By Justin Angebrandt and Patrick Dickerson.
Lizard Wizard, designed by Glenn Drover, is Forbidden Games’ most recent board game release. We kickstarted this game back in 2020 and recently received the Premium edition, which contained wooden and metal pieces to replace the original cardboard, as well as playmats and other unique markers.
An action selection game with elements of a deck builder, each player is an arch-mage trying to create a coven of reptilian wizards, towers, familiars, treasures, and spells across Astoria’s seven schools of magic: conjuring, sorcery, alchemy, enchantment, druidry, thaumaturgy, and necromancy. Players take turns gathering reagents and mana, researching and casting spells, recruiting wizards and familiars, and exploring dungeons for treasure and gold. The winner is the player who gathers the most victory points by the time one of the various decks of cards is exhausted. When we played this game, we played the 2-player version, but as many as six players can play this board game together, with a solitaire version coming out soon.
Patrick: What is immediately noticeable as we unboxed this game was just how beautiful it was. The board and the cards are so artistic. And the pieces we received as part of the Premium edition (wooden reagents, metal coins for the mana, and gold) are absolutely incredible looking.
Justin: What got me to Kickstart this game is how cute all the characters are. I love lizards, and I love wizards, so put it together? Instant Kickstart!
Patrick: Yeah, the wizards are mysterious little guys who you want to go up and boop on the snout knowing full-well they have the power to destroy you.
Justin: Even the necromancer? He looks like a dark/psychic Cubone! (I love him.)
Patrick: The game does take a second to set up for the initial playthrough, but that’s because there are a ton of pieces to put out, like the reagents, the coins (in different denominations), and the various card decks. But the box has these neat storage containers for the coins and reagents so that everything is all neatly organized, making it easy to set up for subsequent playthroughs.
Justin: What’s great is that this game is really easy to get started. Once everything is set up, the game is quick to jump into. Compared to Root, another board game I love, the instruction book easily identifies the various actions we could take and why we would take each one. This game will be great to bring when we go to a friend’s house.
Patrick: What I personally love about it is that while we were able to figure out how to play right away, the strategy of this game is still very nuanced. The different ways that you can build up the strength of your team or sabotage others means that you are always having to think three or four turns ahead… and if another player buys the tower, you were going to get? You have to figure out how you can salvage your strategy.
Justin: I got a bit distracted by the familiars while we were playing. They were just so cute, and I wanted all of them! But this actually worked out great for my strategy, as the familiars are some of the most dynamic mechanics in the game. They can help you gather reagents and cast spells, gain victory points, or even explore the dungeon for treasures. And thanks to my adorable menagerie, I was able to win the first game!
Patrick: Yeah, my strategy was to focus on collecting the reagents for a few of the different schools like toadstools for druidry and foxglove for sorcery so that I could collect the wizards and towers in powerful pairs. But this did not pan out very well for me, as I did not focus enough on spells and familiars. Diversifying my magical catalogue would maybe have helped me push into the lead.
Justin: The reagents are a lot of fun though! It’s hard to not want to hoard them all. They choose some great ingredients that helped make it feel so mystical. We were asking for two mandrakes, an eye of newt, a sprig of nightshade, and a foxglove blossom, and then turning them into powerful spells that let us conjure up some potent effects.
Patrick: And the reagent economy is a fascinating feature of this game too. As each player gathered reagents, they had to increase the market value of some of them. This could lead to an advantage for other players, as they then could use their next turn’s action to trade in their own stock of that reagent for mana, which they could use to buy familiars, research spells, or outbid other players for wizards.
Justin: We barely got through the spell deck, as well. There are 65 different spells, and we may have played 12 of them during our playthrough. If we were to play with more people, I think the spells would become more critical and provide interesting twists to the playthrough.
Patrick: Something neat about this game is that several spells can be used to sabotage others. But if you are looking for a chiller, less competitive experience, you can remove those cards (marked with a star on the bottom) from the spell deck.
Justin: There really is so much I like about this game. It is so much fun to play, and the cute nature of all of the cards made me want to collect them all. The only comment I would make about this game is that it is a little daunting to get through as just two players.
Patrick: I agree. For a bit, it did feel like the end was never going to come. The game ends when either the tower, wizard, familiar or the spell decks are depleted. But with only two players, that meant we had to take a lot of turns. But I think as we play more and start to get the strategies down, the turns will go much faster, and we’ll discover that we’ve exhausted the towers or the wizards in no time.
Justin: I can’t wait to play again with some friends!
All in all, Lizard Wizard is a well-crafted game that is a great addition to anyone’s board game library. Easy to learn, it is a game that could help introduce your friends or family members into the world of board games. Glenn Drover and Forbidden Games have created a gorgeous game that feels mystical and nuanced. If you’re a fan of fantasy games, lizards, or adventures, add Lizard Wizard to your collection today.
You can purchase Lizard Wizard (Standard or Premium edition) on Forbidden Games’ website.