Burgers & Boardgames – What Do Dining and Gaming Have in Common?

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Emerald Tavern Game Cafe Austin TX
Emerald Tavern Game Cafe in Austin, TX

It looks like the world at large is catching on to what we’ve all known for years. Games are fun. And places you can go to play games are fun places.

Aside from our go-to places to play games with friends and strangers, such as libraries, hobby game stores, and our friend’s house for game night, there is a new growing trend with Game Cafes. Take the coffee shop idea and add board and card games to the mix and you get a place you can meet friends for a sandwich or cup of joe AND a game of Castle Panic. And you don’t even have to bring your own copy.

The Atlantic recently shared an article about the spread of Board Game Cafes around the world and spoke to the possible reason for their growing popularity: “the rapid proliferation speaks to something deeper: the need to connect with people in a public/private space, the need to have a meaningful interaction that doesn’t use emoticons, and perhaps the need, in an increasingly complex world, to work with friends and family toward a clear goal.”

Fireside’s CEO, Anne-Marie, was just discussing this same topic (why board games are drawing in new fans) on her podcast interview with The Gaming Careers‘s resident interviewer Steven Ruduski. She cited smartphones as a possible trigger for the recent increase in board game popularity.

“I actually think it’s because of smartphones. People are turned back on to gaming again because games are so easy to find and play on their phones and it has kind of really reminded people of how fun games are to play. I think the nice thing about table top games is they are significantly more social than playing an app on your phone. So I think that has really reminded adults that you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy games.”

Ruduski seconds that sentiment saying, “It’s that social aspect.” He goes on to explain that he is a big RPG fan, but as an adult it is hard to get a group of friends together who have 12 hours for a campaign. “But a board game, you capture a lot of that same social interaction with predefined times, a time packet of 40 minutes, 90 minutes, and then you get to go home.”

The idea that modern tech has spurred a resurgence in good old-fashioned hanging out is echoed by Devon Trevelyan in a recent article by The Daily Free Press. “Online gaming has taken such a turn, [to the point] where you can communicate with people across the world. I like that, but I think there is a real quality about face-to-face interaction and laughing with your friends when they’re in your presence.”

Trevelyan runs Knight Moves, a gaming cafe in Boston, MA, that champions the casual, comfortable feel of European cafes and strives to pair it with the social community that gaming imparts.

What do you think? Is there is a connectedness people have been missing with all the tech in their lives? Do boardgames help fill that need?

We’d love to hear about game cafes in your neighborhood! Tell us your favorite place to hang out and play games in the comments below.


How Board Games Conquered Cafes” by Hana Schank for The Atlantic.

“Boston Restaurants Offer Diverse Culinary Experiences” by Heather Goldin & Ayush Kumar for The Daily Free Press.

The Gaming Careers podcast with Anne-Marie over at thecompanybard.com.

Castle Panic vs Dead Panic vs Munchkin Panic – How They Differ

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What’s the difference between the Panic Line games? We get that question A LOT. To help explain the differences we put together a couple of videos.

When Dead Panic came out a lot of people just assumed it was “Castle Panic with zombies.” If you played the game that way you were probably confused and, most likely, didn’t survive the zombie onslaught.

We covered some of the common mistakes made in our video 5 Ways You May Be Playing Dead Panic Wrong, but we wanted to give a good side-by-side comparison so you can easily grasp the major (and a few minor) differences that make these games stand apart from each other.

In this video Justin does just that, even having the games laid out next to each other so he can easily show you how each phase of each game either differs or follows the same basic principles.

With Munchkin Panic, the games still look very similar, but the do actually differ in gameplay. If you are familiar with Castle Panic you will likely recognize the overall mechanics, but we add new twists and layers on top of those mechanics.

The main change in Munchkin Panic is the addition of the competitive edge you seek with your negotiation with other players (instead of straight up trades) and the use of Treasure to boost your personal interests over those of the Castle proper.

There are extra steps you take and additional considerations you have to make when taking your turn in Munchkin Panic, plus you have to be on your toes even when it isn’t your turn to ward off Curses from the other players seeking their own advantage!

Anne-Marie explains the top differences between Castle Panic and Munchkin Panic in this video. Along with the differences between Munchkin Panic and Munchkin®.

