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Alternate Name(s) and Some Stats
Wizard Kings (Columbia Games)
Events Played At1Last Month0
Locations Played At1Two Months0
Last Played On6/18/2010 Three Months0

Game: Wizard Kings  (Columbia Games)
Submitted By: Robert Waters
Date: 9/1/2000
Views: 7599

Columbia Games, the maker of various block-style games (such as 1812, Napoleon, and Bobby Lee) has come out with a fantasy game called Wizard Kings. Based on the Victory game system, Wizard Kings is a nice blend of simple rules and fun fantasy races.

The back story: "In ages past the Wizard Kings overthrew and imprisoned the Lord of Death, releasing the world from darkness and evil. For a time the council of Wizard Kings ruled wisely...until one Wizard sought supremacy and started a violent struggle for power. All the Wizard Kings raised armies from the various races and conjured up strange and powerful beasts."

And so you represent one of these mighty Wizard Kings, in command of either Elves, or Orcs, or Undead, or Dwarves. [To date, four armies are available - Elves and Orcs come with the game; Dwarves and Undead are expansion armies.]

Wizard Kings is a battle game. The object is to attack and capture your opponent's cities, which are spread throughout his countryside. Like Columbia's Victory system, the game maps are geomorphic, so they can be arranged in various ways to create different landmasses over which to fight. The armies in the game are quite unique. There's the Elven army with its Wicana wizards and Rangers (archers), flying Pixies, and blundering Treeks (tree folk). There's the Orcish army with its Shakla wizards and Trolls, Ogres, and sniveling Goblins. There's the Undead army with its Necrom wizards and eerie Deathbow archers, sultry Vampires, and galloping Varghan horsemen. And then there's the stocky Dwarven army with its Stonemage wizards, reliable High Guard footmen, and its terrifying catapults. The mix of units with their different strengths and weaknesses can create a number of interesting tactical and strategic situations.

You start play in control of one of the maps. This map represents your home turf. Your units are in defense of the various cities in your country. The object of play is to capture enemy cities, so while it's necessary to keep units in reserve to defend your homeland, you must also press forward to crush and (ultimately) destroy your opponent. Easier said then done, I can tell you.

Combat in Wizard Kings is simple and (in my opinion) quite elegant. Each unit is marked as an A+, A, B, or C unit "type". A+ units attack before A units; B units attack before C units. Combat continues in rotation from defender to attacker until the battle is resolved. Wizards are the most unique units in the game. Wizards are A+ units that can cast spells during movement or combat. Elven Wicana can cast "Fly" spells during movement, allowing them to order another Elven unit to fly 1D6 hexes in any direction (a wonderful spell to cast to drop attackers behind enemy lines). Orcan Shakla can cast Swarm spells during combat, which allow all Orc units to attack before all enemy units. Undead Mortod can cast Crypt Smell, a seething, putrid funk billowing from their dusty-dry fingers, forcing an enemy unit out of combat before it even begins. And Dwarven Stonemages can cast Hammer of Stone, which gives all Dwarven units in combat an extra die to roll in the attack for the duration of the battle. These spells and more await those willing to cast them.

Now the Cons. Some of the grumblings about the game on the Internet have been thus: battle lines can become static, as two very powerful armies sit across the border from one another, waving standards and flexing their muscle. It's true that the game tends to get off to the slow start, but in my experience, these sandbox standoffs don't last for long. Indeed, it is risky to attack in Wizard Kings. In combat the defender gets to roll his attack dice before the attacker, so the rules certainly favor the defense.

But in reality, the defender usually does have an advantage in combat. And since the rules require the capturing of enemy cities to win, eventually, you have to take risks and (if necessary) slug your way up and out of the trenches a