There’s no shortage of simple multiplayer take-that last-man-standing card games these days. This one, from Vindicated Entertainment is certainly simple: cast spells (play one card per turn) to try to eliminate your opponents before they eliminate you. There’s no deck building to worry about or mana costs for playing cards: you can play any card you like. However, there are a number of decisions to be made, creating a surprising amount of depth for such a light game (especially if you include the ‘Signature Spells’, which you can leave out if you prefer to keep things straightforward).
Eliminating opponents is normally achieved by attacking them. When an attack card is played, whoever is affected must defend themselves (with a higher value card, or one the same colour, or using a card effect). If they can’t, they may ‘bite the bullet’, turning over the top card of the deck for one last lucky dip chance to see if that card will block the attack for them. If it doesn't, they’re out.
While some cards are stronger than others, and through bad luck one player might have lower value cards than another, there is still scope to turn things around through cunning (especially as low cards can have powerful effects), so the game can still be interesting even if you have what looks like a bad hand. The game boasts support for up to 10 players, which may be technically true but, if you play with this number, many players will spend most of the game desperately trying to defend themselves and they may only see one or two actual turns.
Designer Vincent Baker has succeeded with Spellslingers in creating a game that does exactly what it sets out to do: it is a take-that filler with flavour, providing scope for subtlety without over-complication. There is even provision for character abilities, and additional game types to try, including co-operative and one vs many. You might start this intending to fill just a 5-minute gap, and find that one game leads to another, and another, and another...but hey it’s fun, so why not?
(Review by Matt Young)