved the game was maybe the ability to rebuild your castle from time to time and oh, I don't know, dragons!

Enter CastleWars, a turn-based card battle against either a computer or live opponent where you try to either build your castle up to 100 or blast your opponent's to rubble.

After choosing the number of players (or the Net Play option), you're presented with an initially confusing screen full of icons and numbers. It's really very simple! Starting from above your castle and moving from the top of the screen downwards:

  • Builders and Bricks - bricks build things, and your stock of bricks goes up each turn by the number of builders you have.
  • Soldiers and Weapons - same relationship as builders to bricks. Weapons are used for attacking your opponent.
  • Magic and Crystals - detecting a pattern here? Crystals do various things, from attacking your opponent to enhancing your stores of resources.
  • Castle and Fence - straightforward. Build your castle to 100 and you win. If it reaches zero you lose. Your fence is your first line of defense. It's cheaper to build up than your castle, but contributes nothing directly to winning.

Each turn you can either click on a card in your hand to play it, or [ctrl]-Click to discard a card. Each card has a cost in resources associated with it, determined by the symbol in the upper-left corner of the card and the number in the upper right. The effect of that card is listed below the card's icon.

For instance, "Crush Weapons" is a fairly common card. It costs 4 Crystals to play and diminishes your opponent's stock of weapons by 8.

Once you play a card you automatically draw a new one and the turn is passed to your opponent. Play continues until one player's castle reaches 100, or until one player's castle is reduced to nothing.

Analysis: CastleWars is a fun and challenging game I'll return to again and again. The graphics and sound are basic without being too amateurish, so let's just say the developer didn't let attention to graphics and sound get in the way of the gameplay. They do, however, get the job done and didn't detract from my overall experience. There are a few nice touches, such as the clouds slowly rolling across the background.

The gameplay can get tedious, from time to time, simply because you and your opponent may find yourselves in a seemingly endless seesaw battle. You build up, she knocks down, you save up for a massive blow, she steals your resources, in comes the dragon... you get the picture. There is a balancing act required in your strategy that is fun to experiment with. You can go crazy and just build up your castle as quickly as possible, go crazy and just attack your opponent as ferociously as possible, or just plain go crazy and try to balance the two.

It's also nice that the developer thought to include two-player versus in addition to Internet play. I find it a lot more fun to demolish my opponent when he's sitting at the same keyboard. Trash talk has so much more value when tossed in the person's face. You try trash talking in a chat window and everyone hits the "/ignore".

Jay adds: There appears to be a timing bug when playing Net Play against an opponent: If you click a card too quickly upon it becoming your turn, the card is discarded without its effects being recorded. This happened to me enough times for it to be a rather annoying bug, and I hope the developer, Mads S. Lundemo (M0rkeulv), fixes this soon in an upcoming version since I have been really enjoying playing this game with friends for the past few days.

This is a unique and enjoyable game that we here at Casual Gameplay will be playing a lot more of in the future.

Play CastleWars

Cautionary note about Net Play: If you choose Net Play, the chat room lobby you are dumped into to find an opponent has often contained very offensive remarks. You are hereby forewarned.

Cheers to Fuzzboxer for the link! =)


I remember playing this game a looong time ago, way before I had the internet, but it had ants... Lemme see if I can find it. I do hope this is made by the same people.


Scroll down to "Puzzles" its the first game in that category, "ants"

So boo for this guy that stole it! Unless he happens to be the same guy, which I doubt.


It does appear to be an exact copy of that game recreated in Flash. Thanks for the link, Aioua.


which, upon further research, was ripped of of this:

so yeah, not exactly original. Although it seems more likely that this was ripped from arcomage than Ants.
I just remember those happy hours spent beating my brother in Ants, and didn't want someone else getting the credit.


Okay, yeah, after playing though, I can verify that all the cards and basically everything except the ants themselves is the same as Ants. But dang, Arcomage looks cool, the fleshed-out version. I might have to find a copy.


It looks to me like the game is basically random. There are some tactical decisions, but the tactics are mainly based on what's in your hand, which is random. Nothing you do has any effect on your opponent's hand, so it's not like rummy games where you interact at the discard pile. And your draws are symmetric, so it's not like MtG games where the strategy is in how you design your deck.

Maybe if the cardset were a little different, there might be some strategy around what cards you hold in reserve, and guessing what cards your opponent has in reserve, but I don't see any real benefit to that with this cardset.


Just a heads up. Arcomage can be found here at Home of the Underdogs...

Also, it seemed to me that I played several games with no building cards other than Reserve, Wain, and wall building cards. It's pretty sad when you have over 100 bricks and nowhere to use them...

