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Are you standin' yet?
Artwork: My Daughter
While the BBG Wiz-War pages were flooded with reviews, session reports, and especially rule clarifications and discussions back when the game was released, the boards today in comparison are a bit desolate. I am hoping this means all us spellcasters are too busy rotating boards, mutating into Big Men, and stealing treasures left and right to peruse the halls of Geekdom hosted on BGG.

A large part of what little talk there is these days seems to be focused on questioning how much fun the game actually is to play, resulting primarily due to the post: Where's the fun? Check the post out for yourself, but in summary an early group play through was met with noneventful, "racing" (for treasure) wins that really didn't allow them to capture the true essence nor the potential of the Wiz-War contest. Another later post: Why the new version seems unfun and my suggestions to make it fun again describes a host of game modifications suggested to "bring back the fun..."

So, I thought I would post a short session report highlighting my last couple of plays and what I really enjoyed about them. This isn't to protest, disagree, or flame instigate any related posts. This is just a reminder to myself and anyone interested in reading this why I love the game and will always find it's action, humor, and charm unique, entertaining, and a barrel of laughs.

In terms of background you should know that I play mostly 2-player games. "WHAT?!?! Wiz-War with only two players - that's just plain crazy talk" Right. I hear you. However, that's the hand I've been dealt and my crazy life just worked out that way - lot's of moving for new jobs, lot's of weird waking hours due to our special needs daughter (Yes - that is an Autism Awareness microbadge - glad you noticed...), etc., etc. So - my wife managed to learn Wiz-War (and other games I am lucky to say) and I am now officially a "Games with Spouse" club member.

Also - after playing a three person game I realized we were in fact missing something. To keep things brief, we use a house rule that says in order to get the opponent below 1 HP, you need to have a least one of their treasures dropped in your Home Base. See my past session reports for the detailed account of this evolution of events: Three Wizards are Waaaayyyyy Better than Two! and New 2P House Rule: Two Wizards are Now Waaaayyyy Better than Before!.

The 2-player house rule keeps the mayhem of larger player count games intact and forces a ton of what I call "treasure manipulation" that I feel is missing in a straightforward 2-player deathmatch (which is what usually happens since you can just pick up your treasure which forces an exclusive "win by not being dead" situation - still fun in its own right, of course). What is great about the game, regardless of house rules, VP count, etc. is the creative card combos and power moves you can make during a game. It is these memorable moments that make boardgaming so enjoyable. You will also notice that we prescribe to the use of only three schools of magic in addition to a single cantrip deck. As much as I would like to throw all the spells into a massive deck and avoid the separating and shuffling that is required to combine different schools, I feel there is a particular level of balance achieved by limiting the schools and changing them up each game. The cantrip and energy card frequency is ideal when played as the rules suggest and unless the "huge deck of mayhem" is properly mixed it will be more like a "huge deck of dissapointment as counters and energy cards are not likely distributed well... Of course this is just my opinion based on the experiences with the game I have had thus far.

For this sesssion report, I have pulled a number of these "highlight" moments from our last couple of plays and wanted to present them as sport broadcasting highlight reels showcasing the situations and outcomes that really make the game enoyable for my wife and I. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did playing them (and of course writing about them now).

Note: Players => E: myslef and J: my wife

Highlight One: "It Ain't Over Till It's Over..."
Schools of Magic: Cantrip / Mentalism / Mutation / Elemental

After nearly six turns of positioning and setup, E is poised to cast his Adrenaline card for some heavy damage via a dual attack turn. Wait, what's this? J casts Thought Steal and pulls the two attack spells E planned to unleash... WOuld have thought she would have considered taking Adrenaline instead, but it looks like E is on the front end of a long drought of attack spell draws, so the move works! J deals out the damage originally intended for her (Fireball and Lightning) and manages to bring the HP score to 14:6 - advantage J. Then, from nowhere, a game changing play by E - casting of shared life AND a punch (He finally casts that Adrenaline spell, despite no high level damage options...) which makes the HP score 10:9 - advantage (smaller now) J. J pulls out a last ditch Wallivore spell to boost her HP, but E has the attack spells now and wraps up the win with Psonic Blast and then Fireball. J vows a rematch as this one was clearly stolen from her early grasp.

Highlight Two: "A Rose By Any Other Name Would Cause HP Damage Just the Same."
Schools of Magic: Cantrip / Mentalism / Conjuring / Thermaturgy

They've pulled a challenging deck composition for this match - not a ton of dyanamic attack spells offered here compared to what these two are used to. Lot's of circle manuvering and card stealing as we wait for someone to make a power move... J conjures magical traps placed strategically to prevent E from making it to his own base with one of her treasures in tow... Looks like the match has been extended, with the HP Score at 5:9 - advantage E. No game ending damage has bee dealt for the last few turns... this may end in a treasure struggle... Wait! Is that? Yes - it is - it's a Rosebush! (Really, this is bad, bad news). E has conjured a Rosebush in conjunction with Around the Corner to place it just three spaces from J's current position. Why is this key, you ask. Beacuse the actual attack spell this turn is... drumroll, please... Mental Force! The spell hoists J into the air and proceeds to drag her through the Rosebush space three times for a total of 9 damage... E enjoys the surprise victory as he bends down over J's corpse and take a moment to smell the roses.