For more in-depth How To Play videos for Dead Panic and Munchkin Panic, be sure to check out our YouTube Channel for a comprehensive array of instructional videos.

We hope that helps clear up some of the misconceptions about the Panic Line games being the same and clarifies some gameplay questions you may have.

They do all share one major trait in common – they’re a blast to play!

Gaming on Thanksgiving – A Great Tradition to Start

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Top 10 Games to Play at Thanksgiving

If you are hosting or attending a large Thanksgiving gathering, you may find yourself sitting in a room looking around at everyone else, playing the waiting game. Waiting for the last guests to arrive, waiting for your stomach to have more room for pie, waiting for an inspired idea of what to do with all these people in your house!

May we suggest playing a different game? Boardgames aren’t just for Game Night anymore. Today’s game offerings have something for everyone and are fun whatever the occasion!

In no particular order, here is our Top 10 List of Games to Play This Thanksgiving: Continue reading Gaming on Thanksgiving – A Great Tradition to Start

Justin’s Jawa Halloween

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At Fireside Games we LOVE Halloween! Like, REALLY LOVE Halloween.

For our fearless leaders, Anne-Marie & Justin, it is a time to deck the hallowed halls with an elaborate Halloween display in their yard and throw a big party for their friends with costumes and special themed foods.

For Kris & Maureen it is a time to break out their mad costume and prop skills and the best time to shop for home décor they use year ‘round. Kris’ obsession with black cats is highly rewarded this time of year with all sorts of themed goodies and Maureen is basically made of sugar so the candy options are of particular interest to her in October.

Sweeney Todd Halloween costumes
Justin & Anne-Marie dressed as Sweeney Todd & Mrs. Lovett for Halloween

Today we are going to feature Justin and let him share one of his favorite costumes & memories from a childhood Halloween.  We invite you to share yours with us in the comments below.


“My 1979 Jawa costume was my favorite one as a kid. Obviously, I was nuts for Star Wars and wanted to be a Jawa. My Dad spray-painted a Casper the ghost mask black and then attached two small, red led’s to the mask. They ran off a 9 volt battery that I kept in my pocket all night long. My Mom sewed the entire costume including the sash which had little boxes of stuff attached. The hood was done with Velcro so I could get it on and off easily.
Continue reading Justin’s Jawa Halloween

Birthday Party Extravaganza!

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Last Saturday was the official party for Castle Panic’s 5th Birthday. We’ve been planning this event for most of the year, and we were super excited that the big celebration went so well!


We started things out with our Google Hangout, where Justin sang Happy Birthday (lounge style, of course) to Castle Panic, then showed some early versions of Castle Panic, talked about the making of the game, and answered a bunch of questions about everything from game design to how he and Anne-Marie can never play Pente again. One of the highlights of the Hangout was Justin showing off pieces and line drawings from the next expansion, The Dark Titan!

If you missed the Hangout, don’t worry, you can still catch it! The entire video is now available through our YouTube channel, and you can watch it right here:

If you don’t have 2 hours to watch the whole thing, here are timestamps from the event so you can jump to the parts you’re most interested in:

0:06:45  History of Castle Panic and the first prototypes

0:29:30  Alternate rules for Castle Panic

0:36:40  Overview of The Dark Titan expansion

0:45:30  Castle Panic and Tabletop

0:50:35  The Master Slayer belt

0:54:50  Art from The Dark Titan

1:02:20  Fireside Games’ schedule of appearances for 2014

1:14:35  The Kickstarter situation

1:21:50  Justin’s favorite games

1:25:20  Giant Castle Panic

1:26:20  Game design and IP

1:28:30  Self Publishing pros and cons

1:35:55  Possible Bears! expansion

1:38:50  The Pente story

1:44:25  A fan story from the tour

1:50:10  What’s up with the unicorn?

1:54:15  Future expansions


Later that evening, we headed out to Emerald Tavern Games and Café where we setup for the event and had a blast running demos of Castle Panic, giving out free stuff, and meeting with tons of fans. As always, there was awesome cake from our friend Jarred.

Now that’s a cake!
Check out the shimmering water and wood texture on the door!

Not only did we have the different flavors for different colored parts of the cake, but the tower was made of Rice Krispies and covered in party decorations like banners, balloons, a Troll piñata, and a “Pin the Tooth on the Basilisk” game. Of course the whole thing was delicious and only crumbs were left at the end of the night.

