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CONJURERS
A boardgame by Niels Wonsyld  for 2-4 players aged 12+  It is Published by Wonder Games and takes up to 4 hours to play.

This game has creatures and treasures and other aspects of five different mythologies; Egyptian, Greek, Japanese, Norse and Biblical.
It also features some fine, colourful artwork, a myriad counters, useful reference cards, battle boards and some regular bland wooden
circular pieces. The components, as mentioned, are reasonable but not great quality and basic and efficient, sadly the large circular piece
of wood and the three smaller circles of wood, as each player's Conjurer and their Assistants, really are a let down in comparison to the
rest of the pieces. I would have thought that stand-up card characters would have cost around the same as the wooden pieces and would
certainly have been more aesthetic eye-candy.

    

The rules booklet is large in size rather than volume, and created to have an ancient parchment appearance, yet the pages are often
sparse on text and illustrations which allows players to learn about the components and cards as well as how to play, all in easy steps.

The premise of the game is that the country is in Civil War after the death of the King and the Mayor of your town wants a loyal and
powerful Conjurer to lead the troops against opposing armies intent on taking the King's Crown. To this aim the Mayor has organised
a sort of tournament by inviting the most powerful Conjurers in the country to vie against each other for the privilege of leading the
troops. Why he doesn't just hire all of these Conjurers to defend the town and/or attack the neighbouring armies isn't clear - maybe the
Mayor is a gamer, as doing things the most awkward/difficult way instead of the easy way seems to be in our blood.

         

    

In essence this is a game of combat, rather like a battle arena, where the players are the combatants, in this case Conjurers, who, with their
assistants go round the town collecting resources, from Mines, Smiths etc, and Creatures which become units for their Army. Players have
four different types of assistant: Action types are denoted by the colour at their location and the level and phase of the Action is denoted by
the Roman numerals I, II or III  (1, 2 or 3).
Players cannot call on all of their Assistants each turn, they must choose which 3 of the 4 as required. Assistants are assigned to unlocked areas
in the town. Each Assistant has its own possibilities. There are two locations on the map, Fishing Pond and Wild Animals, that can be performed
by the Conjurer and any Assistant as these two are the food gathering areas and everyone has to eat.
Workers - performs blue actions - which are mining related - the lumber mill is included in this.
Merchants - perform yellow actions - these basically concern storage.
Warrior - send your warrior to one of the five mythological arenas, marked red on the board.
Recruiter - performs green actions, mainly at the Sacrificial Pit, the Market Place and Guild Hall; basically general trading actions.

Combat is played out on the Battle Arena boards with both sides pitting up to 3 cards and using their abilities and a die roll against the creatures
facing them directly across the battlefield. During combat dice are rolled according to the cards of the creatures fighting - each creature card has
a split/number for example 6/4 which means the creature can take 6 Damage before dying and rolls 4 Battle-Dice in combat situations. When the
creatures are summoned to combat they arrive in the three spaces each side has. It is possible to use an Action to move a creature to give it an
advantage over an opposing creature but once creatures are positioned opposite each other combat will ensue. This sounds muddly, but believe me
it is a very simple mechanic that has been used in many other boardgames, the only difference here is that you can slide creatures across and into
empty spaces on the battle board. Combat is fairly speedy but could have been quicker if the players didn't have to keep referencing the rules for
the descriptions of the abilities and items.

Combat takes place in the Mythological battlegrounds of Valhalla, Shangri La, the Garden of Eden, Duat or Mount Olympus. It would have been
visually more exciting had there been battle arena cards designed with these locations in mind, rather than just the plain simple green cards with
darker green card spaces marked on them. Of course these battle cards do the job but as they don't represent the supposed location visually they
don't look the part. In fact this game is an enigma of costing. The board and creature cards are bright and excellently decorated with visual stimuli
while the creatures, the characters, the combat arenas are all plain and and efficient but not effective. It looks like the author has had a good idea
for a game and then the publishers have spent a good amount on the artwork but the run out of funds halfway through resourcing the remaining
components and used whatever they had to hand

      

Each Game Turn consists of three phases. The first phase has the players taking it in turns to place their Conjurer and Assistants onto the board. It
is an advantage to go first as there are times when not all pieces can be placed - availability and/or level of location being the main causes of this.
Then in turn order each player completes ALL of their Actions on the board before the next player can begin to resolve theirs. After this the third
phase sees Resources being collected and the Turn advances by one on its track. At the end of turns 3, 6 and 9 new actions are unlocked and all
creatures must be fed. Then after turn 12 the game ends and the winner is the player who has the most VPs.

       

I've mentioned Trading.  To trade you need a piece in the correct location. At the Blacksmiths you can buy items and at the Artificier you may
purchase Artifacts. At the Market you can trade Resources for other Resources, a chart determines the ratio of how many of which resource
you need to trade for a number of another, for example trade in 3 Lumber and receive 1 Iron or pay 3 Stone and receive 1 Bronze but you may
only trade in one resource for another, you are not allowed to pay with a mixture of resources even if they technically have the same value.

       

The main flaw in the game, if indeed you consider it to be a flaw, is that it is too long with not enough in it for each turn to be different. Yes you
may be able to do different things on your turn as the first player (initiative) token changes hands, but in general it is too repetitive and transforms
into going through the motions after the first 30-40 minutes of play, and you still have around 3 hours left. There is no spark of excitement to
inspire the players plus you cannot truly plan your actions unless you are the first player.

Did we like it ?  The concensus of opinion amongst the different groups I played this with was basically the same, it's an okay game but too long with
not enough to do. The majority of us thought that it had potential but that it didn't reach it, not even with the inclusion of optional rules (advanced). It
was also suggested that having player reference cards for the Item and Artifact abilities would have speeded proceedings along a bit.

There is a FaceBook page for CONJURERS should you wish to know more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015