Today I’m taking a look at Wiz-War, a boardgame released by Fantasy Flight Games. Wiz-War is basically a classic game remade, with the original released back in 1982. Although FFG made several changes, it’s only made the game better, while they maintained the original spirit and theme.
In Wiz-War a bunch of wizards fighting each-other, to be the Guildmaster of the Arcane Order. So they descended into the catacombs, and they try to kill each other with spells and stealing treasure from their rivals until one of them become the winner by collecting 2 victory points. Victory points could be gained by stealing treasure and killing rivals, of course.
As you may guess, Wiz-War is a fairly light game, but it has some learning curve, thanks to it’s many spell cards. However after about two or three games it will be much easier (and much more fun) to play.
If you ever seen a Fantasy Flight Games product then it will be mostly the same high quality we are used to. The box contains 4 sector boards to represent the labyrinth, 9 excellent plastic minis for the 4 wizards and the 5 transformation spell, 4 life tracker (good-looking dials), more than 100 token to represent effects and items as well as 168 magic cards (24/school) and a single 4-sided dice.
Surprisingly, Wiz-War has one of the best rulebooks I ever seen from the publisher, with a nice index and marker and token key in the end. Well, they often presented very messy ones before, so this is a big step forward. The magic cards are good looking with nice fun graphic images, a clear and simple layout and easy-to understand icons. It’s a good thing, that the images on the cards are matching the effect markers, making identification easier.
The only week spot in production value is the “box insert”, if I can call a simple useless paper cardboard like that. Basically it’s the same for most of the FFG products (except the Arkham Horror line), so no surprise here. I tend to throw these cardboard out, right after I opened the box.
During the setup you place 1 sector board randomly on the table for each player present, and everybody takes a wizard miniature to represent him in the dungeon. Then you place the figures and the treasure markers (2/player) to their predetermined places, and you create a magic deck from several schools of magic (3 schools + Cantrips). Everybody draw 5 cards, Hat tokens and life tracker for his/her player color and the game starts.
On every turn a player max move 3 steps and cast an attack spell and as many neutral spells as he wants. At the end of the turn he may draw 2 cards, but only up to the maximum hand size, which is 7. During an opponents turn you may only cast counters, to neutralize spell effects, and do nothing else. Of course, there are many spell effects which could modify this, for example in Werewolf form you may cast only counters to defend yourself and you may move 4 steps.
The fun in a big part comes from the chaotic nature of the Wiz-War game, with different spells flying around, and wizards turning into golems, hurling fireballs, passing or blasting through walls or summoning brushes or new walls into the labyrinth. Basically, you may never know what your opponent are capable of, since they have random spells from a deck of 40+ cards.
Above spell cards there are energize cards, which could increase the effect of several spells (like duration or damage) or increase movement speed, while some of the spell cards have dual-purpose, and they are usable as energize cards instead of spells.
Changes since 1982
Fantasy Flight Games changed several things in Wiz-War since it’s first release, however it’s still stayed the same game. They created new sector boards for game-balance, they created new spells, and divided all spells into schools. They added miniatures (good move imho), and generally the components are much better.
Wiz-War seems to be a good light game with a fun theme. It1s only downside is it’s warming-up period (you need 1-3 games to really get going) and it’s $50 price, which is definitely not cheap. Also, you need active “crazy types” players to play this, as if everybody playing on defensive the game gets very long and uninteresting. Also, I have to not that the game mostly shines at 4 players, still good at 3 but it’s not really recommended for two.
If you are interested, you may take a look at the video teaser trailer below :
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros