GAME REVIEW: Wizards of the Wild

I went through a kickstarter phase during the early part of the year.  Anything that had a unique theme and was under 30 bucks, I seemed to back.  Now, within the past week I have received several of these games I forgot I backed in the mail.  This one had some cool artwork that I thought would appeal to my daughter, and of course, she digs the theme, which is animals that are wizards!  YES!

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Wizards of the Wild plays from 1-4 players (or 5 players in the deluxe kickstarter version), is for ages 10 & up, and takes about 30-45 minutes to play, depending on the number of players.  5 players would probably take over an hour.  It is now for sale on Amazon!

In this game, each player takes on the role of a wizard animal. There is some sort of wizard contest in the forest, and the player who can prove to be the most spectacular wizard, performing different spells and challenges, will win the game.

I honestly thought this was going to be a more confrontational game, with players battling one another.  That’s not the case.  It’s more of a resource management game, with players trying to balance all 5 of their main resources to purchase spells and overcome challenges.

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Each player chooses an animal, taking the corresponding player sheet.  They will also get scoring discs and cubes (to track their resources) in a color of their choice.

There are 5 different resources you can acquire during the game:

  • Tomes (which are books) – Use these to buy spell cards.
  • Arcane (which are lightning bolts) – Use these to buy challenge cards.
  • Gems – Use these to bribe an Acolyte.
  • Mana – Use these to activate spells.  Mana is also used to avoid getting an end of round penalty.
  • Skulls – These are bad.  Whoever has the most skulls at the end of the round will lose points.

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You will start the game with a certain amount of these resources, except skulls.  You begin every round with no skulls.

There will be 4 cards on display at a given time for players to purchase.  2 spell cards and 2 challenge cards will be available at the start of the game.  The cards replenish at the beginning of the next player’s turn, and they get to choose what kind of cards to bring out (spells or challenges).

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A spell card usually allows players to play a resource to get another resource.  There are also 3 different types of spells.

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Challenge cards will either give you immediate resources, or give you an endgame goal to attempt.

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Both cards have listed victory points listed that will score at the end of the game.  Oh yeah, and the cost for each card is listed at the top.

The game is played in 7 rounds.

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At the beginning of a round, an Acolyte card is taken from the Acolyte deck and placed face up for everyone to see.

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An Acolyte is the animal who is running the contest for that particular round.  As soon as you reveal the card, each player will lose the amount of mana listed.  There is also a Gem amount listed too.  At any point during a player’s turn, they may pay the listed gem amount to receive the listed victory points.  There is also a penalty listed in the lower right corner.  These will be the points lost to the player with the most skulls.  (If players are tied for the most, then the no one gets the penalty)

Now that the Acolyte card is revealed, each player will take their turn.  They will take all six dice and roll them.  There are 6 icons on a die.

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There is a tome, an arcane, a gem, 2 mana, a skull, and one side shows both a tome and an arcane, which means you can choose either one (but not both).

Once a player has rolled, they will decide which icons they want to keep (depending on which cards they want to purchase from the center).  They will be able to re-roll twice.  If you decide not to purchase a card during a round, you may store any resources you rolled.  You don’t get to store resources if you did purchase a card though.

A round is over once each player has had a chance to roll dice and purchase cards.  Once it’s over, whoever has the most skulls loses victory points listed on the current Acolyte card.  Then the start player will shift one over clockwise.  After 7 rounds, players will score their spell and challenge cards.  Whoever has the most victory points is the winner.

This is a fairly light game.  It was definitely different from I expected…….. but that’s not a bad thing.  I found it a bit refreshing actually.

The theme is really cool!  Animal wizards!  I love it!  Each of the character’s artwork is fantastic.  Every one!  There’s not a dud among them.

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I love how each character has their own powers too, which makes the game more interesting I think.

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It’s boring when it doesn’t matter which character you choose.  Anyway, back to the look of the game:  The artwork really brings you into the game.  You do feel like you’re an animal in the forest performing magic.

Also, the dice.

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This has to be some of the nicest dice I have ever seen in a game.  Wow!  They feel great and they look beautiful.  With how cool the dice and the artwork was, I was a little disappointed with the cubes and discs.  They’re pretty lightweight and cheap looking.  They’re not awful, but they just don’t match the rest of the components.

How’s the gameplay?  Pretty good I think.  It didn’t blow me away, but it was fun while I played.  I also don’t think this was intended to be the next great game anyway.  It’s meant to be a fun filler of sorts.  And if played as a filler, it absolutely works.

I love games that have objective cards that you can acquire and attempt to complete them.  So I loved the challenge cards.  The spell cards didn’t seem as important to me, unless I got a challenge card that required you to collect a certain type or amount of spell cards.

I found it interesting how you had to balance all of your resources.  If you neglected one (like mana for instance) you might pay for it later by not being able to get a spell you really need, or you may have lost victory points if you get too many skulls.  You get skulls by either rolling them, or not having enough mana to pay an Acolyte at the beginning of a round.  It keeps you engaged during your turn for sure.

Which leads me to a negative aspect of the game.  If it’s not your turn, you don’t have a whole lot to do.  You kind of just sit there watching the other players roll dice and getting cards.  This isn’t a problem in a 2 or 3 player game, but I can see this getting tiresome in a 4 and especially 5 player game.  I don’t think I’d play this with more than 3 players.  It’s a pretty good 2 game though!

The other thing I was a little lukewarm on was how the start player keeps shifting.  In a two player game especially, because then each player goes twice in a row.  This just increases the downtime when it’s not your turn.  After playing it the correct way, I tried just having the same start player for the whole game and everyone just taking their turns in clockwise order.  The game went smoother I thought.  I didn’t feel like the game suffered from playing this way either.  It felt right.  I normally don’t like house rules in games, but at least in a 2 player game, this is the way I’ll play it from now on.

Other than the downtime, (which really isn’t long in a 2/3 player game), this is a fun filler with a cool and adorable theme.  I enjoyed it and am excited to share this one with my middle school class.  They should love it!

If you like good 2 player games and think that animals would be cooler if they were wizards, then you should definitely give Wizards of the Wild a try!

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