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Subject: Wiz-War: Magical Death Duels Have Never Been More Fun rss

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Patrick Reynolds
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Obligatory disclaimer: I have known of Wiz-War for several years but to the best of my knowledge I never played any of the previous versions. This review is based on the 2012 Fantasy Flight version of the game.

Wiz-War is a 2-4 player game in which each player takes the role of a wizard with the goal of scoring two points to win a magical battle within the confines of a small maze.

Gameplay is very basic - on his turn, a player may move his wizard up to three spaces, cast any number of neutral spells and/or mundane abilities, and make a single attack against an enemy.

The real meat of the game lies within the cards which represent all of the spells and tricks the wizards can make use of during the contest. There are 168 cards in all, broken into several different schools of magic such as Conjuration and Cantrips. You always use the Cantrips deck, and generally add three more decks to form the full card pool used for the game. Of course, you could conceivably play with all of the cards for a crazier game, but I think that limiting the selection really gives a sense of theme to each battle. For example, a game that uses the Transformation deck will see a lot of self-cast transformation magic. Wizards turning into werewolves and ogres, that sort of thing. The Alchemy deck has a lot of created items and will generally result in players carrying different types of magical stones and trinkets, and often dropping them in the maze to make room for new cards in their hands.

The spells are deeply varied, and come in three basic varieties. You've got attack spells like fireballs and lightning bolts, defensive spells such as counterspells, dispels and LOS-limiting magic, and finally, obstruction spells used to hinder your opponents by blocking off crucial routes through the maze.

The goal for each player is to score two points. Each wizard has two treasure in the maze, as well as a "home base" space. You score a point by stealing and carrying another wizard's treasure back to your home space. You can also score by killing another wizard, but this is pretty hard/risky since the other wizards will be fighting back and you're only as threatening as the cards in your hand (although in a pinch you can weakly slap the other guy). You can usually only have seven cards total, in both your hand as well as cards that have already been cast and are still in play, such as conjured items and sustained spell effects.

Wiz-War is easy to pick up and play, and it plays fast. The maze is small so there's almost always the opportunity for conflict on any turn. The board follows Pac-Man maze rules (openings in the outer walls can be used to re-enter from the opposite side of the board).

I also like the very different results you're likely to get from game to game. I've played games where knock-down grudge matches between wizards were normal, and battling to the death was the only possible outcome. I've also played a game where no attacks were made, and the players used defensive and obstructive spells to move quickly and make treasure runs.

I'm excited by the prospect of future expansions for this game. Extra players would be welcome, and the game would be easily expandable via new spell decks. But setting that aside, what's in the box is plenty for dozens of plays without the game wearing out its welcome.
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Joseph LaClair
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Nice review. Wiz-war has always been a favorite of mine and the new edition is just as fun as the old. I, however, prefer to play with all of the cards which makes for more mayhem and more uncertaincies. I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that the old games just uses all of the cards.

The different schools of magic is a nice option and will definitely give the game a different feel. Can't wait to see what the expansions bring. I also felt the same way about Dungeonquest, couldn't wait to see what expansions would bring. As it turns out not only could I wait I would have to wait as there looks like nothing will be forthcoming.

I believe Wiz-war will be different. I'm confident that this will sell as expected or better and we'll see those coveted expansions.
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Thijs Schipper
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I, for one, am actively trying to get as many people to play this game as I can. I just hope I'm doing my part in ensuring those expansions see the light of day.
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Daniel Spencer
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Wiz-War (eighth edition) » Forums » Reviews
Re: Wiz-War: Magical Death Duels Have Never Been More Fun
I haven't played the game yet, but I'm very interested in it. I was wondering - does the game seem balanced to split spells differently for different players? So one person gets Conjurations + Transformations and another gets Alchemy + X ?
 
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Patrick Reynolds
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Here are two sets of the Cantrips deck, each identical, and they contain most of the basic must-have tools. The game is balanced around using one Cantrips deck plus three of the six schools decks.

So for a two-player game, if you want each player to have mostly different spells, you can draft decks before starting, so each player has one Cantrips and three of the other decks.
 
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Johan Örtman
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Malmö
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Nice review!
Personally I really like the alternate rule with individual magic schools. Especially when playing a two player game.
 
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That's not my name.
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JimbobJones wrote:
I'm interested in this game (and like your review), but jphien's mention of Dungeonquest scares me (I hated that game with a fiery passion). Is it as random as DQ, or do you have some actual control over your gameplay. (I like luck in games -- but it needs to be "mitigatable" luck -- where if you run a bad stretch, yeah you might lose, but there could be ways to pull yourself out).


You won't fall down a pit and die on your first turn.*

If you don't get appropriate cards, your game is not going to go to your liking, but you'll be involved and not dead. You also have the opportunity to keep drawing, so your luck should eventually even out.

Using cards artfully and combining them in unusual ways is the heart of Wiz-War, so skill plays a part. However, even the most skillful Wiz-War player won't win all their games, and can't win any of them without some luck going their way.

In DungeonQuest, you can do everything right and still die, because the game hates you. Wiz-War is indifferent to you, but the other players certainly aren't. That's the distinction.

(* This happened in our game group on the very first play of DungeonQuest, to the proud new owner of the game. He thought it was hilarious, and we enjoy the game still. Some people might disagree. )
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