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 Copyright Eric Pietrocupo

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Spell Wards: Rival Sorcerers

Page: GameIdea.GameIdea-Spellwards-RivalSorcerers - Last Modified : Mon, 07 Feb 22 - 1089 Visits
How much do you like this idea?

5 stars Rating 10.0/10 from 1 votes
Vote Distribution: 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 1

Very Good (10/10) The game is very interesting, make it as soon as possible.
Good (8/10) Great idea but some modifications are required.
Fair (6/10) Interesting but a lot of things are missing.
Bad (4/10) Would need to completely redesign the idea in order to work.
Very Bad (2/10) It will never be interesting, abandon the idea.
Already Exist (0/10) Do not waste time on this game idea.

Status: CLOSED

  • The compactness of the game is very hard to handle.
  • New ideas could be interesting.
  • Always a challenge to have many special abilities in a small game.

Status: In design
Priority: High
Number of players: 2 players
Expected Play time: 60-90 minutes


A master of magic micro game where each players use a deck of 18 cards to manage his city and covenant while trying to eliminate the opposing rival wizard in the same area.


Always obsessed by master of magic, I tried to find another approach based on abstract mechanism and that uses a small amount of components as I don't have time to play and design larger games. The goal is to have a large variety of game play with little components by combining 9 cards from a race/Civilisation with 9 cards from a Wizard/Covenant allowing various possible combinations as in the end, there should be 10 race and 10 wizards allowing 100 possible gameplay combinations.

I decided to add cubes in order to have more possible unique effects. As the game design progress it might be heavier than I thought and maybe a bit longer, but I am still aiming for a small box and it will remain a two player game. I am more looking into making a tableau builder game as I have always been fascinated with those games and many civ like games use tableau builders.


Microcosm was my primary source of inspiration. I liked the idea of playing with few cards. But in the end, the mechanics seems much more different. I also got inspiration from the Epic card game cost to play cards as it gives the feeling of superiority of power that I am looking for. So in my game, all cards cost either 1 gold or 1 mana.

New mechanics had inspiration from Impulse and other games in my list with the same theme. San Juan is another game I want to get inspiration from to allow multiple special ability according to the action taken.

Priority Evaluation

Theme vs Mechanics: I did not build the prototype yet, but the mechanics seems pretty solid since the game was designed around mechanism and components restrictions. The theme makes relatively some sense with the mechanics of the game. I am still exploring new mechanics.
Video vs Board Game: This is a board game only type of game. Video game adaptation could be possible but there will be a lot of unique text ability. So it would require a lot of scripting.
Single vs Multi player: This is a 2 player only game. There could be some option for a single player variant with a specific deck of cards, but I did not planned anything so far. As for playing with more than 2 players, it's impossible due to how location ownership is marked. The only option would be with maybe a 2 headed giant mode. Or a game where each pair of players are on their own plane to have a 4 player game.
Rating = 11/12


+ Cartography: There will be locations, but they are not connected on a map.
- No Scripting: The should be special text abilities.

Design Plan


  • Master of magic theme is the main inspiration of this game.
  • There is a duality between Magic vs Civilization and Military vs Politics.


  • Simple: I don't think the rules will be that complicated, it's the decision behind that could become complicated. The special text ability on the card could make their interaction pretty complex and make each faction unique.
  • Small: The game has to be very small. Players only use 18 cards, and the game contains mostly cards. Possibly double cards for maps, and some cube, disk or meeples.
  • Short: I want the game to be easy to setup with the low amount of components. I cannot say for the gameplay.
  • Social: The social interaction will be more minimal in this game, as most mechanics are strategic and you are facing your opponent directly with little negotiation option.


  • Replay value by combining various wizard and race together to get a different experience every time.
  • Feeling of Superiority: In any MOM like game, a feeling of power and superiority is important.
  • 4X: Based on a 4X theme, the game should be 4X, but right now I am not sure I can do all of them.
    1. Explore: New areas can be explored and discovered (might be removed or limited in the new rules. At least the area will not be hidden)
    2. Expand: Which can be captured or conquered from your opponent
    3. Exploit: By using the various units and assets you have available, or map resources
    4. Exterminate: To eventually exterminate your opponent either by military or influence


  • Magic cards
  • Civilization cards (These cards could be removed and use only magic cards)
  • City disk: Double sided to mark influenced controlled cities. In the recent update, I intend to flip them to mark which city has acted. So that the larger your empire, the more actions you get.
  • Resource Markers: Not sure, indicates which resources are controlled by the player. There can be resource track on tile or off board.
  • Map cards or map board: Try to use cards for more versatility. Smaller box required. Could be double sided but not sure, because hinder exploration mechanics. Maybe place a city marker on the card when the encounter is complete. Possibly to location cards for each Civilization. (could be removed if no map). Thinking to use a 3x3 map of square tiles. Else tiling small maps like in 8 minute empire legends.
  • I am thinking of adding from 1 to 3 dice in order to add some uncertainty to the focus actions. Still, there should be at most 1 roll per action, and it should at most double the strength of the result. I want to have a good minimal effect and want to avoid a dice fest, or even have a non-dice version. Even with the new ideas, I am still not sure how the dice system will actually work.


