Heirs of the Wizard King Board Game Review

Game: Heirs of the Wizard King
Publisher: Closet Full of Games
Designer: Jonathan Politis
Artist: Andrew Clark
Graphic Designer: Alexi Politis

Board Game Types: Set Collection & Semi-Cooperative
Kickstarter link

Players: 1-4 (We did not play the solo variant, but updated rules will include a solo adaptation)
Duration: 30 minutes
Recommended Age: 12+
Age We've Observed: 8+
Time to Learn: 15 minutes (Steps of game play are simple and well laid out. As with any game, learning the details of the different abilities can take extra time the first play through.)

Heirs of the Wizard King Board Game Review

As is the case with real-life magic, make sure to learn your abilities well. Using them may have unintended effects.

As is the case with real-life magic, make sure to learn your abilities well. Using them may have unintended effects.

Game Description/Gameplay

In Heirs of the Wizard King, you take the role of one of several aspiring wizards in a world where the benevolent Wizard King has recently been murdered by the evil Black Wizard. Now, you and the rest of the apprentices race to complete training and master your magical abilities. One of you must take the place as the new Wizard King and stop the Black Wizard before it's too late.

Best defined as a Set Collection, Semi-Cooperative Card Game, Heirs of the Wizard King deals players with constant conflict. They must work together to stop the Terminator-like Black Wizard, while simultaneously working to grow in power faster than the other players. If the Black Wizard reaches full power first, everyone loses. Do you waste a turn holding him back, or selfishly learn a new ability for yourself? Make the wrong choice and you can lose your chance to become leader of all the wizards. Or worse, your choice can let the Black Wizard take over the lands.

Each turn, players can either play a card, learn an ability or use an existing ability. Do you trade short-term gain for long term strength? Do you harm the Black Wizard or one of the competing players? These decisions make for a lot of stress and tactical fun.

Steps are clearly laid out, but make sure to check them carefully as you play. It'd be a shame to overlook a detail and allow the Black Wizard to destroy all of your training.

Steps are clearly laid out, but make sure to check them carefully as you play. It'd be a shame to overlook a detail and allow the Black Wizard to destroy all of your training.

Verdict

We loved Heirs of the Wizard King. As we sat down to play this pre-kickstarter version of a game, we were amazed by how much we genuinely enjoyed playing. It is obvious that a lot of time has gone into streamlining the mechanics of this game. The artwork is fantastic, the decisions are tantalizing. We can see this game becoming a sleeper hit! The race against the ever-strengthening Black Wizard and the decisions on whether to hamper him or work in your own self-interest are joyfully excruciating. 

Upon first review, we had a couple of main concerns. First, the instructions needed some clarification. We wondered: Do effects apply to only players, or is the Dark Wizard included? Why is the Black Wizard referred to in plural when there is only one? Why does the table of contents list a 16th page, when there are only 15? These are all questions that the designer is aware of and has already taken steps to correct. As of the time of the Kickstarter release, the instructions should be fleshed out and clarified. (And we learned that the reason multiple Black Wizards are mentioned is because an expansion is already in the works.)

Our second concern dealt with the Black Wizard. We found he was too weak to present much of a threat. We wanted a menacing Black Wizard, racing alongside the competing wizards and forcing tough decisions. Multiple reviewers mentioned this, and we were rewarded. Along came revised rules with a beefed up Black Wizard who can learn new abilities at twice the rate of any mere Wizard trainee. Put this new and improved bad guy in a game where you also have strong "good guy" adversaries, and you have yourself a nail-bitingly awesome game!

Our verdict? If you are at all intrigued by the idea of this game, back Heirs of the Wizard King on Kickstarter! You won't be disappointed!

You might not want to play with your super-competitive friends. They're apt to let this bad guy win before letting you win!

You might not want to play with your super-competitive friends. They're apt to let this bad guy win before letting you win!

Pros

  • Quick game play (assuming no one at your table suffers from analysis paralysis)
  • Interesting dynamic of cooperative vs competitive
  • Creative and thematic card abilities
  • Turn order details are nicely laid out. Game mechanics are simple.
  • Quality artwork. We all know that a huge appeal to current gaming is the visual appeal, and this game does not disappoint!
  • Abbreviated game for players addicted to RPG-like leveling up mechanics
  • Compact size

Cons (for pre-Kickstarter version)

  • The art-style is appealing, but designs are reused frequently on the cards. Hopefully as production of the game continues, new designs will be introduced.
  • Manual needs clarification/FAQ page

Gateway Game Score (what's this?) - 7/10
Overall Rating - 9/10 with recommended changes

*Note that we reviewed a pre-kickstarter version, and that gameplay and rules will receive refinements prior to release.

Heirs of the Wizard King was reviewed by May Begaming, who may be competitive enough to let the Black Wizard win if she can't bag her own victory.

Let us know what you think! Are you a Kickstarter backer? Does this game appeal to your inner wizard? Leave us a message in the comment section below!