by Josh Vollmer

Cryptozoic Games has several tabletop diversions in its stable, including one based on AMC’s wildly popular The Walking Dead franchise as well as the popular The World Of Warcraft collectible card game.  It was the ridiculously titled Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre that recently caught my eye .

The game is played with two to six people, each taking on the role of a Battle Wizard, such as Fey Ticklebottom the Enchanter, or Krazztar the Blood’o’mancer. I usually try to claim Princess Holiday & her Furicorn (judging from the art, that’s just short for “furious unicorn”). There aren’t any special abilities applied to a particular wizard (I just like to pretend I’m a princess sometimes), and regardless of who you play there’s only one objective: Eliminate all other Battle Wizards and be the Last Wizard Standing!

If you want to take out your competition, you’re going to have to cast some spells,  so here’s the breakdown. Spells are made up of three different component types: a Source, a Quality component and the Delivery. You don’t have to include one of each component to cast a spell though; you could cast a spell made up of just a Source and Delivery. You can’t, however, cast spells with more than one of each component type. For instance, a spell with two Sources is illegal.

Once all players have determined the spell they’re casting for the round, all players announce the number of cards in their spell to determine whose spell resolves first. Spells made up of one component will cast before a two card spell, which in turn would resolve before any three card spells. Often more than one player will cast a three card spell in a given round. If this is the case, and more than one player casts three card spells, initiative is then determined by a number on the Delivery card. The higher the initiative, the sooner you act.

Once play order for the round is determined, the Battle Wizards then reveal their card(s) and announce their spell from Source to Delivery in their best wizard’s voice. For instance, “Sir Lootzor’s (Source) Mysterious (Quality) Power Vortex (Delivery)”. Then spell components are resolved in order (Source, Quality, Delivery), with the player following the text on each card. There are beneficial effects such as healing or gaining treasure, but most spells are all about inflicting damage. Spell components come in different flavors as well, such as Dark, Primal, etc., easily marked by a glyph in the lower left corner of the card. Matching these spell types will often make your spells stronger. In the example above, all three of the components have Arcane magic glyphs, so when resolving the text on the Power Vortex card, the player would roll three dice to determine the spells effectiveness. When all players have cast their spells, a new round of casting begins. Wild Magic cards add a bit of randomness to the mix, allowing players to play one in place of a Source, Quality or Delivery card, and then draw from the deck until they get a matching component to fill in. They come in pretty handy when you don’t have a particular card type in your hand.

Once a wizard dies, they immediately lose all cards in their hand, any treasure they’ve gathered and start drawing Dead Wizard cards. Once a wizard is determined the Last Wizard Standing, they receive a token and a new round starts. Each Dead Wizard card then grants a boon to start the new round with. This helps even things out if you die particularly early in a round. The overall winner of the game is the first player to get two Last Wizard Standing tokens.

Epic Spell Wars is entertaining, but not terribly deep. While there is some amount of strategy in composing your spells, after a couple of matches you’ll easily be able to recognize your best options from the cards in your hand. While it won’t offer the complexity of some other games, the imaginative artwork and obvious humor of Epic Spell Wars still makes it a fun addition to any tabletop gamer’s rotation. Pick it up at your local Slackers today!