  • Players combine 2 deck of 9 cards to create their deck.
  • Players can attack their opponent by Military or Political influence.
  • Combat resolution table to have various resolution ending according to the number rolled
  • Icon system (not sure) maybe units has a series of icons and counter icons. Each uncountered icon gives +1 strength. Creates a form of complex RPS system with more versatility. I think this will be removed in the new rule system since it's too much detailed for a specific unit.
  • If would be interesting to create a system reusable for a civ theme or for a space theme.
  • Since cards are limited, Instead of cycling them, I am now thinking more in making a Tableau Builder where only a portion of the cards will be used rather than making them reusable multi-function cards.

Development progress

Problems that prevent development

The biggest issue with this game is card balance and diversity, make sure that each set is unique from each other and that each set is equally balanced allowing various set combinations for various game play. Which means that each set combination must be in average as powerful as other set combinations. You also have the looping syndrome of not be able to play the game without desiging special abilities, and not be capable of designing special abilities without having a playable game first.

News, changes and updates

January 28th, 2017: I got new ideas lately for another game with the same theme that seems more advantageous to incorporate in this game, since they both try to make a small MOM game. Still, I am not exactly sure yet of the direction of the game and I have an hard time making a design plan. For now the game seems pretty abstract.

I was thinking of using ideas from the "Wrath of the dark prince" board game, especially using a small number of large areas for the map and managing cubes and city tokens across the board. So the idea could be to have 2 tiles with 4 areas for each player that you connect to each other. Similar to another game called "Star Borders". Use cubes for armies, disk for cities. Some spell and maybe race cards, resource tokens and a few other things.

Instead of using a dash board for civ progress, I was thinking to put everything on cards. Not sure if I would use multi function cards, like the more abstract version of the game. Still, I could keep the same abstract mechanics and only add a map with cubes and disk for more interaction with the board. The presence of the board makes location less unique, but does not require cards for locations. It also reminds me of pocket civ where players has a small map with territories.

I first though of making it a multi player game, but If I am to use the card system, a 2 player game gives much more advantages. First, you could simply flip cities to indicate influence from the enemy. In multiplayer, you would require an additional piece of that player's color (like in Clash of culture). Second, there less issue with empire size and proportional vs multiple actions since players cannot gang bang on the same player. So the larger empire is not that much disadvantaged in number of action for a larger empire to manage, vs smaller empire which has the same nb of actions for a smaller territory.

I think I would love to have an only card game, because I find it neat and compact. The fact each card is unique adds flavor to the game, but I have an hard time defining game objectives and the experience I want the game to give.

March 26th, 2017: I thought that I could make my game like a tableau builder game a bit like master of orion board game did it. I made a thread on BGG to ask for more information about tableau builder game (the thread is here ).

I was thinking in using dual use cards where you have a "building" and an action. Which now got me back into microcosm and it actually unfolded many ideas. I was thinking in reusing the microcosm system where you start with a certain number of cards in your hand. Then you can do 3 basic actions with your cards:

  1. Acquire new cards: Each player will have his own market of 3 cards. They would have a cost to acquire and build.
  2. Build a card: Place one of you card in your hand into plain to gain it's benefits permanently.
  3. Attack your opponent: Destroy a card in your opponent's tableau.

Each action leads towards a victory condition. Then you have the 4th action which is always available:

  • Recover cards: This is a special action that does not require any cards which consist in recovering a part of your discarded cards.

I also thought of a cool idea for special abilities. There would be 3 types of abilities, but they can be triggered from the hand or from play. So not all cards needs to be built to be used. Which is somewhat different than tableau builders, but still look like a neat idea:

  • Actions: Those cards gives new actions besides the basic one. Can be played from your hand instead of the basic action, or if in play, can use it as an action every turn.
  • Action passive ability: Boost one of the basic action. If played from hand, the basic action will get the benefits. If built into play, all basic action of the same type will benefit from the ability.
  • Permanent ability: Not related to any specific action, so useless when used in hand. But when put into play, it takes effect every turn. It's normally a rule breaker, free resources, etc.

