Wizards Wanted by Mattel Review

Theme and What is it?

You are a novice wizard, and eight villages in the area have Spell Jobs they’d like you to cast, ranging from Rat Eviction to Goat Wedding. You move your pawn around the board, using pixie dust as currency, and complete spells to earn coins (used to buy more pixie dust, primarily) and Fame. The player with the most Fame at the end of the game wins.

Gameplay Mechanics

Based primarily on point-to-point movement, Mattel spices up the classic mechanic with a few happy twists.

As you and your fellow wizards cast spells in the eight villages, you replace those Spell Job cards with new ones, facedown. On the backs of these spell cards, you’ll find a symbol corresponding with one of three terrain types (mountain, forest, desert) and a number. You place a Mushroom token upside down on the indicated space and if you land on or pass over that space, you get to take the Mushroom.

Each Mushroom contains bonuses that help you progress through the game, and as they are placed randomly around the board, this encourages players to move about the board in far more interesting ways than you might have first expected.

The other twist we really liked was the introduction of Spell License cards and Royal Seal tokens. There is a castle on the board that you’ll want to visit at least once, midgame to lategame. When you land in front of the castle, you are allowed to pick up the facedown Spell License cards and see if you fit any of the qualifications needed to obtain your official Spell License as a full-time wizard.

For example, one Spell License requires you to have two sets of three icons, which you obtain by performing spells at the villages. The Goat Wedding Spell Job gives you an illusion magic icon (blue) and an animal magic icon (red). If you have three blues and three reds, you can take that Spell License card and a bonus Royal Seal. If you don’t fit any of the qualifications listed on any of the Spell License cards, you must place them all back facedown and try again later, hopefully remembering what you need to get!

The game ends when the Royal Inspector shows up near the end of the Spell Job deck. If you haven’t gotten your official Spell License and Royal Seal, you are penalized for not being a certified wizard.

Initial Impressions

Wizards Wanted is a fairly lightweight game: easy enough for my nine-year-old to understand and enjoy, but solid enough to hold my interest, too. I enjoy fantasy-themed games, so this was right up my alley, and my son got a bit into role-playing while waving his lightsaber (which is totally wizard-related, right?) as he cast Outhouse Cleaning and Fungus Removal spells. The game is fun, and funny.

Game Build Quality

I love the pixie dust pieces. They’re plastic gems of varying sizes and shapes to indicate value. They will hold up extremely well through repeated plays. The cardstock used for the mini-size cards is just a tad thinner than I’d like to see, but this isn’t a shufflebuilder so I’m not too concerned on that point.

The pawns are all delightful little wizards in four colors (blue, red, yellow, and green) that have been designed so that there aren’t many narrow bits of plastic which small, excited hands can break. The cardboard used for various tokens is of nice, solid construction.

Artistic Direction

The color scheme is big, bold, and bright — all what we expect from a family-style game. The art on the board can be a bit distractingly busy at times, but I’m a sucker for nice clean lines. My son, however, thought it looked “magical.”

The font style of some of the numbers on the gameboard and pieces isn’t the best choice for clarity. The 1’s are so highly stylized that they look more like 7’s. It’s an easy enough obstacle to overcome though.

The box art really draws the eye and does a great job of representing the four wizards and types of magic the game presents. My son saw the wizard riding the intensely aggressive polar bear depicted and instantly decided that animal magic was for him.

Fun Factor

My son and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. Even though he lost, he enjoyed moving around the board, earning pixie dust and coins and casting spells so much that he’s already looking forward to playing it again, with a better grasp of the necessary strategies. I believe his words were, “I’m gonna kick your butt, Mommy.” We shall see, son, we shall see.

Age Range & Weight

This game would be suitable for children who aren’t strong readers yet. I wouldn’t recommend it for the very young (3 to 5), as there are small pieces and they would easily become frustrated trying to figure out how the strategy works, but I’d say a second grader or particularly keen first grader could probably learn the ins and outs in a few playthroughs.

I probably wouldn’t bring this to an adults-only game night, but when I’m looking for a game to play with my son and his friends, this will be a fun addition to our collection. I’d definitely recommend it to families with children ages 7+.

Conclusions

Mattel’s Wizards Wanted is a great choice for family game night, since it can be enjoyed by players of all ages. Will we keep this on our shelf? Absolutely. Will we play this again? Most definitely. It’s a welcome change from classic point-to-point movement games, while still keeping familiar mechanics that kids can understand.

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