Shadows Over Camelot
Shadows over Camelot box cover
|Playing time||90 minutes|
Shadows Over Camelot is an Arthurian-themed board game designed by Serge Laget and Bruno Cathala. The game was also published in French as Les Chevaliers de la Table Ronde and in German as Schatten über Camelot. Players take on the roles of Knights of the Round Table (with the possibility that one player takes the role of traitor) and play the game by fulfilling quests. The game is cooperative in that a shared victory or loss is possible in the absence of a traitor, and a traitor does not benefit by revealing himself too early. The endgame with a revealed traitor is, by contrast, a competitive game of asymmetric teams.
In 2008, an expansion for Shadows over Camelot was released titled Merlin's Company.
This game was featured in an episode of Geek & Sundry's Tabletop on October 3rd, 2013.
The Knights of the Round Table in the game are King Arthur, Sir Galahad, Sir Gawain, Sir Kay, Sir Percival, Sir Palamedes, Sir Tristan of Lyonesse. Additionally, an alternate character, Sir Bedivere, has been distributed in games trade magazines and at conventions as a promotional item. The character is also available as part of the Shadows Over Camelot expansion Merlin's Company.
Shadows over Camelot is a cooperative board game, a genre in which players work together in order to try to defeat a game system which itself is moving the game toward defeat for all the players. There is a chance that one knight is secretly a traitor, plotting the downfall of the others loyal to Camelot. The existence of the traitor turns a fairly simple game system into a hotbed of paranoia and accusation.
Each turn a player must first suffer the "progression of evil". They either decrease their health, add a siege engine to those attacking Camelot, or draw a black card, which will usually make one of the quests harder to complete. After the progression of evil, each player takes a heroic action, which includes moving to or returning from a quest location, advancing a quest toward victory, playing a "special white" card, discarding three identical cards to gain one life point, or accusing one knight of being a traitor. In addition, while at Camelot, the player has the option of fighting a siege engine or drawing two white cards in addition to the normal heroic actions. Finally, each player may choose to lose one health point to perform a second, different heroic action. For example, a player may move to a quest, choose to lose one health point, and begin to advance the quest toward victory, a series of actions that would otherwise require two turns. Moreover, each player also has a "special power", which can be performed once per turn in addition to his or her heroic action(s).
The board of Shadows over Camelot depicts a number of locations, each with an associated quest. At the start of the game, they are: Camelot; the War against the Picts; the War against the Saxons; the tournament against the Black Knight; the quest for Excalibur; the quest for Lancelot's Armor; and the Grail Quest. The quests for the Grail, Excalibur, and Lancelot's armor can only be completed once, whereas the wars and the Black Knight tournament repeat. Once Lancelot's Armor has been retrieved or lost, the knights have the opportunity to defeat the Dragon. The success in all quests is determined by the playing of cards, mostly in various sets, and perhaps by the player's willingness to sacrifice their life to further advance a quest for the good for all loyal knights. For example, Grail cards are used to complete the Grail quest, a set of 1-2-3-4-5 in Fight is needed to complete the wars, and two pair of Fight are needed to complete the Tournament. For group quests, the cooperation of players is crucial for completing them quickly to gain the rewards before the progression of evil takes its toll (either the players' health is too depleted and/or there are too many siege engines). Quests are completed with the knights' success, in which case white swords are added to the Round Table, or by their failure, which results in black swords being added to the table.
The game ends once the Round Table is filled with twelve swords; if there are more white swords than black, the knights win; otherwise, they lose. In addition, the loyal knights will lose if they cannot fill the round table before twelve siege engines surround Camelot, or if they all perish fighting the forces of evil.
At the beginning of the game, a set of eight loyalty cards are dealt to the players. There are seven cards indicating 'loyal' and one card indicating 'traitor'. Since a game is played with at most seven players, not every game is guaranteed to have a traitor. Moreover, games of three players are often played without a traitor, since otherwise the game can become unbalanced. Should the players decide to play with the possibility of a traitor despite this risk, the rules recommend for each player to wait until after six turns before looking at his or her loyalty card. In this manner, the loyal knights will have a slight head start and will be less likely to be defeated immediately.
Players can accuse each other, which constitutes a heroic action. A correct accusation leads to white swords being added to the Round Table, whereas an incorrect accusation results in a white sword being flipped to a black sword. Further, if the traitor is not unmasked by the end of the game, two white swords are flipped to black at the end, which may result in an unexpected defeat.
- Spiel des Jahres award for Best Fantasy Game, 2006.
- Origins Award for Gamer’s Choice Best Board Game of the Year, 2006.
- Official Shadows Over Camelot website
- Shadows Over Camelot at BoardGameGeek
- Shadows Over Camelot on Bruno Faidutti's Ideal Games Library