Wiz-War – hmmm, let’s be honest, it’s a rubbish name for a game. Now I’m going to cut Fantasy Flight some slack here as the game has a long history. Originally released in 1983 by designer Tom Jolly, the game has gone through seven previous editions before Fantasy Flight resurrected the game this year for an all new swanky 8th Edition.
Wiz-War is for 2-4 players, with each player controlling a wizard in a maze like labyrinth, engaged in magical combat for superiority over the other wizards. Why the wizards do this, and why they are in a maze is never explained, but you know these magical types, funny old lot, I suppose it’s better than a punch up in the carpark of the Lamb & Flag. You each have a home board sector and two treasures, victory points are scored for killing another wizard and for bringing an opponents treasure and placing it in the center of your home sector. There’s a large range of spells at your disposal spread across several schools of magic; Cantrips, Alchemy, Conjuring, Elemental, Mentalism, Mutation and Thaumaturgy.
Despite appearances it’s not some super detailed dungeon crawl type game at all, don’t let the dungeon-like board and plethora of tokens fool you. Games take about 20-30 minutes, the spells fly quickly and wizards nip around the maze grabbing treasure pretty fast. It’s definitely a light game. The fun really comes from the interactions of all the spells, seeing through walls to cast a create wall to box a enemy wizard in, followed by them teleporting out of your cunning trap or casting a counterspell. When bouncing a lightening bolt through a portal (which act like “wrap-around” warp points to join up parts of the board) to take down a wizard that has just covered you in corrosive acid – it’s hard to stifle a grin. The wide mix of spells and effects really does lead to some comic and unexpected interactions in the game. You won’t find deep strategies here or a clever complex rule-set, just spells, mayhem and sweet revenge
One disappointment from the couple of games we played – victories came from dashing about and grabbing the treasure and not from blasting the opponents into prismatic chunks, one player commented “it’s more like Wiz-Olympics than a Wiz-War”. There’s a mechanic where you can burn a spell in order to gain extra speed on your turn, and it took us by surprise how powerful that aspect of the game was. However I think future plays will be different now we know how strong that can be, everyone will be on guard for it.
This is a really nice game, quick and simple to teach new players. It’s pretty and well made (as you’d expect from FF). Doesn’t take an age to play and provides the thrill of mixing up lots of different combos of spells al-la Magic The Gathering, without all the baggage that Magic has. I’ll certainly be on the look out for any future expansions as the game is clearly made for building on (fifth player, new schools of magic, new cards and spells, new boards, variant rules, etc.). Definitely worth picking up