Players: 3 to 7
Game Length: 90 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 5-7 players who want an epic Arthurian adventure, with the possibility of a traitor in their midst!
Shadows over Camelot is an adventure game based on Arthurian legend, where the players are the Knights of the Round Table striving to prevent evil from overcoming the land. It’ll be up to the knights to take on the various threats encroaching on Camelot, but they’ll need to be careful, as one of the knights could well be a traitor working for the evil Mordred! They’ll need to work together to take on the range of quests ahead of them, but if their trust is misplaced they could leave themselves open to defeat from within.
Shadows over Camelot is a beautiful game, covered in art and with excellent miniatures for each of the knights, not to mention the catapults and enemy forces threatening Camelot and the artifacts that can be found. Each turn, players must ‘progress evil’, meaning they choose to either draw and play a Black card or lose one Life point. After this, they may take a number of actions, such as moving to one of the Quest locations, progressing on one of the quests, drawing new cards if they are in Camelot, or playing a special White Card from their hands.
There are a number of Quests that players may embark on. There are the quests at home, such as the tournament fighting the Black Knight, or the Pict and Saxon invasions, and there are the three Artifact quests on separate boards, that, if completed, will grant the knight who completes that quest a powerful artifact – either Excalibur, Lancelot’s Armour or the Holy Grail. Each black card drawn may cause the state of any of these quests to deteriorate – Excalibur may move further out of the players’ grasp, more Picts may start to invade, or a range of other possibilities.
After completing these quests, white swords will be added to the Round Table, but if the quest is failed, black swords will be added instead – and once the table fills up with 12 swords, whichever is in the majority will determine whether the knights have succeeded or failed. Players can also lose the game if Camelot is surrounded by 12 catapults, or if all the loyal knights die.
With all the quests, there’s a lot to learn when first coming to the table in Shadows over Camelot, but each quest is fairly straightforward after the fundamentals of the game are understood. Each turn you take in the game is offset by a negative effect, which gives a constant feeling of pressure. However, it can feel like each of your turns only have minimal effect on the table state, especially when your work is immediately undone by the next player’s black card. The traitor element can be frustrating to handle, too – typically, the players will be discussing each move in depth and any dissent from what the group arrives at will immediately indicate a traitor in their midst. Despite this, there is still a lot to enjoy in Shadows over Camelot, and it deserves a play if you haven’t tried it before.
Shadows over Camelot has excellent production values and is commendable for its ability to accommodate up to 7 people while keeping them engaged through trying to identify the traitor – if there is one. It’s not the best longer-playing traitor game around – that honour goes to Battlestar Galactica – but it can certainly fit the bill with a wider range of players.