You and your fellow Wizard Kittens accidentally let loose the contents of a book of curses! Now you must work to defeat the curses before librarian Professor Whispurr catches you in this new card game from Marissa Kelly of Magpie Games.
What Is Wizard Kittens?
Wizard Kittens is a card game for 3-4 players ages 7+ that takes about 15-30 minutes to play. It is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter starting at $20 dollars for the base game (and the Kickstarter exclusives). For $35 dollars, you get the base game and exclusives, as well an expansion with magical monsters and the ability to add a fifth player. The Kickstarter campaign has already launched and made its goal as well as unlocked several stretch goals.
Wizard Kittens Components
Note: my review is based on access to a review, so pictures may not reflect final quality and are subject to change. My review copy did not have the spell markers so we substituted with dice, however, I found the cards to be excellent quality and the artwork whimsically fun.
Base Set Components:
- 4 Wizard Kitten Cards
- 4 Spell Tokens
- 48 Ritual Component Cards (12 Artifacts, 12 Scrolls, 12 Familiars, and 12 Potions)
- 12 Curses
- 4 New Rules
- 15 Chapter Cards (5 sets of Chapters 1-3)
- 1 Caught! Card
- 1 Chaos Cat Card
- 7 Extra Credits
The game requires no assembly and is fairly compact, so easy to take to game nights or to find shelf space for.
How to Play Wizard Kittens
For purposes of the review, I am going to focus on the base gameplay. The game has a few extra rules that can be added for Advanced Mode, but both modes hit that sweet spot of quick to catch onto gameplay but with enough strategy to make it interesting. Casual gamers and kids should be able to pick up on this one…
The Goal of Wizard Kittens is to gain the most points defeating curses by the time all the curses are defeated or Professor Whispurr has caught the players.
Setup is a little bit more involved, but after doing it once is quick to catch onto. The game instructions do give a very helpful diagram for this. Be prepared that the game can take up a good bit of table space once everything is set out for multiple players.
- Each Player selects a Wizard Kitten Card and matching Spell Token (place on Basic or Advanced side depending on the game you are playing).
- Next, Players set out cards for Chapters 1-3 near each other (Chapter 3 placed down).
- Finally, each Player takes a random extra credit card and keeps it secret.
- Place a set of Chapter Cards in a column in the table center (Chapter 3 placed down).
- Shuffle Ritual Component Cards.
- Give each Player 2 Ritual Component Cards (one is set next to Chapter 1, the other next to Chapter 2).
- Take the remaining Ritual Component Cards and make 2 piles of ten cards and 1 pile with the remaining cards. Shuffle the Caught! Card into one of the ten card piles, then shuffle Chaos Cat into the big pile and put it on top of the ten card pile with the Caught! Card. The remaining ten card pile goes on top of the big pile.
- Separate the Curse Cards by difficulty type (Low is teal, Medium orange, and Hard purple).
- Randomly draw two of each curse type and set the extras aside.
- The selected Curse Cards and shuffled to create the game’s Curse Deck.
- One Curse Card goes into each open Chapter (1 and 2) at the center of the table.
- If playing Advanced game, shuffle the Chaos Cat New Rules cards.
The starting player is the one who has most recently fed a kitty.
The following rules are for 3-4 player game, but there are a few tweaks in the instructions to play a 2 player variant. For this review, I will focus on a 3-4 player game.
- Draw 1 ritual component and place it in your “Ritual Circle” next to any open (face-up Chapters).
- Choose a spell to cast. Summon lets you draw another card and place it beside an open Chapter in your Ritual Circle. Sling lets you move a card to another kitten’s Ritual Circle Chapter of your choice. Swat lets to discard two cards in your ritual circle (from any Chapter). Switch lets you swap the locations of two cards including two within your own Ritual Circle. Advanced Mode has alternate spells.
- When you cast the spell, put a Spell Token on that space on your Wizard Kitten Card, you cannot cast the same spell two turns in a row.
- Collect any Curses you have defeated and end your turn.
- When one of your Chapters has all of the Ritual Components on the Curse Card as the matching Chapter, you have defeated a Curse. You may have extra components, but they do carry a -1 point penalty per extra card. You cannot choose to not defeat a curse, it’s automatic.
- Claim the Curse Card you have defeated and discard any required Ritual Component Cards. The extra cards and the Curse Card go beside your Wizard Kitten Card.
- Flip a new Curse from the Curse Deck to replace the defeated Curse. If the Curse Deck is empty, ignore this step.
The Chaos Cat turns up around the middle of the game the change things up a bit. All the Chapter 3 Cards get flipped over to open. If the Curse Deck has a card available, a Curse is assigned to Chapter 3. If playing the Advanced Mode, a Chaos Cat card is drawn and a new rule brought in.
The game ends when either the Curses have all been defeated or Professor Whispurr is drawn and the players are caught. Players then add up their points. First, defeated Curses have a point value on the upper-left corner. Some cards might give bonuses under certain circumstances. Also, extra Ritual Component cards from defeating Curses are worth -1 point. If the Curses were all defeated and Professor Whispurr didn’t catch the players, then look to the Extra Credit cards to see what additional bonuses come into play. The Player with the most points wins. If there is a tie, the Player with the most points and most defeated Curses wins. If there is still a tie, the Player with the most points, most defeated Curses, and fewest Ritual Components wins.
Why You Should Play Wizard Kittens
Just from the whimsical artwork, Wizard Kittens looked like a fun game. Our eight-year-old was quick to comment that he liked the look of the game and was excited to get to test it out.
No assembly required and smaller boxes do help add the game to your collection as well as transport it around to play with others.
The setup feels a little complicated at first, but with the super helpful diagrams in the instructions and one playthrough, you get a very quick feel for it. It does need a good size surface for gameplay, and we shifted our Curse and Ritual Component Cards to the side instead of the middle to play a 3 Player game, but that was easy enough to do.
The logistics of actual gameplay is fairly simple and makes it easier for kids and casual gamers to catch onto. There’s still a solid sense of strategy as you sort out how to get the right cards to defeat a Curse without having the point-stealing extras, including how to swap cards with the other Players to thwart their attempts. The Advanced rules add a few more gameplay aspects but shouldn’t be overwhelming for kids or more casual gamers.
The strategy versus easy to pick up mechanics is what makes it appealing to kids and casual gamers, but manages to avoid the issue where some family-friendly games can feel boring to the adults playing them or kids seem to out-age quickly. Wizard Kittens is the kind of game the adults will have just as much fun playing when it’s only adults as they will when the kids are around too. Our eight-year-old immediately wanted to play again even though he didn’t win the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find us teaching it to other neighborhood kids very soon.
Wizard Kittens is reasonably priced at $20 dollars, especially considering that the quicker gameplay time and replayability of the game is high. For an additional $15 you can add in a game expansion with monsters and another player. Even with a review copy in our possession, we’re pretty likely to make a pledge for the base game and expansion combination because we like games we can play with the kids that are still really fun for the adults too. You can make a pledge of your own up until 12 PM MST on March 31st.