Publisher: Randover Games
Game Designer: Casey McCormick, Ben Stiers
Artwork: Chelsea Flores
Ages: 8 & up
Playing Time: 15-30 minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $20.00
Cast & Capture is a new 2-5 player card game just launched on Kickstarter from Randover Games that is a fast playing, fresh take on the old fishing game, Cassino that plays in less than 30 minutes. This game has cast a spell on me with its charming play and captured a permanent spot in my gaming bag thanks to its clever matching mechanics and light puzzle solving that provides an engaging and quick playing filler for all age groups.
The premise of Cast & Capture is that you are a mage specializing in the capture of mysterious creatures for the Arcane Academy. Using your in-depth knowledge of the earth’s elements and arcane powers you compete with other mage’s to see who can capture the most creatures and become the Master Capturer!
Cast & Capture is playable by anyone due to scaling rules that adjust the difficulty levels for its current audience and can be played as a simple fishing game, direct matching card-for-card or using the expanded blending rules. The simple matching aspect will be easy for young children to grasp, making this a great game for the entire family. Older kids and adults will find the spell blending and creature grouping an ever changing puzzle allowing for multi-card captures a more satisfying challenge.
My review copy is a prototype, so I won’t judge the components in this review but I was quite pleased with the quality of the art and readability of the cards in the proto. After my discussions with Casey and Ben from Randover Games, I’m confident the final product will be very good.
The 54 spell cards are broken down into five suits of ten cards each, one for each element in the game; Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Spirit along with four wild cards, two each for elements and power. The spell cards are fairly plain with the spell’s number and element icon dominating the center of the card in its corresponding color in oversized text. Each spell and creature card also has a unique name assigned to it allowing you to create new spells and creatures when you blend and group. Although it doesn’t impact gameplay directly, it’s a very nice creative touch.
The creature art dominates the center of each of the creature cards and I was impressed with the work of new artist Chelsea Flores, she has done an excellent job bringing these fantastical creatures to life with her drawings and vibrant colors. In my prototype, 28 of the 50 cards had finished art and each piece has a distinct look and feel that fits the game’s premise wonderfully.
The two-sided rule sheet is very well done and clearly explains the rules with concise directions and multiple examples, allowing you to be playing in minutes.
The gameplay of Cast & Capture is very simple yet may feel a bit confusing to follow at first, especially for adults because there are multiple paths for matching and it plays different from what you normally expect in a fishing game. Interestingly enough, Casey from Randover Games told me that in their playtests they found children were much quicker at picking up the grouping and blending than adults were, youthful perception FTW!
Cast & Capture plays fine in its straight matching format and can help reinforce number and color matching for younger children, allowing a fun way to reinforce learning. However, the game really meets its full potential when using the blending and grouping rules because it makes for an interesting and evolving puzzle that plays like a trick taking game, challenging you to match up as many pairs as you can each turn.
After the spell and creature decks are shuffled separately, players receive four spell cards each and three creature cards are laid out in the center of the table. To one side of the creature cards will be the spell pool; these are the cards that all players may use to blend spells with cards from their hand.
On their turn, each player adds a new creature card and then must play a spell card to capture a creature and if there are no matches, they discard one of their spell cards to the community spell pool. Players try to make as many matches as possible in one of two ways. Just as in the easy, kid-friendly mode, you can simply match the value and element of a spell card (number and color) in your hand or in the spell pool to that of a creature card on the table.
The second way is through the blending of spells and grouping of creatures from a constantly changing puzzle of cards to solve each turn. While it may sound a little complex at first, it’s actually very simple.
To capture more than one creature you’ll need to group them together in pairs, this is done by combining two creature cards whose paired value and element matches a spell card in your hand or in the spell pool. Each card has a value and element, a number and a color, that needs to be matched to capture it.
For example, using the 4 Ball of Earth (4 green) spell card available in the spell pool here, I can capture these five creatures using a straight match and blending two other pairs together. The 4 Earth directly matches the 4 Chin Champ and by pairing the 4 Wind Plainsrunner with the 3 Earth Harehound, I’ve now created a 4 Earth Plainshound and the same for the Merwoggle. Using one card from the spell pool, I’ve scored a huge five captures and cut the spell pool by one without using any of the cards in my hand. Part of the strategy in the game is denying your opponents assistance from the spell pool by using those cards first, if you can.
If you don’t have a direct match using a single card from your hand or the spell pool, you can blend one card from each in the same way as creature grouping. The only limitation on blending spells or grouping creatures is that you cannot combine like with like, so same numbers or elements cannot be combined together to form a new spell or creature. You can also use wild cards for either the number or element, these are used the same way as in most every other card game and are great to hold onto for when your hand is running short!
Once you’ve used or discarded all of the cards in your hand, draw four new cards from the spell deck. The game ends when one player is out of cards and no other spell cards can be drawn or the last creature has been captured. Creatures that you capture go in pile near you and are tallied at the end of the game, whoever has captured the most cards wins!
Cast & Capture plays well with two people but is best with four or more as the number of cards put into play increases, creating a greater chance for multiple card captures. The game plays pretty quick, generally lasting around 20 minutes or so.
As you can see, this is a very easy game to learn and play. The first time or two out may be a little confusing as you are learning to think critically across multiple paths, matching numbers to colors for two different decks but after a couple of games it becomes much easier and enjoyable to see the matches.
I really enjoy the observation needed to spot the matches in Cast & Capture, especially with a larger group because with more cards on the table it has a hidden picture puzzle game feel to it.
Cast & Capture hits my sweet spot for fun because although it’s a fishing game, it feels like a trick taking game and that ranks it right up there with a big favorite of mine, Diamonds. I find it a relaxing and challenging game that is a neat little cool down play at the end of the night.
The game can feel a little repetitive after multiple plays in one sitting which keeps this in the filler category and not a main game and for some, the matching mechanics may not really click or be enjoyable. As with any filler game, everyone has different tastes and expectations but if you like puzzles and trick taking games this one’s for you.
The backing level for the game is $20 and with a modest $7,000 project goal, this game has a solid chance at funding. Stretch goals planned include a new game mode, better quality cards and a 20 card expansion increasing the game to six players.
I enjoy the clever mechanics of Cast & Capture and found it a quite satisfying filler game. Using the simple number and color matching format makes the game kid friendly while older kids and adults will find the added complexity of combining cards from two different decks to capture creature cards an entertaining, relaxing and surprisingly challenging diversion with a trick taking feel.
If you’re looking for a charming little card game that can fit any age group, this is one to back!
Company Website: http://randovergames.com/
Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randovergames
Company Twitter: https://twitter.com/RandoverGames
Note: A preview copy of this game was provided to me.