New World Magischola House Rivalry Game Review (prepublished version)

Please Take Note: This is a review of the final game, but it might change slightly based on the success of the Kickstarter campaign. The game is being reviewed on the components and the rules provided with the understanding that “what you see is not what you might get” when the game is published. If you like what you read and want to learn more, we encourage you to visit the Kickstarter campaign. Now that we have all that disclaimer junk out of the way, on with the review.


The Basics:

  • For ages 10 and up
  • For 2 to 5 players
  • Approximately 90 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Study and cast spells to win your House magical points!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Wizards and Witches are not born. They are trained. You are a lucky student, enrolled in the demanding and fantastic course work provided by Magischola. Expect to learn curses and charms, how to defend yourself against monsters, and utilize the art of magic to a highly professional degree. Along the way, make sure your House is recognized and proclaimed to be the best of the magical world!

New World Magischola House Rivalry, designed by Dylan GreyMike Young, and to be published by Snow Dragon Games, will reportedly be comprised of 5 House mats, 10 Character cards, 32 Course cards, 45 Conjure cards, 27 Club cards, 40 Magischola cards, 10 House markers (2 per House), 75 Time cubes, 18 custom six-sided Grade dice, and 1 hex-shaped Score board. As this is a review of a prepublisehd game, I cannot comment on the game component quality. Artists Dan BlanchettLars BundvadFfion EvansDagmara Gaska, and Cas Wormwood have provided light hearted and fantastical images to support the game’s theme and narrative.

Welcome to Magischola, Students

To set up the game, first place the Score board in the middle of the playing area and within easy reach of all the players.

Second, either hand out a Character card at random to each player or allow them to select one.  Each character is different and has a special ability or gift.

Third, have each player select a House mat or hand them out at random. Each House mat is slightly different. The only difference being the House crest, a brief player-style summary that is associated with the House, a special ability, and a Starting condition. None of the Houses appear to have a specific advantage over the other that gives them an easy victory, but players should take note that the playing style of each House is different enough to warrant more than just a casual glance. Especially if a player selected their Character card instead of randomly being dealt one.

Fourth, give each player 15 Time cubes, 3 Grade dice, and 2 House markers. These are placed on the player’s Resource Pool area found on their House mat. Place the Character card face-up on the House mat at this time, as well. Each player should also take one of their House markers and place it on the “7” space on the Score board.

Fifth, give each player 1 “Magical Theory & Ethics of the Arcane” Course card, placing it next to each player’s House mat. This is a mandatory course all players must take and pass. On this card, each player should take from their Resource Pool 10 Time cubes. By default, a player should place a Grade cube on the Course card with the letter “C” showing, but their specific House mat might change their starting grade.

Sixth, separate the Course, Club, Conjure, and Magischola cards into separate decks and shuffle each. Deal to each player a number of starting Conjure cards as indicated on their Character card. Take the remaining decks and place them around the Score board, face-down. These are the draw decks.

That’s it for game set up. Determine who should go first and begin your training.

The Art of Magic 101

New World Magischola House Rivalry is played in rounds and phases. A typical game round is summarized here.

Phase 1: Upkeep

Each player, starting with the first player and continuing in turn order sequence, draws 1 Conjure card and adds it to their hand. A player can not have any more than six conjure cards in their hand. If they do, they must discard down to no more than six.

Each player now completes any Upkeep actions as indicated by the cards they have face-up in front of them.

Phase 2: Make a Choice

Each player now secretly selects an action, placing their House marker on the action and hiding it until it’s revealed. Actions fall into three categories. These are “Enroll”, “Study” or “Conjure”. The actions available are summarized here:

  • Enroll: Draw three Course and/or three Club cards, playing one and discarding the others. Course cards provide different symbols (helping to identify any bonuses that might be provided by the player’s selected House and Character), endgame bonuses, House points earned for passing (based on the final grade), and the number of Time cubes to be placed on it when it comes into play. Any upkeep rules are also provided.
  • Study: Increase the grade on a Course card or decrease the number of Time cubes on it. This will help the player get more House points and complete the course work, which will provide additional bonuses.
  • Conjure: Play up to two Conjure cards, causing trouble for an opponent or essentially cheating at your studies by using magic. Like the Course cards, symbols are provided and the time necessary to complete the spell if it’s a particularly difficult one to cast. Additional rules are provided on the card, directing the player how to manage and cast it once it’s completed.

In addition, a selected action also provides all players a secondary effect that all the player’s opponents get to take advantage of. To be clear, the player takes the noted effect of the action they selected as noted above. The secondary effect they are granted is determined by their opponent’s selected action, which are summarized here:

  • Enroll: Draw one Course or Conjure card and then play or discard it
  • Study: Increase the grade on a Course card or decrease the number of Time cubes on it (to a much lesser degree than the Study primary action noted above)
  • Conjure: Play one regular Conjure card

Phase 3: Take Action

Now all the player reveal their selected action. Starting with the first player, each player takes and resolves their action. Any opponent who did not select the same action takes the secondary action in turn order sequence. Any actions selected by multiple players are all resolved at the same time, but in turn order sequence. In other words, if two players select “Enroll”, all of their opponents only take the secondary action once.

The only other restriction is the number of Clubs the player has currently joined. Depending on the House mat selected, a player could have no limits or be confined to a specific number. Regardless of what House the player belongs to, a player can only be enrolled in one instance of each Club. That is to say, a player cannot play the same Club card twice or more.

