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Subject: A gamer review to help you decide whether to buy this game or not rss

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Tom Haesendonckx
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Hi all,

...and welcome to my second review.

In my review I will try to shed some light on different areas that I find important for any game I might be tempted to buy. In this way I hope to inform people who are tempted to buy this game, but feel unsure if it's a game for them.

Wizard kings is a light fantasy wargame that uses blocks with stickers to represent units. The pieces move over hex-maps that are large enough to allow stacks of blocks to be placed, forming armies in diffent terrain hexes.

1) Presentation and game components

The wooden blocks and full color pictures that you stick up to them really do the trick for this type of game. The maps are functional but not beatifull. It's a pity that the map boards are not mounted. On the up side, this allows for large maps that aren't too expensive to buy.


2) Rules

The rulebook on itself is not really a piece of art but it read quickly and gets you playing in record time without too much rulebook-refering.
It is a light wargame though with a fantasy theme. The rules do the job but don't look for an in-depth system that governs all aspects of warfare.

I will not go down into a summary of the rules as this would take me to far from the aim of this review.

3) Playability

Wizard Kings is a light wargame with a fantasy theme. In that...it succeeds!

A normal 2-player game can easily be played in a single evening and there's only a very short setup time.

The game comes with enough scenario's to keep things interesting and more are downloadable. I do have to say that playing a scenario that is different from 'Kill the other guy' is an absolute must for this game. If not, the game comes down to building the 'perfect stack of units' which doesn't keep your interest for long enough.

The adaptable hex-maps make for a good variation of possible terrain combo's that also allows for a really big map to be map to play a four player campaign for example (which would take more than 1 evening to finish).

On the downside, solitary playability is very low.

4. Strategy & luck

Essentially, Wizard Kings is about getting the right combination of units at full strength on the right type of terrain together with a wizard...while your opponent is trying to do the same thing. surprise

When two full strenght armies meet, it is a question of who rolls best.

Strategy IS involved as you try to out-maneuver your opponent using flyers, ships or units that have special terrain abilities like crossing mountains.

The fact that you can't see the strenght and identity of your opponent's units makes for a nice twist that allows for some bluffing.

It's always a tense moment when you initiate battle and find out what foreces your opponent has.

The battles (once initiated) are not tactical at all. You just roll the dice and hope for the best! angry

The only decisions to make is which spell to cast (if any) and whether to withdraw or not.

The good news is that the battles are fast and bloody!


5. Personal opinion

I do like Wizard Kings. It's light, fast and furious...ideal for playing with friends that aren't dedicated wargamers.

I always play a scenrio, however. Playing a 'kill each other'-standard game doesn't do it for me.

Personally, I think the game could do with a good background story, adding flavor and general purpose. It would give more of an impression of being involved. As it is...the game is too much of a cold game to me.

As it is, we made blocks with stickers representing Warhammer units and Lord o/t Ring units (for our own personal use). This really helps, as you get the feeling of being in the middle of a story.

The good news is that Columbia offers blocks in all colors at a reasonable price and you can download a template to make your own stickers


Is it worth your money?

I would recommend Wizard Kings to the light-wargamer or the wargamer that has difficulties finding opponents for the more heavier wargames (don't most of us have that problem...?).

If your idea of a good game is high replay value and you like the fantasy theme than this is the game for you.

If, however, you prefer playing highly detailed campaigns with tactical battles...you might want to look around some more.

Another thing to keep in mind: 2 player games can be played in 1 evening but larger games, involving more players can tend to be a little longer.




I hope to have given some potential buyers an insight into the game, without going over the rules (which can be downloaded and have been discussed elsewhere).

Hope it helps...

Tom

PS: English, obviously, isn't my native language...so excuse any mistakes or lack of style. And the starts..;they are out of a maximum of 5
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Seth Owen
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Good review.