Papachabre June 4, 2007 5:57 AM

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has played Ants before. The fact that it mentions Ants in the credits does not mean that Castle Wars isn't a complete rip off. I believe this game is actually going to win the $250 prize at Kongregate. Too bad people don't value intellectual property as much as they should =/


I used to play at the ant version too.
it is a nice game, thta you can play in 10 minutes


This is definitely based on Arcomage. I've been a big fan of the Might & Magic series, and when Arcomage was added to the game I used to hang out in taverns just to play the game. It was rather addicting.

That being said, I don't find this game to be as much fun as Arcomage. For one, there don't appear to be any cards to lower your opponent's production levels (in this game: builders, soldiers, and magic), only cards to boost your own. One of the fun parts of Arcomage was crippling your opponents production capabilities. With Castle Wars it's more like an arms race with no end in sight.

As Felix said, this game is basically random. It does get frustrating at times (like in the first game I played, when the computer pulled out three Bablyons, two Banshees and one Pixies, while I never saw a single one of those cards), but nothing can really be done about it without fundamentally changing the game. You'll either love it or hate it.

As for "tips," here are a few I gleaned from my Arcomage days:

1. Production boosters (builders, soldiers, magic) are probably the most important cards in the game, so try to play them as soon as you get them.
2. On the flip side: if, by luck of the draw, your opponent gets a significant lead in production levels, the longer the game goes on the harder it will be for you to win, so try to finish your opponent off as soon as possible. You can hope for more production boosters yourself, but by the time you get them it will probably be too late. (This is where the lack of production reducing cards hurts the gameplay, in my opinion.)
3. With no production reducing cards, the best you can do is damage your opponent's reserves. Any card that steals from your opponent and gives to you is obviously ideal (these cost a lot, of course).
4. Since the draw is random, you need to be able to act on what you have in your hand. You obviously are going to want to focus on one of the two available strategies (either building your own castle or destroying your opponent's castle), but if the cards don't come your way you may have to switch at a moment's notice. (Incidentally, Arcomage had three victory conditions--the third was a resource victory, which was probably left out here because of the lack of production reducing cards. Have I mentioned that I'm not really happy with that?)

I put "tips" in scare quotes above because the game depends a lot on the random draw, so there's really only so much you can do in terms of strategy and tactics. But maybe these will help players who aren't familiar with the game.



Arcomage is great, nice graphics and more cards for more possibilities than this simpler one. it does not work in NT so you have to install and play in compatability mode (Win 98/me) and play in 16-bit colors.

it plays in a window and and there are sound options in the upper left corner and no video or music option but the annoying music in the main window doesn't play during battle so it's okay.

the graphics are sorta dark and the options don't have anything for that, they do however have victory and play conditions, AI strategy (attack, defend or random) and preset game options as well.

To install it, right click on the drive the CD is in and select "Explore" go into the folder named "Setup" and right click on "Setup.exe" then click "Properties" then "compatibility" and click on the checkbox "set this program in compatibility for:" and set it to "Windows 98/ Windows Me"

Then go into the directory you installed it and do the same thing to the game executable. now my fingers hurt.


I take that back about there being no production reducing cards. There is a card called "Curse" that adds 1 to all of your states (both production levels and resource levels) and subtracts 1 from all of your opponents stats. This makes it probably the most powerful card in the game. It cost 45 crystals, so if you don't have any magic boosts, it may take a while before you can play it.

Are there other production reducing cards that I missed?



I think crush crystals, crush stones


And almost as if to prove me wrong about the production boosting cards being the most important in the game, in my last game I ended up with 10 builders, 8 soldiers, and 8 magic (resources were 290/36/172)--and yet when I destroyed the computer's castle my own castle was down to 21 with no wall. All the production boosting cards in the world won't help if all you draw are resource cards and no attack or build cards.

OK, time to stop playing and get back to work.


Nice idea, but too random :)

It would be better if you could influence the kind of cards you get. I don't really feel like playing it anymore after 3 games.


Tarx: the "crush" cards are resource destruction cards, not production reducing cards. In other words, they may reduce the amount of bricks, weapons, and crystals, but they don't touch the builders, soldiers, and magic (i.e., the producers).

"Curse" is a production reducing card only because it reduces all of your opponent's stats (resources, producers, castle, and fence) by one--it doesn't specifically target producers. Still, the fact that it does reduce your opponent's production levels makes it a very important card and worth saving up 45 crystals for.

(OK, I'm really leaving now. :))


If you view the credits they specifically mention "Ants." I had never played Ants so didn't know what that meant, but you've all filled in the blanks for me!


