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 Copyright Eric Pietrocupo

E-Mail: ericp[AT]lariennalibrary.com

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Spellcraft: Rise of the Sorcerers

Page: GameIdea.GameIdea201003240528PM - Last Modified : Thu, 07 Jul 16 - 3805 Visits
How much do you like this idea?

4 stars Rating 8.0/10 from 6 votes
Vote Distribution: 1 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 1 – 4

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 of this game idea.

Status: CLOSED

  • A multiplayer game where rules would not have fit on a page
  • It's remake will be converted as single player.
  • Mechanics are simply impossible to make it work

Progress: Prototyped
Priority: High
Number of players: 2 - 6 players
Expected Play time: 180 - 300 minutes

Note: After many years of development and frustration, I decided to reset the project by using a different approach. So I made a new page for the project which can be accessed using the link bellow

Spellcraft: Rise of the Sorcerers: Expandable Edition


An epic, civilization like, game where you play a powerful wizard that wants to control the world. The primary objective is to remake Master of Magic as a board game.

If there I could only publish 1 game, it would be this one. This is one of my most ambitious projects that I want to be perfect. I might do new versions of the game until it is perfect.


Make a board game version of the "master of magic" video game.


The primary goal of this board game is to remake the "Master of magic" video game as a board game. So it is the primary source of inspiration. Other sources comes from similar video games: "Age of wonders", "Etherlords", "Civilizations", etc. There is a video game comming up that will be called "Elemental" which would be also a good source of inspiration since that game is a remake attempt of "master of magic" but as a video game.

Priority Evaluation

Theme vs Mechanics: Various mechanics but never really worked. Replaced with another idea.
Video vs Board Game: Can be played as either board or video game.
Single vs Multi player: Required to be played multiplayer.
Rating = 2/12


This is an epic game that play on the whole world where there are many things to manage. To make the game playable, I had to massively simplify the game in many areas. So you get with a game that has many simple rules.

It's a bit hard to explain mechanics since they change all the time. Lately, I have determined that you will have a certain number of empire and covenant action every turn to do what you need. What is important to say is that I made the game so that the "Technology growth is not proportional with the empire size". You will gain more empire actions with a larger empire, but your covenant action will stay the same. So smaller empire will still be able to compete with larger empire.

The other thing I found that might work is for the combat system. I tried dozens and dozens of combat system. The problem is that it is very hard to have a simplified combat system that will include many types of units, spells, heroes, terrain modifiers and traps. So I had the idea of using a duel system like in age of mythology. Battle would be a 1 unit type vs 1 unit type duel and the outcome affect the whole war. With a system like this, I can have many unit types with various special abilities and counter effects and still allow player to take decisions in battle rather than just rolling dice.

One thing for sure is that there is going to be an intensive use of cards in that game because cards allow a lot of variety and flexibility. The will be a board where you would make the cities you control and the location of your armies, but everthig else would be on a card: Unit type, buildings, spells, events, explored areas, etc.

Problems that prevent development

There is so many things that it becomes confusing and hard to design. But I think the most important problem was that I could not design the core of the game since I did not have an action and a combat system. If my new idea above works, I would have a core that would allow me to expand from there. Else I end up that I cannot paytest anything because there is not even basic rules to test.

News, changes and updates

Sept 6th, 2010: I have started to test a few things again and I should be able to do some works. I made 2 mini play test where I tried the new action system. It seems to be working. I tried a the simple exploration and expansion, placing armies in play and attacking other players.

The action system consist in having a certain number of actions you can perform per turn. The actions are given by various sources : Wizard, Heroes, Metropolis, etc. And each of these gives various actions. Ex: Metropolis focus more on development and production while Heroes focus more on exploration and conquest.

There is a few new ideas that came in, like the exploration system that push the wilderness making some area more dangerous as the game progress. For the combat system, I am also thinking of using a system like the war card game to determine who fight which unit.

