Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Players: 2- 6
Play Time: 30-45 minutes
Cost: Around $30
Will YOU be the next Ultimate Battle Wizard!?!
We first saw this game on popular YouTube series, Tabletop, from Geek & Sundry, and as a particularly magic loving bunch, we decided to pick it up! This vicious card game consists of brutal spell casting to blast your opponents to a lonely afterlife, but bestows creative cards that provide a bonus to those who bite the dust. With artwork that is reminiscent of the more bizarre episodes of Adventure Time and blended with a saucy vocabulary peppered with swears, Epic Spell Wars provides one hell of an experience.
So, how do you play?
The rules themselves are pretty basic. You draw a hand of eight spell cards and each player then creates a spell. Spells are made by combining up to three cards: a beginning (source), middle (quality), and an ending (delivery) card. The bottom of the card states which is which, but it’s pretty easy to tell what order to play them in, because the borders and ribbons on the cards match up.
Combine dealt spell cards into three-piece combos (all spells need a Source, a Quality, and a Delivery) and read your spell aloud in your best wizard voice. Each ‘ingredient’ has its own effect, and resolving each one properly casts your absurd attack on your adversaries. Tiny details such as matching your ingredient card’s symbols boost the results of your mystical assault, but what if you weren’t dealt enough ingredients to make full spells? As the rulebook states: Make it up! Use your hero’s name for a missing Source, a colorful adjective for a missing Quality, and any magical sounding word, like Invocation for a missing Delivery. Other cards are Wild Magic cards which allow you to draw an ingredient you’re missing and Treasure cards which, surprise surprise, give you a treasure that can hinder or help you in the quest to be Last Wizard Standing. Simple enough, right?
You win by defeating all opponents and collect two Last Wizard Standing token, but don’t fret, my fellow dead wizards! Even if you get eliminated, you’re not out of the game, because the game itself is played in multiple rounds of duels and dead wizard collect Dead Wizard cards which grants you powers for the next round..
With eight different characters to choose between, and two expansions, Epic Spell Wars is a game with just the right amount of replayability. We do stress that due to some of the more colorful language and innuendos, it probably isn’t something for the kids to play!
I love Disney. I love card games. I love fighting off evil with magical powers. (Okay, that last part is a lie—usually I like using my magical powers for evil, but not while I’m in Disney World.) These facts should add up to me loving “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom”, the new interactive card game that you can play in Walt Disney World; and to some degree I do, but I get the feeling that I love it for all the wrong reasons.
“Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” is one of the newest attractions in Disney World. In the last few years attractions have become more interactive as wait areas to classic rides are overhauled with games and “playable” elements, but Sorcerers is something altogether different. Put simply, it’s a collectible card game with digital elements in a geographically specific location. You can sign up for the game in one of two locations in the park, called “recruitment centers”, and then play as much or as little as you like. Knowing we would want to explore this game as much as possible, my boyfriend and I set an entire day of our trip aside for playing Sorcerers, but we ended up coming back for more.
When you sign up for Sorcerers, you get a keycard that keeps track of your progress and five tradeable battle cards. Each battle card features a Disney character and that character’s attack. These are the collectible element. A full deck consists of 70 unique cards. Just like other card games, there are levels of rarity and each five-pack comes with a “star” card—the most rare of all. As a member of the Pokemon generation, my desire to collect all 70 quickly escalated to an obsession, though I figured with a game so new I would be, for the most part, alone in my passion.
The problem is you have to beat all the villains to get more cards, and right now there is only one available storyline to play through. In my quest for cards, however, I would not be beaten by monotony, so I turned the game into a game of my own. When used in a fight, each battle card activates an animation on the screen with the AR code on the front of the card, and you can combine cards for stronger attacks. Determined to discover every secret behind this game in one day, I asked the recruitment man if there was any logic to which cards worked well together. “Not really, but kind of” was the only answer I got. So I set out to figure out what the hell that means.
When I was fighting Ratcliffe, I only used Pocahontas. When I was fighting Facilier, I attacked with Naveen’s frogs. Up against Hades himself? Time to call upon some Titans. Nothing particularly interesting was happening yet, so I started combining attacks and found out what the Recruitment man meant about logic. While Naveen and Tiana’s attacks fall a little flat (frogs and hot sauce), if you combine the army of frogs with Pumbaa’s noxious gas you get a gigantic fart frog that plops onto the screen with an incredibly satisfying sound. There’s the logic.
The other way to get cards is to return to the recruitment center each day, and you’ll get another five-pack of cards. My boyfriend and I began daily treks to the Magic Kingdom, but even as my arsenal grew no attack was quite as successful as fart frog. I say successful in its ability to make me laugh—there is only pass-fail as far as an attack beating a villain goes, and in order to fail you have to entirely neglect to hold up a card.
On day three, while snooping around a recruitment center, I found a list of FAQs taped to the recruitment man’s podium, and found out that the game I was playing was actually the most vanilla version the Imagineers had managed to program. Apparently there used to be a “medium” and “hard” mode in addition to the version that everyone currently plays. I’m guessing that’s where more of the logic has to be used, where certain types of attacks will only work against certain villains. The cards themselves are definitely designed in such a way that you would expect more logic to be required. They are, in fact, detailed enough that an actual card game could be in the future (THIS IS UNCONFIRMED CONJECTURE/HOPE ON MY PART).
I’m hoping when I return to the Happiest Place on Earth in October that some of these tougher elements have been reestablished. The best part of the game is combining attacks and thinking just a smidge harder about how to fight off each villain. I am also hoping that more portals are added to the game, as lines tended to get long and annoying to wait in around the “busy hours” of the parks. And, for the love of all things Mickey Mouse, I’m hoping that there is a better variety of storylines in the future. I can only stop Scar from setting off an Elephant stampede so many times before I’m holding up a fart frog from the second he appears on screen.
I do like that the game celebrates some of the less popular villains alongside the classics. The fact that Hades was the mastermind has me over the moon. Cruella De Ville and Yzma each get their own storylines, right up there with Ursula and Maleficent. The variety of movies and characters in the cards is spot-on, and I hope the deck expands as the game grows in popularity, and I hope the battle combinations are just as perfect as fart frog.