In this interview with Castellion’s game designer Shadi Torbey, the talented artist tells us a little more about what he had in mind when creating the third instalment of his colorful Oniverse.
The starting point of Castellion was entirely different from any other game of the Oniverse: to create a game without any hand to manage.
With Castellion, I wanted the decisions to be instantaneous: at the beginning of a turn, the player draws a card and needs to decide immediately if he intends to play or discard it. And since he has no hand of cards, the management takes place somewhere else: the spatial organization of the played cards. Players then need to build something with these cards only, a structure, a building… a castle!
After a few test runs only, I decided to replace the cards with tiles that were much more stable and gave a better sense of construction.
Speaking of tiles, I thought I’d be interesting to add a special power to the discard action so it would create a greater dilemma. This power would then serve to make the castle stronger, able to defend itself.
But to defend the castle from what? That’s right: I needed a new villain!
That’s when I had the idea of a shape shifting monster inspired by The Thing by Carpenter, this cinematic traumatism of my nine-year-old self. To defeat this entity, the castle has to imitate the monster and also change its form, always getting bigger and stronger so it might resist to the monster’s three assaults, each of them more brutal than the last one.
These attacks are triggered when enough Traitor tiles, which are shuffled among the other tiles, are picked and placed. This system creates a great deal of pressure, forcing the players to choose between short term and long term preparation, for you never know when the first assault will occur!
The castle’s tiles are called Defender tiles and they represent both a piece of your castle and a defender. There are four types of defenders, each of them carrying a unique shape and a specific power. This power is activated whenever the tile is discarded, whereas the color indicates how and where to position this tile following a defensive formation.
You will need to master these different defensive formations in order to defeat the Menace, and use the right one depending on what form the Menace adopts to attack your castle. For example: if the Menace takes to traits of a harpy, your castle will need high towers to defend itself (these are made by aligning columns with tiles of the same color); if the Menace comes at you in a horde instead, you’ll need to put up lines of defense (rows with tiles of the same color)
In the end, Castellion presents itself as a descendant of my childhood puzzles: a puzzle we can do over and over again, because of its changing form and versatile pieces. It invites the player to explore all possibilities, but at the same time, reminds them that this is a race against an unavoidable menace.