Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Wizardry has always been a dangerous profession; even more so in the realm of the Crystal Hall (Gibsons). Designed by Luke Rex Miller, Ben J T Miller, Maren Eckhoff and John Stephen Richards Power, this ‘take that’ game pits you against up to three other teams of wizards, all armed with spells and racing to collect the fabled 'Crystals of Power' and make it out alive. And your opponents aren’t the only dangers...
In Crystal Hall you control a team of four wizards who move orthogonally across the 'Infinite Forest' chequer board, flipping over the (36) randomly placed face-down tiles to try to find four different coloured Crystals of Power. However, you may also encounter traps such as swamps that soak up your magic powers or curses which can kill off your wizards and allow your opponents to gain the upper hand.
There's plenty of magic in Crystal Hall, with more than a dozen different spells at your disposal. Some especially powerful spells (for example, 'Electric Net' which casts a lightning sheet that can eliminate up to three of your opponents' wizards) require your wizards to be set up in a specific formation, but most spells are easy to use. Judicious use of spells such as 'Teleport' and 'Transpose' can seriously disrupt your opponents' strategies by relocating their wizards, making for an enjoyable if sometimes chaotic 'take that' game.
The fun art style and easy to understand movement costs make this a good game for fledgling wizards and elders alike, and while there is the possibility of a two-player game dissolving into a tug of war, the spell cards give enough opportunity to turn the tables on an opponent.
Although it is a strategy game, Crystal Hall does have quite a high luck quotient. For example, the randomised tiles could result in one player having easier access to several crystals at once. However, the game does try to balance this with a small handicap: requiring players who've gathered more crystals to pay more movement points in order to shield or resurrect their wizards. This means that while gaining the lead might seem easy, the catch-up mechanism makes it increasingly difficult to maintain that position.
If you're looking for a light family game that plays in about an hour, Crystal Hall might just hit that magic spot.
(Review by Claire Woodward)