Right now, I need to design the buildings that will change some rules of the game when used. I know how technological advancement will work. Instead of using special abilities, It will only increase basic variables in the game. These variables will never drop, so it will push the game forward and prevent the players from losing these values if they have an hard time.

I also had an idea for the production system. Each civilization will have a production level for the whole empire. Buildings will have a minimum production level to be placed into play. A system like this prevent the need to cumulate the total production for all your cities every turn since all cities have the same level.

So once the preliminary buildings are designed, I should be able to make additional test. One of the problem that I have to deal with is to make sure that the civilization system is somewhat symmetric with the magic system. So I have to plan a bit in advance.

May 28th, 2011: There has been an event that has somewhat unlocked many design problems I had with this game. There is 2 main problems will spell craft. First, there is so much element to consider that it's hard to design the core mechanics. It's like if you wanted to build a house in the middle of the sea, it's very hard because there is no foundations. The second problem is that I cannot have an over simplified game because I need to have various unique spell effects. If the game is too much abstracted, it reduces the number of elements that can affected by spells.

Influences of Eclipse - May 2011

So as you can see, a lot of complexity and details has been added to make the addition of unique spell effects possible. I am currently playing Master of Magic and I am sometimes asking my self "How could that spell be implemented in my game". So far I found many creative solutions that would not have been possible before.

I thinks it's the first time in many years that I can see some form of core structure to the game. If I manage to really create my core mechanics, them I will be able to easily build from there. So this is why I am very pleased with the new design and I hope things will stay good until the end. If everything works well, almost all elements of Master of Magic plus a few from civilization will be implement in the game.

August 31st, 2011: I am more and more thinking to use a dice system for civilization management. I have described and commented a system I have in mind on this thread:

BGDF Thread: Civ game dice system

The idea is simple, there will be 3 fields for civ management: Civil, Military and Empire. You roll the dice and must keep some dice and re-roll others a certain number of time. If you roll a 6, a bad thing happens. Then you perform your actions by using these rolled values. Each action will have a different cost table, so the higher your value, the more complex or powerful your actions could be. These rolls would be influenced in many different ways, especially by spells.

October 3rd, 2011: There has been various ideas lately that seems to make the game bloom. There are many changes which are related to each other. First, all the races in the game (10 races) will always be on the board, the remaining factions will grow randomly by themselves. Of of the advantage is that the map size will always be the same, there will be no need to adapt it to various amount of players.

The maximum number of players will be dropped to 4 to make sure the game is not too long and to reduce the amount of components which will allow the next idea to be possible. The magic system will work as a deck building game. Researching spell will be done by spending cards from your hand. You will only be able to buy cards of matching colors, so your starting colors determine all the colors you have access too until the end of the game. Your mana is your hand size, most spell does not require additional mana to cast besides the card itself. Most cards can be cast as an enchantment, a ritual is required. This has the effect of reducing your hand size but having permanent effects. I am not sure if spells can be upgraded by rotating the card upside down, but another idea is that access to magical special resources could power-up some spells.

If you want to play with more than 4 players and if you want to determine how the neutral faction use their magical power, there will be something called the paladins of magic. Players which are paladins instead of sorcerer will not manage any spells, instead, the level of mana they have access to will determine which permanent power they have access to. This permanent power affect the whole empire. This will be easier to manage for Non-Playing factions or new players who are learning the rules.

The hex map will change, the hex will be smaller and there will be twice more hex. This will give more flexibility and the map design will look better with rivers and mountains. Players will have to chose what is the best location to build their cities. Besides terrain, there will be special resources that players may want to build a city around and explorable locations for adventures and events. It's possible that metropolis size cities gets removed from the game since it's harder to calculate minimum space between capitals. There will now only be 2 city size, but maybe wonders will make some cities more important like capitals.

Special resources will work as requirement for buildings, spells, and other things. Players will need to take control of resources on the board by placing a token from their board on the map. Players could decide to attack the resources instead of the city, but I am not sure yet. Else, if another player takes control of the city, the player lose control of all adjacent resources.

