Harry Potter never should have wasted his time with quidditch. He should have played wizard dodgeball instead. Wizard Dodgeball is a fun game wherein two players each take control of a team of wizards in a glorious game of dodgeball. Like muggle dodgeball, the goal is to eliminate all of your opponent's players from the court. Unlike muggle dodgeball, you get an arsenal of spells to help you out! Some spells are player buffs to aid your teammates (strength, speed, etc). Others are devilishly delightful spells to drive your opponent up a wall (teleport, freeze, butter fingers, weaken, etc.). While these spells are powerful, the only way to remove opponent wizards from the court is to hit him with a ball or catch one they have thrown at you. The game is a delightful integration of classic physical ball throwing and fantasy spell casting.
The theme is probably one of my favorite elements of this game. As I played dodgeball quite a bit as a child, I find the game to be quite nostalgic. The game is a great, simplified simulation of traditional dodgeball. Layer that with the delight of spell casting and the game gets even better. The physical game and spell casting elements are incredibly well integrated. Personally, I find myself easily sucked into the theme. Every time I play, I really feel like I'm playing a team of wizards throwing balls around the court while attempting to dodge balls and spells.
GAME PLAY OVERVIEW
Game setup begins with each player selecting 5 wizards at random from the available 24. Players then select the spells they will use for the game from the available spell list. The wizards and balls are placed on their court starting positions and the game begins!
Each wizard can take two actions per turn chosen from the following:
• Throw a ball
• Pass a ball
• Cast a spell
Picking up or dropping a ball is a free action.
All of the standard rules of dodgeball are simulated in the game. Wizards run up, grab a ball, and start throwing. Wizards must remain on their side of the court. Hit an opponent wizard with a ball and they are eliminated. If you catch a ball thrown by an opponent, they are eliminated and your team gets to return a wizard to the court.
Ball attacks and dodges use a simple six sided dice roll mechanic. The thrower must have line of sight to the target (another wizard can't be in the way). The thrower rolls between 1 and 3 six sided dice depending on their distance from the target. Longer throws use fewer dice. Target wizards roll 2d6 to dodge the ball. Each wizard has a physical attack and dodge bonus which gets added to their respective rolls. If the attacker beats the defender's score, it's a hit. If the defender rolls doubles, regardless of value, he has caught the ball.
If the dodging wizard is currently holding another ball, their defense roll goes up to 3d6, but they can not catch the thrown ball. This is a clever mechanic as, in real dodgeball, holding a ball allows you to better deflect an incoming ball, but prevents you from making a catch.
Thankfully, the exact same mechanic is used for spell casting, keeping the rules for the game easy to learn. The caster rolls between 1 and 3 six sided dice depending on their spell range. Defending wizards roll 2d6 to resist the spell. Each wizard has a magical attack and dodge bonus which gets added to their respective rolls. However, this time if the defender rolls doubles, the spell rebounds back to the caster!
Players can only cast a particular spell if they have its spell card in their hand. When a wizard casts a spell, the spell card is removed from the player's hand and placed on the board next to the caster's jersey card. It is not picked back up until the end of that wizard's next turn. Bottom line...when a player casts a spell, they have to wait a full round before they can cast it again. This mechanic helps keep the balance between the physical and magical aspects of the game. It also forces the players to think about how best to use their spells as they are a limited resource.
Each wizard has stats for movement, physical attack range, physical attack bonus, physical dodge bonus, magical range, magical attack bonus, and magical dodge bonus. Some wizards are great casters, but poor throwers. Some have great physical attributes, but poor spell casting. Some are powerful attackers, but poor dodgers. And still other wizards just have overall well rounded stats. This makes for a great deal of variability in play style and strategy. Players need to play the game to their particular wizard's strengths.
The game requires the following components:
• The Game Rules
• 1 Game Board
• 24 Wizard Stat Cards
• 24 Wizard Jersey Cards
• 24 Wizard Markers
• 20 Spell Cards
• 48 Spell Markers
• 5 Ball Markers
The graphic quality of the game board is great. The court has the International Wizard Dodgeball League (IWDL) logo in the middle. The court has a light wood grain like texture to it. Starting positions and player spaces are clearly marked.
The Wizard stat cards are aesthetically pleasing. Wizard's stats are easy to find and easy to read.
The spell cards and spell markers are functional, but somewhat mundane, with plain text on a gray or orange background.
The designer did not include graphics for card backs, but that's actually a good thing. For card games, I prefer pretty backs. However, Wizard Dodgeball is a board game with dice rolling mechanics...not a card game. Having card backs wouldn't be a huge improvement and it saves on printer ink.
If I have one complaint about the game components, it's the rules. They could definitely use improvement. While playing my first few games, there were several situations not covered. The rules regarding line of sight are particularly confusing. This prompted me to send several rule questions to the game designer for clarification. Thankfully, he has always responded to my questions within a few hours and has taken the time to make updates to the rules based on my questions.
PRINT N PLAY DETAILS
I would classify this as a medium sized project. The game is available in 5 free PDF files. The rules are 8 pages long. Game components are a total of 13 pages in length.
Ink usage on this game is moderate. The game board itself requires measureable printer ink as it is 3 pages long and in full color. However, the quality is worth it. The designer wisely kept white backgrounds on the wizard stat cards, wizard jersey cards, and wizard player markers. This really helps keep the ink usage down.
I recommend mounting the game board to something heavy like chipboard or vinyl floor tile to keep it flat and to prevent it from moving around on you. I glued mine to chipboard which in turn was glued to black felt to keep the board from sliding.
For the wizard markers, I purchased 24 one inch wood discs which I spray painted white and then glued the wizard markers to. You certainly don't have to do this, but it doesn't take long and it's a big improvement. It gives the player markers a nice feel as you move them around the court. It also prevents them from being accidentally blown around.
The PDF includes 5 ball markers. I swapped these out for 5 red decorative glass beads which you can pick up for a buck. Again...not necessary, but I think they look more like real balls and have a better feel on the board.
WHO SHOULDN'T PLAY THIS GAME?
If you are looking for a deep game with heavy strategy, complex mechanics, and hours of game play, this won't be for you. This is a fun, lighthearted game with moderate strategy that plays in under an hour. Also be warned that, while there is plenty of player decision making, the game's primary mechanic is dice rolling. If you don't like games with an element of luck, you aren't going to be happy here.
I really enjoy this game. As I outlined above, the theme is great. The mechanics capture the feel of a game of dodgeball without being overly complex. The game is easily taught to new people. Players need to play to their wizard's skills and select spells carefully. I also see a lot of growth potential here. The base game is great, but I could easily see future game expansions which add new wizards and/or new spells. If you are looking for your next print n play game, look no further. Print it. Play it.
Thanks for the great review! Glad you liked it!