Zen Shrugs
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G'day all,

First post from a longtime lurker on the Geek.

Just wanted to share the house rules that our regular (well, occasional) Wiz-War group has come up with over the last couple of years. It's a great game that we enjoy more with each play, but it's taken us a few iterations to get it working the way we prefer.

Some of these ideas are optional rules from the back of the rulebook. Others were inspired by or outright stolen from other users' posts here (thanks everyone)! A few might even be original... ish.

Here's a contents list of sorts:

1. Limiting Movement
2. Counterspell Culling
3. Ghosts, or How to Deal With Player Elimination in a Simple Yet Satisfying Way
4. Life Choices When Summoning Creatures (Bestial Forces expansion)
5. Optional Official Rules and their (ab)use

When using all of these house rules together, the emphasis is more on magic than racing each other. Wins often come from 1 treasure and 1 kill, but with enough 2-treasure or 2-kill wins to keep things unpredictable.

Here's the details...


1. Limiting Movement - Big Blue Cards Can't Boost Speed


Like many players, we've found that the FFG mix of cards provides too much energy for movement, letting players zip around the board and snag treasures rather than duel it out.

Our solution is as follows:

a) Energy cards (the ones with nothing but a big blue circle and a number) CANNOT be used to boost movement. They can only be used to boost spells.

b) However, magic cards with an optional energy value at the bottom CAN be used to boost movement.

(In effect, the 'big blue' cards are all assumed to be Flash Energy, like the green ones in the expansions.)

This helps to limit movement in the following ways:

-You have fewer opportunities to boost your speed.

-The energy values on the magic cards tend to be smaller, so the speed boosts they give you aren't as huge.

-You're forced to sacrifice a potentially useful spell if you want a boost.

-It's easy to remember, more so than halving or capping values for movement. (At least for us.)

-People tend to use more boosted spells that do tons of damage or last for many turns, leading to more entertainment all around. When we played with the FFG rules, we'd almost always burn the cards for movement instead. But now, well, we've got to use those big blue energy cards for something, right? Time for a 6-turn Gravity spell!

-It opens up the possibility of using the green Flash Energy expansion cards for something else. I wonder...


2. Counterspell Culling

As Ian Allen suggested in his 'Why the new version seems unfun' thread, we've taken out most of the counterspells (mainly the less interesting ones like Shield or Negate Neutral).

I was initially sceptical, but it really does make the game more exciting. Spells hit home more often, kooky neutral spells get their chance in the sun, and when you do counter something it's unexpected and usually dramatic. Instead of clever moves just getting themselves unceremoniously cancelled, you get clever moves upset by something even more devious on the next player's turn. (I'll never forget the time I was walled in by a wall and a stone block on the first turn, spent the entire game in that little prison square, and yet won with two kills... zombie )

We've left the occasional one in, including a Negate and a Dispel in the Cantrip decks, so that when we build the deck using the FFG rules there will always be one or two floating around in there. I'd also like to do something about Wall of Earth... hmm...


3. Ghosts, or How to Deal With Player Elimination In a Simple Yet Satisfying Way

The basic intent of the ghost rule is to give players who are killed early something to do while they wait for the game to end, and maybe get a little revenge by annoying the opponent who killed them. (The idea was inspired by the yellow bob-omb karts from the video game Mario Kart 64.)

When a player dies, they may choose to come back as a ghost. After discarding all their spells, dropping all their items, etc., they remove their wizard figure from their coloured base and place the base on their home square. (If they have a suitable 'ghost' figure, they can of course attach it to their coloured base.)

Starting from their next turn, they may continue to play as follows:

a) Ghosts only have a Move and Cast phase (in fact it's more like 'Move and Spook'... see below). They never draw spell cards. If a ghost obtains a spell card from another player, it must be discarded immediately.

b) Ghosts have a base movement of 3, just like a wizard.

c) The only things on the board that ghosts can interact with are living wizards (which they can spook) and outer walls (they cannot move off the edge of the board).

d) Apart from these, ghosts ignore everything when they move - all walls, objects, wizards, creatures and other ghosts - even things that completely fill their square.

e) Similarly, ghosts ignore all spell effects and items. They cannot be targeted or affected by spells, pick up or carry items or treasures, etc.

f) If a ghost is in the same square as an enemy wizard, or in an adjacent square, the ghost may 'spook' the wizard. Spooking is similar to punching, except that it cannot be evaded, cancelled, reduced or used as the trigger for a counterspell. Spooking always works, even if the wizard would normally ignore attacks (e.g. because of Mist Body).

g) If a wizard is spooked, that player must discard one random card (not a maintained spell) from their hand. This represents the wizard being startled by the ghost and losing their concentration, or wasting magical energy to ward off what seemed to be an enemy spell.

h) Ghosts cannot score victory points.


4. Life Choices When Summoning Creatures (Bestial Forces expansion)

-When summoning a creature, do not roll randomly to see how many extra life points you lose (and the creature gains). Instead, you may choose to give between 0 and 4 life points to the creature.

Under the official rules, we found that only players with plenty of health dared to summon creatures. This house rule should allow players to summon them even when on the brink of death, and decide how strong they'll be. (We're still trialling this house rule, but it seems OK so far.)


