- For ages 12 and up (publisher suggests 14+)
- For 2 to 5 players
- Approximately 60 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Cooperative & Team Play
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Moderate
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Recover the powerful Wymer stones before the darkness that lives in the catacombs consumes the kingdoms above!
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
There is something in the dark that hungers. Many believed this horror in the darkness had long passed, but the wisest and the strongest of the kingdoms know better. They whisper in secret places of the coming Wymer with dread and certainty of doom. These hushed tones have reached the ears of four heroes who will take up blades, bows, spells, and staffs to find the key to defeating the evil that grows in the darkness below ground. They go now to face this evil. Their deeds will either bring them victory or doom to us all.
Curse of the Wymer Stones, designed by Phallen Hay, Robert Hay, and published by Nuked Cards, is comprised of four Hero cards, 11 Relic cards, 25 Trap cards, 12 Wraith cards, one Map board, two Outcome cards, four Cursed Dwarf cards, four Hero pieces, four Wraith pieces, four Cursed Dwarf pieces, 16 Lock tiles, 48 Trap tiles, 12 Relic tiles, four Wymer Stone tiles, one Hero die, and one Villian die. The components are made of thick cardboard or sturdy cardstock. Excellent quality throughout. Illustrations by Robert Hay capture the mood perfectly and further strengthen the game’s narrative.
Building the Darkness
To set up the game with a Villain, complete the following instructions.
First, place the Map board in the middle of the playing area and within easy reach of all the players. The Map board represents the catacombs where the Wymer stones (and many obstacles, such as monsters and traps) will be found. The purple areas are Portals open to any other Portal on the Map board. The red block shown in the lower left is a starting position for one of the four Hero players.
Second, locate and set the two Outcome cards to one side of the game-playing area. These will be used at the end of the game. Make sure the sides that read “You Are Defeated” and “You Are Victorious” are face-up.
Third, separate the cards into a Relic card deck, a Trap card deck, and a Wraith card deck. Shuffle each deck separately and then place it face-down next to the Map board. These are the Relic, Trap, and Wraith draw decks for the game’s duration.
Fourth, randomly give each player one of the Hero cards or let them choose their favorite Character. Each of the four Characters is unique, having different strengths and weaknesses. For example, the swift Ranger can remove locks, the mighty Warrior does the most damage, the courageous Paladin can heal allies, and the mysterious Wizard can teleport. After each player has selected their Character board, give them their matching colored Hero piece and one matching Wraith piece.
Fifth, have each player place their Hero piece on the starting position on the Map board. The starting positions for each on the Map board have a color that matches the Hero color.
Sixth, separate the Wymer Stone, Trap, Relic, and Lock tiles into their four types. Now select the difficulty of the game to be played. The game difficulty will determine how many of these tiles will be in play. The three game levels are noted as “Easy,” “Normal,” and “Hard,” with “Normal” being the suggested difficulty level for most play sessions.
Seventh, the players need to determine if they will be playing as a group or if one of their numbers will take on the role of the Villain. If not playing with a Villain, the number of tiles needed to be placed on the game board is randomly selected and placed face-down. If there is a Villain, they get to take the same number of tiles and place them where they want them. In either case, some rules apply regarding where certain tiles can be placed. Any remaining tiles should be set aside and will be used later in the game.
This completes the game setup. Time to save the kingdoms!
Courage and Curses
Curse of the Wymer Stones is played in rounds and turns, with the Heroes going first in turn order sequence around the table and the Villian, if playing, going last. A typical game round is summarized here.
Note: Curse of the Wymer Stones can play without the Villain. We did both ways and found that designating a player as the “bad guy” made the game much more fun and engaging. We briefly discuss playing the game without a Villain in the Game Variant section of this review.
Hero Takes Their Turn
The first action the player takes is rolling the Hero die to determine what bonus they are awarded for the round. This is done by rolling the die and matching the number to what is listed on the Character card. If the ability can be used only by the Hero, it must be used during the player’s turn. If, however, the power may be used on an Alley, the power can be used anytime until the player’s next turn.
After determining the Hero’s power, the player may move their Hero piece on the Map board several spaces equal to the movement number on their Character card (identified as “Steps”). If the Hero piece’s movement lands on a face-down tile, the tile must first be flipped and resolved. The types of tiles are as follows:
- Trap tile: If revealed, the player draws the topmost Trap card and reads it out loud. The player then rolls to determine if they can overcome the obstacle with a bonus going to the player if their Hero matches the Trap color. Depending on the outcome of the die roll, the player will either read the “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down” portion of the card, indicating their success or failure to avoid the trap.
