Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/04/02/tabletop-review-quest-of-the-wizards/
The following is from the description of Quest of the Wizards on the above link:
“Quest of the Wizards is a game about playing Wizards. Squishy, fragile, “killed by a house cat” wizards, but at the same time; all-powerful, Wish casting, Fireball slinging, ”wizard-supremacy” Wizards. These Wizards seek out secret, forbidden knowledge found in forgotten dusty tomes in deep dungeons.
This is a poorly designed game, based on a poorly designed idea that I had. I was probably drunk. I had some people playtest it. It didn’t go so well. I think I changed some things, but I can’t really remember.
It has all of the old school charm of an old school. The kind with asbestos everywhere and rusty lockers, and showers with what you hope is mold growing on the floor. It has all the new school sensibilities of a new school, that is, I don’t know, sensible or something. My dad did the art. He does some pretty sweet tattoos.”
When I read that, I knew I had to see the whole book. It just sounded too funny to not be interesting. As it turns out, as fun as that description is, the game is actually quite serious, though it makes pains to keep things relatively simple while offering a rich game experience.
qotw1QofW has players playing as Wizards. That much is clear. However, it’s not all about learning new spells and using them. Instead, what really makes the game tick is the use of lackeys. A wizard spends gold to hire lackeys to that player’s specifications. You can hire specific levels, specific races, and specific abilities. The goal of each battle is to keep your wizard from being hit, and to use your lackeys to turn the battle in your favor. In essence, the game is a tactical RPG, but one revolving around keeping your main character alive. It’s interesting.
None of this is to say your wizard is unimportant. Rather, they are a key component to your strategy. Choosing what spells to learn, when to implement them, and when to move is incredibly important. Movement in battle relates to various “arcs” around the wizard, and changing your spot on the board can open up a slew of different spells and abilities. The options become interesting. Do you choose offensive magic and use your lackeys for defense? Do you hire a few strong lackeys or several weak ones? Do you take spells that enhance your lackeys, or focus mainly on yourself? There is room here for experimentation and differentiation. It’s nice.
The game keeps its rules quite simple. You only need d20′s and d6′s. In order for an attack to hit, it must overcome the opponent’s defense, and there are few modifiers to make things tricky. Two charts keep leveling simple and straightforward. You’ll always know how you’ll progress, and you don’t need to write too much down. Leveling is done whenever the GM feels its appropriate, as there is no experience points to dole out.
The rules of the game are so concise, they take up less than half of the book. The rest of it is dedicated to a sample campaign, complete with a couple of maps to help players learn the game and see how things can work out. The campaign has numerous encounters to help players get the hang of the arc system and how to use the lackeys effectively.
qotw2Where the game stumbles is in its lack of material. A GM is going to need to come up with pretty much everything here. There’s no list of monsters to pull from, so trying to create a balanced encounter could be difficult. The spell lists only go up to level three, so it becomes necessary to create new spells if the player character goes any higher. This is especially odd since the level tables go up to ten. There’s no system in place for equipment, and how that could effect some things. Some players may find this freeing, as it leaves creative people room to experiment, but this game is definitely not for those unwilling to spend the time to prepare for it.
The game also gets better the fewer players there are. More players means more and more dice rolls and more time spent figuring out where everyone is in relative to each other. This makes the game ideal for a intimate one on one session, but a pain for anything bigger than a few players. In the end, this is an interesting game with some nifty ideas. The combat system alone is worth a look for those searching for a more tactical experience. Just be warned that the game does not provide much, and that you’ll need to use some creativity in order to get the most out of it.