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Subject: Gaming Bits: Wizard Kings Review rss

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Jonathan Nelson
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Wizard Kings is a game by Tom Dalgliesh and Grant Dalgliesh, published by Columbia Games. It is for 2-7 players. In this game, players will be playing scenarios, building armies and working towards a certain scenario based goal. The first one to accomplish this task will be declared the winner.

To begin, the players must choose a scenario either from the rule book or from the website. Alternatively, the players can create their own scenario, once they've mastered the basics of the game. From there, the players each choose a map, placing it on the table. The maps are then placed together to form one cohesive map. Players will then choose their armies. Each scenario has a basic selection of which pieces to choose. Alternatively, players can buy an army from a budget of 50 gold pieces. Each piece costing different amounts as noted in the rules. Players will then note the victory conditions and time limits for the chosen scenario. Basic time limit is 10 turns with the highest number of city gold points being the deciding factor on victory. Once everything is setup, the game can begin.

The game consists of a series of game turns that each have 4 phases. Those 4 phases are initiative, movement, combat and building. In the initiative phase, each player rolls 2 six sided dice. The highest total will go first that round.

The next phase is the movement phase. On a player's turn they may move any of their army blocks up to their movement allowance. Each block can only move once per turn. However they may also retreat or regroup. To retreat a unit moves to an adjacent friendly area instead of performing a combat turn. Regrouping is done by the victor of a battle. To do this, the player may move any blocks from the victory area to any adjacent friendly or neutral area. Alternately they may add any blocks from adjacent areas to the victory area. There are terrain effects that will affect movement as well as certain limits and abilities that will make things easier or more difficult to move blocks. For more information on these, please see the rules.

The next phase is the combat phase. Each battle is fought one at a time in turn order. Combat is resolved in sequence alphabetically. Once all blocks have taken a turn one round of combat has been fought. Combat lasts a maximum of 3 combat rounds. If the attacker has not won in that time limit, the player must retreat. Combat is resolved through strength of dice added to dice roll. A hit is scored if the combination is equal to or lower than the blocks combat rating. Hits are then applied to the strongest enemy blocks. Spell casting is done by wizards and will also affect combat. They can cast one spell during their combat turn, subject to their strength. Destroyed pieces are removed from the map. Once combat is concluded, we move into the build phase.

The last phase is the build phase. In this phase, players will add new blocks to their army and/or add steps to their already existing blocks. Of course, everything is bought with gold points. These points are produced by controlling cities. Each city has a point value that it produces. Each block has a cost per step needed to either add it to the army or to step up an existing piece. Once building is complete, the phases start all over. Once victory conditions have been met or the other player's forces have been eliminated, the game is over. The player that accomplished that task is declared the winner.


COMPONENTS
Like most Columbia Games products, this game has LOTS of colored wooden blocks that represent individual army units. They are bright and colorful and look great. Of course you have to put the stickers on yourself, but that's just part of the fun. I love the look and feel of these things and the artwork on the stickers looks great too. I've really learned to love the wooden blocks that Columbia Games puts in these games. The maps are made of thin cardboard. Not the greatest quality but the art is really great. Sure I'd have liked thicker boards but it really isn't a big deal. It lays flat on the table very easily and it works so I'm not complaining. There are also individual spell lists made of the same material as the maps. These lists describe the different spells that the wizard of each army can cast. Very easy to look at and determine which spell to cast as opposed to grabbing a rule book and looking it up. Not a major addition by the company but to me, it adds a little bit of extra coolness. Of course, like I've said in other reviews, the blocks are the best part.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook with this game is very nicely put together. There is a lot of great information on terrain, block types, and other iconography. There are several pictures throughout that help to determine what you need to know about the different pieces. The rules are very clear and easy to understand for anyone that's played one of these types of games. This would have been hard to understand had I not already been immersed into war games before this. There is so much information inside these rules that I couldn't possibly cover everything here. Even so, I never felt overwhelmed with too much to learn. What I found was lots of goodness that enhanced the theme and feeling of the game. Very nicely done.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game is actually a lot of fun. I love the design of it. The blocks work extremely well at keeping track of the different units. The combat system is easy to use and understand. I really feel like there are some similarities between this and the HeroClix dial mechanic. That's not a bad thing as I've spent lots of time through the years playing both it and Mage Knight. Never really thought of either of those as war games, but after playing this and Julius Caesar, I realize my mistake. The game is practically dripping with magical war theme. You will feel like you're leading your army of fantasy creatures into battle. The bad part of the game play though is the long time to play. I've learned that this seems to be the consensus with most war games. That said, this isn't SO bad. It definitely a step up from Julius Caesar as it plays a good bit longer. Still as I've said in other reviews, if you have the time to play a game of this magnitude, it's worth it.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
Wizard Kings is a medium to light heavy weight war game of fantasy battle. The game looks really amazing and its lots of fun to play. There are lots of decisions to be had and lots of information to learn before you can step into the world of magical combat. I really feel like the theme is integrated well with the combat system and the pieces. I'd say that anyone with a fetish for war games would absolutely ADORE this game. I highly recommend this one for fans of Lord of the Rings or other fantasy worlds. It might not be Middle Earth but it's a really great alternative, plus it's lots of fun to boot. Give this game a try. It's worth it.
9 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Columbia Games at their site.

http://columbiagames.com
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Warrick Williams
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I’ve got Wizard Kings – its barely hit the table other than a play or two with myself - …. but I like the aesthetic / ideas, however I do find the hex side rules & table pretty confusing myself.
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Shayne Richards
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You get used to the hex side and hex limits after a few plays, I will add to your review that where this game really shines is in it's potential to be quite grand. It really is great when you get a few expansions sets, probably around 7 gets things quite juicy.

This is sadly and often overlooked game as it really needs expansions to go from good to great, and a lot of people are hung up on the random nature of the expansions, but after getting a few you quickly get over this and prefer the version 2 expansions system compared to be able to buy a full army.

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Josh Livie
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Good review! I love this game. I like the fantasy setting and I always love block war games. My only quibble with this game is that the races seem so vanilla. I wish the different races were more different rather than every race having roughly the same pieces. It makes it easy to balance scenarios, but it loses the possibility of flavor for the game. Still it is fun, as it makes you try to create interesting scenarios.
 
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