Spellcaster

Game Overview: Playing as a rival Mage, you will battle it out by playing spell cards as you attempt to drain the energy crystals of your opponent or gain enough sorcery sapphires to walk away as the victor and be awarded the title of Grand Master Spellcaster.

Box Contents: A small box that doesn’t take up much space which includes 60 spell cards that are just a little thinner than I prefer and has shown marks along the edges after 18 plays.  Because of this you may wish to sleeve the cards and the box would allow this.  The art for each card is unique and really helps immerse you in the theme.   In addition there are 30 plastic yellow crystals (energy) and 30 plastic blue crystals (sapphires) along with four thick color specific boards where the spell cards are played to. 

Clarity of Rules: The rules included are just four pages long and does very well in explaining the rules of the game.  Once you learn to play the game, there really is no need to refer back to them.  The rules are bigger than the box and must be folded to fit into the box.

Game Play:  Initially players are given 10 yellow energy crystals, two blue sapphire crystals, and three spell cards.  The spell cards are broken down into four equal numbered categories that are represented by their color.

  • Red- Combat cards which reduce your rival’s energy.

  • Yellow- Healing cards that restore your energy.

  • Blue- Sorcery cards that give you sapphires.

  • Green- Conjuring cards that allow you to alter the effects of other cars and/or to bend the rules.

The four separate game boards are also in the same colors as the cards, which dictate which board the cards can be played upon.

On a player’s turn, they first draw a single spell card.  They then take any 2 actions that they choose.  This can be to draw a card, play a spell card, or activate a spell card previously played.

When playing a card, you place the card onto the board of the matching card color and the card is placed so the text is facing you.  When a card faces you, you are the only mage that can activate that spell.  On their turn, a player can play a card of the same color covering up the abilities their opponent (or even their own card) may have been using.

Cards have different abilities that may allow you to gain energy or sapphire crystals, draw additional cards, remove energy or sapphire crystals from the rival mage, take ownership of cards in play, and some even given your opponent the same abilities that you get.

The game continues until a mage is drained of all energy crystals, a mage has obtained 15 sapphire crystals, or the spell deck can no longer be drawn from.

Replay Ability: While the game will play out the same way each time, having 60 cards in the deck and not having more than 4 being in play at any given time will mix up the abilities that will be seen from game to game.

The rules provide further ways to play the game with three players (1 v 2) and four players (2 v 2).  However, this game should really be played at just the 2 player level in a one on one battle.

Appropriate Audience:  While the game suggests 14+ which is likely due to the small plastic gems, you should be able to go down to a 7 or 8 years old.  The biggest thing to keep in mind is that reading will be needed and there is some take that where you are taking cards and gems from the other player and not all kids may take to that.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: The back and forth that the game presents is really the most enjoyable aspect of the game as you try to outplay your opponent.  Do you try to take out their energy tokens? Go for the sapphires? Cover up the played cards to take away any abilities they have?  There are different paths you can take as you try to come away with the win.

The text is easy to read on the cards as well as the iconography so you can quickly identify if it impacts the yellow energy crystals or the blue sapphire crystals.  I think this was important because cards are going to be played upside down to the other player and it assists in understanding what actions they represent.

The other thing that we really like is how quickly the game plays (10-20 minutes) and how you can easily get multiple games in during one sitting.

The biggest aspect that players may not like concerning the game is that there is a lot of luck with this game and the cards being drawn may just not help you with the path you are trying to take.  Sometimes you need to draw a card of a certain color to shut down an action being taken by the other player and it just doesn't get drawn into your hand.  If you are not a fan of the luck of the draw, you may want to avoid this game.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  Spellcaster Potions is an expansion that is available which provides 20 additional spell cards and actual potion bottles.  Instead of drawing a card when your turn starts, you can choose to take a potion.  Two potions can then be turned in for an extra action.