Game: Lizard Wizard
Published: Forbidden Games
Designers: Glenn Drover
Playtime: 45-90 Minutes
Play Type: Set Collection/ Economic
Kickstarter Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/954412004/lizard-wizard
***This review was completed based off a prototype. All components and rules are subject to change. Photos have been provided by Forbidden Games***
You are one of the Arch-Mages in land of Astoria, a magic filled world that is filled with powerful artifacts and spells to explore. You are vying to be the most powerful Arch-Mage in the land, and must gain the loyalty of Wizards from the seven Houses of Magic throughout the land to help ensure the growth of your power.
Lizard Wizard is an economy and set collection game that focuses on player interaction and variability to provide players with a variety of strategies. The game is played over a series of turns, ending when either the Wizard, Familiar, Spell or Tower Deck has been completely depleted.
On a player’s turn, they have the option to take one of the following actions: Gather Reagents, Convert Reagents to Mana, Recruit Wizards, Research a Spell, Create a Tower or Summon a Familiar. I will give a quick summary of what each of these actions does below.
- Gather Reagents: Players use a Reagent Card in their hand to gather up to three Reagents from the supply. Reagents can be used later to gain Mana, cast Spell Cards or purchase Tower Cards. There are seven different Reagents a player gain. Players can only gain the Reagents shown on the card they choose to play, and if there are more than three, players must select which Reagents they would like. This number can be changed later in the game with the use of Spell Cards. Additionally, players will gather Reagents associated with the Wizard Cards in their possession by looking at the symbol in the upper left hand corner. Players will gather one additional Reagent per Wizard Card in their possession. Players may have a maximum of ten Reagents in their personal supply at the beginning of the game.Once the player has gained Reagents from the top portion of the Reagent Card, they must move the Mana value of the Reagents that are depicted on the bottom portion up one space per Reagent shown. Once those two actions are complete, the player may cast one Spell that they have the necessary Reagents for.
- Convert Reagents to Mana: Players may take this action to convert one type of Reagent they have to Mana by determining the market value of that Reagent type. Players will multiply the number of Reagents they are turning into the supply by the current value of that Reagent to determine how much Mana they will gain. Players will then bring the Mana value of that Reagent down a number of spaces equal to the Reagents they have turned in. Players also have the option to turn in any number of types of Reagents for a single Mana each. This action does not effect the value of any of the Reagents.
- Recruit Wizards: Wizards are important for scoring at the end of the game. This action allows you to recruit one of the two Wizard Cards available. This action results in a magical duel or auction amongst all the members of the table. Players take turns bidding on a Wizard Card, with the player who took this action starting the bid. Once all players have passed, the player with the highest bid takes the Wizard Card. If the winning player was not the player who took the action, that player takes another action immediately.
- Research a Spell: Players may gain a new Spell Card by selecting one of the four spells available, and paying the Mana cost in the upper left hand corner of that card. The Spell Card is placed face down in front of you until you are able to cast it. Players do have the option to immediately cast the spell they just purchased (no other spell), if they have the Reagents shown on the bottom of the card.There are three durations of Spell Cards in the game. Some cards have an immediate effect that is used once and then place face down separately from the non-casted spells. They cannot be used again in the game. Some Spell Cards depict an arrow, and can be used once for an immediate benefit and then put back in their hand of available Spell Cards to be recast using a Familiar. Finally, some cards have an ongoing benefit for the rest of the game, shown be a recycling symbol. These are placed face up in front of the player. Spell Cards can provide a variety of bonuses throughout the game such as the ability to manipulate the Reagent Market, ways to score additional Victory Points at the end of the gameplay or ways to counteract hits in the Dungeon.
- Create a Tower: Players may spend Reagents or Gold equal to the number depicted on the bottom of the current Tower Card to take control of that Tower. Each Tower has a House of Magic that players will want to try and match with a Wizard they have recruited. They are worth points at the end of the game. Additionally, each Tower increases the number of Reagents a player may have in their personal supply by one.
- Summon a Familiar: Players may purchase one of the two available Familiar Cards , which allows players to take one of these actions. The first action is scoring, which gives each player one gold coin per card they have that matches the House of Magic of the Familiar Card, including the Familiar Card itself. Gold Coins score points at the end of the game.The second action a player may take when Summoning a Familiar is the Gathering Reagents and Casting Spells option. Players will gather the Reagents shown on the Familiar Card, and cast any spells that they have available and have the Reagents for. Another action that a player may take is the New Research action, where they may clear the current four Spell Cards, replace them with new choices from the top of the deck and then select one of the cards for free to put into your uncast spell pile.
- Finally, players may Enter the Dungeon. With this action, players will draw cards from the Dungeon Deck. Players will push their luck to try to get treasure and gold coins (both worth points at the end). However, if they draw two monsters before leaving the Dungeon, they bust and receive nothing. If players do draw coins and manage to not bust, they take the coins immediately into their supply. Item treasure cards are worth points at the end of the game. This action cannot be done any longer after all treasure has been drawn from the Dungeon Deck.
- Familiars are one time use cards but are kept and still considered that players after use.
