Wizard

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This easy to learn, hard to master card game will have you plotting and scheming against your friends in no time!

Wizard

Designer: Ken Fisher
Publisher: U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Players: 3 – 6
Ages: 10+

Everything that comes in the deluxe box.

I grew up playing all sorts of card games, and sometimes it’s best to get back to something simple. That’s how I view Wizard. While it’s very easy to learn and teach, there is enough depth and strategy to keep me playing (and cursing my friend’s names as they destroy all of my plans).

The makeup of the standard Wizard deck is really simple. Basically start with a standard deck of playing cards, then add 4 Wizards, and 4 Jesters. The mechanics are also really simple. Wizard is a trick taking game, where the first player sets the suit, and the others have to follow. Highest card wins, unless one of two things happens.

The jester (left) and his wizard (right).

First, each hand that is played has a trump suit which can be played if you are out of the suit set by the first player (you must always follow suit if able). The second exception is if a Wizard is played. The first Wizard played will always win the trick, and a Wizard can be played at anytime (even if you have the current suit). This is also how the Jesters work, but they are considered the lowest card in the game.

So with the basics of how the game works now understood, let’s look at some of the things that you can plot and scheme over. To begin with these devious plots, scoring must be understood, and if scoring needs to be understood, so does bidding. For each hand that is dealt, you have to try and bid the exact number of tricks you will take during the round. Which can be difficult when your friends need to do the same thing.

One of the bidding wheels included in the deluxe version of the game.

Each round that you play, you are dealt as many cards as rounds you’re currently playing (so first round, 1 card, second round, 2 cards, etc.). So you are constantly adjusting to having more cards in your hand, more possible tricks to take, and more chances of your opponents having better cards. The game plays out until the last hand, where all cards in the deck have been dealt.

But back to that bidding thing we had mentioned earlier. Well each round you have to exactly hit the mark. If you do, you will be awarded with points equal to the tricks you took, plus two for good measure. On the other hand, let’s assume you thought your King of trump and Wizard card were really great, but the friend to your left had the Ace of trump, while your friend to the right had a Wizard at the end, and made yours null and void. Well you missed by two, so your score goes down by two. Precision is everything and the best laid plans often have to be adapted on the fly in the hopes of by some miracle making your bid!

I find myself going to this game a lot when playing with people that aren’t as deep in Euro games as I am, and I always like to play with a variant to the rules. This one modification that I would highly suggest, is blind bidding rather than the standard open bidding system. This way nobody knows what you are planning during the round and you have to do some investigative work to figure it out. It’s also great because the game itself is essentially a deck of cards, and a score keepers card. Which means you can take it basically anywhere. I would also opt for the deluxe edition which includes a set of bidding wheels, which aren’t necessary, but are really nice to have.

Pros:

  • Easy to learn and teach.
  • Small package.
  • Lower cost.
  • Lots of chances to play mind games against your friends.
  • Since there isn’t much in the way of mechanics, this can be played fairly easily with mixed age groups.

Cons:

  • It is simple, some may find it too much so.
  • Some people may not want to get essentially what is a fancy set of playing cards.
  • A lot of the game play requires to play on the honor system (how you have to play suits). But if you are playing with somebody who doesn’t actually use the honor system, you probably just shouldn’t play with them!

 

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