Do you like giving it to one of your opponents, good and hard?
By that I mean, of course, by overwhelming them with so much stuff that they can’t cope with it.
(What did you think I meant?)
Anyway, if you like that sort of thing, Whirling Witchcraft may be the game for you.
Whirling Witchcraft was designed by Erik Andersson Sundén with artwork by Luis Francisco and Weberson Santiago. It was published by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) just yesterday…ok, maybe not. But this last month or so (that’s 2021 for those of you finding this a couple of years from now).
It plays 2-5 players.
Whirling Witchcraft is a game where each player is a witch crafting potions.
Yeah, that’s been done before.
However, this time, the ingredients that your potions produce go to one of your opponents. They have to add those ingredients to their ingredient board.
If they can’t, then anything extra comes back to you for victory points.
What could be sweeter than overwhelming somebody like that?
Making sure you’re not overwhelmed the same way by somebody else, maybe.
You won’t be, after this episode…I mean this review of Whirling Witchcraft.
(1 Million victory points to whomever catches that reference)
Each player has an ingredient board where they will be storing the ingredients they use for making potions.
They also get a Cauldron. This is where you will be putting all of the ingredients you produce.
And then giving that Cauldron to the player on your right.
Each player will be given a character card (The first game, it’s recommended that everybody get an Initiate with the same power/starting ingredients, but I don’t think that’s necessary for most gamers).
This character will give you a special ability as well as what ingredients you will start with on your board.
Each player will also get a starting hand of four recipes. Some characters’ special ability is an extra recipe, so it might be possible to start with two.
At the beginning of the turn, each player will play a recipe face down from their hand. Once everybody has one down, it’s turned over and it’s time to start brewing!
First, there’s Arcana to be concerned with.
Many recipes have Arcana symbols on them.
You keep track of the Arcana you’ve accumulated on a special card. Each time you have a multiple of 2 Arcana, you get to use that Arcana’s special ability.
Maybe you’ll be able to use an ingredient type from the supply rather than from your ingredient board! Maybe you can just put an ingredient from the supply directly into your Cauldron.
Or maybe you will be able to just remove 2 ingredients from your table. That can work wonders for making sure you’re not overwhelmed.
Once Arcana is done, start filling those recipes!
Each recipe has input that you take from your board and then output that you get from the supply. If you don’t have an ingredient on your player board that you need, you can take it from the output of one of your other recipes.
You can do the recipes in any order, so you might need to do that.
That just means less that you will be sending to your neighbour.
The input ingredients go back to the supply. The output (that you didn’t use to fulfill other recipes) goes into your Cauldron.
The trick is that you can do all of the recipes that are in front of you.
Thus, on subsequent turns, you will be adding more and more recipes, getting more and more output (as long as you have the input ingredients) and thus flooding your neighbour with them.
Afterwards, you pass the Cauldron to the player to your right. That player must put all of those ingredients onto their ingredient board. Any they can’t place (as you noticed, there are limited spaces for each colour), return to you as victory points (1 per ingredient).
At the end of the round, you pass your Recipe cards to your left and then draw up to 4 cards. That way, you get to see a lot more recipes.
This continues until somebody reaches 5 victory points. On the round that happens, the game will be ending. Each person totals up their victory point ingredients.
Whoever has the most is the winner! If there’s a tie, then whoever has the most different colours is the winner.
Is Whirling Witchcraft a game played by Glinda the Good Witch, or is the Wicked Witch of the West?
Whirling Witchcraft is a great game for what it is.
It’s not going to bust your brain, it doesn’t have a lot of intricate strategy, and it’s light enough that a stiff BC wind will blow it away.
But that’s ok.
Because it is a lot of fun.
This time, you’re not pushing your luck like you are in TEN.
Instead, you are trying to push your opponent’s luck.
There is a bit of planning involved, but it’s based on the cards that you are given and that you draw.
If your opponent on your right is having trouble getting rid of black ingredients, see if you can start giving them lots of black cubes!
They have to be able to get rid of more than you can give them, and that can sometimes be hard to do.
However, sometimes the recipes you have just aren’t conducive to doing that, and that’s where the luck of the draw comes in.
