Mage Wars is an intricate game for two players that simulates an epic magical duel between two grand magicians. Choose to play one of four characters: the resourceful Beastmaster, the evil warlock, the healing Priestess or the tricky wizard.
Players begin by determining what kind of spells to have available in their spell book during the game. They can choose magic that summons monsters to help them fight, heals wounds, attacks an opponent directly or changes things already in play. There are also magic items that can be selected and equipped. Each mage plays differently and each base spell book is different.
Once the wizards have selected their equipment, the game begins and the wizards begin to duel. To use spells your wizard needs manna (magical money) and a wizard is only given a limited amount each turn. Sometimes a player must save up over several turns to use a powerful spell. In the end, the last wizard standing wins.
The production quality of the game is amazing. There are tons of cards, a giant game board depicting an arena and even two small binders (spell books) that hold cards so players can manage their wizard. There are also dice and hundreds of tokens that keep track of spell effects.
To be honest, this is one of the most complex games I have ever played. I had to read more than 20 pages of rules to even get started playing. There are so many options in this game you will either rejoice or cower at its complexity.
Another thing to know about this game is that it can last a long time. You and your opponent can adjust the winning conditions to shorten it, but to play as the rulebook recommends can last four to six hours.
The artwork and theme of the game are presented in a dark, menacing way. The manufacturer recommends a player's age be at least 13. Many of the female characters are depicted hardly dressed and the cards show monsters, spells and magical rituals in a realistic fashion. All things considered, this is definitely a game you want to research before you buy.
Ryan Morgenegg is a multimedia specialist for the Deseret News.