Escape from Castle Vox

Sillysoft, the makers of the Risk-a-like game series Lux, have warped the Risk genre once more into a rather swift playing (and dice free) simultaneous turn based game of land conquest. That game is entitled Castle Vox.

The game boasts a genre bending turn planning phase, where all actions are setup by all sides in the conflict, and then the game simultaneously resolves them in front of your very eyes. It also claims its a homage to the Axis and Allies style boardgames with a hint of Risk thrown in.

I’ve only given it a few plays, but from what I’ve tasted, I must say I like it. The turns are processed swiftly, the objectives are simple – capture all the castles, with bonuses being applied for grabbing land. The castles could be called “reinforcement centres”, essentially they act as your HQ, and the place where you feed in new units. The units on offer are two basic types; a defensively orientated foot soldier, or an offensively orientated cavalry unit. With such a simple framework, all flavours and tastes can be catered for, such as fantasy and medievil themes alongside military and historical themes. Infantry can wield swords or rifles, and Cavalry can be equine or motorised tanks.

Each planning phase tends towards channelling your defensive lines up against possible areas of attack, whilst pushing forward with your teammates with your offensive divisions. Once the movement has been set by dragging the unit icons, you can click on a Castle and order up new troops based on your resource gain from the previous round. The resource currency is calculated from your land secured. Units bought are initially stationed in the area where your Castle resides, and you can only move them out the following turn. This pump feeding of your troops to the defensive and front lines is key to holding areas and pushing forward to take more land. It simulates a rudimentary line of supply for your troops.

The maps themselves are very colourful and usually have thematic supporting images to spice it up a bit, but the land placement and connections also play a very important role in the defense of bottlenecks and control of multi-connected zones as gateways to other regions.

As the combat is simultaneously resolved, the areas contested flash in bright red as if to warn you of trouble ahead, and then settle into the victors colours to soothe your nerves upon a win, or to cheat you of your celebration. I found this slightly confusing, because you can have a faction playing the map as a red colour, but its a relatively trivial niggle.

The game allows you to play solo or as part of a team. It also supports online multiplayer, so the options for opponents (whether AI or Human) with varying degrees of skill are endless. With a map editor, and plenty of extra maps available for download, I can see this quick-fire hybrid becoming a firm staple of the Lux gamers diet.

Easy to learn, swift to play, with plenty of replay value and more maps and longevity to come along, it certainly seems like a good buy.

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Ian Bowes / spelk