Updated: Dec 18, 2018
One of the very first games that I bought that introduced me to the deeper world of board gaming was Shadows Over Camelot. To work together with a group of friends acting as King Arthur or one of his Knights of the Round Table was an amazing theme that instantly drew me in.
The simultaneous quests that were all begging for your attention; do you retrieve Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake? Do you put aside your fears to search for the Holy Grail? Do you accept the challenge of the Black Knight? Can you slay the dragon threatening the land? Or do you direct your efforts to stop the invading armies sieging not only your castle, but the shores of you land? This already seems like too much to handle for a few worthy knights, but what makes it even more difficult is the constant fear that one of your fellow knights may have come under the influence of Morgana, one of the great villains of Arthurian legend, and may secretly be a traitor waiting for the right time to unleash their plans and cause the downfall of Arthur Pendragon and his faithful knights.
Shadows Over Camelot has a great theme that allows each player to feel like a knight protecting the realm. There will always be tough choices, and not every quest can be completed in time, so it is up to the knights to work together and spend what precious resources they have at their disposal to save their land before evil comes crashing down on them.
While the game will begin to feel repetitive after ten or more plays, that does not diminish the fun that I have each time I bring it to the table. The double-sided quest boards, the seven different knights - each with their own unique power, and above all, the tension of knowing that a traitor could be in your midst and is waiting for the most opportune moment to dash hopes of the faithful knights keeps the game fresh each time it's played. Additionally, there is an available expansion, Merlin’s Company, that adds additional content to allow for more options when setting up the game.
Learnability and Difficulty Shadows Over Camelot is always one of the games that I recommend for people who are ready to take their first steps deeper in to the hobby of board gaming. It is a wonderful cooperative game that does not rely on difficult to understand mechanics or ideas and is a game that is quite teachable to just about every gamer. However, the game itself is quite difficult; especially if the traitor is an experienced gamer as they will know just how to hurt the knights at the worst time, in most cases sealing the fate of the realm. The key to the game is taking on only the quests that you know you can work together to complete, while understanding that it is a losing endeavor to try and complete them all. It is sometimes best to let the Saxon or Pict army successfully invade, or let the holy relics of legend slip from your grasp. I have found that the first time I teach the game to new people, I will explain to them that there is a traitor mechanic but we will not use it for the first play-through so as to let them all understand and enjoy the experience before putting them to the test of trusting each other and being wary of a traitor.
Shadows Over Camelot does hold a special place in my collection and is a game that I know will never lose its spot on my shelf. It was one of my gateway games and I have used it on so many occasions to introduce other people to the enjoyment of board gaming. I would recommend all gamers take the opportunity to find a copy and give it a good play as I think you will all enjoy the feeling of being a brave knight protecting your home.
Suggested Sand Box Gaming Products
The Shadows Over Camelot Bundle
2 Single Card Inserts