Catacombs Review

After hearing nothing but good things, I decided that it was time to hunt down a copy of Catacombs.

Do you like flicking games, like PitchCar and Crokinole?  Then I think you'll be in for a treat with Catacombs - if not, then you can probably stop reading, because you'll hate the game!  Catacombs is a fairly standard dungeon crawler - you're a hero running through various rooms killing monsters, acquiring money, buying items, and trying to kill the final boss.  The twist, though, is that both you and the monsters attack by flicking your disks!  If you successfully hit the monster, then they take damage.  If they hit you, then you take damage.  Some of your monsters will only be able to flick their own disk (do melee attacks), whereas others will be able to do ranged attacks, or even cast spells (thus adding more disks to the board, or affecting the disks in some other way).  If you are able to flick your way all the way to the final room and defeat the evil overlord, then you have won!  (Oh, and you've also beaten your friend who actually gets to flick the disks belonging to the bad guys.)

So, let me confess - I love dexterity games.  I really enjoy PitchCar, Crokinole, Clout, and many, many others.  And, as much as I love PitchCar, I don't really need to buy another game that does the exact same thing (though I have bought two sets of the base game).  Fortunately, Catacombs really has a different feel than any other dexterity game that I have ever played.  Between having different characters with different abilities, monsters that deal you damage, items that you can purchase, and even having the ability to be incapacitated, Catacombs truly gives you the feel of a dungeon crawler, but one that appeals to dexterity fans.

The Barbarian is surrounded!
My next pro for Catacombs is that I like how they set up "obstacles" in the different rooms.  The game would be fairly boring if each turn the heroes and monsters setup on opposite sides of the board from each other and just shot directly at one another.  Fortunately, in Catacombs, each room has 5-6 "obstacles" (large grey disks) that represent various formations (whether pillars, or stones, or something else) in the room that monsters and heroes can hide behind.  These obstacles aren't in the same place in every room, either - there are 3 different boards, each with the obstacles in different places; and each board is double sided (which flip the start zones) so that there are 6 total obstacle configurations.  I thought that the entire concept of having obstacles in the room was brilliant, and it really adds to the enjoyment of Catacombs.

The final pro that I will mention for Catacombs is that it is very replayable.  There are a lot of different rooms, monsters, evil overlords, and even items in the game - enough that you will not use all of them in any given game.  This helps give you the feeling that you're not playing the same game over and over.  Honestly, I enjoyed the game (and the dexterity element of it) enough that I could probably play the same game over and over.  However, there is no need - each time I play, I will get a (mostly) fresh experience.  (By the way, did I mention that I love dexterity games, and that Catacombs does dexterity well?  That's another 3-4 pros right there!  Dexterity is fun.)

The Wizard with his summons
With all that I love about Catacombs (and, really, I do love the game), there is one major nuisance in it.  Disks go flying off the board all of the time.  I really think that this game would be ideally played in some kind of enclosed board, where all of your excess disks would be caught - possibly on a pool table (but where the pockets are filled in).  Plus, when a disk goes flying off the board, you are supposed to place it back where it left.  Right - this actually turns into where your best guess is that it might have left the board because, ultimately, you might have no idea.  But, that's ok - as long as everyone is playing the game for fun, I think that this con will not hinder your enjoyment.

Ok, maybe there are actually two major nuisances.  The second one is that it is really, really hard to tell what each disk hit after a shot.  When three or four disks are clumped together, and you shoot a piece into the group (hoping to hit several of them) and they all go flying, it's very difficult to determine which ones were hit directly (thus damaged) and which ones were hit indirectly (which does not deal damage).  If you're playing with someone ultra-competitive who isn't willing to realize that this is a game and should be played for fun, this can be incredibly frustrating.  

The last thing I will mention is this - when flicking, it might be a good idea to have someone else hold the gameboard down.  I have actually watched people flick the board while playing.  Their disk was towards the edge of the board, and they missed their disk entirely and moved the whole board about 6 inches (and essentially caused a giant earthquake in the game).  I laughed at them for doing this, but then a few minutes later a different player did it again!!  I have not done this, so I am going to continue pointing fingers at them and laughing (not really) when they do this.... at least until I do it myself.  Either way, it's something that you probably want to be aware of, so that you can avoid this problem.

Overall, I give Catacombs a 9.0/10.  I love dexterity games, and this one gives me a fresh new feel on a genre that I love.  Well done.

If you like dexterity games, you should check out PitchCar, Caveman Curling, and Fastrack.

I would like to thank Sands of Time Games for providing me with a review copy of Catacombs.


  1. I have thought about getting this several times, but not sure if its just a flicking game. Is there much more to it than that?
    How long does a game play?

  2. There's not much more than that. There is definitely some strategy involved around what order to take turns, which monsters to target first, and things like that, but ultimately, it is a flicking game. If you flick well, then you will do well, otherwise you won't. It takes about 45-60 minutes, maybe longer - depends on how much the players think, and how much they jump to the flicking.