Combat is not that clear yet. I am considering using a war card game system where you flip cards and resolve duels. To manage special status, I thought that each unit type you buy would add 2 cards to the deck. If a unit gets a special status, you set the card aside with the status and the next card of the same type will be affected by the status.

As for mobility, probably all mobile armies will be managed by heroes. Each hero will have a command level that will determine the maximum number of troops he can command. The number of troops determine the HP of the army in battle. There is no relation with the number of unit types (quality) available in the army.

A reminder for the actions. The system is designed so that an unlimited number of action type could be added or removed to the game according to the player's taste. So it is important that there is no resources split to do in the system. For example, you cannot have something like "Do 3 actions per turn" or spend "15 gold" each turn. Because if the number of actions you can do or the number of things you can buy increase, then you will need to split these actions and resources even more which will change the balance of the game.

So the way the system works is that you can perform all type of actions, but the game will fix how many actions you can do each turn. For example, you might be allowed to build/grow 1 city per turn, add 1 troop per turn, build 1 ship per turn, etc. Now what determines if you are allowed to do these actions is the levels of Civil, Military and empire you have. These levels are determined semi-randomly. S0 if you build high quality ship, you might need an high level of military, and if it's not the case, you'll have to wait on another turn. So it works by comparing values.

October 18th, 2011: there is a new idea of making a pluginable game to make the game more flexible and to simplify the game development. I decided to make a plan of how it would work so that it gets easier to explain.

The game will have core elements, like building, heroes, cities, unit types, etc, which are present in every game. To interact with these elements you will need actions, there are different type of actions which are all performed once at a certain level. The level of action will have various effects on the core elements which will be the same from a game to another. For example, you need a growth level 4 to colonize a swamp.

For the basic system, you will roll 3 dice multiple times and keep a die after each roll. This will set value A, B, C which determines the level of the actions of type A,B,C. There will be buildings that will allow you to perform a certain action twice, or give you a +2 on a certain action level. So this is the core of the system.

Then players can decide to hook plug-ins which will allow certain actions to be performed and modify their level. In the basic rules, all actions can be performed, but plug-ins could restrict certain actions. Then player can add the plug-ins they want, according to their taste, before the game starts, or in the middle of the game. The only restriction is that plug-ins must not overlap (2 plug-ins trigger the same actions)

Then you can optionally add advanced actions which are the equivalent of the advanced rules. The advanced actions will require either regular plug-ins or specific plug-ins. Plug-ins never communicate with each other and they are not related in anyway.

Finally, magic spells will be able to influence actions but also plug-ins through concepts. These concepts are elements that could be present and influenced by spells, but their nature is currently unknown and could change from a plug-in to another. You could have a spell that raise population, but population could be used as worker placement in a plug in, while being a simple population level track in another.

October 30th, 2011: I have finally found a solution for the civilization system which is very similar to eclipse. It was in my face all the time, but I could never actually see it. Now the mechanics seems to fit well in the game and it will be used in the next play test when I'll have the time to build a prototype. I made a summary of all the mechanics in the following document, it should give you an idea of the game's current development.

Rule Draft Summary - October 2011

December 24th, 2011: In order to make development easier, the game is going to be grouped in phase and stages which are independent from each other. This will allow to build and test the game step by step without having to consider all the features of the game. It should also help making the game much more modular. The basic inspiration comes from 18XX games where new actions or features are available as time progress.

Each turn is played in phases. There is currently 5 phase available for the game. Some phase will have little actions at the beginning of the game but as the game progress new actions will be available for each phase. The phases are:

  • Magic: This is basically a deck building mechanism where you cast enchantments and craft new spells. It can be replaced by a simple magic system with no card management for those who want to learn the game gradually.
  • Empire: During this phase, you manage heroes, politics and other empire related policies.
  • Military: You will mobilize your heroes to expand your zone of control, explore wilderness areas, attack other players, etc.
  • Civil: You build up your civilization with buildings, new colonies. You can harvest resources and grow cities.
  • Economy: This is the phase where you share the gold, setup treaties, adjust maintenance and assign gold.

