Enemies approach from all sides, and all hope seems lost for Camelot. You and your fellow knights of the round table are the last hope for your kingdom to overcome the encroaching evil. Collect the ancient artefacts, slay formidable foes and hold off the invading armies and you’ll likely succeed, but be on the lookout, there may be a traitor amongst your ranks.
This is the situation you find yourself in when playing Shadow over Camelot. Sound challenging? It is, but don’t think it’s unbeatable.
Introducing the game
Shadows over Camelot is a cooperative hand-management and deduction-based board game for 3–7 players. Each player represents a knight of the Round Table and they must collaborate to overcome a number of quests, ranging from defeating the Black Knight to the search for the Holy Grail. Completed quests place white swords on the Round Table; failed quests add black swords and/or siege engines around Camelot. The knights are trying to build a majority of white swords on the Table before Camelot falls.
On each knight’s turn, the knight takes a “heroic action”, such as moving to a new quest, building his hand, or playing cards to advance the forces of good. However, he must also choose one of three evil actions, each of which will bring Camelot closer to defeat.
Moreover, one of the knights may be a traitor, pretending to be a loyal member of the party but secretly hindering his fellow knights in subtle ways, biding his time, waiting to strike at the worst possible moment.
Designers- Bruno Cathala & Serge Laget
Illustrators- Julien Delval, Cyrille Daujean
Publisher- Days of Wonder
Publication date- 2005
Languages-English, French, German
Age range 10 +
Playing time 60-90 minutes
You get a fair amount of loot, when you buy Shadows over Camelot. All up it includes a 20 page Rule Booklet, a 16 page Book of Quests, 1 Main Camelot/Round Table gameboard, 3 additional double-sided Quests (The Holy Grail, Excalibur, and Lancelot/The Dragon), 7 Coat of Arms, 7 standard dice and a special 8-sided die for the Siege Engines, 30 Miniatures, 16 black/white Swords of the Round Table, and a whopping 168 cards.
Like other games that I’ve played by Days of wonder all of the different components, are beautifully made. The board is colourful and has a lot of nice detail, the designs and art compliment the theme, and the miniatures are wonderfully detailed, with the added option for the owner to paint the miniatures if they want (which I think is really cool). The cards are illustrated but all the important information is easy to find, and are made of good cardstock. The board does take up a lot of space, but the pieces don’t go together in any particular order so you can make it work even with a relatively small amount of table space.
Playing the game
Like many large board games, setting up Shadows over Camelot is half the fun….. well it certainly can take up half the time. Once you’re done with set up, the first part is getting your character. We did this at random, but I guess you could choose who you all wanted to be, all the characters have different ability’s, but it won’t really change much if your play with cards that you choose yourself or picking randomly. During this time you also figure out if you’re a traitor or not. I wasn’t so in my naivety thought all might be well among the group. Maybe we were lucky and missed out on picking up the traitor?
After this the real game begins, and it can seem really daunting, especially for first time players. So much is happening at once and you have to choose what to do. Do you try and solo the Black Knight and get all the glory (and hit points) to yourself, join your comrades in the search for the Holy Grail, or maybe join your battle brother in pushing back the wave on Picts invading from across the sea. I had no idea what to do at this point, and the choice that you have conveys really well the situation that Camelot is in. I was the one who decided to solo the Black Knight by the way. I was unsuccessful.
Playing Shadows over Camelot, I found you really have to be smart with how you take your turn, and I think it’s because you have to keep so much in mind. Yes, you want to get white swords on the table, but you also have to think about everything happening around the board, how many siege engines are up? Are you running out of cards? Should you move to a new quest? This is all going through your head when you make your heroic action. When you move on to your evil actions it can be even worse, especially near the end.
We lost by the tiniest of margins when we played, so we were feeling alright about ourselves as we talked about little things we could have done to win, that was until we found out that one of us was a traitor and we would have lost even if we did a couple things different near the end.
CURSE YOU JADE!!!!
Even though we lost, Shadows over Camelot was really fun to play, and it was different to any other co-op game I’ve played. I think there’s the perfect level of difficulty, as even seasoned players will struggle at times if the cards are not playing nice. I would definitely play Shadows over Camelot again, but I’m not sure if I’d buy it. It’s just too expensive for me at $80, especially when I know I could spend my money on getting two games.