Spellbinder (game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Spellbinder (also known as Waving Hands) is a 1977 pencil-and-paper game invented by Richard Bartle and first published in his fanzine, Sauce of the Nile. It has since been re-created in a variety of formats, including software for the X Window System, play-by-email, Java applet, Android application, and web-based.


Two or more players take the role of wizards, and the object of the game is to be the last wizard standing. Wizards can cast spells at other wizards, themselves, or summoned monsters. These spells are cast through gestures: each turn, the player chooses two gestures, one for each hand, from clap (C), wave (W), snap (S), wriggle fingers (F), proffered palm (P) and digit point (D). There are also the non-magical gestures stab (>) and nothing (-). Turns are resolved simultaneously once both wizards have submitted their gestures for a given turn.

These gestures are built up via many turns to form spells. For instance, one can cast the spell "Magic Missile" by performing the S (snap) gesture followed by the D (digit point) with the same hand on a consecutive turn. This is usually denoted as 'SD' The spell is cast on the turn that the D is made, assuming no intervention (such as a Counter Spell). Play centers around the strategy of tracking what spells are being cast on all four (or more) hands, thus ensuring your spells achieve their desired effect while attempting to mitigate those of your opponent.

The game is one of pure strategy; outside of the "Confusion" spell which causes a random gesture to be made all spell effects can be anticipated deterministically, making it akin to Chess or Go. Through a few minor variants to the rules, all random chance and other imbalances can be removed.


  • Spellbinder history including links to playing online.
  • Rules as written by Andrew Buchanan.
  • Spellbinder Combo Assistant (250Kb) a freeware program written in Delphi that help to calculate the best spell combinations for next turns. It contains a spell list and descriptions in English, Spanish and Italian. (Screenshot).
  • Warlocks a fully developed free-to-play web interpretation by Raven Black. Includes ladder, melee (3+ player duels) and elo ranking system, challenge board, and optional rule variants.
  • Warlocks for Android Android application to access to games.ravenblack.net site