Fun Family Board Games

Home - Cottage - Anywhere

Prototype Update: Game Concept from Problems in Wizard(TM)

After a long break from game designing, I am getting back into some unfinished projects. One I've enjoyed for a long time is the "Turkey Escape" of 2013. After many playtests, and game evolution, it has become a game that I think many of you will enjoy.

Where did this game concept come from?

I have enjoyed playing Euchre since high school when one day, perhaps 20 years ago, a friend introduced me to a game called Wizard (TM). This is a game played with a modified poker deck of cards with 4 Wizard and 4 Jester cards, plus a scorecard. Initially, it was infuriatingly difficult to play, but after several plays I found myself drawn to trying to "crack" the game. How could I really master this #@$!!# game that keeps beating me? Twenty years later, I still enjoy the game.

But there are real limitations to the game. This is when my creative juices were really cooking:
  1. Too Long - When played with 4 people the Wizard (TM) game becomes quite long and can stretch for well over an hour... especially if playing with someone who is not very familiar with the game.
  2. Too Much Math - Ok, so let's be honest here. Math really isn't the problem. But when friends are together and we have a few drinks ... the mathy part becomes somewhat suspicious. If you are accurate with your bid then you get +20 points + 10 points for each bid you made. If you are inaccurate then -10 points per inaccuracy in your bid. Thus, if you bid 4 and you only won 1 trick then you are at -30.
  3. Table Trap - Ok, so you agree to play the game and you are committed to playing for 60+ minutes. Your chances to win are average, but then your stomach clenches as "Bob", the pro gamer of your group joins the game and sit to your left. Ugh! The game is played in a clockwise fashion so Bob will always be playing their cards after you. Since he is very experienced with the game he knows how to really mess with you! This now takes your chances to win from being average to very poor. This is how many people become "Table Trapped" and are stuck playing beside someone who will ensure that you will not win.
  4. Highly Complex Yet Predictable - Even though Wizard (TM) is a complex game that I still enjoy, there are aspects that become predictable. One element is the above-mentioned Table Trap, another is that the dealer is the last player to make a bid and they cannot make a bid that is going to bring all the bids made on the table to equal the number of cards dealt to each player - always someone will be screwed, thus the apt name "Screw the Dealer" variation (also called the "Canadian Version").  So these aspects make the game less engaging than what I felt it could be.
  5. Wizard Overly Powerful - I believe this game came from a previous game called "Oh Hell", but what makes Wizard(TM) different is the addition of 8 new cards, one is the Wizard card. The Wizard card is very powerful because the first one played in the hand will automatically win the hand, and can be played at any time. This is a great way to win a trick you need or to mess up another player's strategy and win a hand that you typically could not effect. Outstanding fun!

    But because the Wizard card cannot be beaten I have noticed that it has an overpowering capability in the game. Something was needed to offset the power of this card.
So I thought to myself, I know the dynamics of this game. Could I make something that addresses these problems? I said YES!