Friday Evenings criteria include a) play or watchability, and b) fun for all ages!
Shadows over Camelot is a cooperative board game for 3-7 players by Days of Wonder. You and your friends play as Knights of the Round Table trying to save Camelot from destruction – but there may be a traitor in your midst, who’s intentions may not be good for you and the rest of the loyal knights. (Who are we kidding? He’s a traitor. He wants to kill you all.)
Gameplay is a bit complicated, but this is approximately how it goes.
At the beginning of the game, eight “loyalty” cards are dealt out – seven “loyal” cards and one “traitor” card. With a player cap of seven, not every game will have a traitor. I also recommend taking out the traitor card for games of three or four to avoid unbalancing the game.
Each player, at the beginning of their turn, suffers the “progression of evil”. They either lose health, add a siege engine, or draw a black card (which generally makes one of the quests more difficult.)
Each player then takes a heroic action. A few of these are a) moving to or from a quest, b) playing a “special white” card, or c) accusing one knight of being a traitor. If the player is in Camelot, they can also fight a siege engine or draw two white cards. You can also choose to sacrifice health to perform a second, different heroic action. Each player also has a “special power”, which can be used once per turn in addition to their heroic action(s).
The game board has many different locations, each with a quest. At the beginning of the game, these are Camelot; the Wars against the Picts and the Saxons; the Black Knight; and the quests for Excalibur, Lancelot’s Armor, and the Holy Grail. Once the quest for Lancelot’s Armor has been won or lost, the knights can fight the Dragon. If quests are completed successfully, white swords are added to the Round Table. If the quest is failed, black swords are added to the table.
The game ends once the Round Table is filled with twelve swords. If there are more white swords than black, the knights win.
However, the loyal knights will lose if twelve siege engines surround Camelot, they all die fighting the forces of evil (obviously), or there are more black swords than white on the Round Table.
If the traitor is not unmasked by the end of the game, (assuming you’re playing with that card) two white swords are flipped to black. (I’ve lost because of this.)
Once the traitor is revealed, they no longer play as a knight, and lose any special abilities they may have. Instead, they can taunt any other player, randomly discarding one card from that player’s hand, and then draw a black card to progress evil in the game. (Kind of a fun role… if you’re the one playing it. Legal griefing!)
I’m going to highly recommend you play this with four people at a minimum. It’s incredibly difficult to do all the quests, the wars, and protect Camelot from siege with only three. Five or six would be better – two to four on quests, one or two on the wars, and one on protecting. Also, this is a really complicated game to learn. I recommend trying Forbidden Island or Pandemic if this is your intro to cooperative gaming. I’m recommending the game for 12 and up due to complexity. However, once you learn this, it’s a really fun game. It can be long, but fun. (I think my last game took two hours? I’ve gone up to three when learning/teaching it.)
Have fun this evening!