Review: Shadows over Camelot Card Game – traitor at round table returns

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - packaging

Excalibur is lost once again. Nobody knows, how it happened, but it happened at the worst possible moment. The Picts and Saxons threaten Camelot with another attack and second dragon appeared on the horizon, probably a sibling of that one, who was heroically defeated by the Knights about a year ago.

This means one thing: Peace in Arthur’s kingdom lasted only for a moment and Knights of the Round Table must again go into battle. But there is a certainty: there is a traitor among them, who delivered Excalibur to forces of evil. Nobody knows, who carried it beyond the gates of the castle. Even Merlin’s did not see anything in his prophetic visions. But he is sensing presence of Morgan a kingdom borders. Will she be behind it all? Would be Knights again able to avert the impending danger? With your help, they can..

Who would not like an excellent card game Shadows over Camelot (review), which relies on the beautiful game board, exquisite figurines and simple system. All of these components are only to enrich your experience of combat from what is otherwise a card adventure.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - game is ready

And so authors and decided, that they refrain game system, sweep everything unnecessary and offer it to us in a concentrated form and powerful simple card game. This decision began to write history of , which was published this autumn by .

Box contains a lovely fantasy picture showing a knight stretching for the Holy Grail and dragon hidden in shadows in the back. Inside this little oblong box, you will find two kinds of cards – square and classic. But in addition, a single sheet with tokens and especially with familiar swords from the original board game. There is sixteen of them and are reversible – one side shows black sword for the success of evil, the other side is white and makes you happy. Ten tokens indicate individual pictures of expeditions.

But most important are the cards. The classic ones can be split according to the back side into two different piles. Green background marks nine cards of loyalty, which determine for each game, who will be a loyal knight of the Round Table and who is a traitor. Along with cards of knights, which are used only as an expansion, are together only a minority in the box. The main component are square cards of rumors, and there is 62 of them. You can find either pictures of adventures awaiting knight, or characters, whose visit will affect the next storyline, on them.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - game in progress

Each of the rumors about the possible adventure tells players, how big a threat of this particular storyline is. In the upper left corner, you will find number indicating importance of this rumor. Then on the right is reward (or punishment) for completion of this quest. In the lower corner there is a symbol of quest for easier overview, just like a different background color of each task, to easily diferentiate them. But they have also different pictures.

Preparing the game differs depending on whether you’re playing a basic or advanced version. We will describe now only the simpler one and we will deal with advanced afterwards. That means, that we can return knights cards to the box.

Now, players will randomly draw one loyalty card with green back and put it in front of themselves with a picture down. Only they can look at it and see, if they will be true to round table this game, or take on role of traitors. Other cards should be prepared in the center of the table. But if you play with less than seven players, cards for loyalty draw should contain only one traitor, so the game is not too difficult for loyal knights. But of course, it is up to the players, if you want the game to be more challenging.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - game in progress

Now you need to prepare a rumor deck. Sort out cards with picture of Morgan, because the game will contain only a few random cards of these. Recommend rules for the basic game say six, and with increasing their number, you also increase difficulty of the whole game. Morgan guarantees a really tricky problems for you. Now you mix all the other cards together with Morgan to make a rumor drawing deck and set it face down in the center of the table. Tokens are put next to it.

Swords start the game off the table, because their presence indicates a balance between good and evil in your game, and who is closer to winning the game. But the situation can turn with each move, so you should not celebrate prematurely or worry, everything is still possible in following turns.

Progress of the game is very simple. Basically it is a game based on memory, oversight, estimation and luck. Yet there is not real coincidence in the game, which would be uncontrollable. Stille randomness is one of the main theme of the game, because players gradually rotate cards from the deck of rumors and create a pile of threats.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - cards

Besides listening to rumors, players have a chance to choose two other actions, which can they do instead of turning new card. Either you can go on an expedition corresponding to the last turned card, that means the one, that is currently on top of threats pile. Or as a third option, you can accuse any of your fellow knights (players) of being a traitor and working for the dark side.

