Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wizard Kings - One And Out

On our last morning in Sunriver, Mike and I decided to give Wizard Kings a try. We used a preset scenario done for 2nd ed with about 16 blocks per side. Oddly, it uses map 3 from the original set, so it's perhaps a poor choice for anyone thinking that they made a  bad decision buying the 2nd edition and never having owned the first. 

Worse, the game requires very specific blocks, and even more for reinforcements (the orc player will need a lot of goblin blocks as they get a free full strength block every turn). By my math, at one point I had something like 23 blocks on the board at one point. Given that the starting armies in the 2nd edition have seven blocks each, you would have to buy eight expansions, getting exactly the right blocks in order to play this particular scenario. 

Clearly, this is one of many scenarios that are out there, and there is nothing wrong with throwing a bunch of blocks on a map and going at it. Still, it's also clear that this game is increasingly geared to people who had the first edition and blocks to burn before the expansions. Which is not me. 

Worse, the game was incredibly static and dull. We poked at each other, but with no way to easily reinforce existing blocks in enemy territory (at least without a 2 city) the turns felt quite incremental and slow. Play was quite brisk, but after two hours we were back where we started and losing interest. 

I will note that there is a Gold block in every expansion pack that allows you to move money out of your cities to the front line, but you'd need several of them per side (in our game, I'd expect to need something like five to seven for each player), and that means another $100 investment in a game just to make it usable, and then you only have the gold units for two armies unless you want your supply trains to have giant targets painted on them. Not gonna happen.

So my experience with this game is that it's not only a complete fraud and holds very limited play without a major investment, but that it's really not a terribly interesting game either. Of course, I suspect that one of the reasons I prefer historical conflict simulations is that there's a clear historical yardstick that guides your play and provides a good comparison, so a fantasy title like this with no literary source to back it up is going to come up short every time. 

One of the very few wargames I've purchased and almost immediately regretted. This will definitely go on the sale pile in the near future, assuming I don't contact Columbia and request a refund or at the very least credit toward another game. Given that I own every block game they've published in the past 10 years, I'd say they owe me one. 

1 comment:

Mike said...

> We used a preset scenario done for 2nd ed

It was a 1st ed. scenario, hence Orcs and Elves, and all the blocks were part of the base 1st. However, I agree that to play this scenario starting from 2nd ed. would require a very large investment in the game. It was a nice background story, so seemed a good place to start, but perhaps I should have picked a smaller, 1 map, scenario.

The 2nd ed. rule that limits resources to only being used in the city they come from has always concerned me, and this game just proved it. In any future games I'd use the prior edition's rule, allowing resources to be used to rebuild blocks anywhere on the map.