I would like to suggest that the battles are a little bit more than "roll the dice and hope for the best." While the only real decisions are about spells and withdrawals, these are both pretty important factors. Knowing when to withdraw is especially critical to successful play. Most new players stick with battle long past the point when it would have been prudent to call it a day and leave. It's espeically important not to let your wizards get caught up in a defeat because they can't be replaced. But even with a wizard-less force, once a battle starts to go against you it's generally better to take your lumps and leave while you still have some survivors then to let a force get wiped out.
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Wulf Corbett
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I do like this game, but I'd like it even more if the units had one single more 'realistic' factor - defence. It's as easy to damage a Dragon as a unit of Goblins. If you don't couple your Dragon with a 4-point unit, the Dragon dies really easily from any competent, even weak, unit. It just doesn't sound right. By introducing the defence levels from, for instance, EastFront II, you could have solitary marauding Dragons... devil

Unfortunately, this would mean an extensive rewrite of the stickers, repricing of all affected units, and rebalancing of scenarios. Ah, well... shake
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Seth Owen
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Wulf Corbett wrote:
I do like this game, but I'd like it even more if the units had one single more 'realistic' factor - defence. It's as easy to damage a Dragon as a unit of Goblins. If you don't couple your Dragon with a 4-point unit, the Dragon dies really easily from any competent, even weak, unit. It just doesn't sound right. By introducing the defence levels from, for instance, EastFront II, you could have solitary marauding Dragons... devil

Unfortunately, this would mean an extensive rewrite of the stickers, repricing of all affected units, and rebalancing of scenarios. Ah, well... shake


True, although I think the "armor" could be considered reflected in an unseen element of the design, the scale. Each "hit" on a goblin unit represents a lot more dead goblins than a hit on a dragon unit. Indeed, I think in some cases a multi-step block may even represent a single creature (A dragon or kraken). It seems that magic users and heroes represent an individual character. Powerful units such as knights and ships also probably represent relatively small numbers of units per step compared to cheap, common units such as goblins, yeomen and the like.

The time and distance scales are also obviously skewed a bit, as is the stacking from a strictly "realistic" point of view. Best not to think about it too hard.
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Wulf Corbett
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wargamer55 wrote:
True, although I think the "armor" could be considered reflected in an unseen element of the design, the scale. Each "hit" on a goblin unit represents a lot more dead goblins than a hit on a dragon unit.
Absolutely true, 150 dead Goblins = 1 slightly limping Dragon seems a fair rate of exchange. But, still, it doesn't feel right...
 
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Seth Owen
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Wulf Corbett wrote:
wargamer55 wrote:
True, although I think the "armor" could be considered reflected in an unseen element of the design, the scale. Each "hit" on a goblin unit represents a lot more dead goblins than a hit on a dragon unit.
Absolutely true, 150 dead Goblins = 1 slightly limping Dragon seems a fair rate of exchange. But, still, it doesn't feel right...



Other block gaems have introduced the idea of toughness by requiring more than one hit to inflict a step loss. One could try this as a House Rule in WK, I suppose, but I'd be very restrcitive about who could get the benefit. In those games where it appears it's a real big benefit.

The drawback is that it's a little clumsy to execute and requires some special rules to handle half hits and such.
 
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Wulf Corbett
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wargamer55 wrote:
Other block gaems have introduced the idea of toughness by requiring more than one hit to inflict a step loss. One could try this as a House Rule in WK, I suppose, but I'd be very restrcitive about who could get the benefit. In those games where it appears it's a real big benefit.
The worst part would be the imbalance it would create, and the recosting needed on affected blocks.
Quote:
The drawback is that it's a little clumsy to execute and requires some special rules to handle half hits and such.
EastFront II (and, I assume, the associated game family) does it quite neatly and simply.
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Seth Owen
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Wulf Corbett wrote:
wargamer55 wrote:
Other block games have introduced the idea of toughness by requiring more than one hit to inflict a step loss. One could try this as a House Rule in WK, I suppose, but I'd be very restrcitive about who could get the benefit. In those games where it appears it's a real big benefit.
The worst part would be the imbalance it would create, and the recosting needed on affected blocks.
Quote:
The drawback is that it's a little clumsy to execute and requires some special rules to handle half hits and such.
EastFront II (and, I assume, the associated game family) does it quite neatly and simply.


