Reviewed by: Herb Levy
(R & R Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 25 minutes; $19.95)
Did you ever wonder how rival Mages settle their disputes? Well, it’s not by sharing their feelings. In Spellcaster, a new game designed by Aaron Weissblum and Norman Woods, we discover that such disagreements are settled the only way they could be: through magical combat
In Spellcaster, each player is a powerful magic user and begins with 10 yellow energy crystals and 2 blue Sorcery Sapphires. Rather than a board, four “placards”, one each in blue, green, red and yellow (to match the card suits in the game) are placed between the players. The spell card deck is mixed and each player dealt a starting hand of 3.
Card colors indicate the type of effects each colored spell can do. Red spells are combat cards which will deplete the energy of your rival. Yellow cards have healing properties so you can reclaim energy lost. Blue cards get you more Sorcery Sapphires while Green cards can alter card effects, bending the rules in your favor.
Turns alternate and, on a turn, a player draws a card and can then take TWO actions. You may A) draw another card, B) play a card from your hand onto the display so that it is facing you and/or C) activate a card on one of the placards that is FACING you. Some cards (marked by a red “enchantment” symbol) do not require an action; they activate automatically each turn. When/if a new card of a color is played, it is placed ON TOP of the previous card. In this way, potential powers and control of the colors can shift.
Play continues until either one Mage has lost ALL his yellow crystals (and is defeated) or a Mage has amassed 15 Sorcery Sapphires (and wins). Alternatively, if a Mage cannot draw a card to start his turn, the game ends immediately and the Mage with the most Sapphires is crowned victor! (Tie? Then the Mage with the most yellow crystals wins!)
Although listed as for 2 to 4 players, Spellcaster casts a more powerful spell when played in two player mode. You are trying to create mini “engines of destruction” against your opponents. With two, you can exert more control and get caught up in the back and forth barrages of spells, all of which makes for a more entertaining experience. And the game plays quickly, another plus.
In many of his past designs, Aaron Weissblum has focused on lighter fare and here, with co-designer Norman Woods, he follows the same path. The difficulty level of Spellcaster is on a par with games such as Lost Cities (reviewed last issue) with simple rules and the ability to make interesting card combinations. Although the card stock quality is only adequate, give points to graphic designer Jenn Vargas, art director Kerem Beyit and card artist Suleyman Temiz for appealing art, for the use of easily differentiated colors and LARGE type on the cards for reading what the spells can do, proof positive that you CAN have quality artwork with readable type without sacrificing looks or play. And, speaking of points, the low price point on this game makes it an excellent buy too.
Spellcaster is a quality choice for a game night opener, game night closer or as a quick to play, enjoyable, game for a lunch time break. Sit back and let the game cast its spell upon you.
Summer 2015 GA Report Articles
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Eagle/Gryphon Games, 1-4 players, ages 8 and up, 45-60 minutes; $39.99; Deluxe Edition $64.99)
Let's start this review by being perfectly frank. I'm a baseball purist. I like the game the way it is played; I still can't get used to the Designated Hitter. So you can imagine my reaction when I heard about a baseball game set in the future ...Read More
Reviewed by: Greg J. Schloesser (Tasty Minstrel Games, 3 to 5 players, ages 13 and up, 120-150 minutes; $69.95)
Generally, I am not fond of economic games, tending to find them fairly dry and business-like. I am a businessman by profession, so playing a game that is about a business strays a bit too close to what I do for a living. I want my ...Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue (Asmodee/Ludonaute, 2 to 6 players, ages 10 and up, less than 60 minutes; $39.99)
The Old West is always fascinating, at least for us Europeans looking at the wide spaces of the US with a mix of awe and astonishment. Gunslingers, Indians, coaches, saloons and shoot-outs are powerful tools in the hands of expert designers. Bang!, Carson City, Dice Town, ...Read More
Imitation is... "...the sincerest form of flattery", at least according to Oscar Wilde. But you know what else imitation is? BORING!
When your "lofty goal" is to copy, as closely as possible, something successful (we're talking about games here but this applies to almost everything), you are doomed to fail. When your new version of something is just about the same as the old version, ...Read More
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Space Cowboys/Asmodee, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 60 minutes; $59.99)
Ambition is a powerful force. When you are a human being, it can be the drive that moves you up the corporate ladder or shoots you to the top in political circles. But when you are a demigod with designs on claiming a spot on Mount Olympus, you ...Read More
Reviewed by: Chris Kovac (Z-Man Games,1-2 players, ages 14 and up, 120 minutes; $79.99)
Fields of Arle is a two player game of resource collecting and management by Uwe Rosenberg following his games like Agricola, Le Harve and Caverna in scope and style. The object of the game is to have the most points after nine turns. (more…)
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Renegade Game Studios/Foxtrot Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, 30 minutes; $34.99)
Just when you think you've seen all the possible permutations of tile laying games, you discover something new. In Lanterns: The Harvest Festival, designed by Christopher Chung, tile laying is deftly combined with card play in a game where the setting is China and players are ...Read More
[In our issues, we generally focus on the newest and best games on the market today (when we're not highlighting some great classic game no longer in print). This piece, however, is an exception. James Davis is a big fan of Memoir 44, a well received game of World War II action originally featured in the Summer 2004 issue of GA Report. With over a ...
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Queen Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, 45 minutes; $49.99)
The smell of success is in the air for the player who can concoct the more desirable perfumes and sell them to the illustrious clientele who desire them in the latest game from the design team of Marco Ruskowski and Marcel Sobelbeck: Parfum. (more…)
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Asmadi Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 14 and up, 45-60 minutes; $59.99)
In the late 19th-early 20th century, the glue that held the masses together, keeping them in touch with the events of the day and each other, were the newspapers. These publications ran the gamut from high toned conveyers of the news to flamboyant and sensational journalism, commonly known ...Read More
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Griggling Games Inc., 2 to 6 players, ages 13 and up, 90 minutes; $49.95)
For the longest time, there has been a disconnect between wargames and Euro strategy games. Whether the trauma of World War II was simply too much to allow Europeans to revisit such a destructive conflict or differing cultural influences are to account for this, I'll leave to ...Read More
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (R & R Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 25 minutes; $19.95)
Did you ever wonder how rival Mages settle their disputes? Well, it's not by sharing their feelings. In Spellcaster, a new game designed by Aaron Weissblum and Norman Woods, we discover that such disagreements are settled the only way they could be: through magical combat In ...Read More
Reviewed by: Pevans (Quined Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $59.99)
It’s Earth, Jim, but not as we know it. I first played The Golden Ages, designed by Luigi Ferrini, at Dutch publisher Quined’s stand at Spiel ‘14 and was immediately taken with it. It’s a civilisation development game that takes familiar features and puts them together in a different way – ...Read More
Reviewed by: Joe Huber (Z-Man Games/Hans im Glűck, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 40-100 minutes; $59.99)
For me, the question of the most consistent publisher is a fairly easy one. Other than the single designer publishers, I’ve found no publisher who finds as consistently interesting designs as Hans im Glück. Whether classic games such as El Grande, Euphrat & Tigris, and Goa, ...Read More
Reviewed by: Joe Huber (Asmodee Editions/Ystari, 4 players, ages 13 and up, 10 minutes; $39.99)
Every year, after Essen, I participate in a few gatherings to play through the new games. Over the course of a few weekends, I’ll typically end up playing 30 or more new games – most of which I’ll never come back to again. I really enjoy playing new (and new-to-me) ...Read More