Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Percy Chan


No. of Players:
2 (- 4)



Two or more players can join the battle of wizardry unfolding in Magecraft, and at the beginning of the game the players set up a choice of possible Spell cards which will be available for learning during the game. Not all of the available Spell cards will be used for one game, and so the players usually will face different situations during every new game.

Each player starts the game with a set of three spells, and during his turn a player can trigger one of his spells by paying a combination of coloured gems corresponding to the requirements of the spell. Each player usually has a hand of four gems, coming from the player's bag of gems which has been filled during setup with a total of 12 gems, 3 gems of each of the basic colours. When a turn is over, the player has to discard all used and unused gems from his hand, drawing a new hand of 4 gems from his bag, and when the bag is empty all the used gems will be returned to the bag.

The gems available cannot only be used to cast spells, but they also can be paid for learning new spells, with each available spell from the common display costing its own specific combination of gems. In a quite crafty manner, new spells will not simply be added to the player's choice of available spells, but they must be assigned to one of the player's spell slots which were begun with the player's basic spells. From this point onwards to player can cast more than one spell during his turn since he can cast all the spells lying in the same slot, but this comes under the conditions that a newer spell always must be cast before an older one, and this fact is represented by the fact that each new Spell card partly covers an older spell. A full hand of gems actually can be spent to rearrange a player spell slots up to his liking, giving him the additional benefit to turn one of his spells to master level, effectively allowing a gem which is used to cast this spell to be carried forwards to the next spell in the same slot.

But what's the purpose of all these spells? Well, the spells can be used for gaining five different kinds of actions, and the higher the costs to learn a new spell the better the number and combination of available actions. Most straighforwards is an Attack spell, since this kind of action drains another player's Life points, effectively giving them as Victory Points to the attacker. However, a player actually may prepare against an attack by a Defensive spell, putting new gems from the common stockpile into an orb of defense which first must be overcome before an attack will drain Life Points. So, a Defensive spell does not only protect a player, but it actually gains the player new gems for his bag, including the rare violet gems which are not included at the beginning and which can be used for some advanced spells.

Other actions include healing, the gaining of Victory points by destroying gems and the possibility to draw additional gems during a player's turn, and due to the fact that the player's spells have been arranged into the three spell slots the players will strive to arrange their spells in well- fitting combos which allow the casting of multiple spells during the same round.

Magecraft is a rather straightforward but extremely tricky game in which the players strive to gain an advantage through better spells and by seeding their bags of gems with gems showing the required colour's to cast the acquired spells. Players do not always have to follow an outright aggressive strategy, but they also have the opportunity to concentrate on generating Victory points and putting up some defences, and much depends on a player's ability to see beneficial spell combinations in the choice of spells available in the current game.

What I really liked was the multiple ways of player interaction. Apart from the fact that each spell is available only in very small quantities, the players either can attack each other directly, or they can strive to beat the other players to gain gems of certain colour from the common stockpile for their bags. The common gem stock is limited, and so especially the violet gems needed to cast some of the complex spells are really sought after by the players.

Coming with a nice set of artwork and 5 different player characters with small special abilities, Magecraft offers a really high entertainment value especially for 2 players. With more players the game will be different since there will be a higher dependence on timing and on spreading damage among the opposing mages, but especially for 2 players the game is highly recommendable.

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Copyright & copy; 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany