Rock, Paper, Wizard! another hand-gesture spell game!


I’m liking Wizkids’ newfound dedication to producing small format, small concept games which play fast, have easy mechanics and lots of replay value (see the recent experience with BLANK WHITE DICE). So along with BWD I picked up another recent publication, ROCK, PAPER, WIZARD! (RPW) also from Wizkids, and decided to set it up and play a three “handed” game solo, just to see how it works– bottom line up front.. surprisingly well!

Flavor text sets up the basic scenario:

In Dungeons & Dragons: Rock Paper Wizard, the dragon has been slain, leaving behind a treasure over which to fight, and the players are wizards who are fighting to claim the most gold from the dragon’s pile.The players have a shared “spellbook” of cards depicting various well-known D&D spells, and each card shows a unique hand gesture that the player must make to cast, while pointing at another player as the target of the spell. All players choose their spells simultaneously, and the spells can move the wizards closer or farther away from the treasure or affect the game state in other ways as well. It’s a game of second-guessing, satisfying successes, and agonizing reversals as each spell cast potentially affects the outcomes of the following ones!

The first player to grab 25 gold pieces from the hoard wins.

Setup is easy. You have 3-6 Wizard characters that start on the center spine of a tiny folded map. The cave exit is on the left and the horde of dead dragon loot is on the right. Wizards start with 3 GP and throw spells at each other to move the other wizards or steal GP.


Basic Setup.

Every turn, the wizards choose an enemy wizard, target them for a spell (in their heads) and then they all chant “Rock, Paper, WIZARDS!” out loud and reveal the spell HAND GESTURE (printed on the card) .  The spells are resolved in a clockwise fashion starting from the wizard who was chosen to go first (as the potion bottle token attests to).

Caveat: since I was just playing around with RPW, I did not achieve the designer’s intent.   The game will (and should) play much better versus other humans, and isn’t a great solitaire design.  I had to come up with random methods of having the wizards attack each other, instead of the fist pumping “Rock Paper WIZARD” which would be much cooler but kind of stupid by yourself.  I achieved random attacks by tossing the wizard tokens in the air and figuring out who was pointing at whom when they landed:


Yellow lady Wiz attacks Blue Gentleman Wiz, he attacks Purple Lady Wiz

Choosing spells was easy enough, of the three in the “Spell Book”, only one was really offensive, CHAIN LIGHTNING.  Still I wanted to try some options so I only selected Chain Lightning for two targets and a Counterspell for the last one (see the setup photo above for the spells on the table).


Chain lightning! (Gold Lady Wiz)


Chain Lightning AGAIN (Purple Lady Wiz)


and Counter-spell (Blue Gentleman Wiz)

Resolving the Spells:

As near as I can tell, the following things happened.

Gold Went first, firing a CHAIN LIGHTNING at Blue, which spills over to Purple.

So Blue moves back 3, Purple 2:


Blue moves back 3, Purple 2 (since she was targeted by Blue)


Then Purple hits Blue with Chain Lightning as well. This knocks back Blue but also Purple.


Since Blue was Targeting Gold, but not with the same spell (instead, CounterSpell) it’s as if Gold’s spell didn’t happen, so everyone moves back a little.

End of turn stuff:

The left most spell card is discarded, and the Wizards are given financial rewards– 5 to the Wizard closest to the horde (Gold) and 3 to the next in line (Purple).  The new card is CHARM PERSON.

And the next turn moves on from there… I think  you get the picture of how this game plays.

That’s pretty much the game in a nutshell.  You play until someone hits 25 gold.  Based on what I’m seeing, that will happen fairly rapidly– I had no problem getting about five turns done on my first game, with no problem figuring the game out and no problem getting a game done.  What are my thoughts?  Well, I want to play it with at least four people.. Four seems optimal, maybe Six is too much.  Three is stretching the boundaries of the design a little and Two is one too few.  I like the “rock, scissors, paper” mechanic redone for spell casting and I think the way they implement spell cards is like a man commanding a dog who suddenly has the power to work a television remote– “Spot ON!”  RPW is pretty silly at the heart of it and probably will be played several times before running through the variations of spells and spell variations and counter-variations.   The game can (and should) be easily expanded with new spell cards, and I hope Wizkids thinks of this.

Rock, Paper, Wizard isn’t exactly a deep thinking game, but there ARE strategies, and decisions to be made– quickly, and with the right crowd this could be all kinds of silly fun.  As I also have some recent experience with a spell casting game that utilizes hand gestures (See multiple posts on THE MAGI), I was curious about this game.  I’d like to have some advanced rules for RPW, like summoning creatures and actually attacking in a way that causes harm to the opposing wizard, instead of displacing him/her.   I could easily replicate this game using miniature figures– I have several painted up in 54mm (as well as summoned creatures) for the Magi game and RPW might be fun as a low complexity introduction to the Magi, which isn’t exactly complex, either.

Bottom line, RPW is fast, cheap, easy to teach, easy to learn.  I can’t wait to play this with some real opponents.

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