Culdcept Review

What do you get when you mix Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering, and toss in a healthy does of Japanese anime? The answer is Culdcept, a very popular game in Japan that is now making its US debut. The story in Culdcept is that a goddess by the name of Culdra has created a book of creation that can be used to control the universe. Wizards known as ceptors use magic spells cast from cards in a battle to obtain and control the book. The problem is that in the wrong hands this book can be used to destroy the universe, so it is up to you to defeat all of the other ceptors and save the universe. Why?  Because that’s just the kind of guy you are. OK, so the story’s actually kind of odd in a Japanese sort of way but in reality it accounts for only a small portion of the game. Most of your game time will actually be spent dueling with other ceptors on game boards. The story part of that game is a spectator sport as you watch the limited action from the standard RPG three quarters overhead perspective. Your control during the story scenes is limited to hitting the button to advance the conversation text to the next page. This is supposed to serve the purpose of presenting you with the motivation for the duels, but I could have done without it. I found the story to be a little goofy and felt that it wasted time that could have been better spent battling another ceptor.

The Culdcept game board.

When a battle begins the action is moved to a game board that consists of a series of colored squares linked together in a closed loop. The first board looks just like a monopoly board, with the spaces aligned into a square and with two special squares placed at opposite corners of the board. As you make your way through the game, though, you’ll see ever more complex boards in variety of shapes and with features such as bridges and warp points.

Each space on the board is in one of four different colors that represents its magical element alignment - fire, water, wind, or earth. The alignment of the space has an effect on the battles that take place there, but more on that later. Play is turn-based, and on his or her turn the player rolls a die and moves his or her token the resultant number of squares. Like Monopoly, the first player to land on a square has the option to claim it for his own by summoning a creature to guard the square. Owning squares provides a couple of benefits. The first is that they generate gold income for you each time you complete a circuit of the board. These squares can also be upgraded to provide a greater income level, although it will cost you some gold up front to do so. There are also benefits to owning adjacent squares of the same land type. If a player lands on another player’s square, then he’ll need to pay a gold penalty to the square’s owner. This will all seem familiar to Monopoly players, but there is a difference in that you don’t have to pay the penalty if you decide to attack the guardian creature and defeat it. Monopoly doesn’t let a player lay waste to another player’s hotels after all – unless you played against my brother when he was a kid. Fighting to win a square is accomplished by summoning creatures and using spell cards, but more on that in a bit.

Culdcept is more than just moving a token around a game board. Players have the ability to cast spells and summon monsters during play. The spells that can be cast and the creatures that can be summoned are determined by the spell cards held by each ceptor. These cards are pulled from the ceptor’s deck of spell cards at random - each player begins with five cards and draws one new card each turn. These cards come in three varieties, the first of which are creatures. As mentioned previously, Creatures are summoned to garrison and protect a square when the square is first captured by a captor and are also summoned to attack another ceptor’s creature when trying to capture a square. Each creature is given a base attack and hit point numbers that determine its relative strength. In addition, some creatures are given special attacks or receive bonuses if fighting on certain types of lands. The next group of cards consists of weapons, armor, and special attacks known as item cards that are used during creature battles to modify the attack and/or hit point ratings of a creature or to provide a temporary bonus. Finally there are a set of spell cards which can be cast from the game board at the beginning of your turn. These have a variety of effects which include affecting the dice rolls, eliminating cards from your opponent’s hand, and attacks on garrison creatures to soften them up a bit before the next battle.