Ambition is wonderful, and when someone sets out to invent a new board game to take it’s place alongside Chess and Go it is truly an ambitious idea. Jeff McCord known for the classic Sword of Fargoal, and excellent transitions of that game to iOS, is the man behind Wizard Hex. Together with his Trouble Brothers development team a new board game was created. Sadly not more than the bare bones experience has been released so far, and it is still to early to call it a classic or another of those attempts now littering gaming history.
Wizard Hex is a strategy game taking place on a hexagonal board. You play using pieces representing six elements. The player making the first move only adds one piece to the board. From that point on two pieces are introduced each turn. The aim of the game is geographic dominance of the board. The game ends when there are no open spaces, or there are no more pieces to play.
A piece can be played on any open space next to your previously played pieces, or next to those of your allies. You can also stack pieces to create stronger units. A single piece is bronze, and is mutually eradicated by another bronze piece. A two piece stack is silver, and can be mutually eradicated by another silver piece. Three piece stacks are gold, and are indestructible. Gold can crush silver, and end up with a conquering bronze piece. It is a quite simple numbers game ranging from one to three. A strong defensive line of gold stacks can often spell the end to any opponent.
You play both using your own selected element, and those next to your left and right. These allies behave like your pieces, but aren’t as valuable when the game is scored afterwards. It is better to use them as disposable soldiers than your own precious element. Depending on how you, and your opponent is placed the game changes dramatically. Sitting next to the opponent gives shared element at the furthest away points. This is what makes the game fresh.
Wizard Hex is a single player game in the current version. Sure there is the possibility to play the game as a pass n play affair with other humans. In reality it isn’t that interesting, as it takes some time getting into the more subtle aspects of the strategy needed. You have to find someone who has spent some time with the game to get something out of the encounter. Single player lets you battle against up to five different AI players. These come in three difficulty levels, varying from feeble to medium. It can still be really challenging playing several different AI players at once. Playing a single AI element on the other hand is quite easy even on the master difficulty level.
The presentation is beautiful with nice lighting effects dancing across the board and pieces. Soft music plays a sombre melody suitable to the game. The sound effects of moving the pieces are surprisingly powerful, akin to moving large slabs of concrete on a metal floor. I would have liked to have some playlist integration, or at least have my own music continue when entering the game.
There isn’t much to do in Wizard Hex. No statistics being tracked, no online connectivity and no achievements. With only the single match mode this is only catering to the die hard board game fan. I know that Wizard Hex is a work in progress, and that it might live up to the potential found within the simple yet intricate rules of the game. Currently I think that even at the lowered price it isn’t easy to recommend to other than those into board games, and solitaire. Online multiplayer or at least some proper statistics tracking would give it a longer game life. Especially since the AI is rather weak. Despite my criticism I urge you to keep Wizard Hex on your list of games that might become must buys later on.
Wizard Hex $2.99 Universal Binary
Seller: Trouble Brother, LLC