STEP INTO THE WIZARD DUEL, WHERE THE MOST POWERFUL WIZARDS ARE LOCKED INTO NEVERENDING COMBAT TO DETERMINE WHO IS THE BEST!
FIGHT! DIE! REBORN! FIGHT! DIE! REBORN!
…that’s enough of the caps lock for now.
Some nights you might not feel like pulling out a massive game that requires hours of setup and another century to play. This is the game you grab on one of those occasions. Epic Spell Wars falls into the category of a “beer and pretzels” game, a super light and quick card game where you can leave all seriousness at the door. Other beer and pretzels titles include Hanabi, King of Tokyo, and Boss Monster — although we won’t stop you from enjoying beer and pretzels anytime. They pretty much go hand-in-hand with a board game night.
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards. Even the name is crazy fun and truly gives you an inclination of what you’re in for.
In the game, you play as powerful, depraved (and homicidal) wizards who are trying to kill everyone, even if you get killed in the process. What did the other wizards ever do to you? It doesn’t matter. Kill and die (in the most epic fashion possible) by creating the most deadly spell combinations. ‘Cause that’s what you’re here for.
A Brief Overview of Epic Spell Wars
“Once upon a time, there was a world filled to the brim with radical magic…”
The most notable thing about Epic Spell Wars is the incredible artwork. It’s what I imagine an acid trip would be like.
The second most notable thing about Epic Spell Wars is the hilarious flavor text. It’s definitely an adult-brand of funny and not suitable for children, but I guarantee you’ll be laughing your a$$es off while you’re reading the cards.
The best way I can describe it is as if an episode of Adventure Time was made by the creators of Super Jail. It’s that horrifying/incredible. It all depends on your personality, I suppose.
The art in the first two editions is actually done by a man named Nick Edwards, a comic artist and illustrator. His stuff is completely surreal and crazy-looking.
Even the instruction manual and item cards within the game have that same acid-trippy feel to them. This game does not take itself seriously… and that is one of the best parts. It’s a horrific, chaotic, murderous deathmatch that truly borders on the absurd… and then runs right past that border, like a champ.
Versions & Expansions
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre
This is the original version that came out in 2012. It’s what started everything and what we’ll be focusing on in this article.
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Rumble at Castle Tentakill
Rumble at Castle Tentakill is a sequel to the often out-of-print original (Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre), released by Cryptozoic Entertainment in 2012. It quickly became one of their biggest hits, especially after an appearance on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop. We like the sequel just as much as the original. It’s the kind of game you take out when you want to have a good time with your friends before destroying them horribly.
- Stand-alone game, but also a 100% compatible expansion with the...
- Adds Creatures, Blood, Reactions, and now the Standee matters!
- Hilarious spell-combining mechanic creates endless gameplay
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Melee at Murdershroom Marsh
Melee at Murdershroom Marsh introduces three new keywords to each player’s magical arsenal. Additionally, there are extra effects of cantrips activated by discarding cards, bad trips that resolve twice with glyph-heavy spells, and treasures that persist between player deaths.
RS Bixby took over the art in this version, replacing series regular Nick Edwards, who was said to be too busy working at Cartoon Network to contribute to the third installment.
- Two epic new keywords!
- Hilarious spell-combining mechanic creates endless gameplay...
- Simple rules and deep-level strategic gameplay allow the game to...
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Panic at the Pleasure Palace
The fourth game in the Epic Spell Wars series introduces Magically Transmitted Diseases, a Quick Match Mode, and next-level debauchery. Get ready for Crotch Krakens, Genital Harpies, and… Gorgonorrhea. Yep. Now you know what you’re in for. Fair warning: mature themes await. Grab the Standee in this one, it actually does something!
Each version of Epic Spell Wars is completely standalone or can be combined into a massive deck to play the most ridiculous combinations you can possibly think of.
The original version is probably the simplest form and has a ton of variety. Each one of the subsequent version will build upon the rules and add different types of spells that can be used to murder/liquify/incinerate/pulp your foes.
Some of them will add creature spells that stay with you once they are summoned. They can add different spell abilities or just be used as meat shields.
