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Subject: Luck is Magical! The Wizard Always Wins Review rss

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Kevin Ellenburg
United States
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The Wizard Always Wins is a light 30 minute game for 2-5 players with a silly premise: Be the Wizard! Pull your gem from the bag of fate to prove you are the most magically powerful person at the table.


The Wizard Always Wins' most significant component is the Bag of Fate, a purple bag filled with element tokens (mushrooms, potions, etc.), a few power-ups, and, eventually, players' gems. There is also a deck of element cards, 7 thick cardboard role cards, a central board with player-colored tokens to keep track of turn order, and individual player dials that track each players' wizardry level, which starts at one.

The component quality is top notch, with thick cardboard, a nice feel to the purple bag, and vibrant cartoony artwork that helps the game feel silly and fun.

-Gameplay: Role Selection, Set Collection, & Wizardry-

The Wizard Always Wins is a game focused on steadily increasing your chances to win. Players start the game with no gems of their color in the bag of fate, and they will take actions throughout the game to add gems of their color into the bag of fate and to increase their wizardry level. When a player attempts to win the game (by selecting the Wizard as their role), they draw tokens from the bag of fate equal to their wizardry level and win so long as they draw at least one gem of their color. Otherwise, play continues.

Role Selection: 7 role cards are placed in the middle of the table, numbered from 1 ('the Queen: Draw 1 element card, play 1 element card') to 7 ('the Wizard: Draw tokens from the bag equal to your level. Win if you draw a gem of your color! All other tokens have no effect.'). Each round players take turns selecting role cards and performing their actions. Every role except for the Wizard helps players to collect sets of elements like Mushrooms or Potions, usually by drawing element tokens from the bag of fate and/or drawing element cards from the deck. Early on, players will generally pick the role that helps them collect the most elements, but the numbers on the cards are a source of player interaction, as they determine the turn order for the next round. A player may want to pick a higher numbered role for the sheer number of elements it can give them, but then they will be near the end of the turn order next round and will likely then be stuck selecting a weaker role.

Set Collection: Players collect elements like Mushrooms randomly throughout the game when they pick roles that draw element cards from the deck or draw tokens from the bag. For each element type, a reference card states how many of that item is needed to create a set and what the effect of that set is. For example, collecting 5 snails lets a player add a gem of their color to the bag of fate, whereas collecting 4 plants lets a player increase their wizardry level by 1. These sets can be made by combining element tokens, element cards, or both, and the tokens/cards are discarded after use. Element tokens (drawn from the bag of fate) will have 1 element each (e.g. 1 mushroom), whereas element cards will have two or three copies of an element each (e.g. 3 mushrooms). The set collection can feel solitaire-like, as most role abilities let players collect more elements without affecting others at the table, but there is some interaction with the Trader role, which can forcibly swap an element card or token with another player and therefore has to always be watched out for.

Wizardry: Wizardry is a fairly simple concept in this game, as its really just the power to draw tokens from the bag of fate. Several roles will allow a player to draw one token from the bag, but only the Wizard and the Wizard's Apprentice can draw multiple tokens (the # of tokens drawn is equal to the player's wizardry level when they select the role). Typically, drawing a token from the bag will just end up granting a mushroom or some other element, but there is some magic in that bag. Power-ups that increase one's wizardry level or let one add a gem to the bag are delightful rewards to grab and get returned to the bag so others can grab them later. When a player with a high wizardry level picks the Apprentice, they have a great chance of thinning out the bag of elements and snagging multiple power-ups. Picking the Wizard on the other hand is a challenge against fate; if you pick the Wizard and are then able to grab a gem of your color, you prove that you are truly magical and deserve victory. If you do not grab a gem of your color, everything you did grab is returned to the bag with no effect, and your turn has essentially been wasted. Knowing when to grab the Wizard is key.

-Audience & Player Count-

As a light game with a heavy focus on improving one's luck, The Wizard Always Wins shines as a silly activity for casual gamers and families. There's a childish thrill whenever drawing random tokens from the bag of fate that players of any age can experience, similar to the thrill that games like Zombie Dice try to capitalize on, but The Wizard Always Wins manages to be a more involved and interactive experience that is still easy enough for anyone to play and for the luckiest player to win.

The role selection is the most interactive part of the game, and it loses some impact at lower player counts where many of the game's seven roles will frequently be ignored in favor of more powerful ones. For this reason, the game shines with four or five players, where competition for roles is highest, and is not recommended for two.

-Closing Thoughts-

Overall, The Wizard Always Wins is a light game that embraces luck as something magical. The set collection limits player interaction in favor of keeping things simple, but jockeying over role selection and turn order is still a good source of interactive fun. As the game progresses, everyone starts feeling like they can win so long as they can just grab the Wizard role, and its at these moments that the turn order competition can get the most exciting. When somebody does pick the Wizard, everyone is watching what they draw from the bag of fate, and when they draw ANOTHER player's gem that player will often exclaim "Oh no! I could have won!!!" and be all the more interested in snagging the Wizard role next round.
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