- Designer: Nick Hayes
- Publisher: Mattel (USA)
- Players: 2-4
- Ages: 10+
- Time: 60 minutes
- Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Mattel (USA)
Wizards Wanted is the next game in the “Euro-game” line from Mattel USA. This somewhat numbered series started with Voltage and Desert Bazaar back in 2006. More recent games in the line include Ghost Fighting Treasure Hunters (the Kinderspiel des Jahres winner) and Sail Away. In this new game, players are itinerant wizards who are working at odd jobs in the countryside hoping to do enough work to gain the attention of the Royal Palace and the fame that goes with it.
The board shows the kingdom and its three predominant landscapes (green plains, white ice and yellow desert). There are 8 villages scattered around the board, and a Spell Job card is placed at each of those spaces. The Royal Inspector card is then shuffled into the bottom four cards of this deck. There is also a large wheel in the plains area which is the Pixie Dust Marketplace. There are a number of numbered stone spaces, and a Traveling Pixie starts on space #1.
There are teleportation stones in the four corners of the board, and each of these spaces gets a set of charm tokens next to it. The castle in mostly in the center of the board, and the Royal Seal Tokens and Spell License cards are shuffled and placed here.
The game is played over a number of turns – until the Royal Inspector is revealed from the bottom of the Spell Job deck. Each turn, the active player chooses to move and then can take an action.
Movement is optional, and there are a number of different ways that a player can move. There is a limit of paying for no more than 5 board spaces. There is a chart on the board to tell you the cost for movement – note that you actually earn 5 pixie dust if you choose to only move one space. If you pass over a mushroom token with this movement, you collect the token to use later in the game. These mushrooms all offer a one-time special bonus action which can be used at any point later in the game.
In addition to the paid movement, you can also choose to teleport (for 10 pixie dust) from a teleportation stone or use the Bird Taxi (for two coins). These taxi moves and teleportations do not count against your limit of five spaces per turn.
There is one teleportation stone in each corner of the board. Additionally, whichever numbered stone has the white traveling pixie is also an active teleportation stone. After any teleportation, the white pixie moves to the next numbered stone. If you arrive at one of the corners after teleportation, you are allowed to take an animal charm if there is still one available (though a max of one per turn).
It is possible to make a convoluted move… Say you start on the white 7 space in the upper left of the board. You might pay for two spaces to move to a teleportation spot, and then pay to teleport to a central numbered stone (#4) where the white pixie is (making this an active teleportation spot). Then, paying for one more space to get to the bird taxi spot in the center of the board, and then paying for the bird taxi to move to the bottom of the board. Finally, pay for two more spaces to move to a village site between yellow 4 and yellow 5. The total cost for this would be 20 pixie dust and 2 coins: 10 pixie dust (for 5 total paid spaces) + 10 pixie dust for teleportation + 2 coins for the bird taxi – but you’ve managed to move to the other side of the board!
After you have chosen to move (or not) – you then get to take an action. There are three different options, and you can only take one of these on a turn: buy pixie dust, complete a spell job or get a spell license. You are not obligated to take an action.
1) Buy Pixie Dust – IF you are at one of the three marketplace spaces, you can buy pixie dust for a coin. The merchants on the left have an additional coin fee. You can never have more than 100 pixie dust. The Forest Pixie moves one space clockwise with every purchase so that the exchange rate always changes
2) Complete a Spell Job – If you are at a village with a Spell Job card at it, you can finish it by spending the Pixie Dust cost on the card. You immediately earn the Fame (VP) printed on the card as well as any coins that might be printed there. In addition, check to see if the charm icon at the bottom matches any of your previously collected charm tokens – for each match, you get one bonus fame and one bonus coin. A new card is drawn into the space where the finished card was taken from and placed facedown. Look at the back of the card on the top of the spell job deck, place a mushroom token on the space shown on that card. If there are only three face-up cards, place a coin on all current face-up cards and then flip all the others over.
3) Get a Spell License – If you are at the castle entrance, pick up and look at the spell license cards in the castle courtyard. There is a cost printed on all of the cards. If you can meet the cost on any of the cards, take that card and place the topmost royal seal on that card. This royal seal chit gives you a bonus scoring opportunity for the end of the game. If you cannot meet the requirements of any of the spell license cards, put them back – but now you have a bit more knowledge about what you need to have when you go back.
The game continues until the Royal Inspector card is revealed – it will be one of the last 5 cards in the deck. At this point, the game moves into the scoring phase. Players have already collected points through the course of the game for finishing Spell Job cards. Any player who does not have a Spell License card takes a penalty equal to the penalty numbers on all of the uncollected cards in the Castle. Then, each player scores the bonus for their Royal Seal. Every 2 coins converts to a Fame point. Finally, you get a bonus for the number of magic icons you have of each type: 0/1/3/6 Fame Points for 1/2/3/4+ icons of each type.
My thoughts on the game
Wizards Wanted is a solid family game which asks players to balance multiple goals in the game while limiting you to only having one action on each turn. Players need to closely monitor their pixie dust account to make sure that they have enough to move where they want and also finish the spell job cards that they come to. Be sure to keep your eye on the forest pixie and the mushrooms on the board though – you might end up delaying your plans a turn or two to replenish supplies when the circumstances are right! Coins can be a valuable resource – both for movement as well as for being able to buy pixie dust – especially when you’re stuck over on the left of the board!
Most of the job cards and the palace are found towards the center of the board, but the game challenges you to find time to teleport to the corners of the board to collect charm tokens. While moving to the extreme edges of the board might increase your movement costs, the bonuses when completing Spell Job cards later in the game can be well worth it. I find that it’s one of the most reliable ways to get coins into your supply.
During the game, you also need to choose which spell job cards to try to complete. Your charm tokens may direct you towards specific cards based on the icons. You might also be motivated to choose certain cards based on your royal seal bonus. Finally, the scoring bonus for multiples of the same icon can be worthwhile at the higher multiples.
Most of the turns go pretty quick. While you cannot be certain of the board state until your turn comes around, you usually have plenty of time to come up with a plan as the other players take their turn. If no one blocks you from your intended action, you can go ahead and take your turn.
The artwork is bright and colorful with artwork aimed at younger gamers. The board looks busy at first, but once you are familiar with the game, everything is easy to see. As with most Mattel games, Wizards Wanted comes with nice molded pieces and plastic pixie dust tokens. The cards are a little small, and I would have liked the icons to be a bit bigger – but I’ve always been one to choose functionality over flavor art. Older gamers may have to pick some of them up to get a closer look at them.
The board does have two helpful charts to remind you how much you need to spend to pay for your movement. However, I do wish the game had a couple of other reminders for the players. First, the Pixie dust denominations are not evident – the game really could have used a chart to prevent any confusion. Also, the scoring rules could have been summarized on back of the player board. Both of these things are only found in the rulebook, Andy there seems like there would have been enough space on the player boards for this information, and so far, all of my games, with both gamers as well as children have had multiple questions as to what their Pixie dust tokens were worth.
Wizards Wanted is a good extension of the Mattel family game line – I would not say that this is a kid’s game though, there is enough going on here to keep the attention of gamers. On one hand, it is easy to teach and simple enough for even non-gamers to grasp. However, the complex movement options and the different methods of scoring give the more accomplished gamer plenty to think about while playing the game. As Mattel is one of the largest mainstream US game producers, it’s nice to see them continuing to try to make inroads in the hobby game market.
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor