Publisher: Magpie Games
Available Formats: Boxed Game
Print – $29.99
I’m always looking for engaging games to play with my 11-year-old granddaughter. A friend and reader of Rolling Boxcars who demos Wizard Kittens for Magpie Games at conventions talked it up nicely, convincing me to buy it. It was so popular at GenCon that demo seats were all booked up, and Wizard Kittens sold out before I could purchase one. I luckily found a copy at my local Barnes & Noble. To my surprise, it was a store-exclusive edition with additional content and an expansion.
In Wizard Kittens, the kittens have accidentally unleashed the contents of a book of curses. Playing as the kittens, you and your friends must defeat the escaped curses before the librarian, Professor Whispurr, catches you. Wizard Kittens is a self-contained semi-cooperative set collecting card game for 2-5 players, ages 7+, with games averaging 15-30 minutes depending on if advanced rules or expansion options are used.
Wizard Kittens: Libary Edition is a Barnes & Noble exclusive packaged version and includes Wizard Kittens, Wizard Kittens: Magical Monsters expansion, and one additional character cat mat, Cinder.
Playing Wizard Kittens involves a multi-step but straightforward setup. Players create the Ritual Circle, which involves, among many things, selecting their character cat mat (basic or advanced side up) and setting out and arranging the game tableau. Next, the Component Deck is built by randomly separating cards into smaller decks, shuffling in the Chaos Cat and Caught cards, and reassembling the larger deck. Lastly, the Curse deck is created with a finite number of easy, medium, and hard curses.
Being a set collection game, the gameplay is fast and simple. The heart of the game is defeating curses. The player tableau begins with two chapters in their spell book. Over a series of turns, players will play, move, discard, and rearrange component cards, all in an effort to collect the component cards needed to defeat a specific curse. Whenever the Chaos Cat card is drawn, a third chapter is opened, and a new curse becomes available to each player.
During each turn, players draw one component card. Cast one of the four spells on the character mat (the advanced game offers different spells choices), and place their token on the spell as a reminder that they cannot cast it the following turn.
- Summon: draw an extra card
- Sling: send a card to another ritual circle
- Swat: discard two of your cards
- Switch: Swap the location of two cards
At the end of a player’s turn, they may defeat curses if they have collected the correct type and quantity of components needed on a chapter-by-chapter basis.
The game can end in one of two ways. The first is whenever all six curses have been defeated or whenever someone draws the “Professor Whispurr” card, signaling the kittens have been caught. Scoring comes next and, depending on how the end game was triggered, will dictate how scoring works. It is better to capture all the curses than to be caught by Professor Whispurr.
The Wizard Kittens core game offers some variations to further challenge players. A handful of advanced rules offer different spells on the Cat Character mat, new rules when the Chaos Cat card is drawn, “Cinder,” a new Cat Character, and a two-player variant.
Magical Monsters Expansion
The Magical Monsters Expansion contains three new mini modules that can be added piecemeal into the core game. Each expansion module integrates seamlessly into the core game. Some additional adjustments are necessary when using modules 1 and 3 with the two-player variant. Module 1, “More Cards,” adds 6 new rule cards, 4 extra credit cards, and a new cat—Van Meowsing. Module 2, “5 Players,” has all the rules and tableau cards needed to expand the player count to 5. Module 3, “Monsters,” introduces magical monsters into the Curse deck. Six magical monsters are added to the Curse deck, changing the game’s overall challenge. Some advice is given on varying the difficulty when adding monsters to the game.
At the Table
I found the basic game’s rules very easy to understand and was able to get it quickly set up for a three-player game with two adults and one child. After each of us had a turn, we all had a solid grasp of the core mechanics, and we were off and running. The game plays very quickly and offers two possible paths to the end game. Scoring is very straightforward, but after nearly ten games now, we have never defeated all six curses. To that end, I am beginning to understand the nuances of the basic spells on the character mats and that all players need to judiciously use some more than others to increase the chances of defeating all six.
All-in-all, every game has been fun and enjoyable. So much so that even the wife has been playing with us, and she is not much of a gamer. That alone speaks volumes about its style, theme, and quick-playing design.
Presentation & Packaging
The game is whimsically illustrated with feline motifs, as you might imagine. The game rules in both booklets are very concise, well written, and presented with plenty of examples to help new players. The game box includes a functioning tray for holding all the cards and wooden tokens. Well done! All the components are sturdy and feel like they will hold up well to repeated use.
Is Wizard Kittens a game for you? The answer to that will depend on your answer to the question, do you like fun games? If yes, then I think you might like Wizard Kittens. Its fast-playing mechanics, a fun theme, and replayability make it a great filler game or convention game. This one, I am definitely having fun playing with my granddaughter and wife, and I will be adding it to my convention bag.
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