5. Optional Official Rules and their (ab)use


Uncluttered Minds + Permanent Creations (ish)

We've kinda sorta combined these two. Anything called a 'creation' becomes permanent when it's cast, and any 'item' you create or pick up doesn't count against your hand size. However, other maintained spells (like Gravity) do count against your hand size.

Getting yourself stuck because of a wall or thornbush you created earlier is hilarious, and a cluttered board is more interesting.

Also, we found that some items seemed odd or pointless if they counted toward your hand size. Why create Universal Solvent and carry it around with you for a few turns if it takes up space in your hand? Why risk carrying Boomstone around with you? Better to use it on the same turn you create it. But if an item doesn't count toward your hand size, you're much more likely to create it to make room for more spell cards. Which means other wizards have the chance to nick it from you or make you drop it, etc., leading to more fun.

I'm starting to wonder whether we should do this for all the other maintained spells too...


Deadly Treasures - yep

Encourages players to keep an eye on their own treasures, and go rescue them or defend them, rather than racing off after someone else's. Again, more player interaction.


Giant Book of Spells - it depends

We sometimes use this and sometimes don't. Some of the FFG spell schools seem designed to interact internally, so they work better when you have a higher chance of everyone holding cards from the same school. (For instance, Alchemy relies on players balancing the usefulness of Magic Stones with the risk of getting blasted by Stone Dead, but you're unlikely to see more than the occasional Stone in a giant mixed deck.) This is particularly true of the expansion decks.

Building the deck using the FFG rules also allows you to 'theme' or 'flavour' a game. You might have lots of creations and items and mental spells in one, and then lots of elements and creatures and transformations in the next. The games seem more memorable this way. If you mix all the decks, you might get a created wall here and a werewolf over there, but rarely do you get a ridiculously vine-choked maze, or a Grendel vs Big Man vs Golemmed Boggart vs Drake free-for-all.

Put simply, we've found that Giant Book of Spells provides more variety within a game, but less variation between games.


And finally (last and definitely least)...

No wraparound movement

A sector entrance with no portal is considered to be a solid wall. We started playing this by accident (forgetting the actual rule) and found it worked fine, so we've kept it up.

Feel free to borrow, tweak or critique these house rules as you like. Hope they inspire somebody out there.

Oh, and Hadouken Girl is in ur wizmaze nikkin ur trezzurs ninja
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Raphael Pigulla
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zenshrugs wrote:

3. Ghosts, or How to Deal With Player Elimination In a Simple Yet Satisfying Way
(...)


I like it. I'd probably add the rule that a ghost can't spook the same player twice, he has to haunt a different wizard first. My guess is that this will make the game more interesting because it forces the ghosts to roam around and keeps them from just smacking down a player round after round.
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Jordan S.
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zenshrugs wrote:
1. Limiting Movement - Big Blue Cards Can't Boost Speed
a) Energy cards (the ones with nothing but a big blue circle and a number) CANNOT be used to boost movement. They can only be used to boost spells.

b) However, magic cards with an optional energy value at the bottom CAN be used to boost movement.

(In effect, the 'big blue' cards are all assumed to be Flash Energy, like the green ones in the expansions.)

I've considered this option as well. This still leaves movement boosts in the game but, as you say, it generally slows them down and turns each speed boost into a more dramatic decision, since it means giving up a spell. And it makes for generally more over-the-top spells.

zenshrugs wrote:
-It opens up the possibility of using the green Flash Energy expansion cards for something else. I wonder...

In my considerations to the above changes to standard Energy cards, I gave some thought to reversing the way Flash energy works. Instead of being used only for spells, it can be used only for movement. However, this thought was a simple flight of fancy and I haven't crunched any numbers to consider how this might impact the game overall. Flash energy can be more rare depending on the construction of the deck...

zenshrugs wrote:
3. Ghosts, or How to Deal With Player Elimination In a Simple Yet Satisfying Way

I really like this idea. Consider it swiped! Alternatively, perhaps "spooking" a wizard gives them a Stun token...or, if you're a sadist, both!

n3rd wrote:
I'd probably add the rule that a ghost can't spook the same player twice, he has to haunt a different wizard first. My guess is that this will make the game more interesting because it forces the ghosts to roam around and keeps them from just smacking down a player round after round.

Perhaps consider the following when using "Ghosts": After a Ghost "spooks" another wizard, that Ghost gains a Stun token. Just like wizards, when a Ghost removes a Stun token at the beginning of his turn, he is stunned and can only move OR attack but not both.

I think this creates and interesting scenario: When a wizard gets "spooked", he won't want to stay in the same space next turn or else he's probably going to get "spooked" again! Also, other wizards would be advised to avoid that space. And this will also slow down a Ghost to keep them from "spooking" the same player more than once every second turn.

zenshrugs wrote:
4. Life Choices When Summoning Creatures (Bestial Forces expansion)

-When summoning a creature, do not roll randomly to see how many extra life points you lose (and the creature gains). Instead, you may choose to give between 0 and 4 life points to the creature.

I like this one, too. Neat idea with a rather thematic twist to it.
 
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Perhaps when the other player gets spooked, they can choose if they want to be stunned for 1 turn OR discard one random card.

Also, do you play to last wizard standing, or VP points?
 
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Posted my Ghost variant here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1398690/spook-your-friends-...
 
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