After some point of the game, when some conditions are met, the stage of the game changes which should add new actions or stuff to manage. For example, council diplomacy only arrives at stage 2. Past stage 2, colonization and city growth are now almost useless because the whole map will be colonized. So players will have to focus on other things. Here is a rough idea of the stages so far:

  • Stage I: Colonization: Player Explore and expand through the world
  • Stage II: Diplomacy: Players can now negotiate treaties, vote laws, do some espionage, etc.
  • Stage III: Supremacy: At this point, the victory conditions are unlocked and players will try to race for victory.

This should give people a general idea of how the game will be structured. By placing every game concept in a separate compartment, it makes is easier to play just the parts you want and then expand when the core is working. I hope it will make the development easier.

As for the latest developments, I currently worked on some new map prototypes that I will eventually take some pictures and I am refining my combat system that use a regular war card game. All the elements seems to be there : Morale, tactical victory, etc. The only problem is that I need to find an interesting way to design units so that there is a lot of variety and for the combat outcome to give interesting results.

December 9th 2012: I have not been working much on this project in 2012. Still, I had a few ideas that could probably help make the game running. Still hoping to build the core of the game, but I never know if I will be able to do it this time. I have taken the game draft summary written last year and decided to update it and rewrite a few paragraphs with the new ideas. Here is the document:

Rule Draft Summary - December 2012

Decemer 31st 2012: I decided to push a bit the design of this game to make it a playable game. I got new ideas that looks very interesting. I decided to write a document that explains all the design problems I have encountered and the solutions I used to solve them. If can be found here:

Design Problems and Solutions - December 2012

I am currently transcribing my notes to the final rules. I have taken so many notes that I have to solidify the rules. Things has changed so much in 1 month that some things I wrote at the beginning of the month are currently obsolete. I think once the core colonisation and military is working, I will be able to develop other aspects of the game that I cannot currently think about.

December 10th, 2013: The current deadlock with this game is that magic needs to me an important part of the system, and it's currently one 5th of the game according the the focus system. There also has been an issue where in order to have spells that does other things than simply changing rules like a technology would have done in a civ game, you need an higher level of details. You need to actually see units on the board to cast a spell that will destroy some units for example. So the system I designed so far would work perfectly for a CIV or Space Opera game, but that is currently not what I am looking for. Perhaps later.

That leads to various solutions. One idea is to make a solitaire game like my Starcraft invasion variant. You control a kingdom in all it's details and you fight agaist 3 AI opponent that send forces to prevent you from winning. The goal is to resist the opposition and achive victory before you get overwelmed. The idea seem interesting, but solitaire games are unfortunately much less played than multiplayer games. Also the map design was pretty akward so far.

The second solution is to make the game a mostly cards based game. Not that it won't have tokens, but rather that the idea behind master of magic is the huge variety of units, spells, races, events, locations, etc. Since cards are very flexible components, it allows a lot of permutation and allow expanding the game more easily. One of the biggest idea is to have no map where each city is actually a card. Players will organised them as a row of cards with the capital in the middle with the possibility to get attacked from both sides. That requires the need to find the optimal board shape and also makes each location unique. This idea could both be used for a multiplayer game or a single player game. It could also simplify production since most of the game will be cards.


Influences of Eclipse - May 2011
Rule Draft Summary - October 2011
Rule Draft Summary - December 2012
Design Problems and Solutions - December 2012

Prototype Pictures

New prototype made in 2016 to test core mechanics

Recent play test to get back into the design by using focus cards.

New Map with colors for terrain and marks for resources, Nodes, locations, etc.

New Map system test with more hex, cities are built at least 1 hex from each other.

June 2011 playtest, added ships and the dashboard.

This new map use small tiles to allow each player to start on his own tile and then connect afterward when exploring.

New way to use hex by placing terrain inside of hex. It reduce the number of water only hex to maximise the space.

A study of the various isocahedral map layouts.

Example of game Map. The new map will be isocahedral

Obsolete: Various production systems and other components

Obsolete: Various components I made to resolve battles

Obsolete: The map of the old game with other old components

Related Threads

Board Game Geek: Master of Magic: A new approach (oct 16, 2013)
Board Game Game Designer: Master of Magic: A new approach (oct 16, 2013)
Board Game Geek: The Master of Magic Board game Dilema (jul 5, 2013)
Board Game Game Designer: The Master of Magic Board game Dilema (jul 5, 2013)
Board Game Geek: Event based Artificial Intelligence (jun 28, 2013)
Board Game Game Designer: Event based Artificial Intelligence (jun 28, 2013)
Board Game Geek: Master of Magic and Sandbox games (jun 27, 2013)
Board Game Game Designer: Master of Magic and Sandbox games (jun 27, 2013)
Board Game Geek: Making the game focus on the player (apr 29, 2013)
Board Game Game Designer: Making the game focus on the player (apr 29, 2013)

Development Log

07-jul-2016ProgressI think I made a major break through almost by error. I was not really working on that game and watching a game review unlock this game idea even if I did not really borrow much new mechanics. I'll give more details and a picture soon. the idea is to have a core game with limited components on a map using actions cards. That core of the game remains the same what ever the expansion material. Then the fluffy stuff change the oods of success of those action. But the fluffy stuff can be anything, it can be replaced or expanded easily.
16-oct-2013IdeaStarcraft Solitaire could be a good point of comparison. Having a complex game with lots of details but more enjoyable as a solo game. There could be an option where 2 players manage the same kingdom, or like pocket civ, 2 players fight against the system.
8-oct-2013IdeaI had the idea to make a lower scale solo game a bit like pocket civ. Maybe the game could be played multiplayer like some sort of solitaire multi player where there is a low amount of interaction between each player's board. Lower scale will have more space for individual spell uses
2-sep-2013ProblemMagic seem to be set aside and only worth 1/5th of the game instead of being a huge part of the game. A solution could be to make magic much less important than in master of magic. It would look more like a civilization game with magic in the background, but non-essential to win the game. Not much convinced of the idea but could make the game work. I would prefer that to making a regular civ game.
29-jun-2013IdeaThere has been some exploration lately to manage the faction AI with a series of event cards that affect all players related to that faction. The hostility level will be fixed for the game instead of variable, but current active treaties will influence relations. The success of a treaty will be determined randomly. Another option is to use a deck building mechanic to manipulate the AI stack of event cards.
3-sep-2012IdeaThere was a great idea I forgot to note down. I realized that I could use a building system similar to the new FFG civilization game. Each player would have 1 city configuration board with a series of buildings that gives various icons. Actions would use these icons in various ways. Player are going costomize their city config according to their need and objective.
3-sep-2012IdeaIt is possible that I could prevent the players to do all possible actions in the game every turn. I was thinking that players could chose 3 of the 5 action category and only perform these actions. The problem is that I must balance each category to make sure they are always equally useful through the game.
3-sep-2012IdeaI might be tempted to use a combat system similar to what I have designed for pacific storm. You add up numbers, divide by 5 to get the number of dice to roll and each hit wound/destroy units. The only problem could be how to manage resistance and special effect. Still, I like the simplicity of the system and it requires at most tokens and dice to resolve it.
15-Dec-2011AnalysisI think the key to this game is to make it a very flexible game. I must keep in mind that it must be possible to reuse the components in a completely different way. This will allow players to easily adapt the game to their taste.
15-Dec-2011IdeaFor the combat system, I wanted to use a system similar to the "War" classic card game where players would flip cards and make duels. The resolution would be deterministic to speed up the combat. I had the idea to add strategy cards in the deck of cards that would unlock some actions that the players could now do. This would add a bit of strategy to the combat while keeping it fast to resolve.
30-oct-2011IdeaThe new civ management system has been found. Each city you build will raise your civ levels by 1. So larger empire will have stronger levels, but they will have more unrest to counter balance their size.
15-oct-2011IdeaI was thinking of designing as a system of plug-ins that the people could switch according to their taste to make it flexible. Else the plug-in system could be used to make the development easier while not necessarily allow players to make changes.
3-oct-2011IdeaI intend to reduce the number of players to 4, more will be optional, but all the 10 races will be on the board. Non played race will grow by themselves and played will be allowed to use their political power to influence and control these races for 1 turn. This will add a new diplomatic dimension to the game.
12-Sep-2011IdeaI intend to double the amount of hex on the map. Instead of having city placement inside the hex and in between hexes for exploration, I would double the amount of hex to place each of these on a hex of their own. It will also make tactical maneuvering and city placement on the map more interesting. Rivers and mountains placement will make the map much more attractive.
06-Sep-2011IdeaI could maybe use a deck building system for the magic system of the game. But I am really not sure yet.
13-Aug-2011IdeaMost civ game technology effect are permanent. Maybe the magic system will be mainly composed of enchantment that will have permanent effects. The only difference is that only a limited nb of spell might be active at the same time, so players will be allowed to change their spell configuration.
13-Aug-2011IdeaI played rolled thought the age lately, the more I am thinking about it, the more I think that a dice system could make a good abstraction of the details of civilization management that simply does not appear on the map. That might solve many problem, I'll have to investigate more.
22-jun-2011IdeaIn order to simplify the management of special resources, I intend to make sure that each resources boost a specific value. For example, wheat can raise food, iron can raise production. The only problem yet is the proportional vs fixed value. The 2nds idea is that if you have 2 or more of the same resource, you get access to a bonus. You will also gain wealth is you have access to more types of resources since you can trade them.
21-jun-2011IdeaCombat system will revert back to a duel system between unit types. But Type of units are not represented in quantity, they are just various ways to attack. The combat resolution will still use the same icon system with special status. Tactical icons allow to rout additional units. This will be the equivalent of morale.
21-jun-2011IdeaGame time will have some impact on the game progression. For example, population growth will be kept track on the player dashboard, it will be independent from the empire's expansion. I might do the same for casting skill. This allows to have a game where player power up as the time passes what ever the size of their empire. Food will determine how fast the population grow, and unrest and health could hinder this growth.
11-jun-2011IdeaMake use a smaller map with 8 hex per player. This way, the competition between players will be stronger, there will be less chances that players control all 10 resources and there will also be more tile pattern possible.
11-jun-2011IdeaI would like to reduce management on the map. One of the idea is to make each adjacent city support an attack or defense.
11-june-2011IdeaThe second idea to reduce management on the board would be to place all armies off board and activate them where you need them. I still need to test if it can be done. There would be various army type which each have different unit configuration.
11-jun-2011IdeaSince most of the tile placement is achieved with deduction, exploration of new tile should not cost any action to perform. Else it's not fair for the people who explored first.
11-jun-2011IdeaThere does not seem to be many actions which are influenced my the number of metropolis (empire size), so maybe all actions will have a fixed value if the empire size has little impact on the actions.
28-may-2011IdeaMost civ game use an action system. the new system will be fixed, so players does not need to think about what action to do. This increase expandability of the game.
28-may-2011IdeaNon-cumulative gold. Income will be a level, and you must match the level to acquire stuff. The amount of stuff you can acquire is fixed by the game while the quality is determined by the gold level. Same thing for mana and spells.
28-may-2011IdeaEclipse has inspired a new combat system using tile for units. Each army token on a board will be a set of tiles with each unique abilities. It will become closer to the video game this way.
28-may-2011IdeaAnother idea from eclipse, it will be possible to get buildings in city by placing tile in a city configuration area that represents your whole empire.
28-may-2011IdeaIcons system for combat. You need to roll lower than the number of icons to succeed. Each icon is unique and can be countered by other icons (which lower the odds to succeed).

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