Epic Spell Wars of The Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre | The Tabletop Letters

Dear Readers,

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.

Source: IMDB

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.

An example of a legal 2 card spell with primal glyphs made of a source and delivery.

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.

The Pew and Pew card allowed the player to add additional source cards to their spell.

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.

A 3 card spell (source, quality, and delivery), with an initiative of 4. Lower initiatives play later, but tend to be more powerful.

Here’s the breakdown:

Players: 2-6

Play time: 30 minutes

Age: 15+

By: Cryptozoic Entertainment

Here we go- I’ll rank it on Accessibility, Mechanics, and Engagement.

Accessibility ⭐️⭐️⭐️🌑🌑

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.

A three card spell made entirely of illusion glyph cards. This allows the wielded to use more dice for power roll(s).

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.

Mechanics ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌑

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.

Engagement ⭐️⭐️⭐️🌑🌑

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.

This game is a lot of fun. I think it’s one of our most played games. It’s back in print and available at Amazon, along with its successors, which are standalone themselves.

Happy Gaming! Play On!

P.S. Only one more game was played with the holly tablecloth!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. alicegristle says:

    Oh, so the dead wizards don’t get to play any more during that bout? That sucks. Maybe the rules could be changed so they could still fling spells, like a bunch of undead magicians? That way players wouldn’t have to sit and twiddle their thumbs. Though I wonder if that would imbalance the game too much…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That approach sounds like so much fun!

      We played a game called Nevermore. In it when you die, you turn into a raven. You can still play, but are limited. You can turn back into a human, though. It w

      I’m going to eventually review the second game and … that one really wasn’t engaging.
      I played with four people. I died. Thirteen rounds later the game finally ended. I got up and washed dishes eventually. Lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay. I’m tired. That wasn’t completely coherent! 🤣


      2. alicegristle says:

        Aww, shucks! Nevermore sounds fun in that way though. Also, now that I think about it, if you could play as an undead wizard, you’d just blast away at the living ones and they’d get needlessly pummeled. I think you’d need to think up a way to balance the game anew if the dead players still get to play…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Maybe some kind of curse where you could leach life from the living players? Like maybe instead of your turn get the chance to damage a player and/or return from the dead at low health, but if you roll badly enough you have to give them your dead Wizard cards since they give an advantage at the next starting round?

        In the second game there’s a new element called “blood tokens”, and I think there are a few Dead Wizard cards that let you incur damage to the living players, but … I was never lucky enough to get one of those. I’m not 100% sure on that either because… I think when that card was played was the time that I was dead for 40 minutes and left and washed dishes. :/
        The second game had some design issues. The mechanics were similar but the spells were so much weaker that it prolonged the game too much.

        There’s gotta be a happy medium somewhere. Hmmm.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. alicegristle says:

        Oh, I like your idea, that you could return to life once you’ve died! The one thing I liked about the card game Munchkin was that when you “died” it cost you some things, like your equipment and so on, but you weren’t out of the game.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Munchkin is great! I love Munchkin. It reminds me of the rogue video games where you respawn as a descendant with no gear.


      6. alicegristle says:

        Oh, Rogue Legacy, right? I wanna play that game! Just not sure if my tottering corpse of a laptop can run it… Well, I’ll try! Thanks for reminding me about it, sweetie!

        Liked by 1 person

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