Have you ever heard of a Wizards’ Duel? Watching The Sword in the Stone as a child, I was so captivated by seeing Merlin battle the Mad Madam Mim. That’s one series (The Once and Future King by T. H. White) that is a much funnier read than it was a movie. At least the first book was, anyway.
Epic Spell Wars of The Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre captures the spirit of wizards dueling. It’s a Battle Royale with cards, and extremely unpredictable. Going forward I will just refer to it as Epic Spell Wars.
Please note that this game is not appropriate for children. The cards depict over the top illustrated gore and violence. Though I have a terrible sense of humor, I must admit there are cards which have highly stereotyped racial themes and/or innuendo, which would also be inappropriate and offensive to some players.
This game is pretty straightforward. Each wizard has a hand of spell components. The wizard decided which cards to use and then lays them face down. Once each wizard has crafted their spell in that way, each player announces their “initiative”. Three card spells have initiative listed on them. The highest initiative goes first. If a wizard has chosen to play only one or two cards, then they go before the larger spells.
Damage is dealt out according to the cards and die rolls (indicated by a token on a card for health points). Once all cards have been played by all “living” players, cards are drawn back up and new spells are formed.
Once a player has been dealt enough damage that they have no remaining health points, they are given a Dead Wizard Card. With each round of spells thereafter they accumulate additional Dead Wizard Cards. These will give them an advantage during the reset.
The final wizard to still have health points is given Last Wizard Standing token. The first player to accumulate two of these tokens wins.
Once there is a Last Wizard Standing, the other players cash in on their Dead Wizard Cards for any advantages they may offer. They select new Wizard cards, discard any cards remaining from their hands or treasures, and draw a new hand.
Here’s the breakdown:
Play time: 30 minutes
By: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Here we go- I’ll rank it on Accessibility, Mechanics, and Engagement.
Most of the concepts are pretty easily accessible and original. There are a few riffs on other characters, like Walker Texas Ranger. The spell names are typically puns.
The colors are vivid but probably worth wearing EnChroma glasses for. Some of the fonts are awkward. There are many small symbols and fine print. This is one for reading glasses.
I usually do okay with the text, but there’s a lot of text and it’s not flavor text. It’s important to your “spell” formation. I just take it slow and read the cards very carefully.
The mechanics are easy and pretty smooth, once you’ve played a few times. Puns and prose and awful fonts make the rules a little obtuse, but there are how to videos on YouTube, including Whil Wheaton’s. That’s where we first saw this game.
Turns are easy to figure out, spells are simple to put together (though there is strategy!) and by and large it goes by fairly quickly.
In this game, there is one element that is completely worthless: the standee. It’s a brightly printed waste of cardboard. In the second game the standee actually has a purpose as cards target the holder, but that’s a different post.
With three or more players, the dynamic becomes more entertaining and a little less strategic.
In a two player game, despite the Dead Wizard Cards and the advantages they give, my husband and I agree that the first person to gain a Last Wizard Standing token has the extreme advantage. If you’re the other player, then you have to KO your opponent twice, which I know sounds obvious in theory but it’s difficult in reality. They start the round with their original wizard, Health Points reduces to whatever it had been, any treasures they gained, and their hand of cards (having drawn up). They can be easy to eliminate depending on how much damage they previously were dealt, but it’s a matter of strategy. Two player games are a good time to execute one or two card spells. Two player games definitely require more precision and anticipation of your opponent.
If you are a “living wizard”, this game is quite entertaining. Turns are quick, turn order varies, and living wizards are often targeted by the active player.
Once you are dead, you accumulate those Dead Wizard Cards. While they are useful, you have nothing to do but sit on your laurels. Luckily the game goes by quickly, so it’s not horrible.
Happy Gaming! Play On!
P.S. Only one more game was played with the holly tablecloth!