Finally, microcosm involves revealing icons, to make it less predictable in combat and to be able to accumulate resources, you will have a gold and mana track. You gain 1 of each per turn, action cost one or the other. But the remaining unused stacked gold/mana will count as an icon for action resolution. So if you attack your opponent with an army, you will use icons in your tableau + icons in hand + the amount of gold. This is your attack strength. Also if you need to purchase or build something expansive, you can simply not use your gold and mana action to save for later.

I made an exploration test using microcosm cards, it seems interesting, the dynamic is a bit weird or not as expected. Still it's a start, I could explore more tableau games and see what I can integrate to it.

I really prefer this new idea component wise as I do not need a map, only 2 sets of 9 cards per player, plus a sheet with two tracks for gold and mana. I have to work more on the card dynamics and victory conditions. There is also the main issue as with all games with special abilities, will the possibility space be big enough to handle all those semi-unique abilities to do (180 unique cards).

July 28th, 2018: I am less in board game design right now but there are a few ideas that I will never convert as video game, so I sometimes give it a try to push some ideas. So here are a few ideas that came in recently.

Changes to the map will be almost mandatory. I might use a tiling patter similar to wizard kings of on a card the size of 3.5"x5". Place maybe 4 cities per card with a map of 4 to 7 cards. To save components, there will be only 1 disk used to mark ownership of a location, no soldier cubes. I might flip this disk to spend actions. There will also be influence control which could be done with a meeple or a cube. Not sure yet of the mechanics.

Cities will have various resources that could make certain actions stronger than other, But influencing cities might allow using it's resource even if you don't have it's military control. Not sure yet how it will work

The reserve of soldiers, creatures, merchants and adepts will be used to expand your empire my marking control on the map. But the quantity at home could determine the strength of certain actions. So expanding, will require more tokens on the map, thus lowering your reserve and making your empire weaker until you build your reserve again.

For the "Tableau building" cards, I am thinking in using the pay on demand to activate a card in play with gold or mana. So you choose which abilities are going to be active this turn.

Wilderness might simply be random events in the area. Maybe threats could build up eventually asking the player to spend resources to take care of it. They might remain there permanently to add another threat than the opposing player.

I'll have to revise the entire action list, might keep it simple without focus cards. You could just have a single card with a list of possible actions. I don't think I want to have a complex action system like in San Juan or Impulse even if I know that it would increase the possible special abilities. Maybe like impulse I could give access to an action or group of action to each city. But values that favor certain actions could have the same effect. By thinking about it, I might dig again in Impulse.

Finally, there is another possible approach, remove the civ cards and make tableau cards only magic cards. This would create an asymmetric game, the civ will have a dashboard of it's own with little special power. On the other hand, you will have a second dash board with worker placement in your covenant and tableau cards. Not sure if I want to keep it asymmetric, I will have to make sure that gold for example is as useful as mana even if not used for the same purpose. Symmetry generally help making a more solid game, but asymmetry is more interesting.

Related Threads

Board game geek: Action and resources (August 7th, 2018)
Board game designer forum: Action and resources (August 7th, 2018)
Board game Geek: Placing information on the back of cards (30-oct-2016)
Board Game Designer Forum: Placing information on the back of cards (30-oct-2016)
Board game Geek: Could you recommend good dual/split cards for layout design (13-oct-2016)
Board game Geek: How to keep a large area of effect (or Possibility Space) for abilities in card games? (30-sep-2016)
Board Game Designer Forum: How to keep a large area of effect (or Possibility Space) for abilities in card games? (30-sep-2016)
Board Game Geek: R&D: games with maps created out of cards (28-Jan-2017)

Development Log

5-dec-2021IdeaI could reuse the same theme to create a game similar to Age of Mythology, but played either solo or with 2 players. You would be managing a cloister inside a single city. So you must handle the covenant development and production and the city development and production at the same time. Players can interact with each other through event/action cards that target the opposing player. There will be different path to victory like in Puerto Rico.
2-jun-2019IdeaIt could be possible to use population cubes and maybe other tokens like resource,influence, gold.mana, etc, When an action is taken, you decide how much you want to spend. Certain effects could target certain type of tokens, or give bonus to the first assigned tokens. The total would give the streght of the action against a fixed target number. (no contested challenge). Maybe certain token are not versatile and can only be used in 2 different actions. It would avoid the issue of placing all tokens in a single action.
1-dec-2018IdeaDevelopment cards could hold cubes to represents summons, soldiers, etc. This would allow various pool of cubes, but will require more cubes. I cannot only use a single track.
1-dec-2018IdeaWhile playing with microcosm cards, I thought making the "planets" actually be development cards custom to the race/wizard, while action cards would be generic 25 action cards with all 5 icons (5 action x 5 icon). There could be optional uses like discard a card to get addition icon. The goal of keeping the shared pool of action cards is to make sure players can interact directly with each other than attacking. The unique flavor of each race/wizard will be in the dev cards that will powerup the effect of those actions.
1-dec-2018IdeaVictory condition could end with victory points after 24 cards has been used. Else maybe the development deck could act as HP. You could attack developments into play or, attack devs on the top of the deck (less defense). It could make sense for buildings, but not for spells. Else need to find a goal to warfare if it's not about destroying opponent's developments. Maybe physical attacks destroy buildings, while influence attacks destroy policies,services, etc. SAme thing for magic, counter spelling vs sabotaging installations.
25-aug-2018IdeaI might try a space themed game first to create a working system that will be reusable with this theme. If the other theme is actually easier to do.
25-aug-2018IdeaAction system is still a problem, thinking to either to have 8 different type of action (like Impulse and twilight imperium) and fusion the action and special abilities together on the card. That means teh cards would be cycling much more a bit like Impulse. That would make it less a tableau builder game.
25-aug-2018IdeaThe map seems also a problem for proportionality, I am thinking to centralise everything since it allows keeping track of more values. While the map is used for victory and variety of resources. You just use the strongest available. Allow small empire to still be efficient.
11-aug-2018IdeaIt seems that I might fusion the theme of centralized mechanics if I want to have centralized guilds for example. I thought of using workers on the dashboard to place them on the map, but it can learn to the non-proportional empire and action syndrome. Else, there could be 2 action system, one for the dashboard by using workers, and another system for the map by flipping cities.
4-aug-2018DesignI am trying to come with a solution for the action system. I thought that each city could have an action value and trade value that sum each other to match the required action TN. Then you can make a city spend a turn doing nothing in order to double it's action value on the next turn. Else you could pay the difference in gold.
4-aug-2018IdeaFor the influence of economy, maybe controlling an opponent's economy will drop his trade value to 1 and giving you either the difference or a trade value of 1 to adjacent cities. This would be a way to hinder your opponent and benefit from it. I might need to adjust the numbers with play testing.
23-jul-2018IdeaOne thing that bothers me is the map design. I don't really like the design because there is littel tactical maneuverability. So I am thinkink to use maybe 4 tiles about the size of "8 minute empire legends" with land configuration like "Wizard Kings". Maybe cube placement will be in city and around city to indicate influence and military control.
23-jul-2018IdeaIn order to save cubes, I am thinking that the cubes on the map only mark owenership, else there could be a stash of cubes in reserve to indicate strength which is used in battle. Conquering or losing troop will reduce the reserve thus making the whole empire weaker. So there must be a balance of empire size vs strength. But if I want military elimination, maybe there should be no restriction on cube limits.
26-fev-2018IdeaDecided to add a lot of cubes and map tiles in order to have something for abilities to affect. Will also try to use San Juan style powerup abilities for the cards. The cards will be less cycled and will only be used for tableau building.
2-feb-2018IdeasIt's hard to make this idea unlcok even if it looks cool on paper. I had the idea of having military and influence control token that could be placed on the map area to indicate various kind of control. It could work like starwars rebellion loyalty marker as a 3 state marker (player A, B or neutral)
2-feb-2018IdeasHaving a gold and mana track could be a way to add resource management, and temporarily boost available icons. It could also be possible to have a army and monster heard track to use as a resource for military conflicts, instead of putting cards on the board.
2-feb-2018IdeaFusionning spells and action is a good idea, but it has the consequence that actions requires a card to be used. To avoid certain locked situations, I could make all actions available all the time, but if you play a spell, you get bonus. Microcosm only has 3 basic actions, which limits pretty much the possible special abilities that can be put on a card. In fact, there is little abilities possible so far. I could split deck the race vs covenant and duplicate the actions for each other them.
28-jan-2017IdeaI think the main problem with the "map" is that it's not interesting and you can attack anywhere. Maybe cards could be used to create a map. Maybe cubes and disks could be placed on the cards for additional interaction. Maybe explore the idea of cards as map. Problem with owernership, unless use disk instead of flipping cities. Else could use a predefined map pattern for 9 cards (3x3) or (3-4-3) then add home realms.

Playtest Log

DateResultsPlay TimePlayersDescription
6-mar-2018Average30-60 minSolo, 1 sideThis was an exploration test to check the dynamics of the game play. There are some interesting stuff in here, but Maybe fixes are required. I had some issue at game start with cube production, and I suspect that in the end, too much cube production would create a stalemate. So I will be putting the cube source on the map. So that smaller empire are weaker making it easier to punch in. The cube tracks are interesting for representing control, but will need more precise rules like how is a majority calculated. Seperate actions on each focus is bad, I will probably fusion them together but could need to put more restriction for the expand actions. I have a couple of idea of how I could solve those issues, I'll try them in my next test.

Back to my list of Board Games and Ideas

Prototype Pictures

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