I don't think this is all luck, because I suck at it! I have played about 6 games and I've been creamed each time - beginner mode! It's really fun though. I hadn't played any of its predecessors identified in the comments - it's all new to me. I'm determined to win... eventually.


Yep - having posted the above, I won my next game.


Just like Arcomage and Ants, this game is exactly as much fun as typing in numbers into a calculator to see how high they can go!!!

jasonharper June 4, 2007 1:18 PM

There's a severe problem with this game on Safari (and probably other Mac browsers): ctrl-click just brings up the context menu, so there's no way to discard a card. If you ever get a full hand of unplayable cards, you're stuck.


jasonharper - I played on a Mac. Substitute the command key (open apple) for [ctrl] and you'll be good as gold. =)


Thanks Joe! I actually noticed that on the BGG website. I think that expansion amounted to little more than a green catapult shaped like a dragon, but yes the game did have dragons.

I wish I hadn't have gotten rid of that game. I could have combined it with Blood Bowl for some seriously geeky fun.

Carla, I lost the first several times I played too. I'm terrible at consciously devising strategy... it always just comes together gradually until I keep winning but have no idea why! I'm an idiot savant, I guess.


I really want to make a tabletop version of this game.
* Getting all the cards and knowing how to "build" the deck.
* Keeping track of how big the towers are.
* Keeping track of your resources.

I think I'd change some rules to make it less random. It sucks when you have 200+ of weapons but only blue cards.


for those that mentioned the game ants, its worth noting that if you look at the credits for castlewars they do mention that game...


I remember playing Crossbows and Catapults! I had a big set of it as a kid. It was the coolest. We keep finding the little red balls from time to time.


Fun game, but very random.

@ RaydenUni

Why not use Jenga or other tower-building based games for the towers?


Perhaps I shouldn't be admitting this publicly, but I played this game enough times yesterday that I went from losing every time on beginner level to beating the computer every time on experienced level, and also played a handful of net-games that I won.

All that says, I think, is that the game isn't very challenging. It's addictively fun though.

In case anyone cares, he's my strategy, such as it is:

* Consider the efficiency of cards when deciding whether to play a low-impact card or save up resources to use a high-impact card. For example, Babylon gets you +33 on your tower, but it costs 39 bricks. Compare Fort, which adds +20 to your tower and costs only 18 bricks. There is no volume discount! Fort is a great card.
* Conjure crystal is another great card; it is the only card that essentially costs no resources to play. Other Conjure cards get you +8 bricks or +8 weapons, but at the cost of 4 crystals. Conjure crystal is just 4 free crystals.
* Early on, play your resource generator cards (School, Sorcerer, Recruit) as soon as you can. Later on they become less valuable; do you really need to waste a turn building a School when you have a store of 70 bricks and +5 per turn?
* The Crush cards likewise become less valuable as the game progresses; when the opponent has 72 weapons, crushing -8 weapons is a waste of a turn and 4 crystals. Better to save your crystals to play the very valuable and useful magic cards: Dragon (-25 enemy tower), Pixie (+22 your tower), and especially Curse (+1 on everything for you, -1 on everything for opponent, INCLUDING resource generators)
* Let me reiterate how great Curse is - you can cripple your opponent's production and boost your own at the same time. Well worth saving magic for.
* Fences are your friend - build them at every opportunity.
* Related to the above, moments when your opponent has no fence is a good time to use low-impact attack cards like archer, knight, rider. These cost very little to use but three or four turns of them can make a significant dent in an undefended tower. Attack (-12, for a cost of 10 weapons) is particularly devastating to an unfenced tower, in proportion to its low cost.
* Also related to the above, Wain (+8 your tower, -4 opponent's tower, at cost of 10 bricks) and Swat (-10 opponent's tower, cost 18 weapons) bypass any fence and hit the opponent's tower directly. Thus when your opponent has a fence, and you have a choice between a conventional attack and one of these cards, this is a good time to use one of these. Similarly, as I said above, take advantage when your opponent is unfenced to use conventional attack cards.

Well there's just a few ideas, from someone who's a pretty crummy gamer and not much of a strategist. Enjoy!


I think this game seemed like a lot of fun, first, but as you already have mentioned, you often end up with piles of good resources, but crappy cards. I think the only thing the AI "Experienced" level does to you is to give you crappier cards, especially in the end, when you and the computer are tied. Then, whoever first gets Pixies or Fort or Babylon wins... That's kind of boring.

tenkuchima June 5, 2007 11:09 AM

i played this game a few weeks ago, it was great but the online play was completley ruined by people spamming the chat room, people only logging on to complain about the game, and hackers, it was a miracle if you could find someone to play the game

Eytan Zweig June 5, 2007 11:25 AM

It would be interesting to see a variant on this game where you and your opponent are playing out of the same deck. It would make the game a lot more tactical - if you know what your opponents options are you could plan ahead for them, and also do things like play/discard a card just so they couldn't.


