Cast & Capture is an accessible, family-friendly game where each person plays a mage attempting to lure creatures for use in an Arcane Academy. Each mage uses certain cards in combination with a general available pool in order to “capture” creatures, depending on their power and specific element. Cast & Capture plays 2-5 players, and plays in about 30 minutes.
The contents of the review version of the game included a full-color game rules insert, 50 creature cards, and 54 spell cards. The cards are good quality, easy to shuffle, and include simplistic but stylish artwork. Art for every card was not final at the time of review, but what was included was a fairly broad array of various elemental creatures on five different-colored backdrops (red/blue/yellow/black/green), which signify the elemental alignment of the creature. Each creature card also has a number assigned to it, notating the creature power.
The spell cards have basic iconology to signify the elemental alignment of the spell, a number for the spell power, and a general spell name.
Each deck has a different color “reverse” side to facilitate ease of sorting cards between the creature and the spell decks.
The rule book is approximately 2 pages long, and includes full-color references to the starting layout and card references. The rules were laid out and illustrated very well, and left little questions after the first read-through.
Cast & Capture can be set up rather quickly by performing the following steps: First, make sure the decks are shuffled separately, and placed within reach of each player. Deal three Creature Cards face-up in the center of the play area, and deal four Spell Cards to each player.
Gameplay in Cast & Capture is relatively straight-forward. A turn consists of the following actions:
- The active player searches for creatures by drawing a creature from the Creature Deck and laying it adjacent to the other face-up creatures in the play area.
- Cast a spell to capture creatures in the play area.
- Memorize new spells (draw spell cards) if the player’s hand is empty (draw 4 cards)
At the heart of the game, the player is attempting to match a spell power and elemental alignment with a creature power and elemental alignment. A mage can draw spells from their hand, from a common “spell pool”, or a combination of the two. The “spice” comes in where blending spells and combining creatures are required to capture a creature (or creatures) in a turn.
Blending spells allows the player to combine two spells to capture a creature, where a standalone card would not have yielded a positive result. By doing this “blending” action, a player can effectively combine say a “7 power fire spell” and a “10 power water spell” to create a “10 power fire spell” or “7 power water spell”. This allows some flexibility in finding available creatures to target.
Combining creatures is also a possibility. In much the same way that spells are blended, creatures can be combined to become a hybrid of their original state. Therefore, a “1 power fire creature” blended with a “3 power earth creature” can become a “1 power earth creature” or a “3 power fire creature”. This allows the mage to procure both creatures, effectively doubling the creature acquisitions in the turn. Please note that if the spell created can effectively capture more than 1 creature, multiple creatures can be captured on each turn.
In the end, the game is concluded when a mage is out of cards and there are no further cards to draw from, or all creatures have been captured. The mage with the most creatures captured wins the game.
Cast & Capture is a nifty game that emulates a trick-taking game, but goes deeper due to the various combinations of cards and combinations that can be created. Some turns, I could not capture a single creature…then other turns, I captured as many as six! The game is a bit more strategic at lower player counts, as the player can set up their next turn strategy and follow-through with it on more occasions than not. Where the variability comes in is when there are 4-5 players, and moves really have to be calculated “ad-hoc”, as the landscape of creatures and spells available can be wildly different from turn-to-turn. Throw in the “wild element” and “wild power” cards for use in casting, and there is a lot of replay value contained within a small card box.
My family enjoyed the game, and look forward to our next session. The game is a win due to the variability, ease of teaching, and overall enjoyable experience. I would definitely recommend this game to a family with younger children, to help them refine strategy-building skills at an early age. These features, combined with an attractive art style and solid component quality will solidify Cast & Capture as a keeper in your collection.