King Arthur is possibly the greatest British legend. It has been represented in pretty much every medium, from the literary works of James Knowles or the cheesy glory that is 1981’s Excalibur, the world has pretty much been obsessed with the legend of Arthur and his knights. Not only has this meant numerous video games based on the legend being made, but it’s also led to the creation of several board games. Now we’ve got Super Camelot, a board game based on the legend but also on a video game. Wait…what?
Super Camelot was designed by Lyvannder Studios and takes the legend of King Arthur into the world of pixel-based video games. Rather it dunks Arthurian legends into a vat of 16-bit video games then pulls it back out again and slaps it onto a board game.
What Is Super Camelot About?
The point of Super Camelot is to try and get your hands on the Holy Grail. You can choose from one of several different characters from Arthurian legend. Obviously, King Arthur makes an appearance, as does Lancelot, but there are also some more obscure characters featured as well, people like Iseult, who I guarantee 90% of those reading had to Google (I know I did). You then move around Camelot, fighting enemies and visiting new locations to try and uncover shrines and unlock the temple containing the grail before your opponents…or you can just make a load of money instead. Right.
The main gameplay of Super Camelot is basically the original Legend of Zelda. Seriously, it’s exactly like it but with the legend of King Arthur plastered over the top of Hyrule. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either, and the game doesn’t seem particularly shy about it. There is at least one reference to the Zelda franchise that I found while playing, and there might even be more if you keep your eyes peeled.
As you might imagine, the original Zelda translates pretty well to a board game. It takes place from a top-down perspective and is divided up into tiles and squares. Each tile is 4×4 and contains enemies, treasures, bushes, and rocks. As you explore the tiles you place down at the start, you can expand the map until all the tiles have been used up, or at least until you’ve discovered everything that you need to win.
The way that you move across tiles in Super Camelot is interesting. Being based on the first Zelda title, the game functions in a similar manner. As you enter a tile, you place down all of the features onto it. Then, when you leave a tile, you remove most of the features, except things like chests and shrines. This means that enemies die and respawn every time you enter an area, even if you cleared it out.
One After the Other in Super Camelot
Each player takes a turn one after the other, first performing three actions for themselves and then activating any enemies that happen to be on the same map tile. Each enemy has a specific type of behavior that they abide by each turn, and each enemy drops different types of loot.
Since you only start out with six hit points, and some enemies can deal three points of damage in a single hit, you’re probably going to die a lot. Not that it really matters. You don’t actually die in the game after all. Instead, when you hit 0 HP, you lie your character down and skip your next turn, reviving with just 1 HP. This does mean that Super Camelot can get a bit slow at times. If you and the other players get stuck in a death loop, it can really suck, although you do get three actions per turn when you revive to try and fix the situation.
It’ll Probably Run You Longer Than You Think It Will
Do not believe what it says on the box at all. 20-30 minutes is nowhere near enough time to get a game of Super Camelot done. When we played it, our sessions ran at least an hour each time. Not sure if we just moved slowly, or if they just underestimated how long things took, but that’s the result we ended up with. Mostly, the time was taken up by having to remove and re-add components each time we left and re-entered a room. It’s not an issue as having features respawn each time you enter a location makes it easier to gain money and items, but it should be known that it’s going take a while to get through this thing.
If I had to actually nit-pick the game, I would say that there’s not much variety to the enemies. It gets a bit dull on repeated playthroughs, and I don’t see why there couldn’t have been a single-player or co-op variant that used a lives system to make it possible to actually die. In short, it just feels like there’s a lot missing in the design of Super Camelot. With some extra rules written up, a lot of depth could be added to the game.
Here’s the Lowdown:
Overall, Super Camelot is a lot of fun. It would be pretty brutal if you could actually die, but honestly, it’s more time-consuming than brutal. It gets pretty intense towards the end when all the shrines containing relics have been collected. Just don’t expect to be playing it over and over again. If you can be bothered to come up with some extra rules for it, then you can make the game feel 40 times deeper than it is right now. If not, have fun busting this out when your retro-loving friends come over.
Designer: Josh Derksen, Thomas M. Gofton, Aron Murch
Artist: Aron Murch
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs, Lynnvander Studios