I came across this little gem whilst searching the App Store for a simpler table top deck-building card game to play with my son. There are some great fantasy card games out there, but very few that are easy for younger players or casual gamers to pick up and play. Not everyone has the time or inclination to learn the rules to play the deeper card games. Demons vs Wizards is a magic card & dice game that fills the gap in the market, and it does so with style. This is a beautifully designed game that is extremely easy to pick up and play, without sacrificing tactics.
There are two decks in the game: Demon’s deck and Wizard’s deck. You can play single player against the AI (which is fairly good), face to face against a friend (tabletop style, no need for a second device), or online locally. Each deck contains 30 cards. Players start by choosing whether to fight for the Demons or the Wizards. Next, each player selects a deck – each can choose the same deck or opposing decks. This is a nice feature, as it offers replayability through variety, especially considering that each game only lasts about 10 minutes.
Both players start out with 20 health points, 10 magic shield points and 5 attack cards in their hand. Each turn has two phases: Attack and Draw. On every turn, each player attacks, using one or more of their cards. You can attack with multiple cards if some of your cards have a Combo effect. Fresh cards are automatically drawn from the draw pile to refill your hand to five cards. Gameplay continues in this way until one player is eliminated (when health points reach zero). Throughout the whole game, both players’ current cards are visible. This brings some interesting tactics and unexpected bluffs into the game.
This is a shining example of a simple game cleverly implemented. The game does a good job of making you feel like you’re really sitting at a table in a dodgy inn somewhere ancient, battling it out for good (or evil). Highly polished visuals, atmospheric sound effects, interesting card abilities and fast-paced gameplay make this an addictive and satisfying family-friendly tabletop game.
Whilst there is a certain amount of luck involved in winning, there are some tactics to be had. These lie in the card abilities, and timing is critical. Even young players or casual gamers can quickly develop crushing tactics by timing the placement of their cards. For example, player one could rejuvenate player two’s dwindling magic shield with a combo card, then follow this up with a second attack card which swaps the player’s magic shields. Giving your opponent hope only to steal their shield and crush them in the next instant will have children and adults alike chuckling with glee!
8/10: Demons vs. Wizards will likely not appeal to the hardened deck-building card gamer, but it’s not meant to. Kostroman Games have tailored this game to younger or less experienced players and made it an ideal family game. It’s also a nice way to gently introduce players to the deck-building genre without overloading them with rules. The developer’s website is regularly updated; they’re dedicated to improving the game, and they have more features in the pipeline like online play, new cards, new decks and multi-platform play.