Witchstone

RRP: £50.99
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RRP £50.99
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As established representatives of your guild, you gather around an ancient sacred stone, the significance and magical powers of which are known to adepts only. Each player occupies one of the four towers around the Witchstone and starts from there. Create your magic spells with the help of your cauldron, and put a network of magic energy around the stone. Send out your witches, scoo…
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Category Tag SKU ZBG-HUT880397 Availability Out of stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • So many different ways to score points
  • Each system links to the rest and creates some nice combos
  • Each turn feels worthwhile and fun

Might Not Like

  • Drab theme and art
  • It may be a little simplistic for heavier gamers
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Description

As established representatives of your guild, you gather around an ancient sacred stone, the significance and magical powers of which are known to adepts only. Each player occupies one of the four towers around the Witchstone and starts from there. Create your magic spells with the help of your cauldron, and put a network of magic energy around the stone. Send out your witches, scoop the magic crystals out of the cauldron, make use of the pentagram and the magic wand, and keep an eye on the prophecy scrolls in order to ensure victory.

Not all options are always available to you. Only if you cleverly make the most of your opportunities will you have the chance of accumulating the most victory points over the eleven rounds and thereby win Witchstone.

Each player in the game has a personal cauldron that bears seven crystals and six pre-printed magic icons, and they share a larger game board that features a crystal ball that shows the entire landscape. Each player has a set of fifteen domino tiles, with each half of the domino being a hexagon; each domino depicts two different magic icons from the six used in the game.

On a turn, you place one of the five face-up dominos in your reserve onto your cauldron, then you take the action associated with each icon depicted on that domino; if the icon is adjacent to other dominos showing the same icon (or the matching pre-printed icon), then you can take that action as many times as the number of icons in that cluster. You must complete the first type of action completely before taking the second action. With these actions, you can:

Use energy to connect your starting tower to other locations on the game board, scoring 1, 3 or 6 points depending on the length of the connection.
Place witches next to your starting tower on the game board or move them across your energy network to other locations. As you do this, you gain points and possibly additional actions to use the same turn.
Move your token around a pentagram to collect points and to acquire bonus hex tiles; you can use these tiles immediately for actions or place them in your cauldron to make future tile placement more valuable.
Move the crystals in your cauldron, whether to make room for future tile placement or to gain bonus actions by ejecting the crystal completely.
Advance on a magic wand to gain points and take additional actions, with the actions being doubled should you currently be the most advanced player on the wand.
Claim scroll cards that boost future actions or earn you bonus points at game's end depending on how well you've completed the prophecy depicted.
After each player has completed eleven turns — which could equal 40-60 actions depending on how well you've used your cauldron — the game ends and players tally their points from prophecies and other collected scoring markers to see who has the highest score.

Boil, boil, toil and trouble and also loads of point-scoring opportunities on the double. Witchstone is a game I had heard lots of people talking about. When I heard Reiner Knizia was on the design team it certainly piqued my interest. Forgive the tiresome, well-trodden theme, Witchstone is a cauldron of mystical mechanisms, combolicious combos and cascading actions.

Tiles Make Actions

Witchstone is a game of many moving parts. Your main focus will be a cauldron that you must place tiles on to garner what actions you will take on your turn. How many of these actions depends on what tile you lay and how many in each group are connected to your tile. Your tiles are shaped like two hexes stuck together and have a different action on either side. Whether it’s a crystal action, a witch action or one of the many other action varieties, how many of those symbols are in the group when you lay it is how many times you may take said action.

Each of the game’s six actions allows you to manipulate the mainboard or move the crystals blocking your cauldron. In your cauldron are six crystals of your colour and a black crystal smack bang in the centre. These crystals not only block you from laying tiles where you want. They also get you bonus actions if you get them off your board. One of the main focuses of Witchstone is building up action combos through the games many ways of obtaining them.

Pentagrams, Scrolls and More Bonus Actions

So we have explained the crystal action, you also have a pentagram action which gives you bonus tiles for your cauldron and point chits that decrease in value the longer the game goes on. You get these tiles and chits on a small rondel on the mainboard and each pentagram action moves you further around, so more connected pentagrams in your cauldron, more chits and tiles, what do chits and tiles make? Yes, that is right, more actions, points and tiles.

You also have the scroll action that allows you to take a card from the games display of six, in a shop of sorts that gets refilled. How many of the six you get to choose from depends on how many scroll actions you have. One scroll action will let you take the first card but further scroll actions will give you a more varied choice of cards. These cards are either end game scoring objectives related to all the other actions on the board or yes you guessed it, more bonus actions of the various types. You can see how this game starts to snowball into a cacophony of actions quite quickly.

Witches, Routes and More Bonus Actions

In the centre of the mainboard is a Ticket to Ride-esque layout. This is where you use both your energy and witch actions. The energy action allows you to create routes between cities, towers and other points on the board. The witch action allows you to place more of your witches on the board and move them about. Each route completed earns points depending on its size and each witch placed on a new location earns points and a bonus. Randomly placed chits not only score points at the end of the game but also gives you bonus actions or instant points too for the first witch to reach the space. Point-tastic!

The magic wand action as you move your marker up a magic wand. Every few spaces give you bonus actions, scoring opportunities for the other parts of the mainboard. If you are the first player to reach these notches on the wand, you get double the bonus. Double-bubble, toil and trouble. Due to the magic wand scoring other features of the board, I found it better to leave the wand actions to a little later in the game. Otherwise, you may miss point-scoring opportunities due to other parts of the board not being worked on yet. The wand, however, is a big part of the board and can net you a massive swathe of sweet-sweet points, if used correctly.

Playing Witchstone comes down to maximising your tile placement to get as many actions as you can. Using these actions to gain bonus actions from the parts of the mainboard they affect and using the cards, wand and routes to get as many points as you can. The game flies by, is very entertaining and very simple to learn.

Standard, Witch-Based Parts

Everything in Witchstone, without being amazing is perfectly adequate for its job. The card chits and tokens are sturdy and thick enough. The wooden player counters are nice little owls. Even the board is nice and thick.  Witchstone is one of those games where you take out all the components and you instantly think it’s going to be complicated. However, it is truly not. There is a lot of stuff in the box but it is very simple after a few turns.

The mystical artwork is serviceable. I would have liked perhaps slightly better art and a more unique theme but it does work. I am quite happy with what’s in the box, components and all.

Final Thoughts

Witchstone is like a few different games mixed together with an action selection system that is both puzzly and entertaining. Trying to squeeze as many actions out of your cauldron to affect the right bits of the main board, to get more actions is very rewarding. There are multiple paths to victory. So many ways to get points and all being said the game is very simple.

Everyone in my house loved the game. It has many mechanisms, my family, like, route building, tile laying, grouping and combos galore. Witchstone is unlike any other game in my collection. It will be staying there for a long time to come. It is a gem I will whip out when I just want to throw some tiles down, move some stuff and get points thrown at me from every angle. It’s entertaining and swift, what more could you want?

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • So many different ways to score points
  • Each system links to the rest and creates some nice combos
  • Each turn feels worthwhile and fun

Might not like

  • Drab theme and art
  • It may be a little simplistic for heavier gamers