My friend Dan Thurot said, in his review of Whirling Witchcraft, that one of his friends who had played requested to play it again.
“It’s because he can win at it. Not more than average. Just the statistically probable amount. Which is more than this particular friend wins at games filled with the aforementioned meaty decisions.”
And this is the amazing thing about Whirling Witchcraft.
This game can be played by anybody.
At most, you will need a round where everybody sees what is happening to have it trigger in their mind. The game is not complicated (though it took me a solo playthrough to figure it out, as the rulebook, or maybe the concepts themselves, didn’t lend itself to learning by just reading the rules).
The game is quick (even our four player plays took about 15 minutes). In fact, it’s quicker than it seems it should be because when you’re explaining what is going on during the game, it seems like the game would have a slow ramp-up.
Once you get 3-4 recipes down, each player is giving a ton of ingredients to their next player.
I haven’t seen a game go more than 5 rounds and I’ve played this four times.
The Arcana part is pretty cool too, just because it gives you another thing to consider when playing a recipe.
Not more so than “what ingredients do I need to get rid of and give to my opponent?” But still, if two recipes are roughly equal, you may want to play the one that gives you an Arcana that you can really use that turn.
The materials in the game aren’t too bad, but they’re not the most sturdy.
The cards are fine and shuffle really easily, though you may find yourself sleeving them if you play the game a lot.
The Cauldrons have to be put together and they’re not the most sturdy things.
The insert is nice because it has a place for each Cauldron, which is great!
Except when the insert is damaged in shipping. Then it doesn’t keep them as nice as they could be.
Even so, the Cauldrons mostly stay together but you do have to be careful with them.
For those of you who want really tough decisions in your games, don’t look at Whirling Witchcraft.
You won’t find them here.
But considering that games take about 15 minutes, is that really a bad thing?
Sometimes a game is just what it wants to be.
I think Whirling Witchcraft is that game.
The asynchronous player powers really add to the game (unless you’re playing with “non-gamers,” I wouldn’t even bother using the Initiates) because they do guide you to a bit of a strategy.
The Potion Brewer above (way above!) guides you to play Cauldron Arcana cards. You can take one or two ingredients off of your board depending on what Recipe you play, not even worrying what your opponent gives you.
But it’s hard to do that in practice because the Recipe cards that you get have to cooperate.
And they don’t always do that.
That’s why this is a great game to play with non-gamers, maybe your young kid who you’re trying to introduce games to.
There is every chance that they might actually win the game!
I also have to complain about one thing, which was mitigated in the review copy I got but I’m not sure if it will be in retail.
The Arcana effects are only listed in the rulebook.
Not even on a reference card!
Given their importance, that is a really bad omission.
With my review copy, I got a reference card for this (with a reference card for TEN on the other side), but I’m not sure if retail copies will have that.
So consider that a mild criticism that may not matter if AEG puts that into subsequent copies of the game.
Nobody wants to be handing the rulebook back and forth just for something like that, especially when it’s so common and possible that all players will be wanting it on the same turn.
Also, as cool as the witch theme is, it’s really not there too much.
I mean sure, the Recipe cards have spiders, frogs, mushrooms, etc on them.
But almost 100% of the time, you’re thinking “ok, I need two red cubes to make this black cube, and I don’t want any more red cubes oh no that Cauldron is full of red cubes! Damn it!”
Much like Lords of Waterdeep and other “thematic” games that use cubes, most of the time you’re just thinking of the colours of the cubes.
The Cauldrons are nicely thematic (when they stay together), but other than that…meh.
All in all, I greatly enjoyed my plays of Whirling Witchcraft. It’s a bit too light for my tastes overall, but it’s fun and it’s a great game to introduce other people to gaming with.
I do recommend playing it and seeing what you think of it. Whether I keep it or not, I’m still undecided on.
But I will definitely never mind playing it.
There’s a lot of laughter as you give your neighbour your Cauldron and they realize that they have no hope of putting all of those ingredients on their board.
The fact that I beat James once in the game makes no difference to my opinion.
(Editor – Yes it does)
Ok, it kind of does.
Still, give this one a try!
(This review was written after 4 plays. Many thanks to Alderac Entertainment Group for the free review copy)