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Unleash Your Mystic Powers to Do Mundane Errands in the ‘Wizards’ Game

4 Minute Read
Aug 4 2022
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The Wizards game is less about fighting dragons and demons and more about making sure your Bard friend gets to play their favorite venue.

The early ’80s was a truly fantastic era. I mean that literally. There were a lot of fantasy media projects being produced. Among them was our featured retro game of the day, simply titled Wizards.

All images via Board Game Geek

Wizards Game Overview

Released in 1982 by Avalon Hill, the Wizards game certainly looks like the typical cardboard-chit wargame you’d expect to see from Avalon Hill. But in fact, it’s much less interesting than that!

Wizards is a semi-cooperative pick-up-and-deliver adventure game. Each player takes the role of a fledgling wizard, looking to make their mark on the world. The goal of each player is to be the first to collect 6 gem fragments and bring them to the High Druid.

Each of these Gem Fragments are held by the wizards who live on the Enchanted Islands of the world. And these wizards aren’t going to give up these gems so easily, even though failure to collect them means the end of the world. No, these wizards have a bunch of meaningless fetch quests they need you to do before they’re willing to help you out. Quests like, “bring this lady home” or “be a messenger” or even “be a roadie for this one Bard guy”.

There are other tasks that feel more impactful, but ultimately every task is some manner of “go here then go here and maybe also here.” None of the tasks require using the stats which they grant upon their completion. That’s only for leveling up, which sounds exciting at first, but again is ultimately unfulfilling.

Choose Your Arcane Order

Each player chooses an Order to join and ranking up in that Order requires specific stat thresholds. These thresholds do unlock spells, but over half the spells are just spells that help with your movement across the map.

Very Random Setup

Speaking of the map, the game is not without some interesting ideas. During setup, each of the games 18 map hex tiles is distributed among the players. These map tiles are placed by the players anywhere they want on the provided ocean board.

The only rule regarding tile placement is each map tile can not overlap with any other. If you want to place a map tile way off on the other side of the world, you can do that. The game has rules for using boats and even swimming. But, you better hope there are no important tasks on that island because time is of the essence. And the stop and drop spots for the tasks are all random.

Collapsing World

The final neat (but potentially damning) idea this game offers is the Evil Attack phase. The whole premise of the game is warding off evil demons from destroying the world. Every 14 turns, the demons attack. Whichever map tile has the most task tokens and demon tokens is flipped over, becoming inaccessible for the remainder of the game.

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Feels weird to escort a dolphin home while the world is literally falling apart, but okay.

If the High Druid’s tile is flipped, the game is over and the players lose. But if they can manage to scour the world, doing odd jobs for these wizards until they reach level 4, collect the 6 gem fragments and bring them to the High Druid, they win!

Wizards Game Final Thoughts

Ultimately, this game does have a lot of really neat ideas. Unfortunately, they are buried under a sea of random chance. Your task could have you traverse the entire map 3 times for a reward you don’t even need. Alternately, you can have a task that you finish in a single turn if the dice roll in your favor.

It’s got a great theme and I want to like it so much more than I do. The one thing the game does really well is the number of encounters. There are tons of tasks, events, random encounters, and specific encounters based on your location, which we didn’t cover.

Overall, it just drags out and feels randomly unfair in too many ways.

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