Professor Treasure’s Secret Sky Castle Review
Game Type – Small Box
Number of Players – 2
Mechanics – Action Selection, Modular Board, Bluffing
Difficulty to learn – Easy
Release – 2018
MSRP - $25.00
Publisher – Level 99 Games
Recommended for fans of – Sellswords, abstract games
Level 99 Games is known for two things, interesting play mechanics and an anime ascetic that tends towards the shonen style of things. Today we’ll take a look at a game from them that has both those things, although the style skews away from their normal feel a little bit. Professor Treasure’s Secret Sky Castle is an interesting little game from their Duelist line that plays quick and has a bit of a Studio Ghibli vibe to it. Let’s start by looking at the game play.
This game plays over three rounds in which players try to score the most points by collecting treasure from the titular Secret Sky Castle. Each round a stack of treasure tiles is shuffled and set up in a 4x3 grid. Players then take their set of eight role cards and randomly remove two face down. A starting playing is chosen randomly and alternates in proceeding rounds. The first player then makes three sets of two cards each, while the second makes two sets of three cards each.
From here players take turns placing these sets of role cards in and around the castle as specified on the cards. All cards have a number that indicates the order they activate (lowest to highest) and an ability that allows them to claim a treasure card or interact with other role cards. Once all role cards have been placed, they activate in order and then everything resets for round two. At the end of three rounds the player with the most points worth of artifacts wins.
The trick to this game is reading your opponent and knowing when to place what roles. Your Jeweler may be able to take any tile in her column but if the other player has two lower numbered roles taking the best cards in that column it doesn’t do much good.
The rules are well written and have a ton of great examples of play, but they’re written on one sheet of paper that folds out to the size of a small poster! Level 99 does this a lot with their small games and its mind boggling why. I guess it’s a way of cutting costs, but how much more expensive could a five-page booklet be? It’s infuriating trying to look up rules on this thing!
The art and general design of this game really invokes a feel of classic Studio Ghibli or 80’s/90’s adventure anime in general. It’s pretty delightful and helps add a good dollop of theme to the game’s fairly abstracted mechanics.
There’s incredibly quick set-up and takedown here, which is good because you’ll probably want to play another go around after your first game.
Outside of the aforementioned “rulebook” issues, everything here is high quality. All of the cardboard components are very nice stock with the tile being very chunky and durable. I mentioned before that I liked the art but I want to say again that the fun, whimsical look really adds a lot to the overall presentation. Even the box it comes in is solid and well nice to look at!
I had a great time playing this! Level 99’s Duelist Line is great at filling out a collection with quick think-y two player games and this is no exception. Even if you don’t find yourself playing many one on one games, I’d check this one out. You can’t beat the $25 price point and it’s a nice one to have for all those times Ted gets to game night half an hour early. C’mon Ted!
P.S. One of my favorite Level 99 games, and favorite games in general, Millennium Blades has a Kickstarter for their new expansion, in which you can get the base game as well. You can check out my review of that masterpiece here and if you’re interested the Kickstarter is here.