Take on the role of 1 of 4 Wizards of the Elderlands, who must defeat the enemy presence inside the Wizard Keep, to restore balance to the land.

Wizard Keep is played on several randomly ordered boards, representing the 10 levels of the Keep. As players progress higher into the tower, the Enemies gain advantages in Floor and Room bonuses. Players must manage their reward points between their wizard's three attributes and the Turn Counter, for spending too many turns in the Keep, unprotected, may prove to be as deadly as the Enemy. The four types of enemies have varying resistance to players spell power, and defeating a Warlock may present a welcome bonus, or a point absorbing curse. Ascend to the top level of the keep, and banish the enemy, and victory shall be your reward.

SPECS

  • Conceived August 2011
  • Cooperative Play
  • 1-4 Players
  • Military card game
  • 15 board tiles, 30 cards, 1 floor track, 1 enemy strength card, 1 power well marker, 1 player token, 1 turn counter, 4 wizard stat wheels, 4 wizard counters, 60 enemy markers, 1 custom d6
  • Being play tested

GENESIS

Wizard Keep came about after watching one of the Harry Potter movies. There is a scene in the Ministry of Magic where several good and bad wizards and witches are battling with wands. Casting spells and curses at each other. Quick, tense, frantic. One second someone is standing there, the next they are knocked to the floor, of poof they are just gone. I really got into it. Wizard Keep is an attempt to apply this idea to a co-op game. Wizards casting spells, banishing enemies to the ether.

I made Wizard Keep to try and capture the feel of that frantic battle I mentioned above. I wanted something fairly light, with a quick combat system, That you could play in a reasonable amount of time. Again solo play was important to include. After playtesting it a few times some issues came up with Wizards getting an excess of reward points and I had to formulate a way to balance out the gameplay. These little issues always seem to cause the rules to get a little more complicated, but I think I was able to keep Wizard Keep inside the realm of learning it in 30 mins or so. Once players are familiar with the rules I believe it will run smoothly. Wizard Keep still needs a lot more playtesting to make sure it scales well with more or less players, but so far it seems to be running alright.

I kept the combat system simple. There are no die rolls, no charts. Check your Spellpower, make sure you have at least one Spellcount, and tally up the enemies strengths to see how many you can remove from the board. I also wanted to use a die differently in Wizard Keep. The luck/tension comes from that roll to see how many enemies are placed on the board. Once they are placed, you know what you have to do. The theme is not too over the top. I feel that younger players could enjoy this game playing with an older sibling or adult who could manage the Reward Point and Turn Tracker mechanics. It has been enjoyable to watch Wizard Keep evolve into its present state, and I look forward to seeing where it might go from here.

GAME PLAY

Wizard Keep takes place not in the Ministry of Magic, but in a solitary tower that sits atop a black ridge of stone, on the border between two lands. These lands were a single empire at one time, but it’s inhabitants were caught in a terrible war of magic, lots of knocking to the floor and banishing to the ether. After many years cooler heads prevailed, and the land was divided. A great spine of stone was deemed to be the division of the two halves, and thus peace was wrought from the chaos. When the game takes place, wizards from the other side of the border have climbed the dark spine and taken possession of the Keep. The players take on the role of Wizards who are sent, in secret,  to banish the enemy from the Keep and restore the peace.

The Keep is ten levels high. These levels are chosen randomly from a pool of fifteen during set up. Some are common levels, with features like stone pillars and stairs, while others have defensive enhancements, put in place by the enemy, which make them more difficult for the players. Players each get a color coded Stat Wheel and Marker for their Wizard to track their current Stat levels and their location on the boards. The Stat Wheel consists of three wheels numbered 1 - 8. These track the Health, Spellpower and Spellcount of each Wizard. If a Wizard is injured the health Wheel is decreased by one. If the player Attacks on a turn, the Spellpower and Spellcount Wheels are reduced by one. Player collect reward points, which are tallied up and divided by the number of players once a Floor is cleared. These points can be added to the Stat Wheels in any combination up to a maximum of 8 points.

There is a first player marker called the Power Well which passes to the left at the beginning of each new Floor of the Keep. Once a new Floor is revealed players place their Wizard Markers on the board in play order and roll a die for the number of enemies they will place on the board. Each enemy marker is drawn randomly from a Draw and placed on the color coded numbers on the board, matching that players Wizard color. If a player rolls a three then, in order drawn, three enemy markers are placed on the numbers 1 - 3 of that player’s color. Once all the enemies are placed the players each take a turn in play order.

Turns consist of either Attacking or Moving. If a player attacks, he may remove from the board a number of Enemies whose collective strength adds up to his Wizards Spellpower. There are four types of enemies: Acolytes, Apprentices, Sorcerers and Warlocks. They have Strengths of 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively. If a player attacks with his Wizard with a Spellpower of 7, he may remove from the board, any combination of Enemies whose Strengths are 7 or lower, with clear Line of Sight. For Example: the player could remove 7 Acolytes; 3 Apprentices and one Acolyte; 1 Warlock and one Sorcerer. The player may Move up to 5 spaces instead of Attacking. Once each player has had a chance to take a turn, the Enemy attacks. Any Enemies left on the board with clear Line of Sight wound the players Wizards for 1 point per Enemy. If the players defeat all the enemies on a Floor, they collect Power Reward Points equal to the Strengths of the defeated Enemies. These points are divided evenly among the players Wizards, and they can be used to advance any of the stats on the Wizards’ Stat Wheels up to a max of 8. Any remaining points go to the Power Well. These points are a reserve that can be used at any point during the game. All players must agree to use the points, and all points accrued up to that point are drained from the well and divided however the player decide. There is also a Turn Tracker which tracks the number of turns the player spend in the Keep. The tracker starts at 10 and counts down to 1. If the Tracker reaches the skull after the 1, the players fail and lose the game. Power Reward Points can be used to turn back the Tracker, and give players more time in the keep.

As the player progress through the levels of the Keep the Enemy gains a Count Bonus. After the first few Floors the players will have to add 1, 2 or 3 to their Enemy die roll, resulting in more enemies on the upper floors of the Keep. If the players succeed in clearing all the levels of the Wizard Keep they win, and peace reigns again over the Land of Elderlands.