In this potentially almost infinitely expandable arena combat game from The Op, the two players (or four if you play as a 2 vs 2 team game) are sorcerers summoning characters from the Disney and Pixar movie universes to do form a team to do battle against the characters summoned by their opponent.
As often seems to be the case with Disney-themed games, the full title may be a bit of a mouthful but in Sorcerer's Arena, Sean Fletcher has designed a tactical combat game that's appealing to children and adults alike. For the two-player game, you assemble your team of three characters - and they can be a varied mix of heroes and villains drawn from multiple movies. Each character has a unique special 'skill' and they can take basic movement and attack actions, tho' these can be boosted or replaced by playing movement or attack cards. Each character comes with their own individual deck of action cards reflecting that character's movie backstory but the cards for your assembly of characters are shuffled together and on a character's activation you won't always have cards in hand that are specific to that character.
It's an arena combat game, so you'll be manoeuvring your characters to optimise their positions to attack opponents. You'll score victory points every time an opposing character is knocked out but KO'ed characters then return to the fray at full health. You will also score a victory point every time your character begins their turn on one of the three central hexes on the board, so you can expect these to be hotly contested.
Sorcerer's Arena draws on some interesting mechanics. At the start of the game players stack cardboard markers to choose the order in which they want their characters to activate. During the course of play, characters will pick up positive and negative modifiers that can give them a boost or handicap them. Central tho' to the game and its appeal are the acrylic character standees that are mounted on a dial that shows their hit points. As a character takes damage, you rotate the base so that the dial shows the number of hits remaining before they are knocked out. It's not quite as smooth as Wizkids' Heroclix, but it works. Tho' the Board's Eye View team love minis, we rarely get around to painting them so we almost always end up playing with dull grey plastic figures. The Op's acrylic standees have the distinct advantage of being in full colour from the outset. Again, a key part of this game's appeal.
The Core Set which is shown here on Board's Eye View comes with eight Disney/Pixar characters: Apprentice Mickey (Fantasia), Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), Aladdin, Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Demona (Gargoyles), Dr Facilier (The Princess and the Frog), Sulley (Monsters Inc) and Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty). You may also spot in our 360 characters from Turning the Tide: the first of many expansion packs with more characters. The Turning the Tide expansion adds in Moana, Stitch (Lilo & Stitch) and Davy Jones (Pirates of the Caribbean).
Tho' Sorcerer's Arena is a combat game, it feels much more like a fun tussle than a blood'n'guts war game. There's enough tactics involved to engross adults and older children. Younger children will find the game characters appealing but might struggle with the rules, tho the game does incorporate a teaching game with just two characters each to ease players into the rules.
We expect to see a lot more of Sorcerer's Arena. We look forward to seeing more expansions (at time of writing, we know of three more in the pipeline, each introducing another three characters) and we're eagerly looking forward to discovering the ways in which all the characters synergise with each other.
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