OBJECTIVE OF ESCAPE THE DARK CASTLE: The objective of Escape the Dark Castle is for all players to escape the dark castle by defeating the final boss.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 1-4 players
MATERIALS: A rule book, 1 starting card, 1 score pad, 3 unique boss cards, 4 pencils, 6 unique character cards, 6 unique character dice, 9-chapter dice, 35 item cards, and 45 chapter cards.
TYPE OF GAME: Adventure Card Game
OVERVIEW OF ESCAPE THE DARK CASTLE
Escape the Dark Castle is a cooperative adventure card game where you and other players will attempt to escape the prison you have been held in. You will do this by defeating monsters, avoiding traps, and overcoming all sorts of obstacles along the way. If your party survives this you will be faced with your biggest challenge yet, the final boss. If you can defeat them you will have won, escaping the dark castle and winning your freedom.
If, however, at any point along the way you lose a party member, the adventure is over, and you will have to start over and try again.
The first thing that needs to be done is setting up the castle. A player will shuffle all the chapter cards and deal out 15 of them randomly facedown. Then the starting card goes on top of that. The bosses should be shuffled and a random one is dealt with also face down to the bottom of the deck. This is the castle.
Next item cards should be shuffled and placed central to all players as well as the chapter dice. Then players will choose their characters and take the appropriate dice associated with them as well. Players should try to get a good mix of stats with the character choices.
Finally, each player should write down their character’s health total. This is dependent on the number of players (see rule book for that).
Stats and Symbols
Before you start playing there are a few symbols you need to know. There are also three stats that all characters and monsters will have as well.
The three stats are might, cunning and wisdom. Might is represented by a fist, cunning by an eye, and wisdom is a star. These three stats make up each character dice as well as the chapter dice. These will also represent the things needed to defeat monsters later in the game. Also, on the dice are sides with two symbols encompassed by a shield, these have special effects explained later.
The game mechanics are simple. Each turn a player will turn over a card and then read the text. Then following the directions on the card players will complete the task to succeed and continue. A couple of things can happen when a card is turned over. I will describe them and the process below.
In Escape the Dark Castle players do not have to follow a turn order. Instead, a player will decide if they wish to turn over the next chapter card. Who decides to turn the card is important because some cards will have specific instructions for “YOU”. When “YOU” is used on a card it is referring to the player who turned the card over.
Some cards and actions result in players acquiring items. When an item is pulled it is placed in the middle of the table and then all players may discuss and deal items to players as they deem fair and necessary. Each player can only hold a maximum of 2 items, meaning before the next chapter card is pulled all extra items must be used or discarded. The only exception to this is two-handed items. In this case, a player may only hold one item at a time. Items can be traded between chapters as well. To use an item, follow the text on it and discard it if applicable. Items can be used at any time unless a card state otherwise.
Cards will sometimes result in combat if that’s the case follow the directions and symbols to know what to do. Each foe will have a series of symbols at the bottom of the card place chapter dice matching these symbols below the card. The symbol that looks like a person means that dice equal to the number of players should be rolled and added to the foe’s dice.
Once these symbols are placed combat begins. Players are attempting to roll these symbols and once they do, they may remove the matching ones from under the foe. Combat happens in rounds though, with two phases.
The first being players rolling and removing matching symbols and the next phase is defending. A player will take damage depending on the number in the bottom right of a foes card. A player will have defended if they rolled one of the double-shielded symbols on their dice. These symbols also count as two separate symbols that can be removed.
Players may also rest to regain health. One player may rest at a time. To rest a player will not roll during this round of combat and will also take no damage.
Once a foe has had all the symbols removed from below it the combat is over, and it is defeated. Every successful combat will result in an item pulled.
To play solo there will only be a few changes. You will pick two characters to play as. Instead of you flipping you will choose a character to flip the card and cards resulting in a “YOU” circumstance only affects that character. Also, any text referring to “per player” should be read as “per character”. Otherwise, the game is the same.
END OF GAME
The game ends either when a character dies or when the final boss is defeated. Either way, the game ends immediately. If a character dies at any point the game is over, and you have lost. If, however, you all live and defeat the final boss you have won the game.