By wargame standards, yes, and EastFront is one the moderately complex side at that. Wizard Kings is aimed at a somewhat lighter crowd and I think that this is the sort of rule that might be a step too fiddly to stay in keeping with the overall complexity.

That said. it would be intersting to see how it might work as house rule. I agree that the stickiest part would be recosting the blocks. It's hard to say without playtesting, but my gut inclination would be to start by doubling the cost per step for those units allowed to use it.
 
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Martin Gallo
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Recall that this is a game of armies vs. armies. So it is possible to think of the dragon block as a number of single dragons equal to the strength of the block while the other blocks are actually large quantities of troops.
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Seth Owen
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martimer wrote:
Recall that this is a game of armies vs. armies. So it is possible to think of the dragon block as a number of single dragons equal to the strength of the block while the other blocks are actually large quantities of troops.


Could be that, too. The design is deliberately vague on this point.
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Jorge Arroyo
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Good review. I agree scenarios are the way to go with this game. For me it's the openness of the system and flexibility for creating new stuff that makes this game great.

BTW, about the decisions taken in battles: One of the things I liked about the game when I first read the rules was the time phases during combat. It reminded me a bit of the system in Nexus Ops, which I enjoy too. But in WK you don't get to decide who loses a step unless more than one unit is the strongest one...

What would you think of making a variant where the player decides who loses the necessary steps instead of being forced to reduce the strongest unit? I think it could add some nice decisions as sometimes you want to protect a strong unit that will attack later and would rather sacrifice a weaker unit. It would also give more importance to targeted spells...
 
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Seth Owen
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maka wrote:
Good review. I agree scenarios are the way to go with this game. For me it's the openness of the system and flexibility for creating new stuff that makes this game great.

BTW, about the decisions taken in battles: One of the things I liked about the game when I first read the rules was the time phases during combat. It reminded me a bit of the system in Nexus Ops, which I enjoy too. But in WK you don't get to decide who loses a step unless more than one unit is the strongest one...

What would you think of making a variant where the player decides who loses the necessary steps instead of being forced to reduce the strongest unit? I think it could add some nice decisions as sometimes you want to protect a strong unit that will attack later and would rather sacrifice a weaker unit. It would also give more importance to targeted spells...


This may actually reduce the decision-making by making the cannon fodder more fodder-like. One would almost always kill off the cheapest units first. But under the current rules this isn't always allowed if you happen to have a valuable unit that also has the most steps. In this case you might want to retreat to prevent the strong unit from taking damage even though it's still strong. If you could choose the damage you could kill off every single other unit before taking hits on your dragon, for example.
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Jorge Arroyo
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wargamer55 wrote:
maka wrote:
Good review. I agree scenarios are the way to go with this game. For me it's the openness of the system and flexibility for creating new stuff that makes this game great.

BTW, about the decisions taken in battles: One of the things I liked about the game when I first read the rules was the time phases during combat. It reminded me a bit of the system in Nexus Ops, which I enjoy too. But in WK you don't get to decide who loses a step unless more than one unit is the strongest one...

What would you think of making a variant where the player decides who loses the necessary steps instead of being forced to reduce the strongest unit? I think it could add some nice decisions as sometimes you want to protect a strong unit that will attack later and would rather sacrifice a weaker unit. It would also give more importance to targeted spells...


This may actually reduce the decision-making by making the cannon fodder more fodder-like. One would almost always kill off the cheapest units first. But under the current rules this isn't always allowed if you happen to have a valuable unit that also has the most steps. In this case you might want to retreat to prevent the strong unit from taking damage even though it's still strong. If you could choose the damage you could kill off every single other unit before taking hits on your dragon, for example.


