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× Talk about the latest and greatest AT, and the Classics.

Wizard Kings any good?

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09 May 2008 23:39 #6211 by metalface13
All the talk about miniatures games got me thinking about board games that can satisfy that itch to have your "own" personalized army and I remembered Wizard Kings.

Unfortunately I've never played. Any opinions? Also the differences between the 1st and 2nd editions is kinda weird. I liked that you could get full armies in 1st edition, but I like that 2nd edition comes with little starter versions of all the armies.

I'm a big fan of turn based strategy video games like Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Heroes of Might and Magic, and the excellent PC freebie Battle for Westnoth.

So what do you think, would I like Wizard Kings?

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10 May 2008 01:42 #6218 by YourBestFriend
I too would like to know people's thoughts on Wizard Kings. A friend of mine speaks very highly of it, although he mentioned not liking that the 2nd edition was collectible.

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10 May 2008 01:45 #6219 by metalface13
Replied by metalface13 on topic Wizard Kings any good?
Well they do say that's it's not really "collectible." You are getting an even number of units for each army in each expansion pack you buy. You get 21 blocks, and there's 7 armies so you get 3 units for each army. That's better than most collectible games where you have no idea what faction of minis/cards you're getting.

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10 May 2008 10:22 #6222 by Notahandle
Replied by Notahandle on topic Wizard Kings any good?
Played once and I'm not a fan. I don't know for sure, but think it was first edition.

I didn't like the movement rules due to the scattering and reforming, because each hex side only allows so many units to pass. I hated that you could attack a hex and discover it contained a castle; rather than being surprised I thought the attackers would notice it, before it was too late! Oh, and a minor niggle is that it's a bit fiddly when you have the maximum number of units in a hex.

On the plus side, buying the armies and the reinforcements was good. Also the balance of units was a nice mixture.

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10 May 2008 11:01 #6231 by hancock.tom
Replied by hancock.tom on topic Wizard Kings any good?
I think it is a solid game but there are better multiplayer wargames out there, both long and short simple and complex.

This is probably the best one if you are looking for a fantasy theme with a lot of flexibility as to # of players and time investment.

My biggest gripe was that the scenarios sucked and it needed some house rules... what exactly we disagreed on. Honestly, if you have the money to put in to get a lot of the expansion blocks, and the time to put in creating your own scenarios and house ruling it a bit, its a great game.

For a once in a while pull it out type of game, there are better options.

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10 May 2008 11:08 #6232 by Bulwyf
Replied by Bulwyf on topic Wizard Kings any good?
I own the 1st edition and several of the expansion armies. The game itself is solid and some of the armies are a lot of fun (Undead, Orcs, Vikings). The weakness of Wizard Kings was a lack of good scenarios. Especially for an odd number of players such as as a 3 person free for all. If you had 2 players the game is a lot of fun and a good introduction to the Columbia block games.

As for the 2nd edition I can't say. It sounds like the core mechanics of the game is unchanged but the way you purchase armies is a lot different. I do believe the 1st edition armies and components are compatible with 2nd edition.

-Will

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10 May 2008 11:54 - 10 May 2008 11:58 #6234 by metalface13
Replied by metalface13 on topic Wizard Kings any good?
Yeah the core rules are the same as 1st edition I believe. And yeah, 1st edition armies and units are compatible with 2nd ed.

I would probably just be playing 2-player, and I'm not sure I'd really invest a whole lot in the expansion armies. But I like that we could switch around between the 7 armies every time we play.

I do like the fantasy theme. I like the sound of the fog of war mechanic, and that you can buy new units every turn. And although I don't plan on really buying expansion packs, it's nice to know they are there.

I hear lots of people post scenarios online. Who knows how good they are though. Any other suggestions then?

Edit: What about Titan? How does Titan compare? Is it good 2-player?
Last edit: 10 May 2008 11:58 by metalface13.

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10 May 2008 12:26 #6235 by hancock.tom
Replied by hancock.tom on topic Wizard Kings any good?
Titan works great but is a lot longer than Wizard Kings (depending on WK scenario) Titan is a much better game but is probably a step up in complexity.

Titan has two parts: an abstracted roll and move "masterboard" that you use to recruit various fantasy/mythological creatures into your armies, and a very much hex and counter wargame you play with the armies when two of them collide. Its a unique game with an incredible amount of depth and replayability. A two player game of Titan could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours for inexperienced players. Average would be 2 hours IMO. Add more players and the game gets longer as you go, but since there is player elimination the weak are culled from the game.

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10 May 2008 14:09 #6241 by NeonPeon
Replied by NeonPeon on topic Wizard Kings any good?
As others have said, there's a lack of good scenarios - WK is more of a sandbox type of game. I like to set up by dealing out map sheets randomly, then choosing armies, and we play to a relatively low number of city points. I actually think it's cool that there's a flexible Columbia block game, not tailored to a specific historical scenario.

The combat has been criticized as trench warfare - i.e. armies assemble at the front and not much goes on for a while - and I would have agreed with that criticism during my first game or two. But eventually I learned you can hit fast with a surprise concentration of strong units, or cast the right spell at the right time, or sneak a flying unit past the front and grab a city. You know, stir things up a bit. :) With a low victory theshold, these captures need to be responded to quickly. Fun. :)

The armies are a bit generic and bland compared to say Warhammer, but that doesn't bother me. Before I ever played I looked at the army stats cards and they seemed too balanced, i.e. one army's ranged unit is similar to most of the others, except they prefer one terrain over another. This is true, but there are subtle differences. For instance once you play as the Undead you'll quickly learn how shitty zombies are, even compared to the other armies' grunts. But they're so damn cheap, you can crank out a few per turn for use as fodder. However, mainly it's the wizards that make each army unique, since they each have a unique set of spells.

