on 24 January 2009
This is a fantastic game of just the right complexity to draw friends and family in, whilst giving those of a more frequent game-playing disposition plenty to chew on.
The objective is to have the most victory points gained from casting spell cards and buying vial counters before four special spell cards, marked with ravens, have been cast. It is essentially a resource management game that could be compared with Citadels, but that I feel has less of a confrontational feel and suffers less from a runaway leader.
Each player has a pack of eleven identical cards representing characters whose abilities gain them spell ingredients, money or let them attempt to cast spells. From those eleven cards, they must chose five to attempt to play during each round. Each card has a major and minor role. The first player starts a round by declaring: "I am the [major role]" to which the next player clockwise replies either: "Pass"; "No, I am the [major role] (depriving the first player), or "So be it" accepting the minor role for a lesser gain. This continues round the table until all the players' cards have been played.
There are elements of second-guessing other players' plans; brinksmanship in risking that a player clockwise from you will not have chosen the card you are attempting to declare the major role for and a real demand for clarity of thinking. Thsi is particularly interesting when considering whether to take a minor role and not start the next round and maximising the gains you make based on the ingredients other players have and the spells available to cast. Add to the mix two character roles that steal from other players' stocks of ingredients and gold to prevent stockpiling and the game has a finely balanced feel to it that rewards inventive and inuative play. Well recommended.