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CATAPULT KINGDOMS has completed a very successful Kickstarter Campaign and is now either in the hands of the pledgers and/or in game, hobby and department stores across the western world. This page is about the Base game and two of the major expansions, ARTIFICER'S TOWERS and SIEGE. The photographs feature components from one, two or three sets as the first thing we did was open all the boxes (from the Kickstarter Deluxe Edition) and go crazy with the siege engines and building blocks.

After several mad, happy, crazy games I am pleased to report that to date (touch wood) no propulsion devices (aka elastic bands) have deteriorated (broken).

 

It is a 2-player game (although with expansions you can add more players as teams of opposing antagonists) published by VESUVIUS MEDIA of Canada and accredited to Kristian Fosh as the designer. It is a brilliant fun game that can be played on a reasonably sized table or, if you are fit enough (count me out) on the floor. Before I get into the actual review I think that Vesuvius Media should maybe have added a footnote to Ray Frigard and Henri Sala, two men who designed and created CROSSBOWS and CATAPULTS (1983) of which CATAPULT KINGDOMS is an almost identical replication (with 'knobs on'.) 

 

I would like to thank Vesuvius Media for bringing this game back to the table/floor. As a young dad in 1983 I had lots of fun crawling around the floor (yes, I was fit enough then) building Castles and Walls and looking for Red or Blue ammunition. Nowadays I have my grandkids seeking out wayward rubber boulders and hard shell Bee Hives.

Another reason I am pleased that this game has been revised is that unless you are an avid old-game collector, the only copies of Crossbows & Catapults I have found online for sale have a price tag between £200.00-£300.00. Catapult Kingdoms Core Game can be found for around £30.00, the Siege expansion is surprisingly about £5.00-£6.00 more expensive and the Artificers Tower is around £25.00 so the Core Game + 2 Expansions come in at around £90.00.

CATAPULT KINGDOMS doesn't use player coloured ammunition and instead of the projectiles being plastic discs they are actually 'stone' balls (firm rubber that will travel strongly without causing pain or damage). 

The Catapults (Core Game), Ram (Artificers Tower expansion) and Crossbows (Siege expansion) are similar in design (why wouldn't they be) to the 1983 game (exception, the Ram wasn't in the early game) and their mechanism is similarly driven by the use of elastic-bands (spare bands are supplied).

The game and each expansion comes with a good number of pieces that can be used straight from the box (okay within a couple or three minutes - you have to open the bags, assemble the Catapults, read the rules - so 3 minutes). They are also good for painting, with acrylic craft paint, if you like colouring-in miniatures.

So basically it's a 'war for the floor' (Table doesn't rhyme with war) as you and your opponent drop to your knees (or sit opposite ends (not sides) of a table) and 'secretly' build your Castle/Tower defence and add your stoic, brave military force, making sure they are legally placed - this means they must be a brick's width away from any structure if they are placed on the ground. If they are on the walls then placement regulations are lessened.

There are very few rules for the game. Most of them are about distances, the main one being that all construction must be built within the confines of the players personal terrain board (Note that this board has trees and grass etc on it but these are simply for aesthetic purposes and do not affect the buildings in any way.

The game is played in four phases.
Tactics Phase: (this is where you may use an Action Card if you have one and want to use it) - Action cards are Rebuild, Traitor, March, Thief, Rapid Shot and Twin Attack - each effect being useful when activated under the right circumstances.
Aim Phase: Reposition your Catapult, ensuring to keep it within the legal placement rules.
Fire Phase: Load a boulder and fire it - your Action card may have an effect on your combat.
Cleanup Phase: Remove debris, fallen bricks, people etc. and Boulders. (we prefer to leave the fallen bricks and militarymen as it is more realistic - seriously it's more fun and chaotic when boulders bounce off of 'stone' fragments.

Last Man Standing:
Knock down every opposing soldier and you win (as long as you have at least one of your own standing).

One of the great things about this game is that you don't need the expansions, the Core Game is perfectly good fun on its own, especially for grandads and grandkids (again on the table). The expansions do add differences, and although they are not necessary, I am yearning for the Viking Ship and Volcano expansions. 