The castles being hidden is silly I guess, but you tend to remember where they are once you've discovered them - they don't move after all. You could always play with them facing up if it bothers you. :) You can easily tweak rules in this kind of game - it's not a Euro after all.

All in all, fun, customizable fantasy wargame for any reasonable number of players. Works for me! Unfortunately my gamer buddies/family never ask for it, probably because of the mediocre box art and the cheap plastic VHS containers that hold the expansion armies. (I'd recommend getting at least 1 or 2, btw, so you can mix things up!)

I should note that I've only played the first edition. The 2nd Edition has treasures, magic items, heroes and stuff - I don't know how they work but they sound cool.

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10 May 2008 16:38 #6245 by metalface13
Replied by metalface13 on topic Wizard Kings any good?
How do hexsides work though? I read the rules last night but they didn't really explain it very well. Is that a common wargame thing and I'm just not familiar with it?

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11 May 2008 11:09 - 11 May 2008 11:11 #6264 by NeonPeon
Replied by NeonPeon on topic Wizard Kings any good?
Basically:

- The attacker and defender can each bring no more than 2 units across a clear hexside into a battle hex; only 1 per hexside for non-clear (forest, swamp, etc.) hexsides
- Defender can't retreat via hexsides from which the attacker entered the hex. This makes sense because if your army is sitting there, and an attacker comes from the north, you can't retreat to the north!
- Attacker can only retreat via the hexsides from which the attacker entered the hex. The reasoning is similar to above - I guess it's assumed that the defender has covered the hexsides the attacker did not enter from,

Keep in mind that WK, like most CG games, tries to do more with fewer units. So, it doesn't sound like much, but two units is actually a decent force. And of course you can have units come in from more than one hexside - your mobility is more difficult when you bring in so many units. Remember the stacking limits though.

Yes, many CG games have hexside (or "border-side" for the non-hex maps - see Hammer of the Scots) limits. I don't believe this kind of limit is as common in your classic SPI type of wargame - you know, a million little chits on a million little hexes - though they do tend to have stacking limits.
Last edit: 11 May 2008 11:11 by NeonPeon.

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11 May 2008 12:04 - 11 May 2008 12:04 #6265 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Wizard Kings any good?
Only thing I know about Wizard Kings is it supposed to be a real WWI vibe going on. But they have released new rules since then so maybe that has changed.
Last edit: 11 May 2008 12:04 by Gary Sax.

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14 May 2008 07:42 #6388 by bob_the_goon
Replied by bob_the_goon on topic Wizard Kings any good?
Gary Sax wrote:

Only thing I know about Wizard Kings is it supposed to be a real WWI vibe going on. But they have released new rules since then so maybe that has changed.


The trench warfare vibe came from the fact that in first edition, you could reinforce the front directly, so you had fairly static battlelines.

Second edition changed the reinfocement rules to help eliminate that. You have to build units in the cities, unless you have treasure, which lets you be more flexible.

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04 Apr 2020 12:39 #308898 by grantdalgliesh
Reviving this old thread with some exciting news: fans of Wizard Kings can get all the blocks, all at once, in this special big bundle.

columbiagames.com/cgi-bin/query/cfg/gamestarter.cfg
The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, CranBerries

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04 Apr 2020 15:40 #308907 by CranBerries
Replied by CranBerries on topic Wizard Kings any good?
I used to have the full 1st edition maps and blocks. I liked parts of it, like were-units whose strength waxed and waned with the moon. As mentioned before, if you are happy sorting through scenarios and willing to house rule, and have someone to play with consistently, it could be a good time. I was really swayed by Cfarrell's descriptions of the game.

Here is what I wrote on the other site:

Rating based on my desire to play, not on components or underlying game system.

Fun:8
components: 5
system: 6.8

Wizard King is a fun game, but it's sort of an artisanal effort in terms of components. Because Columbia Games apparently only distributes the game directly, they can keep prices relatively high. I payed $46.53, shipped from TimeWellSpent (it wasn't available locally).

Battlelore, which is admittedly a different kind of game, is $58 shipped, but it includes 210 miniatures, mounted boards, tiles, a huge, active fan base, and most importantly, a company that aggressively promotes and supports the game in a timely manner. [update: ha ha! I got that wrong!]

The last blog entry on the Wizard Kings site was March 20th, approximately six months ago. The most recent posts in the blockgames.us forums (which isn't even linked to from the Wizard Kings site) are a month or two old. The third-party email lists are somewhat active.

When you factor in an additional $15 expansion that is arguably needed to play the base game (I'm thinking of treasure blocks, specifically), then one begins to get the nagging feeling that maybe we're not dealing with cottage cheese, but instead really old milk. It is a fun game, and a cool game system. I like playing it, and I like thinking about playing it, imagining scenarios, etc. But for good or for bad, the boardgame industry has changed and Columbia, at least in terms of support for the game and components, hasn't quite kept up. Perhaps it is because other products (Hammer of the Scots and EastFront?) are bringing in more money.

What's unfortunate is that there is a really supportive fan base, yet their efforts are scattered over five different sites and a handful of personal pages. It looks like BGG and the internal Wiki are the best single place to visit for information about the game.

I apologize if this sounds excessively negative. I'm a new player, and many of you have suffered through much more for much longer. It is just that the game has so much potential yet seems under-supported and consequently under-ranked.That said, I will probably still order the Heroes/Treasure expansion!

(update: I bought an entire set of the first edition with maps and armies and the heroes and treasure expansion)

Note: the generic scenario would be more fun with bigger, 100gp armies. Otherwise you spend five turns ramping up. And I'm totally flying my pixies over the zombies and stealing the rearward cities next time. Sssshhhh...
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