Published on May 24th, 2013 | by Nicole Jekich
A Seattle Gamer in King Arthur’s Court
“It’s Only a Model!”
Days of Wonder has condensed the beloved legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table into a boardgame-appropriate adventure. Up to six players can participate in a game of epic quests, bloody wars and betrayal. Get your Holy Hand-Grenades ready—Shadows Over Camelot is a challenge!
Are you brave enough to challenge the Black Night, defend Camelot from an endless siege and protect the peasants/villages from being pillaged by raiding Saxons? If so, then you are only half prepared to take on the challenges as a Knight of the Round Table. Shadows Over Camelot is an action-packed, semi-cooperative adventure for the bravest and boldest players. As a knight, each player has a vital roll in protecting Camelot, beating up Saxons and Celts, retrieving holy items like the well-known Holy Grail and Excalibur and defeating a greedy dragon throughout the ninety minutes of game play. The biggest challenge is working as a team in order to complete each of these quests. As players successful complete a quest or defeat an enemy, the group is rewarded with a white sword. After collecting six white swords the game is over and the knights are victorious. Winning is very difficult as, through the evil interference of Morgan, each challenge becomes increasingly difficult at each player turn and players can quickly lose quests resulting in a black sword. A black sword is a token of failure and after six black swords the game is over and all players lose—well, unless you are the Traitor.
Another aspect of Shadows that makes it one of the most challenging and engaging games is the introduction of a traitor among the knights. At the start of the game, players receive their loyalty cards and there is a chance that among these brave knights is a secret agent of Morgan. Discretion and sabotage are the Traitor’s tools and as the Knights fail, he comes ever closer to winning the game. Players can combat the Traitor by trying to root him out, but must be careful to not let suspicions plague the Knights. An incorrect accusation can lead to more issues and the addition of another black sword! I have played this game multiple times, but have yet to taste victory as the actions of the traitor have successfully thwarted each game.
If the base game isn’t challenging enough or players would like add more of the legend, Days of Wonder has created an expansion allowing players to enlist the wisdom and assistance of the powerful Merlin; however, recruiting a wizard to the party does create its own set of problems.
Even though I have never defeated the odds and saved Camelot, my love of Shadows Over Camelot comes from the impossible challenge it brings. Shadows goes against some of my normal gaming preferences which is why I highly recommend that all gamers give this one a shot, especially for new gamers looking to bridge the gap between lengthy, arduous games like Descent and Battlestar Galactica and the the beginner’s field like Settlers of Catan and Risk (although even Risk has had a makeover to make it more appealing to advanced gamers). Always keep an open mind in gaming as you never know how much fun a game can be until you try it!