Studies in Sorcery Kickstarter Preview

Studies in Sorcery
Weird Giraffe Games
2021
Chris Glein
Chris Glein
1-4
Set collection, card drafting, and magical studies

Today, Team Gameosity is putting some time towards our degrees in the Dark Arts by doing a Kickstarter preview for Studies in Sorcery – a game of set collection, card drafting, and necro-alchemy!

Jess
Jess
I did a necro-alchemy/conjuration double-major when I was at the Academy myself. Ah, for the good old days of turning mushrooms and bone scraps into arcane totems and cursed talismans.

Andrew
Andrew
When was this, exactly? I don’t remember you doing any of that when we met in college.
Jess
Jess
Not college, silly. The Academy! I was there around the 9th century.
Andrew
Andrew
…Somehow, I’ve always known you were some sort of immortal vampire lady, but this is a surprisingly overt confirmation.


This prototype copy of Studies in Sorcery was provided to us for our consideration and possible preview.  We reserve the right to request a finished copy of all games we preview, but aren’t otherwise compensated.


 

 

In Studies in Sorcery, you and your opponents take on the roles of students at the Academy of the Dark Arts. It’s your last semester and everyone is vying for the title of Valedictorian by finishing their master theses in Alchemy, Sorcery, and Reanimation. Whoever earns the most credits for their projects wins!

Studies In Sorcery Components

Studies in Sorcery is played over 16 rounds which are depicted as weeks of a semester on the Moon track.  At the beginning of the game everyone will start with a research grant, 1 project card, and 1 thesis card which is your secret objective. Each turn you must take 1 action, which could be starting a project, digging for new materials, cram, or making progress on your projects.

You can purchase a project using your research grant or any number of materials whose value adds up to the project you are purchasing. You can purchase as much as you like from the display, but be careful because those materials you are spending are the same ones you might need to finish your projects!

Andrew
Andrew
Managing your material supply really is at the heart of the game.
Jess
Jess
Not for me. Usually I replace the heart with lizard brains or a whole mess of moths.
Andrew
Andrew
I’m not 100% sure I love knowing about this side of you…

Each project will have requirements that you can use materials to fulfill. To get new materials cards you must dig which means that you will flip over the first grave card. Then you must decide if you are going to take that card or try the next grave. If you pass on a grave pile, you must add a new card from the grave deck to the pile you left behind, meaning future digs at that pile will have more cards available. If you pass on all the piles you can either take the top card of the grave deck or a Candle or Vial card from the market.

Andrew
Andrew
The push-your-luck aspect of the digging action is great, since you need to decide if hunting for the specific ingredient you need is worth possibly giving your opponent a huge pile of cards…unless you can snag them yourself on a later turn, of course!

Time is limited in Studies in Sorcery and you’ll want to finish as many projects as possible, but while all projects give you points, some also give you access to unique abilities and extra materials!  If you have completed projects with the action icon on them, you can use your action for the turn to activate them. These actions can do things like allow you to take additional turns, take extra materials, commit extra cards to projects, or remove negative points from projects. There are also projects that give you bonus points for other projects that you or your neighbor complete.

 

Andrew
Andrew
Of course, the cards that give you awesome new abilities aren’t worth as many points, so there’s balance there.
Jess
Jess
Right, and that means you can build your strategy around trying to complete projects for their unique actions, or just go for the things that score you the most points.
Andrew
Andrew
Or a little of both, I guess. I found myself usually going for bigger points, but that meant I only really had the basic actions to take during my turns. I rarely did much beyond digging for ingredients and then turning in piles of them for points.
Jess
Jess
Right, whereas I like to get all those cool extra actions, even though they don’t give as many points.
Andrew
Andrew
And while we tested both and found both strategies definitely were competitive, the big point strat really just meant my turns were more boring than yours. You had all sorts of combos going off and bonus ingredients to throw around, so even when I beat you in points, you looked like you were just having more actual, you know, fun.
Jess
Jess
Well of course I was! Getting to craft necro-alchemical projects after all this time is like stretching your wings after you’ve been keeping them hidden for years!
Andrew
Andrew
You don’t sound like you’re joking and I’m getting pretty concerned.

While both our chosen strategies felt viable when we were playing, the fact is that the more abilities you gather in Studies in Sorcery, the less the randomness of the card draws affects you – and there is a lot of randomness here, to be fair.  The ingredients you draw from digging are random, as are the available projects, so you might have your shadowy heart set on completing a specific set, only to find that those projects just aren’t coming up for grabs.  And this may bother some of you more than others, but there is very little interaction, meaning that when someone starts to gain an advantage and pull away from the pack, there’s nothing you can really do about it aside from just try to win harder.

All in all, though, we had fun with Studies in Sorcery.  While the randomness sometimes left us spinning our wheels a bit, when we treated it more as an engine building exercise and less like a point grab, we found the gameplay to be easy to engage and pretty fun.  Even though it’s a protoype, we already love the artwork and can’t wait to see what the finished product looks and plays like!

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