If you really want them my advice is to search the internet for the Volcano and Viking Ship expansions. The Volcano expansion is currently online from the US at £82.86 inc postage and the Viking expansion can be found in Switzerland at 49.90 Swiss Franc + Postage

SIEGE Expansion:

In this box you get 2 x Ballista (Crossbows), 4 x Boulders (same size and colour as in Core Game) 10 troops (5 from each side)  Several different shaps of Gates and Parapets, plus some additional Walls and 12 extra Action cards.

The gameplay is quite different from the Core Game and uses the pieces within it, almost making it a stand-alone edition.  If you wish you can add all or any bricks and/or troops, from the Core Game - the more you add the harder this gets and the longer you play.

It is important that you carefully read and understand the GamePlay in Siege mode. No tactics phase or Action card playing (even though new Action cards are included). 

Players take turns to build a single structure using the colour of bricks and soldiers assigned to them. Once completed, the players take turns in trying to demolish it.

The translation under the Gameplay heading seems a mite confusing because of the word usage. So let me try to put it into perspective: You are at rivalry with one of the armies in the construction, chosen by colour. Your opposing player is rival to the other colour pieces.

a) When you knock over a Brick or Troop of the colour you are rival with you remove it from the field and place it in your VP supply.

b) If you knock over one (or more) of your opponent's rival colour troops it is removed to your opponent's VP supply.

c) If you knock over one (or more) of your opponent's rival colour Bricks they/it are replaced into the Box, but you also have to place one of the pieces from your VP supply back into the Building.

Examples: I trust this makes it clearer.
Chris has Light Grey as a Rival, Fran has Dark Grey as her Rival.
If Chris knocks over a Light Grey Brick or Soldier he claims those for his VP supply.
If Fran knocks over a Dark Grey Brick or Soldier she claims those for her VP supply.
If Chris knocks over a Dark Grey Troop, or Fran knocks over a Light Grey Troop, the Troops are placed in the VP supply of the opposing play (Dark Grey Troops to Fran, Light Grey Troops to Chris).
If Chris knocks over a Dark Grey Brick, or Fran knocks over a Light Grey Brick the Bricks are removed from play and one piece per Brick is returned into play from the shooter's VP supply.

The new Action cards are: Sabotage, Repair, Diplomacy, Reinforcements, Long Shot and Just a Scratch. Again each effect being useful when activated under the right circumstances.

The ARTIFICER'S TOWER Expansion:

Once again we return to player versus player as per the Core Game, but with additional building materials; and a neat surprise. 

This expansion introduces the Mighty Plunger which is indeed a covered RAM (that's a log on a swing not a large male sheep). You would perhaps think that as on the Ram there is a position called the Driver's Seat, you would not be able to use the Ram without a soldier in this 'seat'! This isn't strictly true. What you cannot do is move your Ram's position on the Battlefield without there being a Driver.

There are lots more, different component pieces, Bricks and the like, but no extra Troops. Instead of additional Boulder ammunition there are 4 Beehives (2 per player). These can be launched at the opponent's structure to cause havoc amongst their troops. If you hit any Brick then Bees fly out of the Hive and chase up to three of the Troops in the building, making them find new locations. To be honest, the Bees do little by way of helping you win, but they do add a lot of fun to the proceedings.

The Action cards include: Plunger Thruster. Broken Wheel. Tumble Up. Anchor. Nay. and Beehive.

Note that the rules under the Mighty Plunger header mention Fireballs. There are no Fireballs in the Core game or either of the first two expansions, neither are there any other mention of them. Fireballs, to the best of my understanding, are only available in the Volcano expansion which was not part of the Deluxe Edition on Kickstarter. Red 'boulders' that could be tossed by the Catapults would have added another fun detail; in fact I'm scouring stores to see if I can find something like that which will do the trick - whatever you do though DON'T USE MARBLES under any circumstances, even if they look good. They will cause damage to you, your friends, your windows, vases etc. 

This is a great, fun game, ideal for Mums, Dads and Kids, Grandads, Grandmas and Grandkids, all Adults who like to be Kids, in fact anyone who likes to occasionally act like Kids, including Kids.

Although two of the three boxes mention bring soldiers/troops to the game these pieces are little more than target practice. I am working (in my head currently) on creating a couple of rules by which troops can march across the terrain and invade opposition Castles through holes created by the boulder bombardment. I can 'see' it clearly in my mind but not so clearly when presented with the game on the table. We'll see what, if anything happens.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021