The cantrips from Murdershroom Marsh allow players to discard additional cards to upgrade their spells.
If you’re feeling frisky you can always check out the Pleasure Palace. As you can imagine, it’s full of adult themes. It literally comes with a scrotum bag. Classy…
The big standee does absolutely nothing in the original version. It’s just there to look cool but all of the other versions award some kind of bonus for controlling the standee.
Cryptozoic is currently designing a deck-building version based off of their Cerberus system. It claims to be compatible with the original game as well. Not a whole lot of details are out just yet, but Cryptozoic is a long-time veteran in the deck-building sphere, so I have high expectations.
Unboxing Epic Spell Wars
- 40 Spell Source cards
- 40 Spell Quality cards
- 40 Spell Delivery cards
- 25 Dead Wizard cards
- 25 Treasure cards
- 8 oversized Hero cards
- 8 Wild Magic cards
- 7 Last Wizard Standing chips
- 6 Skull life counter chips
- 4 Six-sided dice
- 1 Rulebook
Epic Spell Wars is mostly a deck of cards. No matter what version you get you’ll also notice a large cardboard cutout.
I got one of the earlier versions of the game, and my cards seemed a little thin. They’re not as heavy-duty as I would have liked, and in retrospect, I should have sleeved them. I normally don’t like sleeving games with a large number of cards, but I’m normally drinking when I play this game.
There have been a few spills…
My copy is still playable, but I definitely should have taken better care of it. The quality is okay, but if you’re not careful you can easily warp or destroy a few cards.
CAST SOME SPELLS! (How to Play Epic Spell Wars)
Epic Spell Wars is very easy to learn how to play. Any idiot can get into it rather quickly. In fact, it seems as if it’s designed for idiots by how ludicrous everything is.
Spells come in 3 parts.
- Source: Beginning
- Quality: Middle
- Delivery: End
It’s this mix-and-match mechanic that first drew me to the game. Using this mechanic you can create oddball spells like:
“Sir Lootzor’s — Mysterious — Power Vortex”
Seriously who comes up with this madness? Technically you do, I suppose.
By mixing and matching spells you can create some devasting spells or you could simply pick whatever sounds cool. Either way is a legitimate strategy. I always play by making the stupidest combinations possible. I’ve even won that way a few times.
If you’re more into the planning and creation of devastating spells, you need to be a little more careful with your spells. In addition to the 3 spell parts, players can also match up the magical elements. There are 5 types of elements.
- Arcane: Has the possibility of picking up treasure.
- Dark: Strong spells but can hurt the user.
- Elemental: Pure elemental damage.
- Illusion: Strategic spells that allow players to pick targets for damage.
- Primal: Call on nature to heal or destroy.
Now that you have a spell prepared, lets cast that bad boy.
Spells resolve from left to right. Simply read the text on the card and perform the action. If there’s a list of possible results on the card, it means it’s time to roll some dice. Remember the magical elements? This is where they come into play. The more matching elements in the spell, the more dice you are able to roll.
If you’ve matched a spell with 3 different Arcane elements and you need to roll, you’ll get 3 dice to roll. This increases the chances of getting a more powerful effect from the spell.
Basically, for every matching element, you get an extra dice to roll. Keep an eye on the spell abilities. Some spells will punish you for not rolling high enough, and you can definitely end up killing yourself if you’re not careful.
There’s an additional card in the deck called wild magic. Whenever you throw a wild magic card into a spell, you’ll draw cards from the deck until you find one that is legal to play. This can be incredibly powerful and can sometimes extend your spell to 4-5 cards. It quickly gets out of hand.
Your First Game of Epic Spell Wars
The majority of your time on your first game is going to be spent reading and laughing at the cards. It’s completely unavoidable.
Epic Spell Wars is supposed to be played in rounds and the losers get a bonus for the next round. My first 3 games took so long that the by the time we finished the first round, everyone wanted to move on to another game, or we were just out of time. It’s a bit of overload on the senses. The crazy looking artwork and ridiculous abilities are all vying for your attention. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the actual game.