- Relic tile: If revealed, the player draws the topmost Relic card and reads it out loud. The player may use the Relic power now or save it for later by equipping it to their Character card. A player may only have two Relics at a time. They can be traded to another Hero or used after the player rolls an attack.
- Wymer tile: If revealed, the player has found one of the Wymer stones! These are necessary to win the game and give the player a bonus. However, players may only take the Wymer tile if it matches their Hero color. If it does, take it off the board and place it on the Character card. If it doesn’t, leave it face-up for another Hero to find. As soon as any player collects their Wymer Stone, a Cursed Dwarf appears! A Cursed Dwarf piece is added to the Map board at the location of the player’s starting space.
Players may use Portals that instantly transport their Hero to another portion of the Map board when they move. Chasms and Walls found on the Map board may only be crossed if the piece on the Map board is of the Spirit world (i.e., “Wraiths” or “Cursed Dwarves”). Any Lock tiles stop the player from moving through the space until removed.
A player may want to or need to attack but can only do so before or after moving. Combat is straightforward. The player attacking takes one die, and the Villain takes another. Both roll and the player with the highest number win the attack, always adding any bonuses and all ties go to the Villain. If the player takes damage, they take one of the unused Trap tiles and place it on their Character card.
Players can attack the Cursed Dwarves, but only if they have a Wymer Stone in their possession! Therefore, players should avoid the Cursed Dwarves at all costs until they have the means to defend themselves. If they don’t, this undead can harm and even kill the Hero player while at the same time taking no damage whatsoever in combat.
Players can also attack Lock tiles that are blocking their way. To do so, they roll an attack as usual. If they succeed, the Lock tile is removed from the Map board, allowing players to pass by. If the player fails, the Lock tile remains, but the player suffers no additional penalty or harm.
This completes the player’s turn. The next Hero player now takes their turn. After all the Hero players have taken their turn for the round, it’s time for the Villian to make their move.
Villian Takes Their Turn
The Villian’s only goal in the game is to turn each Hero into Wraiths, forever locking their souls to the will of Wymer Stones. This is done through careful planning, tile placement, and attacking vulnerable Heroes in the catacombs.
The Villian can do the following on their turn and in any order they like, in addition to always rolling the dice when there is an outcome to determine for a Hero.
Place Two New Tiles
The Villian can take any two Tiles not already on the Map board and place them face-down, so only the “?” is shown.
Place One New Lock Tile
As if it wasn’t already difficult to navigate the ever-shifting corridors in the dark, the Villian can try to stop the Hero players by adding one Lock tile to the Map board.
Control the Cursed Dwarves
The Cursed Dwarves come into play when a Wymer stone is revealed and collected. On the Villians turn, they control the Curse Dwarve like a Hero player controls their Character on the Map board. Unlike the Heroes, however, Cursed Dwarves can move through walls, cross chasms, and even pass through tiles as if they are not there. Perhaps the most dangerous is that the Cursed Dwarves can attack Hero players in living and wraith form.
Once the Villian has completed their turn, the Heroes again take their turns as described above.
In the Company of Wraiths
When a Hero player takes three or more damage, they die. However, since this place is so saturated with dark magic, their souls are trapped! Not to be undone by dark eldritch sorcery, the Hero players can seek out their starting locations and return to the catacombs whole. Some Relics can bring the dead back to life, saving the Hero’s Wraith from making the long journey back to the starting position.
When the player becomes a Wraith, they replace their Character on the Map board with the Wraith of their Character type. In addition, they draw a Wraith card and read it out loud, resolving it afterward. The Wraith cards, if successfully resolved, will allow the player to take their turn without penalty. However, if they fail to resolve the Wraith card successfully, one of the living companions is put into harm’s way.
Regardless of the outcome of the Wraith card, it’s placed at the bottom of the Wraith draw deck, and the player takes their turn.
The player can only move two spaces as a Wraith, but walls, chams, locks, and traps are passed through as if they were air. However, caution should still be taken while moving, as the Cursed Dwarves can attack the Wraiths and truly sever their ties to the mortal realm. If this happens, the fallen Hero is truly lost and can only be revived by another player. Worse yet, when it’s the player’s turn, they still draw a Wraith card and aid the Cursed Dwarves!
If the Hero player is revived, either through a card played by another Hero player or making their way back to their starting space, they replace their Character with the original Hero piece and once again return to the game, playing as usual.
Winning the Game
The Hero players win the game if they reveal all the Wymer stones and destroy the Cursed Dwarves. The Wymer stones are then taken to a safe place where they will never again be used for evil purposes. Take a moment to read the Victory Outcome card!
