The first indoor dexterity I ever owned was Crossbows and Catapults. The base game came with (prepared to be shocked) plastic crossbows and catapults that would shoot or fling thick plastic pucks and the game had variable fun winning conditions. My copy disappeared back in my college years, and I have no evidence to prove it, but I think a second cousin walked off with it when I was away. I’ve searched for a copy because I think my kids would have loved it.
This brings us to Catapult Kingdoms (original Kickstarter name and now rebranded Catapult Feud) from Vesuvius Media. This dexterity game builds on the classic Crossbows and Catapults and updates the game with improved game pieces and updated rules. Catapult Kingdoms is for 2 players and plays between 15-30 minutes.
The game set-up and play will be the same for each player—the only difference is that players will choose their unique color for castle pieces and troops (base game comes with 17 castles pieces and 5 troops for each color). Each player receives an identical player board, catapult, boulders (catapult ammo), and 6 action cards.
Players will build their castles and place their troops on their player boards according to the brick and troop placement rules and draw 3 action cards. Play begins with the first player and each player’s turn is divided into the following 4 phases:
- Tactics Phase: may choose to play one action card.
- Aim Phase: may move your catapult around your player board to the maximum 2 range of the distance marker
- Fire Phase: load one boulder and fire your catapult
- Cleanup Phase: remove any troops and castles pieces that were pushed off your player board—also remove any troops that were knocked over. If a player removes a troop, then they draw an action card.
End Game: the first player to knock down all 5 of their opponent’s troops wins!
I would hope from the overview that it’s easy to see that the rules are straightforward and easy to pick up and learn. The hardest thing to do with Catapult Kingdoms is to keep your opponent honest and be sure that they are following the placement rules for the castle pieces and troops. Aside from that the rules are easy to master and will allow you to get Catapult Kingdoms to the table very fast.
I missed not having Crossbows and Catapults in my collection but no longer. Catapult Kingdoms fills that space with an equally fun game that my entire family loves to play. Sure, my kids have pestered me to buy another copy, but this is a great 2-player game. Honestly, I think most will have almost as much fun watching as playing. This one will have both spectators and players laughing at the hits and misses. Now, if you have a long table or if you choose to play on the floor just be prepared to chase those boulders around (carpet tends to coral them better) but it’s a fun little workout, nonetheless.
What I don’t miss from Crossbows and Catapults is the game pieces—especially the castle pieces and bands for the weapons. Those were cheap and the bands broke after about 10+ plays. Catapult Kingdoms gives you better-produced everything. From the illustrations on the cards to the well-made castle pieces and even the catapult bands—it’s all quality in design and for longevity. The boulders are a squishy rubber so no worries about hitting or hurting your opponents (or siblings).
I didn’t note this in the hits or misses but I did want to note that my review copy included two different expansions: Siege! and Artificer’s Tower. These are obviously optional given that they are expansions but what both do is add new castle pieces, weapons, action cards, and ammo. The Siege! expansion includes a ballista (big crossbow) and also adds female troops which my daughter appreciated. The Artificer’s Tower includes a battering ram. All expansions come with new easy to learn rules for each of the new weapons and overall, these just add some nice variety to the base game.
There was only one thing I really didn’t like with Catapult Kingdoms is the action cards. Most just feel tacked on in my opinion and the addition of these cards to the game just falls flat for me. Some of the cards will allow you to move troops or rebuild which just really prolongs the game and others allow you to fire twice or play an action card twice. The one I really dislike steals an opponent’s card, which I think is a silly mechanic in any game (almost as bad as lose a turn). The action cards just don’t feel necessary, and we’ve learned that Catapult Kingdoms plays just fine without them.
I missed not owning Crossbows and Catapults, but my need for nostalgia has been quelled with Catapult Kingdoms. Its rules are easy to master and taught with ease. This game gets to the table fast and is fun for all ages (even the grandparents had a blast with it). The high quality and excellent production values stand out for Catapult Kingdoms which help also make this a family favorite in my house.
The only issue my family and I had was with the action cards. While we have had some fun with them at times, we’ve also had more irritation and annoyance when using them. We’ve decided that the action cards are optional based on our moods
Final Score: 4 Stars – An excellently produced dexterity game that is fun for all ages.
• Action cards feel optional