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Wizards of the Vicious Circle

Style:competative strategy
Minimum Age:old enough to play rock-scissors-paper
Time:two to five minutes each (normal to play multiple games)
Components:map and ten tokens
Similar Games:none
Where to Get It:PDF right here with fancy artwork by P.D. Magnus

The game between the two wizards began with mist, as always. The wizards gazed down from their mountain castles. The familiar terrain was newly pondered. The familiar creatures were newly deployed. Who would direct a creature past the obstacles and opposing creatures to the opponent's castle first?

If the game did not remain insteresting they would have stopped playing centuries ago.

From the pink castle, the Southwest Wizard wondered how his opponent might be arranging his creatures. Which would be positioned when the mist separating their sides of the valley lifted? Which would be saved as reinforcements? In all three of their most recent games his opponent had started with his Saint closest to the pink castle: an aggressive move, considering the Saint's notable movement. A viable defence would be to deploy his own Dragon just north of his own castle. Yes, that placement was especially worthwhile since, as the loser last game, he would first move a creature this game. That way even if his opponent expected him to deploy the Dragon in that manner he could be the first to move a Dragon to the central mountains.

Across the valley, the Northeast Wizard was meditating about the swamps. Normally they were ignored, since the Spirits that could enter them moved so slowly. However, if his opponent deployed his Dragon and Saint as expected, then perhaps in this game his own Spirit might be unsually valuable in the front lines. After all, once your opponent's Saint was captured, your own Spirit was undefeatable, and Saints often get captured quickly...

After a few more minutes of careful thought, both wizards were content with their initial deployments. Both cast the spells to raise the mist, and the creature movement began.

On very rare occasions the initial creature positions quickly guaranteed victory to one wizard. This was not the case, so, as usual, the action began with several slow turns of carefully planned claiming of positions. The Northeast Wizard's Spirit's presence in the front lines required the Southwest Wizard to change his plans, and begin by moving his Warrior to the pass between the central mountains and the western village. This allowed the Northeast Wizard to claim the central mountains with his Dragon. And so on...

Eventually the Northeast Wizard was satisfied that he had enough positional advantage to initiate captures. His Child threw a sling stone at the opponent's Warrior. But the opponent's Spirit frightened away his Child. His Saint banished the opposing Spirit. The opponent could not send a Dragon to eat the Saint without leaving the pink castle vulnerable, so the series of captures and counter-captures ended. The opponent's Saint was far off at the shrine, while his would be able to reach the pink castle next move. Unless he had overlooked something, which his opponent now saw...?

No, victory was his the next turn. That made four games in a row he had won! He decided such exultation required more rejoicing, and summoned a large box of chocolates from the air. Ah, sweet victory. Now, if only he could continue to out-think his opponent next game... With a wave of his hand the Southwest Wizard's face shimmered in the air before him. "Yes?" his rival asked. "Once more today, but with a wager: who hosts dinner tonight." The illusionary face frowned, "You know I can't cook! Still, there's no way I am going to let you win five times in a row. Very well, summon your half of the mist!"

Wizards of the Vicious Circle is a two-player game as clever and original as any you will see. Strategy goes beyond moving pieces as players try to out-guess which three of five creatures the opponent will initially deploy, and where. The other two creatures become reinforcements later in the game. The vicious circle (how each of the five pieces can capture only one of the opponent's) interacts with board terrain and initial deployments to make each game uniquely interesting and intriguing.