Cast spells! Throw Fireballs! Teleport! Eat a wall! Read the Wiz-War board game review!
Today we are looking Wiz-War, published by Fantasy Flight Games. Wiz-War is a non-tactical combat game for 2-4 players in which each player will be taking on the role of a wizard out to steal their opponents' treasure or see them reduced to a pile of ashes.
Wiz-War - How to Play
The goal of the game is simply to score two victory points. One victory point can be earned for each opponent's treasure that a player manages to steal and bring to his base. The other way to earn a victory point is by killing a rival wizard. Additionally, if a player manages to be the only wizard left alive, then the game immediately ends with the sole surviving wizard being declared the winner.
Each wizard has a randomly oriented home sector which contains their base square, the location for the two treasure chests of their color, and a door that only that wizard can open. All of the sectors are interconnected, and it is up to the players to use the spells they draw to infiltrate their opponents' sectors and steal their treasure or kill their wizards.
The meat of the game is contained in the Magic Deck. The base game contains decks of cards for each of 6 different schools of magic as well as two cantrip decks. Using any method they want (random, taking turns, etc.), players will choose 3 of the schools of magic and one cantrip deck and shuffle them together to form the Magic Deck that will be used for that game.
Wiz-War - Magic and Mayhem
The schools of magic contained in the main game are as follows...
Alchemy is a school that specializes in creating items such as magic stones that can be carried for various effects.
Conjuring focuses on creating inanimate objects like walls.
Elemental focuses on the four elements of fire, earth, wind, and water and is the school that will allow wizards to throw fireballs and lightning bolts.
Mentalism contains energy for powering other spells as well as letting wizards steal spells from one another.
Mutation allows wizards to change shapes and alter their form into things like a werewolf or a pile of ooze, which grant temporary bonuses or abilities.
Thaumaturgy also contains energy for powering other spells as well as a mix of things from the other schools.
Players are dealt a starting hand from this Magic Deck and will be drawing cards from it as the game plays out. The fact that the players all draw from the same deck and the fact that there is no guarantee that players will be drawing balanced hands really lends to the chaos and randomness of the game. This can also lead to frustration for some players if they don't have luck on their side, as the game can become hilariously unbalanced based on good or bad draws.
It will be up to the players to use the cards dealt to them to steal treasures and attack other wizards, as well as defend themselves and their treasures from their opponents.
Some Notes on Wiz-War
A note on game length
Wiz-War generally takes from 30 to 60 minutes to play. Due to the random nature and the potential unbalance or ultra-balance, this time can vary widely. A safe bet is to plan for a 60-minute game and see where the game takes you.
A note on randomness
Wiz~War can be a swingy and random game based on how the cards fall for each player. This is actually one of my favorite aspects of the game, and as such, I recommend playing with the Giant Book of Spells variant found in the rule book. This variant ramps up the chaos factor significantly which, to me, translates to more fun.
A note on “chrome”
In typical Fantasy Flight fashion, the plastic minis have great detail, the cardboard is of good quality, and the cards are nice. The treasure chest pieces do begin to show wear rather quickly if you slot them in and out of the wizard mini's bases often, but this can probably be avoided if you are careful.
Should I buy Wiz-War?
Wiz-War is chaotic. While it's fun, the game can be very unbalanced based on the cards that are drawn. Due to the random nature of the game, I would not recommend it to anyone who is looking for a tactical combat game. Wiz-War is more of a "beer and pretzels" game where laughs are more important than winning. You should buy this game if you enjoy a bit of chaos and randomness and you want a game you can have a few laughs with. If you're more adamant about wanting a concrete plan, then you might want to give it a miss.
The copy of Wiz-War used in this review was provided by the publisher. This review was originally published on 12-24-2014. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions, and for historical context.