I had received Techno-Witches in my latest game order and was itching to try it out. I read the rules and I tried a few games by myself, but there’s nothing like a real game. Last Friday night I talked my wife Sarah and my teenage daughter Meg into giving it a spin.
Basically on your turn you either choose one of the available cardboard arcs and add it to your spellbook (carefully preserving the chosen left or right-turn orientation), or fly, which means you lay down all the arcs starting from your previous position. If your arcs and your witch don’t hit anything, you place your witch at the end of the arcs and return the arcs to the middle. If you hit anything (another player or one of the “castle” obstacles) you only go as far as you can without hitting, but still return all your arcs.
The beginners game is to start from individual “huts” one side of the starting line, navigate through a fields of eight obstacles (“castles”) and be the first to touch the cat token on the opposite side. From my solitaire trials I had decided that the simple race to the cat was too easy, even for a first game, so I announced it would be a race to the cat and back to the starting hut. That change worked out well. It meant the flyers had to U-turn after touching the cat and head back into the face of the others.
At the start I headed out to the right and the other two headed out to the left. We all underestimated the amount of curvature in the arc, so we swung out wider than we expected to. Choosing more arcs before flying gets you there faster, but is riskier because a misjudgment in arc radius at the beginning of a flight can make the rest of the arcs useless. I demonstrated this as I curved back in but hit a castle at the beginning of my third flight and wasted the rest of my arcs. The other two got their swerving under control but came in toward the cat more carefully. They tended to fly around the field of castles rather than through it.
Sarah touched the cat first, but she had a problem turning around because I came right after her and cut her off. That is, she couldn’t make her first move without hitting me, so she had to wait until I moved out of the way. I found it is a good strategy to move to a place that blocks another person’s flight path. When I was ready to move, I made a good start on my return trip, before Sarah was able to start, and by that time Meg came up behind and touched the cat coming from another direction.
Our flying was more skilled on the return trip, swerving around castle obstacles, but I had too much of a lead from my successful turnaround, and got back to my starting hut first. Sarah and Meg were flying home from different directions so they didn’t block each other, but each had obstacles to circumvent. Each made a mistake and crashed once, but it was Sarah who came in second by a nose.
Like RoboRally, the game is interesting when players interact with potentially colliding paths, and is less so when there is no interaction between players. Games should be set up to maximize inter-player contact. Meg and Sarah felt they simply weren’t so good at flight planning via choice of arcs with different curvature, and I think it will take a little arm-twisting to get them to play again.
so you inventend your first Techno Witches adventure :-)
One tip: when creating a race use the rule, that the flyers behind you will choose the hut that you must reach to win the game (see the "Bumblebee run" for this).
Since we all know that there are a lot of expert flyers out there, this balances the whole game turning it into the family game it is intended to be.
For a more aggressive game see my first bonus adventure "Dogfight" (see game entry).
I will soon provide rules for 8 players (you might have to twist a lot of arms then ;-)