Wizard (board game)
Steve Jackson Games
|Years active||1977 to 1983|
2019 to date
|Genre(s)||Magical Combat Board Game|
|System(s)||The Fantasy Trip|
Wizard is a game system of medieval fantasy combat designed by Steve Jackson, later of Steve Jackson Games, and published by Metagaming in 1978. In 2019, Wizard was revived and re-released by Steve Jackson Games.
Development and publication history
Wizard was published by Metagaming in 1978 as MicroGame #6, a magic-based pocket board game of individual combat. Wizard added magical combat rules to the combat system introduced in Jackson's previous game, Melee, also published by Metagaming.
Melee, Wizard and gamemaster supplement In the Labyrinth eventually formed Metagaming's The Fantasy Trip fantasy role-playing system. Both Melee and Wizard were expanded and re-released as Advanced Wizard and Advanced Melee, with many role-playing elements added to the basic fantasy combat system. When Steve Jackson released GURPS in 1986, some of the concepts used in Wizard were used in the GURPS fantasy supplements.
The previously published Melee had outlined the rules of melee combat using two physical ability scores, Strength (ST) and Dexterity (DT), to determine success. Wizard is an expansion of the Melee tactical system that adds magical combat. Like Melee, it also uses Strength and Dexterity scores, but adds IQ as a third ability score to determine the number and type of spells that can be learned.
At the time Wizard was published, most games that required character generation used random dice rolls to generate ability scores. Wizard and Melee were some of the first games, if not the first, to use a point-buy system: each player was given a fixed number of points with which to buy their character's three abilities.
- Strength governs how much fatigue the figure could endure while casting spells, with each spell having a fatigue cost associated with it. Casting a spell causes a temporary drain on one's strength score, limiting the number of spells one can cast in a given period of time before resting.
- Dexterity is used to determine if a spell is successfully cast: the player casting the spell rolls three dice; if the sum is less than the spellcaster's Dexterity score, the spell works.
- IQ determines the number and complexity of spells a figure can learn, with one spell per point of IQ. A high IQ score — up to 16 — allows the use of more varied and powerful spells. IQ also determines whether or not an Image or Illusion spell cast by an opponent can be disbelieved.
The concept of armor is also introduced in Wizard. Wearing armor reduces the number of hit points from opponents' successful attacks, but penalizes the character's Dexterity score.
Game components of Wizard include a hex sheet for use as a map, a set of rules, and laminated counters to be used for characters and opponents.
In the January 1980 edition of Dragon (Issue 33), Brad McMillan liked the quality of the game components, as well as the advantages that the new point-buy system for abilities had over random determination by dice. McMillan recommended Wizard and its companion piece, Melee, saying, "Wizard is an excellent game and well worth the purchase price of $3.95. With the addition of Melee, weapon combat can be added for a wider range of tactical possibilities. Wizard and Melee were designed to mesh, and they do so well. This game offers an innovative alternative to chance-determined characters."
- Pegasus #10 (Oct. 1982)
- Appelcline, Shannon. "The RPGnet Interview #72, Steve Jackson, The Fantasy Trip". RPGnet. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- McMillan, Brad (January 1980). "The Dragon's Augury". Dragon. TSR, Inc. (33): 53.