I love cartoons. Comics, animation, graphic novels, posters — whatever. If its imaginative and intriguing I want to visually devour it, greedily examining every detail until my hunger for colorful, humorous,and often bizarre ideas is satiated. But until fairly recently I overlooked a prime source for such cool immersive art: games.
Sure, as a kid I spent countless hours organizing my MTG collection, but never did Wizards of the Coast capture my imagination with their illustrations more than Calvin and Hobbes, Far Side, or Marvel Comics.
But now, a decade long renaissance of tabletop games has introduced me to the compelling potential of game art. From FFG’s interpretation of Cosmic Encounter’s alien species, to the Poe-inspired ambiance of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, my love for captivating art has only fueled my inevitable spiral into hobbyist addiction.
This is why I was so very excited when I first laid eyes on Epic Spell Wars. With an aesthetic somewhere between Adventure Time, Superjail, and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Epic Spell Wars combines humorous violence with absurd and colorful fantasy. And builds its game mechanics around the idea that each player is involved in a ludicrous mage battle.
The rules are very simple. Every round players simultaneously and secretly choose what spell they will play this turn. Spells are built from three different types of cards — Spell beginnings, middles, and ends. Turn order is then determined when the spells are revealed by numbers on the ‘end’ cards, and everything resolves, usually ending in most wizards taking damage and yelling obscenities at their friends amidst fits of laughter.
That’s it. It doesn’t get any more complicated. Winner is essentially last person standing (although you have to be last person standing twice). And so free of schlepping your friends through a slew of new rules, this game is perfectly paired with drinking, or revelry of any kind, and allows for almost instantaneous fun.
That being said there’s one glaring flaw to Epic Spell Wars, and that’s that the game doesn’t really stand up to large groups as advertised, which somewhat limits its seemingly intended use as a party game. The fact of the matter is that games with over four people become very dragged out and bogged down, and I found that people tend to lose interest before someone actually wins and kills everyone else twice. Fortunately, this is easily remedied by playing just one fight to the death.
So if your looking for a good humored party game, with awesome art, and laughs abound, Epic Spell Wars is a good pick. Don’t expect any strategy or depth from this game though. All that’s in that box is a strong dose of smiles and chicken thigh projectiles.
Game Designer: Rob Heinsoo, Cory Jones
Artist: Nick Edwards
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
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