This Arcane Blaster Casters preview is based on a pre-production/review copy of the game so elements may be subject to change by release.
Who doesn’t love wizards? The idea of being able to conjure whatever you want, curse people who don’t invite you to things, and cause wanton destruction is just so appealing. And as anyone whose ever played a wild mage in D&D will tell you, randomness is half the fun. And Arcane Blaster Casters goes all in on randomness.
What In Merlin’s Beard Is It?
Arcane Battle Casters is a arena wizard fighting game where players have to hurriedly put spells together to win initiative. Then, in initiative order, wizards can move around the board and cast their weird spells. The winner is the last one still human. Simple.
Where Arcane Battle Casters gets a little daunting is in the plethora of spell effects. For the first few rounds, the symbols really are arcane. But after four or so spells, it gets much easier.
How Does It Work?
To build spells you place down three cards each at one of the three orientations (A,B,C). Once it’s your turn to play, you reveal your spell and work through the effects. Green movement symbols determine how far it will travel. Red for damage. Blue hearts for healing. Teleportation, trap laying, blinding, slowing, hasting, shielding, and more. As I said, it’s a lot to take in at first but as the cards you get are randomly drawn each turn and everyone’s trying to be quick, there’s room for error. Going first might give you time to get out of range from a slower player’s spell but means you might not make the best spell yourself. While planning your spell out in detail means you’ve got a better chance of dealing something nasty but might miss your opportunity to do so.
The goal is to be the last one standing but this isn’t as easy as it sounds. As players are killed they turn into skull slugs and trigger random magical effects. As a slug they’re immune to traps, don’t take damage, and come back to life if they kill a non-slug player. They are, however, much slower and can only play 1 card per spell. Though only a fool would underestimate the humble murder slug.
Arcane Battle Casters looks like a lot of work at first but like Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic The Gathering the symbols become easier and easier to remember. After a couple of practice rounds you’ll have the hang of it and will be slinging spells with ease. And when you get that perfect combo of bees, bees, and more bees that lays traps across the entire board, you will know true joy.
The art, even in the pre-production copy we got, is cartoony and attractive. Kind of like the golden era of Cartoon Network. My only gripe is that some of the jelly looking slugs look like they have butts for heads and the designer is for some reason planning on changing that.
With its ridiculous spells, no player elimination, and a chaotic nature that can force a massive change in tactics at the drop of a wizard’s hat, Arcane Battle Casters pleases me. It’s fun, it’s tactical without requiring too much thought and it’s genuinely attractive.
As of writing Arcane Battle Casters has 33 hours left on Kickstarter but unfortunately doesn’t look like it’ll fund this time round. The designers, Battle Boar Games are planning on returning to Kickstarer in 2020 but aren’t currently sure when.
Until then, follow them on Facebook HERE for news and updates (and for the occasional game on Tabletop Simulator)