The Magi: Waving Hands for Miniatures, debuts


Here’s a game I’ve been wanting to make happen for a long time— bringing some version of WAVING HANDS into the spatial reality of miniatures.  I’ve had the miniatures painted and in a box for a year or more.  I’ve had the spell component cards done.  I just have to put it all together, which I finally have done.  The Magi will debut at the Summer Gaming camp for Kids I will be throwing in two weeks, and preliminary run through results have me very, very positive.  I like this game, but then again, I should since it’s been around forever and was pretty close to perfect as designed.  Waving Hands started in 1977 as a game submission that ended up being a magazine article in a defunct PBM magazine called Sauce of the Nile.    A long time ago I asked Richard Bartle, the original author, if I could make a miniatures variant.  It turned out he had always wanted to have the spatial moving and attacks element of this game but was constrained by publishing space in the magazine he published it in.  So the Waving Hands that I have played via email and admired all these years was originally visualized in a manner not too different from the version I am attempting.  My version, called “The Magi” because the good names are all taken, will move wizards either a short or long distance as a phase outside of spellcaster, then the wizard has a choice of actions, most of which involve spellcasting or fighting.  In my game, the spells are built by cards which are played in spell sequence face down by the caster, along with the actual somatic gesture which is public open knowledge (unless you are blinded).    Thus your wizardly opponents only know what they can see (and remember, and guess at).

As a PBM game, it’s frankly excellent.  With miniatures, I hope it will be the same.  The game mechanics are simple enough, Move, Move Short and Perform an Action, Cleanup.

This colorful cast of characters below are my Wizards.  I have 14 spellcasters from various origins.. including cave shaman and a magical Cyclops.

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Many of these are the old Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals Spellbinder Line, but not all of them.  Some I have no idea of the provenance of.  Aren’t they a colorful bunch?

The concept behind Waving Hands for miniatures is that this is a wizards duel.  Each wizard character has 15 hit points.  They cast spells by making gestures.  Gestures (in this game) are printed on cards.  Cards build your spell (hidden from everyone but you) but when put the gesture down you MUST make the actual gesture in public for all to see.  Thus the players have imperfect knowledge but if they concentrate they can take a guess at  what you are planning to cast and take steps to avoid  or counter it.    I’m looking forward to running this game.  AT LONG LAST.

Click here to listen to a longish ramble on everything you need to know to play: http://tinyvox.com/act5.mp3″

2013 has become the year of bringing long procrastinated projects to fruition for me.  First Big Danged Boats and now the Magi.  What next?

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2 responses to “The Magi: Waving Hands for Miniatures, debuts

  1. The first version of Waving Hands was on a hexagon map, with wizards and monsters moving around. Spells also went on the map, their speed determined by how many gestures it took to cast them (so a 7-gesture spell moved at 7 hexes per turn, whereas a 3-gesture spell moved 3 hexes per turn). It provided a nice tactical element but the publisher I approached complained it had too many pieces. I therefore abstracted away the board, which made it a lot “purer” and reduced bookkeeping by an order of magnitude. It meant I couldn’t sell add-on maps, though.

    I’m not sure if the map-based version used one hand or two; I suspect only one, with movement being used to give enough time to respond to incoming spells. The variable spell speeds were probably too much, though: they should either have been instantaneous or the same just-faster-than-a-wizard-moves speed.

    Let me know how your board-based version goes!

  2. Richard: Thanks for weighing in on this one. The game will be played on a hex grid large enough to accommodate a 40mm circular base (for the most part). I’m trying to limit movement to “Move a long way and cast nothing, move half that and perform an action”. this is to encourage movement in a spatial grid. There will also be some set dressing to do fun things with line of sight and provide incentives to move.. such as limited lighting. I am making the spells work with component cards I had made up (see link in post). Players play a component gesture card as an Action taken per turn (and perhaps two of them if they stay still). Each turn they play a component, they have to make the physical gesture in the air to give the other players that visual information of what they are up to. When the spell is cast, the cards are flipped and the entire sequence is done, with target announced if required. I’ve made a bunch of markers to travel with the wizards for persistent effects. I look forward to running it at camp in a couple weeks.