Highlight Three: "Bow to the Might of the MEGA-Wizard!"
Schools of Magic: Cantrip / Alchemy / Elemental / Thermaturgy

After just a handful of turns, J has managed to equip herslef to the status of MEGA-Wizard. Her arsenal of deadly items includes: Spellstone, Brainstone, Lifestone, Bloodshard, and Fire Cloak. E is deperately pining for a Fire attack to wipe the slate clean. As he waits, J smashes him with a deluge of quickly drawn and discarded attack spells, resulting in a HP score of 14:3 - advantage MEGA-Wizard. E has Speedstone and Wizardblade, but no high level energy cards. E attempts to break the MEGA-Wizard domination with Boomstone (countered with Flood)... next up: Drop Object (countered with Full Shield)... and finally: Boomstone - again (countered by Wall of Earth)... Will the domination ever subside? Eventually J is up to 20 HP thanks to the Lifestone, but E thinks he has a chance - with a hand of counterspells (including Backlash - he is just waiting to unleash THAT surprise) what can really stop him? I'll tell you what - a couple of Fire Cloak enhanced punches, that's what. Booyah!

Highlight Four: "One Mundane Action Too Many."
Schools of Magic: Cantrip / Mutation / Conjuring / Mentalism

The labyrinth is looking most ecological today, with two Rosebushes and two Thornbushes gracing the brick walled halls... Thanks for joining us. If you missed the first half of the game you missed watching E sit three spaces away from his home base with the second of J's two treasures in tow (the first wasn't yet in his home base, but was nearby from an earlier drop forced to rescue one of his treasures). Then, out of thin air, J mutates into the Big Man and moves E three spaces in the opposite direction - genius. Better yet, the Big Man now blocks E's progress in the direction of his home base making the win that much harder.

Now back from the break, we'll see how E responds. Whoa! E casts Swap and manages to thwart the Big Mans block attempt... AND he makes it to his base, drops the treasure in hand, and manages to reach the final treasure and pick it up to end his turn. The tension is high as J plans her response... She looks about to give up - without suffient attack spells to end the game... Wait! Look at this! J has noticed that a recently destroyed wall give her diagonal line of sight to E's Home Base [yes - that diagonal LOS is a difficult one to notice at time...]. With a whirlwind of hand gestures she casts Stretch and E watches as her arms extend to his home base, where she delicately lifts the single treasure of hers sitting there and add it to her items... This game isn't close to being over folks.

A handful of turns later, E is set up again to complete the double treasure return for the win. J weighs her options and sets out on an elaborate scheme to end the game. First, she mutates into a Golem, pickes up the second of E's treasures she need to get back to her Home Base (the first is already there) and get to continue her move (Golem special ability). She moves to get in-line with her Home Base, but her line of sight in blocked by a single wall. She undoes the Golem transformation and casts Astral Projections, moves to the other side of the wall, and casts Heave-Ho! to throw the winning treasure onto her Home Base square - what a power move for the win!

[A couple of real-time hours later] Wait, the judges are convering regarding that final Heave-Ho spell win... Looks like there is a technicality on the win - The Heave-Ho is described as a mundane action on the spell card - thus the card represents an action that is PLAYED and not CAST, while Astral projection allows only the CASTING of a spell after moving in the astral plane. The win is null and void and the game ruled a draw for the record books.

Highlight Five: "Exqueeeeze Me Ma'am, Did You Drop Something?"
Schools of Magic: Cantrip / Conjuring / Mentalism / Mutation

Well, this match was over nearly before it began. J learns a hard lesson about remaining in line-of-sight of your opponent. After E absorbed an early destroy wall (likely the flap of the butterfly wings that changed the outcome of the game via the ensuing chain of events), he used it to clear a direct route to one of J's treasures. When E had one on his Home Base and had just picked up the other - with only 5 spaces separating him from his Home base - J was more than a bit visibly nervous. J had the energy cards to get him to E's Home Base on her next move, so the pressure appeared to be off. Unfortunately, after picking up her treasure she stayed in E's line of sight via the bottom of the board wraparound. E was then able to move past his door onto his Home Base, drop the treasure he had in hand, and then give J the 'ole one-two knockout: He casts Drop Object (the second treasure currently held by J) followed by none other than old reliable - Stretch. J watches in horror as she is forced to drop her treasure and witness E's withered old man wizard hand stretch across the labyrinth and grap it from her feet. In one simple old man extendo-arm retraction, the second of her treasures is on E's Home base and the game is done. Both a record arm span and record short game length... It doesn't get any better than this!

Till next time - "May your energy cards be high in value and plentiful in number."

Thanks for reading.
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JT Call
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Someone's been watching Hunger Games. devil

Great session report!
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