Wizard School box art © DBFTA Games 2017

Wizard School, Rather Chaotic

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I have a rule about Kickstarters, in that I never back one while I’ve backed another. I’m also prepared to wait past the stated deadline, because everyone always seems to underestimate how much work it’ll take to finish their project. That’s just part of the fun of funding someone’s ideas. And what an idea Wizard School is. I usually deliberate on backing a project, but the combination of the concept, the art and a few of the cards made me back this one instantly.

There were delays of course, but that didn’t bother me. There’s a lot of art, done by Karen Hallion, who hadn’t slowed in her convention schedule or other production. Plus, design takes a lot of time for playtesting, editing, playtesting more, revising, playtesting and so on.

That’s where Wizard School hits a snag. The art, the component quality and the various clever nods to things such as Doctor Who, Harry Potter, video games and even Hamilton are fun. What isn’t fun are the rules. After playing this a few times, I still feel like I am not getting it completely. There are too many questions and interpretations needed during game play and the rules don’t cover it. Even simple things like, what to do with the Magic Deck once it runs out are omitted. The feeling I get the most is that this game needed more playtesting. Playtesting with people who didn’t know the game at all and would therefore not fill in the needed information for a vague or missing rule. Lots of house rules are needed in order to do a real play through, and even then the results have been a loss or quitting because the game was going on for hours. It could also do with a bit of editing to correct typos and to make terms consistent within the game and rulebook (such as using Lowerclassman or Underclassman throughout).

I do expect a little roughness from a Kickstarter game. For instance, some of the cards in Marrying Mr. Darcy have vague instructions, yet there is an overall rule that helps you interpret them, which is “In a lady-like manner” which means that the players can decide how they want to play the rule as long as it’s done civilly.

The creator of the game has made a 15 minute video tutorial explaining how to play, which may be helpful for some who purchase the game, especially if it will be played by kids. I’ve also been relying on Board Game Geek’s forums for rule clarifications and errata. Of course, this is the risk of being an early adopter and I’m sure that later additions of the game will address the issues.

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