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THE WITCHES: A Boardgame for up to 4 players. Designed by Martin Wallace and Published by Mayfair Games


Martin was the brains behind the most excellent boardgame "DISCWORLD - ANHK-MORPORK" which saw publication by numerous companies - the following list was taken from BoardgameGeek:

Kaissa Chess & Games
Mayfair Games
Treefrog Games
and  Zvezda


I have myself read and enjoyed many, but admittedly not all, of the DiscWorld books (plus I've seen the TV films etc) but I would not consider myself an authority, by any means, on Pratchett's works - I certainly wouldn't want to answer questions about it on Mastermind. However, I do have family and game-playing friends who virtually know the books backwards (skoob eht  is what I say to that) and they, like me, thoroughly enjoyed Martin's first game, and were, also like me, eagerly waiting for the sequel: The WITCHES. Well here it is, and we have played it several times, here now is a condensed review of the game and our thoughts.


The Players take on the roles of young witches - Tiffany Aching, Petulia Gristle, Dimity Hubbub and Annagramma Hawkins - sent of to Lancre, a Major City State in the Country of the Ramtops, where they are to learn their craft. The art of magic takes a fair time to learn and thus it is learned on the fly. Your magic is used mainly to help others, the people of Lancre, who have all sorts of problems that need solving.In this game these problems are divided into two sorts - easy and hard - depicted by green (easy) and purple |(hard). At the beginning of each player's turn a card is drawn and the location printed on it determines where the next Problem is placed, or if there is already an unsolved Problem there, to increase its intensity by the addition of a Crisis tile. Player's move their Witches between locations solving the Problems as they go.


Cards play a very important part in the game and therefore they have been designed with several component parts but only one of which is used when the card is played. Each card has a header - Magic, Broomstick or Headology - which are shown in symbol format: Magic is depicted by 2 Stars, Broomstick is shown as a witch on a broomstick and Headology has the design of a disguise set (glasses, nose and moustache) which is reminiscent of (we had to trains of thought here) Groucho Marx or one of those plastic disguises kids often play with (I fell in with the Groucho theory). The cards also have a Benefit (or Action) which is the main body of text, a Location (for the placing of the Problems) and perhaps a mysterious mystical and specialist piece of text "the power of three". As you may have already assumed, when a trio of differently illustrated cards with the words "the power of three" on them are played together any Problem is immediately solved. The cards are available to be used when attempting to solve a Problem if they are either Headology or Magic in which case they add points to the Dice roll.


The Dice are regular six-siders with one exception - the "one" has a Cackle symbol on it. Whenever a Cackle symbol is rolled a Cackle Counter is taken by the Player - collecting Cackle Counters is not a good thing as they count against you at the endgame. Players move their Witches from Location to Location; they can walk or they can fly by Broomstick. If they move to a Location where there is a Problem they must stop and solve the Problem. Each problem has a value (which may be added to by Crisis Counters) that the Witch has to roll equal to or higher than to solve. The mechanic for die-rolling is that the Player rolls two of the four Dice and tries to beat the Problem. If they are successful then the Problem is solved, if they fail then they have the option to play cards to add to their total and then they roll the second pair of dice. If they are successful with the first die roll they still have to roll the second pair as all Cackles rolled have to be counted. Failure to solve the Problem gains the Witches Cackle Counters and possibly other consequences, depending on the Problem.

The artwork is superb, truly capturing the wonderful characters created by Terry Pratchett, and Mayfair have done a super job with the design and manufacture. Martin's rules are concise and easily followed - not something often said about his rules - but the game just doesn't flip the switches; it's sort of a nothing; it isn't fun, it isn't exciting and it isn't addictive.  Perhaps Martin had an off-day or perhaps he was under the pressure of a deadline to provide a game, I don't know and cannot make assumptions. It will be (already is?) successful because of the topic and theme but as a sequel to the excellent ANHK-MORPORK game it is flat and very unlike a Martin Wallace creation.



© Chris Baylis 2011-2015