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Wizard Academy: Components

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Original Post

Some people have been commenting that some of the posts about wizard academy can be a little tricky to follow out of context. Some less polite people have said that I make no sense at all. So I'm going to dedicate a trio of posts to expressing the state of the game, one to cover the components, one to cover setup and a third to cover the basics of play. These posts will be made every other day, since I know there are people who read because they like game design rants rather than descriptions of the game I'm working on.

Here's a pic of the setup of the current build of the game, since it was taken with some sort of futuristic space camera you can click on it to zoom in on any part that interests you (though I compressed the image a lot in order to upload it). We'll be coming back to this in a couple of days to talk about why everything is where it is, but for now le’s talk about what we've got.

Here we have a character card for Magical Trevor, who sadly is not a cannon character for the game. Each player has a character card to keep track of runes and magic items they acquire. The bar at the top shows their name and title. Going down the left hand column there is space for the runes a player has collected, a space to place a rune they will allow other wizards to use and a space to place a rune to indicate that they have created a wand of that rune.

Going down the right hand column there's a picture of the character alongside the icon that indicates their preferred school of magic. This is followed by that characters unique special ability, which typically relates to this type of magic. The last two boxes give space for a player to place counters to indicate that they have enchanted some robes or a staff. I'd like to squeeze a rules summary in there someplace, but there's already quite a lot of text.

The way in which players will achieve things is by casting spells. These are initially face-down and players must discover which spell is which to use them effectively. The game has more spells than are required, so the capabilities of the characters change each game.

A spell card has the title of the spell followed by its level. Spells have a level between one and four indicating their power, if a spell is negative then this indicates that it is a "botch" and it typically has a negative effect approximately in line with a positive spell of its level. The image of the spell indicates which school of magic it is from, the text below this describes the effect of the spell if it is cast.

Characters do not act in a vacuum, they are running around the wizard academy which consists of a four by four grid of rooms. Each room has a title and some effect text, in some cases a player must spend a room action to cause the effect to take place, in others the effect is passive. Where a room is relevant to a particular school of magic, the symbol for that school is printed on the room. Finally some rooms have walls, indicated by thick black lines, which block movement and most effects. This block applies in both directions, so even if the room below the Flux Point has no wall on the upper edge it will not be possible to move in that direction.

The main opposition to the players comes from disaster cards. One of these is played each turn, they typically add threats to the board or make existing threats activate in some way (fires spread, imps steal runes, demons eat people and so on). Each card a title and a level, currently the levels are "-" (Variable difficulty depending on what's on the board) "0" (Anomoly that may help or hinder) "1" (Adds a new threat to the board) or "2-4" (Various effects of increasing severity.) The text box on the bottom of the card describes its effects.

Sometimes effects call for a random room or direction to be selected; this is achieved by drawing from a deck designed for this type of randomisation. Each one of these indicates a room and a direction, which of these elements gets used are specified on the effect that caused a card to be drawn. It is possible for players to interact with this deck to fix the location of "random" effects.

Many of the disaster cards and some of the botched spells call for tokens to be added to the board. These are simple counters indicating what is present in the room.

There are two other sorts of counter, pictured in the setup photo at the start of this post, models and runes. Models are used to represent the players and elemental guardians that are summoned to defend the academy. These are looted from other games; in this case the players are represented by Zombicide zombies and the guardians by Ninja samurai.

Seven types of rune tokens are required, players gather these to cast spells, and again these are simple tokens that serve no purpose beyond indicating what they are. Currently these are just a pile of random tokens looted from Betrayal at House on the Hill. Formally these are denoted type 1 through type 7, but in playtests they were given more descriptive names. From top to bottom along the right hand side they're called browns, greens, blues, triangles, hexagons, squares and ubers. This should tell you three things: firstly, I'm colourblind. Secondly, my playtesters feel the need to imbue the level seven rune with a feeling of power once they see what the top tier spells can do and finally, either we don't know what a pentagon is or we can't count to six.

The components in the prototype are of the "rough and ready" variety, which is okay for now, but I'm talking to manufacturers later today, it's never too early to start considering what a thing will cost and how best to make it. Tomorrow we can talk about the principle that lead there to be the discrepancy between my current prototype and my component files (Did you notice that one of the component pics didn't match the photo?) It involves my least favourite part of psychology.
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