The Villian wins the game if the Hero players are slain in their Wraith form by the Cursed Dwarves. The Wymer stones remain in the dark catacombs and begin to blight the kingdoms above with their evil. Take a moment to read the Defat Outcome card.
I believe the game is best played when another player is the Villain. This introduces many twists and turns, surprises, and mystery to the game, as you never really know what is about to be revealed around each corner or where the Cursed Dwarves will wander next. Yet it’s not always possible to find a player who wants to play as the “bad guy,” or there are not enough players available to introduce a player Villain.
If either is the case, the game has rules that allow the available players to take on the roles of the Heroes. The player difficulty is set to “Normal” by default to account for the lack of intelligence behind the Cursed Dwarves and tile placement. In addition, the Cursed Dwarves, once spawning into the game, remain in the starting space, never moving. The players must still defeat the Cursed Dwarves, but these undead monsters remain stationary, waiting for the Heroes to come to them.
To learn more about Curse of the Wymer Stones, visit the publisher’s website.
The Child Geeks had a great time with the game, finding it easy to learn and fun to play. The easy movement and combat system made each turn fast, and the secret reveals done through hidden tile faces and random card draws made each step in the dark feel like an adventure full of danger. According to one Child Geek, “I liked the game! It was a lot of fun trying to find my stone and then running away as fast as possible from the dwarves as they chased me!” Another Gamer Geek said, “The four different heroes are each fun to play with, and my favorite is the Paladin, but all are pretty good. I tried to play as the bad guy, but I prefer being a hero.” When the last stone was overturned and the darkness diminished, all the Child Geeks agreed that Curse of the Wymer Stones shined bright!
The Parent Geeks also had a great time with the game, mentioning how the game had a strong vibe like other classics such as Hero Quest and Dungeon! One Parent Geek said, “This is a good, old-school dungeon diver into the dark, and you fight monsters. It took me back to when I was a kid rolling dice with my friends and wondering why girls were so weird. I enjoyed it with my kids and buddies, who came over to chuck dice and chug some beers. Great fun!” Another Parent Geek said, “I enjoyed it and would play it again. The cooperation between players was excellent, and each turn was something I wanted to watch and experience, even if it wasn’t my turn. I highly recommend adults take on the role of the Villain so older brothers don’t make younger siblings cry.” When the last Cursed Dwarf was put down, the Parent Geeks gave Curse of the Wymer Stones their full approval.
The Gamer Geeks found the game entertaining and an exceedingly watered-down version of the games they liked to play, including dungeons, dragons, and various monsters. Simple but entertaining. One could even say, “engrossing.” According to one Gamer Geek, “The game’s rules are a bit of a mess, but when you put them into practice on the game board, everything makes perfect sense. The most fun for me was acting as the Villain. You have a lot of control and can mess with the other players. My only negative comment is that the Villain doesn’t have much to do at first. Not a terrible thing, but I would have liked more interaction with the players right from the start.” Another Gamer Geek said, “I couldn’t help but think that this was the fantasy dungeon craw equivalent to Pac-Man. You run around a maze, find your stone, and then chomp on the ghosts. Fun and I would play it again. It reminded me of my glory days when I still had hair and lots of free time on my hands. Good stuff.” With the evil vanquished from the lands, the Gamer Geeks declared Curse of the Wymers Stones to be a real winner.
This is a classic game of running around in the dark and hoping that whatever you bump into isn’t the end of your adventure. Having the players turn into ghosts and walk around the catacombs in a desperate attempt to return to their bodies was a great twist, too. One of our playing sessions had three wraith heroes floating around trying to avoid Curse Dwarves while the fourth and living Hero tried like made to find their stone. Very entertaining; lots of swearing and fun memories were made.
Combat is simple. I don’t want you going into this game thinking that deep tactics and strategic decisions will be made when you swing your sword. Not here. You either hit or you don’t. Of course, you get to decide what you want to hit, so it isn’t mindless. There are strategies and tactics to be had, but these focus more on survival versus hitting foes. This game focuses on exploration, and the surprises or dangers found, using the dice to quickly resolve a fork in the road so you can get on with your adventure. It’s a reasonably weak mechanic, but it works well in this game. Encounters are fast, and outcomes are determined even faster. It keeps the game moving at a great pace for all individuals, which is essential, as the game can sit five. The result is a game where player turns are short and meaningful. Best of all, exciting for others to watch.
Curse of the Wymer Stones brings to the table an adventure. Lots of replay value and lots of fun. Try this little gem of a game when time allows if you want to take your friends and family on a dungeon dive into darkness. I think you’ll see the light!
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.