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Castle Itter

4.0 out of 5 stars 13 ratings

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Product description

During a game of Castle Itter, you take the role of the force that defended the castle from 0400 - 1600 on 5 May 1945. The goal of the game is to last until the SS deck is depleted, without allowing SS Counters to reach the castle. You score points for each Defender that survives the assault and lose points for each SS Counter remaining on the board at the end of the game - the higher your score, the better.

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Reviewed in the United States on December 25, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic World War II Solo Game!
By Cody Carlson on May 25, 2020
Castle Itter from DVG, is a solo game based upon the strangest battle of World War II. A few days after Adolf Hitler killed himself in Berlin, but before the Flensburg government surrendered to the Allies, an American unit liberated French POWs from the castle. The Wehrmacht jailers surrendered to the Americans. However, an SS unit quickly moved in and tried to reclaim the castle. The Wehrmacht soldiers joined the Americans and their former French prisoners to hold off the SS assault, and an Austrian resistance fighter joined them as well. About two dozen men fought off the attack for twelve hours and held on to the castle before one of the French POWs escaped and was able to call reinforcements from a nearby town.

The game board is a map of the castle, the gatehouse, and an American tank, the Besotten Jenny, which guarded the main rode into the complex. The buildings and thank each have spaces for counters in different sections, and around the outside of the board are SS spawning spaces numbered two through twelve. On the player's turn he can place up to five of the Defender counters on the board and take an action. After all the Defenders are on the board, the player can access the French prisoners, and put them on the board as well. Each turn, the player can take five actions with the defenders. They can move to a different space in the same section, and then take another action, they can move to a different section (which exhausts the unit), they can attack by rolling dice equal in number to their attack value (exhausts), they can suppress by placing n number of dice equal in number to the suppress value in the appropriate suppress box (exhausts), they can recover by becoming unexhausted or removing a disrupted token, or the can exercise a special counter action, (for instance, commanders can unexhuast up to three other counters by exhausting themselves). A specific French POW can try to escape to get reinforcements early, and more. To attack, a player selects a target and rolls his dice. He kills the SS unit if the roll is equal to or greater than the unit's defense number. The player can only attack SS units in the track color that matches the color of their space.

Next, the SS AI goes. The player draws three cards from an SS deck, which can do several things. The deck can spawn more SS units like Rifleman (weakest), Scouts (medium), and Sturm (strongest). Once these units spawn they push other units along the tracks closer to the castle - which is bad for the Defenders. The deck can also spawn machine guns and mortars, which can disrupt Defenders (if a Defender gains more than one disrupt token they die). If the player has suppress tokens in the appropriate box, he can roll an equal number of die to prevent them from spawning. There are also heavier artillery pieces which attack sections of the castle, the gatehouse, or the tank, lowering the defense values and making it easier to disrupt Defenders. The sniper card can kill a Defender. The deck is constructed so that over time it becomes more difficult. At one point, three more Defenders can join the battle, and eventually, if the French POW escapes, a card may be added toward the bottom of the deck which may end the game earlier. If ever an SS unit reaches the end of the track and has to advance again, the game immediately ends and the player loses. If the player can make it to the reinforcement card or the final card of the SS deck, the game ends and scores a number of factors. If he has a score of at least "1", he wins the game.

I'm usually not a big solo gamer, but I really like this game. Intuitive rules make this an easy game to learn and to play, always a plus. It feels very much like a Victory Points Games' State of Siege game, with defenders trying to hold a position against the advancing enemy on several tracks. What I really like here is the story. The player gets sucked into the, actually seeing the Defenders as people, bravely holding out against seemingly impossible odds. Your Defenders become heroes as the they valiantly fight back against the relentless SS. As the game progressive you get more and more invested, fearing the next SS card but knowing that the only way out is through. It's frustrating to take the time to refresh one unit on a turn, then have him miss on the next turn knowing it could very well cost you, but is also incredibly rewarding when you can survive a turn by the skin of your teeth and then begin to make back ground. A great adventure game, I highly recommend Castle Itter. If you're like me and not terribly into solo gaming (I've become more so since the Pandemic), this is a great game to start with.

The Discriminating Gamer
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Reviewed in the United States on August 19, 2021