I feel stupid for not typing up like a paragraph but here goes. Great game very simple but very fun. I cant stop playing :P


Too random. I can only beat the computer ~2/3 of the time, whether on beginner or expert (note: small sample size, may not be accurate). One minor change would make this a great game: if the player is discarding, let them discard as many cards as they want. This would hugely reduce the luck factor.

Euphemism June 5, 2007 7:34 PM

Interesting the first few minutes, then it becomes obvious it's brainless, really. Recruit/School/Magic are the cards you need to get early in the game, and play them as soon as possible; beyond that, there's no strategy, and it's all luck.

The last game I'll every play (and this is trying to win!) illustrates just how dependent on luck this thing is: (Spoiler tags because it just takes up so much space)

Me: (at moment of victory, about to play a attack for 12)
16 builders
746 bricks
12 soldiers
402 weapons
11 magic
412 crystals
64 castle
3 fence
1 builder
4 bricks
3 soldiers
7 weapons
2 magic
14 crystal
10 castle
0 fence.
It was a long and tedious game (but I love it when you get to use curse). I got (and used) curse about 5 or 6 times; while I sat with a hand full of conjures and waited. At times it seemed I would die, because I wasn't getting any construction cards. The highlight of the game was sitting with three crush bricks, and using them whenever the enemy (with 1 builder) reached 7. The most annoying point was thinking I was going to win (by reaching 100), then realising I needed a fence for Reserve (+8c/-4f), and getting hit by a dragon when I built the fence.


One way to play the game is to see how much resources you can accumulate without losing. I got somewhere into the thousands before the computer started getting his stats up high enough to pose a threat.


I suppose this game is fun... but the card names are so unimaginative that it's annoying. Give me Ants or Arcomage anyday.

ThemePark June 7, 2007 5:01 AM

The game is far from as random, as some people here seem to think. I have been analyzing the game for a bit, and as it turns out it doesn't assign cards at random as much, it does in fact just take the top card of a card pile, like in any card game.

RaydenUni, you mentioned one of the obstacles would be getting all the cards. If you meant finding out how many cards of each type are used in the game, this is what my analysis has come to show me.

There are 78 cards total in the game distributed as such:

Conjure bricks3
Conjure crystals3
Conjure weapons3
Crush bricks3
Crush crystals3
Crush weapons3


this game desperately needs a "redeal" option


I've been winning this game more than I've lost. That might be because I've only played on Beginner, though.

One thing that irks me is that the computer seems to get much better cards even when I have many more resources. I know somebody probably already mentioned that, but it does make the game a little less fun.

Still, I didn't mind spending half an hour playing it.


the "curse" card is horribly unfair and seems to signal the beginning of the end for whoever it gets played against... and more often than not, the comp player gets it.


I really love this game. I've found some sort of glitch though. I clicked on Net play and I got an error message that closed all my windows. Now it does that every time I try even loading the game at all, and it's been that way for 2 days now. Anyone know how to fix that? I really want to play it.


I too enjoy this game. But like serrelinda, it now wants to crash every time I try and play.


I just tried and had no troubles playing a complete game using Net play.

My suggestion is to empty your browser cache and reload the page the game is on.

If you still encounter trouble, try a different browser. I used Camino (Mozilla) with success, and a friend was using Firefox during our match.


Wouldn't you know it, about 10 min after I posted I was able to play the game again. Not sure what changed, it just started working. Oh well, I am happy again


ok, not sure what is going on with the game. If I try and hit the site, it will crash and take IE with it. IF I am running Process Explorer then the game will launch with out a problem. Very Strange. I was running Process explorer to try and find out which files the game was using so I could delete them and hopefully let the game start all over.


The game SWF doesn't use any files besides itself and the Flash Player. Deleting your browser's cache will delete the game file if you want to start with a fresh copy of the SWF.

If you're using IE, may I suggest using a better browser?


I think there would be a lot more strategy and a lot less luck if there was only one hand of cards and both players used it. So, for instance, if there is one hand of 7 cards on the bottom of the screen, you can take one card not only to use it, but to stop an opponent from getting it. Right now it's pretty much luck.

One thing I did like was the card deck section, where you could choose the number of cards in a deck, if only because I love customizeable games. So I think combining the hands with that feature would make a very good game. As is... kind of bland.


Hmm, I didn't realize until now that you can take your custom deck into the multiplayer room with you. I thought you could only use it offline. That lends a new angle to the strategy element. I think I'll give it another try now that I know that.


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