But you spend most of the time really by turning cards. Task of the player seems simple – watch the value of the cards and combine them into sets in your mind, according to quest, they belong to. When a player thinks, that sum of played rumor cards is equal to eleven, twelve or thirteen bound to currently active adventure (= card on top of thread pile), he can embark on a quest, instead of drawing new rumor.

You now have to takes whole threat pile and sort it by color. Special character cards, which we have not talked yet, are put aside. Now you are only interested in quest cards. Once sorted, you sum up value for each of them separately.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - game in progress

You start by evaluating an adventure, which you set out to complete. If total value of the cards in this expedition is in range from 11 to 13, then it was a successful quest for your knight and good gains reward in form of white swords. Their number is printed on the card as sword icons. You can puts them on the table with white side up.

But it often happens, that a player misses with his guess. If the number is lower than ten for your adventure, you must add one new black sword. Worse situation occurs in case, when the number exceeds thirteen. Such situation means, that threat has become too great and it hurt your kingdom. This means a penalty equal to that many black swords, how many are sword icons on the card.

The same applies to other adventures, where you’ll find in sum larger than thirteen. You add the swords also for them, because knights were unable to foresee the threat, while it could still be prevented. These black swords get you closer and closer to defeat.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - cards

The game ends, when there are at least seven white or black swords on the table. You must still evaluate current quest and then a traitor reveals his identity, if he is present in the game. If players failed to identify him during the game, they immediately lose one white sword, which is turned to its black side. In this way a happy victory can easily become a sad loss. If good or evil now has seven swords, it is immediately victorious. Otherwise, the game must continue until a condition of seven swords is met again.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game is essentially very simple game, that revolves around a simple computation. But due to the number of quest presen in the deck – five different adventures – it is not easy to keep track of all of them. And that ensures, that matches are exciting and interesting, even if its played by experienced players.

Of course, we have described the game a bit simplistic in the preceding paragraphs. Rumor deck in addition to the numbered cards contains also those, that have a question mark instead of a value. The value of these rumors is based on the number of other rumor cards present in the deck. For each numeric card, the question mark card have value of one more.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - game in progress

There is not exclamation in the rules, stating clearly, that after every adventure is evaluated, all the cards from the threat deck are put into the discard pile, and you are starting new from scratch.

And were are not counting all the character cards, who disrupt the course of the game. Morgan will prepare really hard time for players, when she adds one sword in addition to the following quest, or makes eleven a failure number or turns all question marks to value of one.

But there is one feature of Morgan, which is related to the whole game. Shadows over Camelot: Card Game is a game inherently cooperative. This is the smallest game based on the cooperation, that we have played so far in our newsroom. This means, that players will constantly argue about, how much is currently in the package of each adventure, and persuade each other, when it would be appropriate to go on a quest. But in a moment, when a Morgan card appears on top of threat pile, all talking must cease. Knights can not talk to each other, until Merlin card appears or until one of the brave heroes embarks on a quest by himself. This means, that players can not rely on the ability and knowledge of others, but solely and only on themselves.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - sword tokens

The cooperative system is also seemingly linked to our only complaint. Since the game is based on memory, in multiplayer missions you can divide remembering of quests among players to achieve relatively good coverage and high awareness. In such situation, the side you play against, does not have a chance. But there are two reasons, why this is not so true. Firstly, there is traitor, who can lie and moreover, there are Morgan moments, when everybody must play for himself.

You meet traitor almost in every game in a larger number of players. The suspicion, mistrust and paranoia is the thing, this game benefits the most. Great news is, that the unfaithful knight also works in a duel of two players, which makes it almost as much fun.

