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Subject: Seems fundamentally flawed rss

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Chris Koeberle
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I've played this game three times, now, twice with 5 players, and once solo, playing two students by myself, just to try to see if it could actually be fun. The two student game ended in failing out in the second year, the other two games ended by mutual agreement when it was just getting boring.

I really wanted to love this game. The art is great, I love co-op games, I love the theme, and a lot of the cards are genuinely funny. There are some really clever mechanics. The way spells work, where each spell has two distinct components, the damage and the side effect, is awesome, and makes for some really difficult decisions.

The common "production seems rushed" complaints are all valid: It's definitely weird to include a die and 8 player tokens for a game that needs a coin, 5 player tokens, and a billion markers. The rulebook doesn't do a great job of communicating how the game is played, and there are still a few places where you're never 100% confident you're doing things the way it was intended. [ex.: If the "School strikes back" phase triggers red and green monsters, and the Velocirat is in play, do red monsters attack once or twice?] The text on the cards can be hard to read.

But the fundamental flaw seems to be that where many co-op games rush you toward failure, and your goal is to meet the victory conditions before that happens, in this game, the space between "winning" and "losing" is very, very wide. You can spend hours just treading water, being made totally miserable by the special rules on any but the Freshman graduation cards. And every turn, it takes a few minutes of discussion to make sure that you're treading water optimally, and deciding whether to use a high-value spell to take out a really annoying monster even though it's overkill, or save it for later. On our last playthrough, we finally defeated the Class Clown, which required me to discard 4 Magical Items, which was fine, because I had three crappy items and the "hold two more items" item. And then I equipped some nice items I'd been saving. And then we flipped over the Junior year graduation goal, and its special effect was "all players discard all items." And then we packed up the game after two and a half hours of play.

The game's author seems to think that it has some really deep strategy and that if we play it more, we'll get better and better and finally be able to defeat four years. But if I'm going to spend dozens of hours mastering a co-op game, I'd like to have fun while I'm doing it. I think if I ever open this (extremely tight-fitting) box again, I'm going to house rule that the acting wizard can use their signature spell *and* cast a spell from a card. I know that that will make the game far, far easier than intended, but when the failure condition of a difficult game is "it takes forever," then I feel justified making it easier.
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Melissa Delp
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South Carolina
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So far I've only played Wizard School once, but I had similar feelings. We played a 5-player game and it seemed to take forever. There just wasn't enough for players to do on their turn (unless they had something that gave them more actions). We also came to the conclusion that if we play it again we would house rule that players could cast their signature spell AND one spell card. 45-60 minutes would be my target play time for a game like this, not 2+ hours.
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Michael Junker
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Emeryville
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This pretty much sums up our impression after the first playthrough too. We were two hours into a two-player game, when we beat the junior level challenge, and flipped over a senior challenge that was going to require us to dump everything in our hands and slowly grind our way back through the deck to find the small number of cards that could actually work for us.

We'll probably try it again with a much easier difficulty just to see if there's enough of a game to actually enjoy or if there's some better technique to it than just grinding out a slow painful win, but I'm not optimistic.
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Chris Hawks
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Apple Valley
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We played a 3-player game where we breezed through freshman year, and then sophomore year added an additional color to all monsters, meaning some monsters required 4 colors to beat, making beating monsters in general extremely difficult. I had the mermaid character and had upgraded her already, so I was able to consistently keep people from flunking out—which merely meant that we were able to tread water for 3 hours before giving up in frustration. We achieved just one of the sophomore missions.
 
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Chris Hawks
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thekodiak wrote:
I think if I ever open this (extremely tight-fitting) box again, I'm going to house rule that the acting wizard can use their signature spell *and* cast a spell from a card. I know that that will make the game far, far easier than intended, but when the failure condition of a difficult game is "it takes forever," then I feel justified making it easier.

When we gave this a second try, this is what we went with. (We also played that you could use your signature spell instead of a spell card when helping the active player.) It worked pretty well. Yes, the game was much easier, but it was playable now, and you should be able to manage difficulty level via construction of the graduation deck. (We simply played 2 freshmen years and left it at that.)
 
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Kyle Cuthbert
Canada
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I really don't understand. We've been playing with a house rule whereby you don't increase anyone's grade after completing a grad card, but yet haven't had any trouble. In all our games I've only seen one person hit D, and while the game's a tad longer than stated on the box it's nothing like you guys are talking about. We usually end up with more cards than we know what to do with, and after a handful of rounds most turns go something like:

Player 1:
"I can do anything on the table, which one should I do?"

Player 2:
"I can give you enough actions to do most of them."
 
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Ian Paczek
United Kingdom
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We played a lot of games (about 16 or so) over Easter and this one was a failure. I've never given up on a board game because I couldn't be bothered to finish it ... until now.

Here's an example of how I feel about the game:

Flip a coin, if it comes up heads - you didn't like the game, if it comes up tails - repeat this action.

What I liked : the artwork, the flavour text, the quality of the cards

What I didn't like : the game mechanics, the rule book, the confusing and contradictory cards.

We disliked the over-reliance on coin tosses as a chance mechanism. I am not certain that people actually toss coins today. Certainly the two people playing with me, both of whom were younger, could not execute a coin toss correctly. I think it's a skill that has fallen into disuse.

I liked the flavour text - it added atmosphere, but it really got in the way of the rules. There was very little delineation between rules and flavour text in the rule book, which made it confusing. Wizards of the Coast, for example, put their flavour text in a different font or in a sidebar or a coloured or shaded box.

Why was a die included?

Fundamentally we didn't care enough about achieving the objectives so when we were all on D's and one of us flunked out, we breathed a sigh of relief and picked up Cthulhu Pandemic. We were defeated by the Great Old Ones and immediately started another game. There you have it - that's really all you need to know about Wizard School.
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Kyle Cuthbert
Canada
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RugoseCone wrote:

We disliked the over-reliance on coin tosses as a chance mechanism. I am not certain that people actually toss coins today. Certainly the two people playing with me, both of whom were younger, could not execute a coin toss correctly. I think it's a skill that has fallen into disuse.

...

Why was a die included?


The die was included so that you could avoid the very coin-toss problems you describe. High (4-6) is a success, Low (1-3) is a failure. (Some prefer odd-even.)
 
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