You might be familiar with the Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Magician's Nephew, even the Washington Wizards, but every generation, there are a talented group of individuals you may not know with magical abilities like no other who are called the Heirs of the Wizard King. These apprentices train under the Wizard King and seek to master six different magical abilities--abilities found in blood, fire, lore, nature, time, and... well, webs. While all other wizards can only master one avenue, these apprentices have untapped potential in all facets. Unfortunately for you, the Black Wizard has a soft spot for 80's rock and is ready to make sure "School's Out" for you and your class of clairvoyants. Before you get the opportunity to take your ACT (Abra Cadabra Test?), he's decided to make things "Hot for Teacher" in the form of face melting fire. You and your entourage of enchanters must stop his evil ritual because not only might it "destroy this way of life, but someone less worthy might rise and take the throne before you."
This is the premise of Heirs of the Wizard King by Closet Full of Games. It is a strategic, set collecting card game for 1-4 players. You play a talented heir who must go up against the powerful Black Wizard and your peers, as the throne and title of Wizard King is now available for the taking. As an action, you can command other lesser wizards to assist you, absorb their magic, or cast the magic you have learned already. Each type of magic enables you to do different strategies. If you command the wizard to cast their magic, you play the card face up into the discard pile and take the action on the card. The amount that that action does depends on how powerful that wizard is (notated by the number in the top left hand corner). If you prefer to absorb their magic, you burn the card in question, take the icon that matched the magic type, and raise it up 1 level on your player board. Any magic you have absorbed like this will allow you to cast that magic without a card. The higher the level of that magic, the more it does. Aside from the regular numbered wizard cards in the deck, there are also powerful Lord cards that allow you to do more exciting actions.
After you take your action, you will play a card in your chain. Cards can be connected by matching similar cards among the various magic types available or they can be played in number sequence on either side of your current chain. As you are able to complete required chains, you will level up your wizard. The first person to reach the level that is appropriate for however many players are in the current game will win the game and become the new Wizard King. The catch is, aside from your own chains, the Black Wizard also builds their chain and can win the game themself. Therefore, you must work together to stop the Black Wizard while also working alone to claim the throne making for a very interesting dynamic that you don't often find in card games of this type.
One of the things I like most about Heirs of the Wizard King is the balance and strategy the game delivers. The game's lesser wizards that you will find on the regular cards in the deck are very beneficial to play in many ways making it tempting to play them as they are, but if you would prefer to learn their magic for yourself, you can burn the card and level up your own abilities which can help you later as you won't have to play a card to use that ability, and that card, in turn, might help you complete your chain. There are also some powers that might help your fellow opponents if you were to play them, but then again, they could hurt the Black Wizard and therefore might need to be considered. The one thing I cannot stress enough is that the Black Wizard should not be dealt with lightly. He is very powerful and will easily win the game if you don't work together to a point. There are ways to mess up his chain and even freeze his ability to grow his chain any further until the deck is shuffled again.
The magical abilities in the game are a bit strange in name and theme, but the way they work plays really nicely and is both helpful and unique from each other. I feel like maybe there could have been a better way to describe them or maybe a different way to symbolize them that would fit the theme a bit better. Then again, who is to say what magic really exists out there. Maybe in the midst of a fire caster, a time lord, a blood mage, and a plant happy druid, a wizard with webs is an everyday occurrence? In the end, the odd parts of the theme are very little and of no consequence to the fun of the game, and the powers, no matter what you title them, are all useful and awesome.
Heirs of the Wizard King is a fantastic card game. It accommodates an average gamer group size while also allowing for a solo experience, and it can be played in half an hour. It has great balance, though the Black Wizard does put up quite the challenge, and the cooperative and competitive edge is a great feature! The components, even in the prototype copy, are nice. I especially like the tokens! The current art is also beautiful to look at, and thankfully, should the first stretch goal of their Kickstarter campaign be achieved, we'll get to see more of it!
WYLD Gaming gives Heirs of the Wizard KingTWO HOOVES UP! If you want a quick playing card game that delivers a healthy dose of strategy and competition while also working together when the time calls for it, you'll want to try this one out. And only a muggle would pass up the very generous $19 price tag! Find it here: bit.ly/HeirsWK.
Please note, this is a review of a game that is in pre-production meaning some mechanics, appearances, rules, and other components may change. WYLD Gaming was provided this copy for review purposes but was not otherwise compensated in any manner, nor were their words, results, or review scores influenced in any way by anyone outside of the author's own opinions and perspective. If you've enjoyed this review, we encourage you to share it with others to help WYLD Gaming get similar opportunities in the future while also helping the game being reviewed get more attention for their Kickstarter campaign. Thank you!