Besides counting wrong and persuading players about wrong sums, traitor has even more ways to secretly harm others. This is offered by certain Morgan cards, which are more insidious. Vivien character can bring real chaos regarding loyalty cards. She allows players to change sides during the game! The player can take loyalty cards set aside (unused) at the beginning of the game and keep any of them, including the one you have from the beginning. So if you have now a traitor and loyal knight cards, you can decide, which side you want to join.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - cards

In two participants, we found the game to be much more difficult. And we even never once happened, that there was a traitor in the game, who would make a complete route to victory for evil. And what does such a revealed traitor do for the rest of the game? He spreads rumors. In each round, he draws two cards straight from the deck and chooses one to play, while he puts the other one aside.

I just remembered: we did not talk at all, about how accusation of another player looks like. This accusation may be a common decision or just the player’s. The risk is present, if the knight accuses incorrectly, whole group suffers one black sword. If they succeed and reveal a traitor, get one sword white.

Now briefly about the knighthood extension, that brings into play also other cards. Evil gets angry every time you successfully fulfill quest and players must put one new card of Morgan into deck. In contrast, when players fail on quest, knights rush to help you with their abilities. Players keet cards in secret and can play them at time, which is clearly specified by the card.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game - tokens

Processing of the game is excellent. Cards are beautifully illustrated, and tokens are of good quality, just like swords. Box is well designed – everything fits into it without problems and additional bagging. You can easily take game with you, because the game does not take a lot of space (only two piles on the table), it can be played just about anywhere, even on the road. Our only complaint thus seeks to two similar shades of quests – Excalibur and Saxons have both colors in shade of blue, and so you have to recognize then with help of icon in the bottom left corner. A better color scheme would be nice.

Shadows over Camelot: Card Game is a game, that brings atmosphere of original board game perfectly into simplified and completely different form. These two games have basically nothing in common except the name and a few basic principles. The main attraction and reason to play new and new matches is obviously a traitor role. Everyone wants to try it, and all without distinction enjoy it, especially the kids. This is another distinct advantage in this game – it is very simple and can be easily played in the family circle, if you do not mind dirty tricks. Matches are fast, dynamic, and thanks to shuffled package always with different rumors. Prepare your swords, switch memory to the highest speed and get ready to fight evil. But do not forget to watch your back!

DesignerBruno Cathala, Serge Laget
ArtistCyrille Daujean, Julien Delval
PublisherDays of Wonder
Year Published
# of Players1 - 7
User Suggested # of Players Best with 7 players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 players
(14 voters)
Playing Time20
Mfg Suggested Ages8 and up
User Suggested Ages8 and up
(3 voters)
Language DependenceSome necessary text - easily memorized or small crib sheet
(4 voters)
CategoryBluffing, Card Game, Deduction, Fantasy, Medieval, Memory, Mythology
MechanicCooperative Game, Memory, Team-Based Game
ExpansionShadows over Camelot: The Card Game – Merlin & Morgan Promo cards
FamilyGame: Shadows over Camelot, Theme: King Arthur / The Knights of the Round Table / Camelot, Versions & Editions: Card Versions of Non-Card Games
Primary NameShadows over Camelot: The Card Game
Alternate NamesSchatten über Camelot: Das Kartenspiel, Shadows over Camelot: Le Jeu de Cartes

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Shadows over Camelot Card Game – traitor at round table returns
Final word
Shadows over Camelot: Card game is very pleasant and interesting cooperative fun, which builds everything mostly on its simplicity and memory. Players have to watch cards, which are revealed and count their values according to different adventures in the deck. They can cooperate in remembering only parts of it, but only until Morgan character comes into play. Then all communication must stop for given period of time. Now players have to do their own decisions, which will affect everyone. This is how they become heroes. Swords are showing its white and black sides and balance is slowly leaning towards one side. Which will it be? It depends only on you and your skills. There can be lot of obstacles in your way, but even helpers, if you add expansion into the game. But in the first place, there is treason, which can be in your own ranks. Such player has different victory conditions, but can change identity during the match! This card game is excellent choice for everyone, who likes intense short card games.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
simple mechanics
emphasis on memory
tense game
traitor
expansion
players can communicate only, when no Morgan is present
cooperative game
difficulty
Cons
memory challenge only in fewer players
3
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