This game review is for Wizard Card Game
It is for ages: 10 and up. 3 to 6 players and takes about an hour to play
“The ultimate game of Trump”
The card game Wizard has over one million copies sold. That’s impressive. So, we thought we’d give it a try. It claims to be more fun than hearts and more challenging than Rummy. We like both of those games so we thought that Wizard would be the game for us.
The object of Wizard is to correctly guess how many tricks you will take on each round. Points are awarded to those who guess correctly and the player who has the most pints at the end of the game is the winner.
Wizard has a custom deck of cards. It has the standard playing cards deck with four wizards and four jesters.
In the first round, each player only gets one card. In the second round, two cards are dealt to all players. Similarly, three cards are delt to every player in the third round and so on. The dealer is rotated in a clockwise fashion after each round.
After the dealer deals out the cards, he then turns over the next card. This is the suit of trump. If the turned-up card is a jester, then the card is turned back over and there is not trump for that round. If a wizard is turned over, then the dealer gets to choose the suit of trump.
Bidding starts with the layer to the dealer’s left. Each player must state how many tricks they will take. In the first round, a player can only win one or no tricks. The score keeper records the guesses on the score sheet. We like to use counters to set out in front of us how many tricks we have committed to. We use bread tags for this.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first and play carries on in a clockwise fashion. The first player can play any card of her choosing and the other players must follow suit if possible, with two exceptions. Wizards and jesters can be played at any time.
Winning a trick
You can win a trick by either playing the first wizard of the round, if there are no wizards played then you can win the trick by playing the highest card of trump, or if there is no trump played then you can win by laying the highest card of the suit that was led. The winner of the trick is the first player of the next round.
Leading with wizards and Jesters
If you lead with a wizard, then you win that trick, and the other players can play any card. If you lead with a jester, then the card is null, and the next player gets to play the lead card.
This is where this game gets complicated. If you were successful in guessing how many tricks you took, then you gain 20 points for guessing correctly. As well, you get 10 more points for every trick that you took. If you were not successful in guessing, then you loose 10 points for each trick over or under her guess.
For example, if player one guess that he will take 0 tricks and takes no tricks, he scores 20 points for the round. If layer two guesses that she will take 2 tricks and is successful, then she scores 20 points plus 20 for a total score of 40 points for the round. If layer three guessed he would take 2 tricks and only took one trick, then he loses 10 points.
This scoring method of ups and downs really affects the game! you can go from first place ot very last place. Similarly, if it looks like you don’t stand a chance, one really good round in the middle or later part of the game can put you back in the running.
I created our own scoring sheet to make it a little easier nd to give more room for numbers. You can download it here:
The game starts with only one card being dealt to each player. The game progress to the end where every card is dealt out.
After all the tally is done, the player with the most points wins the game.
There are several variations on bidding. It can be done in secret; it can be done so that you only see what others bid once the round had started. There’s even a Canadian rule where the dealer, if in the winning position, can’t “even up” the bidding, meaning that he can’t guess so that every trick is accounted for.
Things we liked
Wizard does give a different challenge than Hearts or Rummy. The challenge of bidding correctly is either fun or frustrating. Seeing you score rocket up can be very satisfying. The unique dealing is fun and keeps the game fresh through out the game. We also liked that even if it seems like there is no hope for you to win the game, one good round for you or bad round for an opponent, made winning a possibility again, a refreshing changing from some games where is it clear that you are not going to win this game. The quality of the game is also good; the cards are sturdy and the box is a good size, sturdy and has room for us to add our bread tag makers.
Things we didn’t like
Some of us found the bidding process very frustrating. Others found that the scoring was a challenge to understand (although most of us had no problem with this). The length of the game surprised us too. The first time we played it took over an hour to play. The game play time is not listed on the box so we expected a faster game. Some of us, find that the game takes too long to play. This might be because we haven’t played enough times to really get familiar with the game, but with the frustration combined with the length, it’s a hard sell to play.
Wizard is an interesting game that really makes you think and plan. It is challenging but easy to learn and play. Overall, I would say if you love card games, your kids are a little older, it is worth having Wizard on your Family Game Shelf.
Pros: easy to understand, quality, quick turns in who’s leading
Cons: game play is long, can be frustrating, scoring is a little complicated
Mom: probability, planning, math, critical thinking