I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing. For example, in Nexus Ops when you have a dragon on an hex, you want to have cheap humans too so they can take the hits first. It's like a line of defense. Also, replacing cheaper units is quicker so it seems that the game would move faster too, without having to spend many turns gathering gold for to replace/heal the more expensive units...

Also, in some battles where it's important to win, you might want to sacrifice faster units so strong slow units get to attack at full strength. That seems like an important decision to me...

I'd still love to read more thoughts about this... maybe I should just start a thread about it...
 
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Wulf Corbett
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maka wrote:
Also, replacing cheaper units is quicker so it seems that the game would move faster too, without having to spend many turns gathering gold for to replace/heal the more expensive units...
Wouldn't that slow the game down? As it is, powerful units get worn down relatively quickly, and one side ends up fielding weaker & weaker units just to get something onto the field unless they get lucky. If you could keep a powerful back line, and just replace the weak (and cheap) front line, the game would become stalemated.
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Seth Owen
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There's still some ability to soak off with cheap units, because the cheap units usually can be built up to more steps. But the current system makes overpowered groups more fragile. Consider two hypothetical armies. One has three 2-step dragons and one 4-step spearmaid vs, one with one with two dragons and two spearmaids. Under the current rules the second army has a lot more staying power than the first, while giving up some offensive power. With the ability to choose losses freely the first army's offensive power would probably overpower the second army's ability to absorb hits
 
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Jorge Arroyo
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In the example, the first army can can take 3 hits before having to reduce a dragon. Under the variant, the first army can take 4 so the dragons are better protected. The second army's dragons also benefit from this since under the regular rules it can take 6 hits before being forced to reduce a dragon and under the variant it could take 8.

I don't see anything that would unbalance the battle so much... With 4 average hits per turn while the dragons are at full strength, the first army seems hard to defeat anyway, and while they would probably get one extra phase at full strength, the second army will get the same benefit with its stronger line of defense...

Wulf Corbett wrote:
maka wrote:
Also, replacing cheaper units is quicker so it seems that the game would move faster too, without having to spend many turns gathering gold for to replace/heal the more expensive units...
Wouldn't that slow the game down? As it is, powerful units get worn down relatively quickly, and one side ends up fielding weaker & weaker units just to get something onto the field unless they get lucky. If you could keep a powerful back line, and just replace the weak (and cheap) front line, the game would become stalemated.


Well, I think you do have a point. It's true that players can better protect bigger units at the expense of cheaper ones, but I've seen many people complain about how easy it is to kill a dragon... maybe this would help...

Also, I don't think the potential for a stealmate is that big. It certainly depends also on the victory conditions. Also, consider the fact many scenarios don't allow to build new units so as cheaper units get killed, the protection vanishes. Many times it would be better to take damage with the units that have the most steps anyway so units with less steps don't die and have a chance to heal...

 
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maka wrote:
I've seen many people complain about how easy it is to kill a dragon... maybe this would help...
Having the Dragon cower behind the Goblins doesn't improve matters for me... yuk
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Wulf Corbett wrote:
maka wrote:
I've seen many people complain about how easy it is to kill a dragon... maybe this would help...
Having the Dragon cower behind the Goblins doesn't improve matters for me... yuk


LOL Well, it may sound weird, but thinking about it doesn't sound so bad. The game already works like this anyway (as long as you have a cheap unti with 2 or more steps). The change really only start affecting the battle once the cheap unit has lost enough steps... I can see all the remaining goblins making a last stand so the dragon can attack once mre at full strength...
 
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Wulf Corbett
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maka wrote:
I can see all the remaining goblins making a last stand so the dragon can attack once mre at full strength...
But again I have to ask - what self-respecting, half-competent dragon needs a bunch of goblins to hide behind?
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Jorge Arroyo
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Well... If (as it happens in many fantasy stories) a lone guy can kill a dragon, maybe when facing a whole army they could do with some help
 
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Aaron Gelb
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Have any of you Wizard King fans or players (or both) played Warangel?

How do the two compare, which do you like better?
 
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