Players: 2 to 4
Game Length: 60 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 4 warring wizards who don’t want to play fair!
Wiz-War is a classic game dating back to 1983 that has seen a recent reprint by Fantasy Flight Games to streamline it and give it a modern set of components for today’s gaming audiences. It’s heavy in direct player conflict and best suited to those who don’t mind a game that can be unfair, so long as they can have a laugh with their friends.
In Wiz-War, players each control a wizard engaged in arena combat with up to three opponents. Each wizard starts in the centre of their own personal maze, and two treasure chests. To win, wizards must gain two points – either by claiming treasure chests belonging to opponents and bringing them back to their centre square, or by slaying their opponents in magical combat. They’ll have access to a range of spell cards to help them accomplish these goals, but there’s nothing stopping an opponent from stealing a treasure chest you’ve taken back to base for themselves, if it’ll prevent you from taking an easy victory!
In many ways, Wiz-War is something of a game toolkit, and each player will likely want to tweak the base game’s rules to provide a more personalised experience. My own Wiz-War variant involves playing to 3 points, giving wizards 10 life instead of 15, and allowing them to come back after they die, to give the game more of a death-match arena feel without ending too quickly; discovering your own preferred playstyle is highly recommended!
Wiz-War comes with 6 different spell decks with different themes, such as the Mutation deck that features lots of spells to transform wizards into powerful creatures, the Alchemy deck that contains lots of objects that wizards may use to augment their powers, and the Conjuration deck that lets wizards bring objects into the world as obstacles for their opponents. You can mix together as many of these decks as you want, but the game works best if you only mix three of them, to provide something of a theme for the current bout of arcane aggression and give each new game a distinct feel.
Wiz-War is the very definition of a beer-and-pretzels game, filled with direct conflict and powerful spells randomly drawn from a deck, with a board that will change dramatically as the game proceeds. There’ll be explosions aplenty, mind-controlled wizards walking back and forth over flaming walls, treasure chests thrown through magic portals to reach the home location, and much more. It plays best with four to ensure maximum chaos; with fewer than four, there aren’t enough opportunities for players to sling nasty surprises at each other.
Wiz-War is not a game suited to every player; some will find the randomness of the game frustrating and would prefer to play a game where they are in more control of their destiny. However, for those who want to blast their foes with magic spells or create an impassable wall just as they reach the end of a long corridor and other such mean tricks, Wiz-War comes highly recommended.