My friend having been gone for new years, gives me a call Monday Night "Hey Joe, want to go pla a game, called 'Castle of Magic'?" I was bored, my fiancee being out of town and all and having nothing to do, (as well as never passing up a chance to play a game) "sure".
Now lets get something off right away, if you may have guessed from my profile, I am more in Wargamer type than anything else, so see it through those eyes. On the car ride over to my friends' friends house, I glanced at the game and the first words out of my mouth were "oh gawd, IT's ROLL AND MOVE!!! SAVE ME!"
So we get there, set it up, go over the completly simple rules and begin.
Components: OH MY GAWD!!! I did not know games were made with this bad of components anymore, and I'm a wargammer, my standards aren't that high. A) the board is gray with bold colors, while making it easy to read, make it absoultly bland. B) the ritual and country counters, were simple, sufficent but nothing to write home about. Most of all though was the tracking sheets!
I mean, in many cases they could of used simple counters for parts of the tracking sheets. While the game has some clue like things, and the secret part needs to be a tracking sheet, some of the widely changing things, like the amount of points in the 3 relics just made me chringe.
Rating: D+ (maybe C, they were very utilitarian)
Ah the most important part of any game. The rules were quite clear, and easy to read, with no real problems for anyone of any age. But it is indeed a roll and move system! I swear I stopped playing those games. Lets go over how the game works.
At the begining of the game, each player has 2 points in each of the three relics: The Crown, The Scepter, and The Amulet. These three items is each secretly/randomly assinged a country that is associated with said item. The person who owns the item (by having the most points in said item) at the end of the game, rules said country (unless they are eaten by the monster.)
There are also 9 spells each player can cast, starting at level 1. Learn Country, Learn Ritual, Book, Bell, Candle (the 3 ritual influencing spells), Crown, Scepter, Amulet (the 3 relic point gainging spells). When a player attempts to cast said spell the roll 1d6, and if the roll their level, or lower (max 5) they succeded, and do that spell.
Each player is secretly given a wizard card which determines their goals. Three factions (and in the advance game, you can be the monster, pretending to be a person, or a martyr who wants to die, a compltly unique roll.) Dragon, Eagle, and Wolf. In general, dragon faction personalities want to control the monster, Eagle banish it, and wolf? I don't know. So everyone has goals, like "rule country X" or "Banish the monster" or "Control the Monster" "Don't let Eagle Rule country X" and so on. You keep everything about you secret.
On your turn, you roll 1d6 OR play a move card, which is a # of 1-6, that you have to accumlate through landing on move card spaces. The board is made up of three tracks, each one progresively smaller, and diffrent slightly. After you roll, you decide which way you want to go, usually giving you 2 choices of what you want to do. Besides spaces allowing you to attempt to cast any of the spells above, there are +1 spells spaces, which increase the level of one spell of your choice, move card spaces, which allow you to draw a move card, in the inner tracks a +1 combat space, and a countdown space.
Once you move, you must attempt what you landed on, which generally is never bad, but sometimes can be, like in the case that you might get eaten at the end of the game, if you own a certain relic. There is one more type of space, called the "secret space". These, through a clever little system allow you to learn one intresting fact about your opponent. This clever system, is assigning each wizard a 3 digit number, and putting 15 of those numbers on the back of a stack of cards. When some one asks to learn a secret about you, they flip through the deck, on card at a time, till they find a card with their number on the back. They hand the card to you, you don't know their number, but the info on the card gives you a cule as to who they are. Neat.
So, once you have done the activity of the space you can engage combat with any target in the space. combat is simple, name a person, and one of their points for one of their relics, both players roll 1d6 and highest wins, attacker gets one relic point if wins, defender wins ties. You add your combat value, but only the middle track gives combat value increases, and nobody got more than 1 in our game (and only 1 total was gotten.)
The ritual, which is used to determine what happens to the monster, is influenced by the three ritual items, book, bell and candle. A track for each states were each is, lit or unlit, open or closed, ringing or silent, producing 8 possiblities. When players cast a spell of a certain ritual item, they pull the item along it's track in one of the two directions. If it reaches the end it becomes "locked" and can not be changed. If all three become locked the game is over, the ritual is cast, and results occur. The results:
1) Monster is Banished Instantly
2) Monster is controlled by Crown
3) Monster is controlled by Amulet
4) Monster is controlled by Scepter
5) Monster devours Crown wielder, then is banished
6) Monster devours Amulet wielder, then is banished
7) Monster devours Scepter wielder, then is banished
8) Monster devours EVERYONE, and then rampages.
The monster is considered to rampage if it is not banished, but uncontrolled, via, the item that controlls it not being held by anyone at the end of the game.
While each player wants a certain result or results, they don't know which one is the trick. Each result is secretly assigned to a set of ritual item statuses, and players must use the learn ritual spell to figure out which set is which ritual. (they only get to look at one at a time, so... .
There are a few more things, but that's about it, so overall, despite the roll and move, I think the rules work well.
OH, one last little thing, table talk is very limited, and each player is given one "talk chip" which means they can iniatiate negoation once per game. If other players use their talk chip, you can diplomaticly act on their time, but they have the right to talk to who they want to first!
The game, is a deduction game. Figuring out, what you want, and who your allies/enemies are is critical. Most players get a few points if their allies get something (the control of the monster or country.) and negative points if their enemies control a country or the monster is banished or not banished. Also not getting eaten by the monster is a nice thing too . This causes instresting situations as you begin to surrender points of certain relics to other players, or try to influence the ritual so your enemy is eaten! While their is limited ability to apply your diplomacy, it does have effect and ads to the game in a good way. Of course, since you are all trying to win, a little infighting can occur to, and even a good old double cross.
Despite it's roll and move system, it got numerous strategic thinking ideas, as every time you cast a spell you have options usually, and doing stuff like hording move cards till the end of the game can be a big help. In the end though it's mostly a deduction game, and being able to take advantage of the sitatution the most. It's simple enough for kids to play, but intresting enough for adults.
Overall Rating: B-
Definetly will give it a second go,but still want my Siege of Port Arthur.