Phase 4: A Day at Magischola

The first player now draws a Magischola card, reads it out loud, and all player take whatever action is required to resolve it. Weird things go down at this school. For example, the “Cat Scratch Fever” Magischola card forces players with a Cat familiar (if they have one) to the Animal Hospital, losing House points on the Score board.

Phase 5: The Passage of Time

All players now remove 1 Time cube from each of their cards in play that have a Time cube on it. Time cubes can be on a Conjure, Course, or Club cards. Once the last Time cube is removed from a card, it’s scored but remains in play, and the Grade dice is reset to “C”. Failing the Magical Ethics course work means the player must take it over.

Phase 6: Ending the Day

This ends the round. Pass the first player marker to the next player and begin a new round.

Carpe Magicae!

The game ends as soon as any player completes all the following:

  • Passes “Magical Theory & Ethics of the Arcane” Course card
  • Completes the requirements for two Club cards
  • Passes three additional Course cards of their choice

Or if any player earns 100 or more House points on the Score board.

Bonus House points are awarded to players who complete their course work and additional bonus House points might be available based on the cards the player elected to put into play.

The player with the most House points wins the game and ensures their House is highly honored.

To learn more about New World Magischola House Rivalry, visit the Kickstarter campaign.

Final Word

The Child Geeks had a wonderful time with the game. Especially those who were familiar with the Harry Potter series (be it via book or on film). The game’s theme immediately captured their imagination and the game’s mechanics kept them engaged. The games did tend to run a bit long, however. The younger Child Geek started to lose interest about 45 minutes into it with only the oldest Child Geeks having zero issues with the game’s length. According to one Child Geek, “I think the game takes too long, but I really enjoyed playing it!” Another Child Geek said, “I think the game is just as good if not better than what I saw in the movies.” High praise, indeed! When all the wands were put away and the last spell cast, all the Child Geeks agreed that New World Magischola House Rivalry was well worth their time.

The Parent Geeks also had a fun time, even if they didn’t particularly care for the books. According to one Parent Geek, “I know I’m in the minority, but I never much cared for the Harry Potter books. I really like this game, however. Made me feel like I was a real apprentice witch. Maybe I’ll give the books another go.” The casualParent Geeks and the more experienced Parent Geek gamers all found something they enjoyed whilst playing. As one elitist Parent Geek said, “An excellent game. Hits all the high points with me. I can play this with my casual gamer friends and my new gaming group on the weekends.” All the Parent Geeks feel under the New World Magischola House Rivalry game’s spell, awarding it their full approval.

The Gamer Geeks were skeptical, but very much open to the game’s theme. As one Gamer Geek put it, “The Harry Potter books and how they portray the wizarding world was very interesting. This game captures that magic. I never thought it would be so much fun to take classes and worry about my grades.” Another Gamer Geek said, “A well designed game. A bit flimsy at times due to the random card plays, but I never once felt that my decisions in the game were pointless.” The only aspect of the game the Gamer Geeks were a bit miffed about was the game’s endgame condition with the first player hitting 100 points. They felt this went against the game’s overall intent, preferring instead that the game focused on the class work and testing, rather than just making points. How weird is that, eh? Not very when you consider that the Gamer Geeks all agreed that New World Magischola House Rivalry was a game they fully approved of. Gamer Geeks, you see, can never be truly happy. They always have to complain about something…

Let’s make sure we get absolutely one thing clear. This game has nothing to do with Harry Potter, but it certainly seems to live in the same universe. The game’s theme and direction all reek of what is explained in wonderful literary detail by the author, J.K. Rowling. So much, in fact, that I had to keep telling people that this was not a Harry Potter game. No one seemed to care, however, and there was much talk about creating custom House mats.

That being said…

Turns out the world the game is set in is well thought out. Details can be found on a wiki named Magimundi or the official Magischola website. There is even a very real magic school for kids and adults to attend. Great news for geeks who want to live action role play.

The length of the game turned out to be something of an issue with the younger Child Geeks, but there is a solution. Based on feedback provided by other play testers, a new set up will be detailed in the final published game. Essentially, this starts the players with the already mentioned required course, plus one Club and one other random Course card. This would make the game faster…in theory…as we did not have a chance to try it. This new game variant was added after we received the game and I mention here to ensure you, reader, are as up-to-date as possible.

I found the game to be to the point and entertaining. The goal is simple, but never the path. Thanks to the random cards, something the Gamer Geeks were not altogether loving, each game is never the same. I played as several different Houses and different Characters, providing different points of view regarding how best to play the game. Throw in the randomly determined actions (as selected by your opponents) and the random card draws, and not one single game ever felt like the last. Best of all, the game’s enjoyment never wavered. This is especially true when you are casting magic that ruins your opponent’s turn.

New World Magischola House Rivalry was a lot of fun to play and I can see it easily becoming one of those games that people take out to enjoy after watching a Harry Potter movie marathon. Why not? The game is all about learning how to cast spells and taking academic shortcuts. There is mischief around every corner, but never danger. Experimentation is encouraged, but so is a heavy dose of buckling down. It’s a great mix that works. Do try New World Magischola House Rivalry when time permits to see if it enchants you and your gaming friends.

This is a paid for review of the game’s final prototype. Although our time and focus was financially compensated, our words are our own. We’d need at least 10 million dollars before we started saying what other people wanted. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek which cannot be bought except by those who own their own private islands and small countries.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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