Pros & Cons of Epic Spell Wars
- Incredible artwork
- Quick gameplay (after your first few rounds)
- Easy to learn
- Easy to play
- High levels of randomness
- Adult themes?
- Early player elimination
I can’t speak enough about how much I love the artwork in Epic Spell Wars. There’s so much going on in these cards that it was literally distracting during my first few playthroughs of the game. I was actually thinking about getting a full-sized poster printed out of one of the spells. It would be great in the garage or game room.
The game is relatively quick. Wizards can die super quickly and the more that get wiped out, the quicker the survivors die. It’s very easy to learn and can be set up and started pretty quickly.
The major complaint I hear about Epic Spell Wars is the extremely high amount of randomness thrown into the game. If you haven’t built a shrine to the RNG gods before playing, you may want to. The major mechanic that determines the effectiveness of spells are all dice-based.
Targeting other players for attacks is also random and depends on the cards. Each card has a different target and could be anything.
- Weakest player
- Strongest player
- Player to the left
- Player to the right
Being the strongest player isn’t always a good thing. I’ve seen a lot of games where the strongest player is quickly knocked down to the weakest and then wiped out in a single round.
Early Player Elimination
This brings me to the next issue with Epic Spell Wars. It’s very possible to get completely wiped out in the very first round and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. If you do die early, there is a deck of cards you can start to draw from that will give you bonuses for the next round. It could be extra health, items, or nothing at all. Once eliminated, there’s not a whole lot to do. I like Epic Spell Wars, but I do think that early player elimination is just bad design. Luckily everyone will probably die fairly quickly afterward.
Epic Spell Wars is a completely over-the-top card game.
It does suffer from early player elimination, but rounds should be played quick enough that players won’t be waiting too long.
There is a high level of randomness to the entirety of the game. Attacks and targets are mostly random but can be directed to a small degree.
It’s Not For Everyone
I’m always down for a game of Epic Spell Wars. At my table, it usually involves a lot of drinking and yelling. My cards are actually coated in a protective coating of beer. (I should’ve sprung for the sleeves.)
This game is definitely not for kids. It’s aimed at a particular fan base. If you still laugh at fart and dick jokes there’s a good chance that you are the target audience.
If vulgarity and stupidity isn’t your cup of tea, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Epic Spell Wars does not take itself seriously and you shouldn’t either.
It’s a goofy and awesome way to waste some time. If you’re looking for any kind of serious gameplay then you may want to look elsewhere.
Let me be clear here. I like Epic Spell Wars. I love the artwork, and I’ve really enjoyed every time I’ve played. There are certain players that I won’t bring this out for, however. The younger crowd gets to play Clank. The Min/Max crew and dice haters get to play Dominion.
There is a lot of randomnesses designed into the game, and there’s always that core group of players that are going to hate it on that aspect alone. This is one of the only adult-themed games that I own. Other than Cards Against Humanity, I can’t really think of a (semi) serious board game designed for adult audiences. That alone puts out a lot of hate for it.
Follow the golden rule if you’re unsure: Do you laugh at fart and dick jokes?
Yes: Play it.
No: Don’t play it.
Epic Spell Wars is a simple game that can be completely overwhelming.
It’s honestly a great way to start a gaming session due to the fact that it’s so quick and it’s so very weird. It can really get everyone into the gaming mood.
I honestly can’t remember ever playing this game without a beer. The thematic elements in the game just demand that you have some form of alcoholic beverage while playing. I’ve actually had a lot of luck playing with friends who normally aren’t into board games. There’s a lot of text on the cards, but it’s still easy enough to learn that non-gamers are going to have fun playing and searching through the artwork of the cards to make stupid-sounding spells.
My first time playing I lost horribly but had an amazing time. I wasn’t playing to win. I was just playing to make the most ridiculous spells imaginable. In later games, I did pretty well with that strategy, but if you actually want to win, matching up the spell elements is the key to victory.
It’s not going to win the Spiel des Jahres, but you’re going to walk away from the table with a smile on your face and a stupid-sounding spell on your lips.
Have you played any of the iterations of Epic Spell Wars? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think!