Ok, I’ll be totally honest. I was not expecting much from The Wizard Always Wins. I know, I know, it’s shallow of me, but when I first took a look at the game and read over the rules, I felt like maybe this one would be just a little too simple, or silly, or, look, I don’t have an awesome reason for why I made the snap judgment I did about it. But fortunately, despite my knee-jerk response to it, The Wizard Always Wins turned out to be a perfectly playable, perfectly fun little game!
The concept of The Wizard Always Wins is sublimely simple – the titular wizard always wins! There is a bag with some tokens in it, and if the wizard pulls their own token from it, they immediately win.
Andrew: Well, yeah, actually! But wait, who is this wizard, you may ask? And how do you get tokens into the bag in the first place? And what else might be in there? Well, those are all good questions – let’s take a look!
The Wizard Always Wins is, at its heart, a press-your-luck game. But turn by turn, the main mechanism you and your fellow would-be winners will engage is a selection of roles. In turn order, each player will select one of the available roles. These roles will both determine turn order for the next round, as well as let each player take a unique action:
- The Queen: Draw 1 card. Play 1 card.
- The Oracle: Look at the top 3 cards. Keep 1 card, discard the others. Play 1 card.
- The Trader: Draw 1 card. Play 1 card. Trade 1 face-up card or token with another player.
- The Apprentice: Draw tokens equal to your level. Draw all tokens first, then apply effects.
- The Farmer: Draw 2 cards and 1 token. Play 1 card.
- The Hunter: Draw 1 card and 1 token. Play 2 cards.
- The Wizard: draw tokens equal to your level. If you draw your own gem, you win! All other tokens have no effect.
Now all this talk of tokens and cards needs some clarification. To start with, the bag contains a bunch of Element tokens, as well as some special effect tokens. Special effect tokens will let you add your own tokens to the bag, as well as increase your level – your level determines how many tokens you draw with certain roles, including the game-winning wizard! Element tokens can be combined with element cards in order to further increase your level and add your tokens to the bag.
4 of the roles let you draw tokens from the bag. The Apprentice, Farmer, and Hunter will let you gather element and effect tokens. The fourth role, the Wizard, only does one thing – either you draw one of your own colored tokens and immediately win, or nothing happens.
Jess: And that’s where the press-your-luck element comes into play. I mean, you could theoretically put a single token into the bag, use the wizard, and immediately win if you’re incredibly lucky, but that’s not likely to happen. Instead, you’ll spend turns adding your own tokens to the bag and pulling element tokens from the bag, looking to skew the bag’s contents in your favor and increase your level, so that when you do use the Wizard, you’re much more likely to win.
Andrew: Right! Of course, all the while, everyone else is doing the same thing. So while The Wizard Always Wins is light, it can actually be really tense as we jockey for position and try to make that all-important assessment of how long we can push the process of adding tokens before someone else grabs the Wizard and takes the game.
The Wizard Always Wins is a simple game, but it actually serves to introduce players to some really good board game concepts – the ideas of variable turn order, role selection, and set collection form the backbone of tons of games, and The Wizard Always Wins uses them to great effect with its accessible gameplay, colorful theme, and fun, quick turn structure.
While it’s no heavyweight by any stretch, The Wizard Always Wins brings a lot of fun to the table, and is a perfect family-level game that will likely pave the way to more complex fair, as well as a solid filler in its own right, and we totally recommend checking it out!
(Gameosity received a copy of The Wizard Always Wins for review. We were not otherwise compensated.)