The Troll pinata did not come with a bat, but Justin ate him later anyway.
One of the great hidden details on the back of the cake.
The party gets started!

We also held a special drawing in which people who entered could win either a copy of Castle Panic, The Wizard’s Tower, or one of three signed prints of line art from The Dark Titan expansion. We had a great time with both events, and we want to thank all of our fans for your support over these last 5 years. It’s been a great ride so far, and we’ve got a lot more fun things planned for the future!


Castle Panic Celebrates 5 Years in September!

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Castle Panic Birthday PosterWe are very excited to be celebrating the Fifth Anniversary of Castle Panic’s release this year (2014). In fact, we are so excited that we are throwing a big party and inviting EVERYONE! Yep, even the Trolls and Goblins.

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, we will be hosting a day-long celebration of all the Master Slayers and Monster Overlords who have played this game to within inches of its life and made this such a fun, wild ride for Fireside Games.

To help you get involved, we’ve put together a handy guide on a special webpage designed to hold all the awesome Castle Panic Birthday Party information. We are inviting local game stores and toy retailers to join in the fun and throw a party in your town!

We will be hosting a Google Hangout in the early afternoon with Justin De Witt (designer of Castle Panic and Chief Creative Officer of Fireside Games). Justin will show off some concept art, talk about the joys and sorrows of game design, and answer questions. A video of the Hangout will be available for watching later in the day on our YouTube channel.

In the late afternoon, Justin and Anne-Marie  (CEO of Fireside Games and fellow game designer of Bears! and the upcoming Munchkin Panic ) will be at Emerald Tavern in Austin, TX (9012 Research Blvd #6, Austin, TX 78758), for a live event full of games, prizes, and cake, of course!

Contact your local game store to see if they are hosting an in-store event on the day. Check our Retailer Locator Map for a store near you. Encourage them to host an event, because gaming is much more fun when you can make new friends and share in the spoils of battle!

Don’t live near a store hosting an event? No problem!  You can join us for our Google Hangout and throw a party at your house for your family and friends. See How to Host an At-Home Castle Panic Party for more details.

(Retailers: If you would like to throw a party in your store, Contact Us for more details on the Retailer Exclusive Castle Panic Birthday Kits and inventory specials!)

Castle Panic Birthday Free downloads thumbnails

Visit the Castle Panic Birthday Page for the following FREE downloads:

  • Castle Panic Paper Oracle
  • Castle Panic Character Coloring Pages
  • Castle Panic Birthday Invitations

Friday Fun Fact!

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When playing Castle Panic, have you ever had to think for a moment about what to do when you draw either the Monsters Move Clockwise or Monsters Move Counter-Clockwise token? (It’s okay. It happens to all of us.) Did you know that we designed a helpful hint into the game for just that purpose? The next time this happens, take a look at the illustration on the token and you’ll notice that when the token is positioned facing the Castle, the arrows show you which way to move the Monsters.

See, it couldn’t be easier! We’re always looking out for our players. Unless of course that just cost you a Tower, in which case it wasn’t our fault, the Monsters did it.

Texas Frightmare Weekend, or How We Learned To Feel A Convention Attendees Pain.

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Last weekend Anne-Marie and I got the chance to attend the Texas Frightmare Weekend (TXFW) up in Dallas. It’s an annual convention dedicated to horror and sci-fi and really lets fans dig into their favorite monster movies by meeting the actors, directors, and special effects stars that make the stuff they love. Continue reading Texas Frightmare Weekend, or How We Learned To Feel A Convention Attendees Pain.

Homemade Castle Panic Is the Best Thing Ever

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A few weeks ago, a store owner told us about a customer who bought a copy of Castle Panic for her son Jared for Christmas. Jared had played the game at a friend’s house and was so taken with the game that he had created his own version to tide himself over until Christmas. Continue reading Homemade Castle Panic Is the Best Thing Ever

The Blog is Live!

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After lots of interruptions, I’ve finally gotten the News section up and running.  Hooray for progress!   I’m sure there will still be a few changes being made, so pardon any weirdness  you may encounter as we get started.

This will be where we’ll post all of our latest news on everything from demos and reviews to new game updates.  Stay tuned!