Those actions make up game play. After one of the decks has been depleted, the game ends at the end of the round. Scoring is made up of the following components:
- Pairs of Matching House of Magic Towers and Wizards Gain 10 VP
- Pairs of Non-Matching House of Magic Towers and Wizards Gain 5 VP
- Towers and Wizards that are Not Paired Gain 1 VP
- Every Cast Spell Card that has a House of Magic Matching the House of Magic of a Matched Tower/Wizard Pair Gains 5 VP
- Gold Coins Score 1 VP per the Value of the Coins
- Cast Spell Cards Score Victory Points Based Off their Conditions
- Player with the Most Treasure Items Scores 10 VP
- Player with the Second Most Treasure Items Scores 5 VP
- Players Score 10 VP per Achievement Tile they have Claimed
The player with the most points is crowned the most powerful Arch-Mage. Due to the nature of prototype games, these rules are subject to change before the final copy of the game is released.
Components:I do not feel entirely comfortable discussing components to the full extent because I played a prototype in which changes have already been made towards the final game and components were not finalized. However, the one thing that I did want to highlight is the incredible talent of Annie Stegg. Her work on the Wizard Cards in particular is absolutely stunning, and gives the game such great personality and table presence. I fully intend to eventually pick up prints of the some of the Lizard Wizards to adorn our game room, because their level of detail and craftsmanship is worthy of showing off. While the style is familiar from the game’s predecessor, Raccoon Tycoon, I love the fantasy vibes introduced in Lizard Wizard.
- Family Friendly Theme
- Variable Set Up
- Works for a Variety of Player Counts
- Slightly More Complex than Raccoon Tycoon
- Beautiful Production
- Fantasy Theme
- Great Mix of Mechanics
- Direct and Indirect Player Interaction
- Optional Take That Mechanics
- Can Be Difficult to get the Right Reagents
- Difficult to get the “Right” School of Magic
- Some Luck Based Elements
- Some May Find it too Similar to Raccoon Tycoon
There is a lot to love in Lizard Wizard, but my favorite thing about the game is probably the mixture of commodity speculation and marketplace mechanics of the game, with the auctioning and spell casting mechanics. All of these aspects come together to create an interactive experience for all of the players. Almost every action a player can take will have some effect on other players, whether it be bidding for a card, or increasing/decreasing the mana price of a Reagent. However, for players who do not enjoy direct “take that” mechanics, the game has an option of removing the spell cards that interact in this way. This added to the family friendly feel of the game for me, and I loved that it did not remove all of the player interaction. As a result of the many ways of player interaction throughout, the game keeps players engaged in other player’s turns. Another player’s actions may have a direct impact on my strategy from turn to turn, and I enjoyed that it kept me constantly considering the best course of action.
While some of these mechanics may be familiar to players who have enjoyed Raccoon Tycoon in the past, I love the addition of the new push your luck dungeon deck and the variety of abilities that spell casting provides. These actions provide a variety of things for players to spend their hard earned mana on, and add additional depth to strategy. Players have many paths to victory. Some players may focus on the set collection of the Wizards and Towers, others may focus more on spells or trying to get points from the achievement tiles, and some may focus on trying to get points from pushing their luck in the Dungeons by collecting Familiars.
In most cases, the variety throughout the game was a positive. However, it felt at times that the seven houses of magic almost were too many because it could be difficult to get the right houses of magic to score throughout the game. In some of the games that I played, it felt as though those who got lucky and managed to purchase a magic house that consistently showed up were able to score much more easily, especially if this happened early in the game. Players who were unlucky and purchased a Wizard that the matching Tower never became available lost an entire scoring category in the end. While players are able to bid against players for these houses that were frequently appearing, or try to purchase towers/ spells before the other players, these preventative methods were not always helpful in their own scoring. There is an aspect of luck in the cards that appear throughout the game and it can have a major impact on the outcome of the game. Similarly, the amount of Reagents can make it difficult to get the right materials to purchase Towers or use Spells.
This was slightly less noticeable in higher player count games where cards were being replaced frequently. While I would say that this game does play slightly better at higher player counts, it is still very enjoyable at just two players. The game scales based on number of players, removing the number of cards in each School of Magic for the Towers, Wizards and Familiars. This change makes the game a reasonable length but keeps the variety of Spell Cards, which have different effects based on what House of Magic they represent. I will ultimately purchase this game, and it will most likely play at two players most often. I felt that the experience was still interactive enough and maintained its integrity, even with just two players.
That being said, I highly suggest Lizard Wizard and intend to add it permanently to my collection. It is very similar to it’s predecessor Raccoon Tycoon, but I felt that the new mechanics added enough variety to earn it’s own spot in my collection. I could see it replacing Raccoon Tycoon for some fans of the game, but some may find the two games too similar to justify owning both. If you have never played Raccoon Tycoon, but enjoy games with a heavy economic focus like Brass: Birmingham or Power Grid, I would highly suggest checking out Lizard Wizard. While it is lighter and easier to teach than those games, it has a very similar feel to the game. Additionally, for those enjoy a fantasy theme similar to games like Potion Explosion, Quacks of Quedlinburg or Dungeons and Dragons, this might appeal to you!
If you are on the fence, be sure to check out more information on the Kickstarter page, which will be live on July 28th. The link is posted above.