This probably sounds like a terrible plan, but what if we climb to the top of a Wizard’s Tower and then take all the precious items as we leave. Well, that’s basically what Fairway does in this preview of Daily Magic Games’ upcoming Kickstarter for 10 Minute Heist – The Wizard’s Tower.
10 Minute Heist – The Wizard’s Tower is a two- to four- player set collection game in which players take on the roles of would be tower thieves. Once set up, this game goes very quickly even at higher player counts. I doubt any game actually reached ten minutes.
Initial Impressions ^
- The game play is really straight-forward and easy to teach and playable for pretty young game players.
- The game is pretty much a pure and unadorned set collection game: score points by having the most valuable sets of things.
- The item cards feature nice looking items with thematic and creative names to steal. If you like games for the gathering and collecting of goodies, this is the game for you.
- The title is a bit misleading. This is not a real time game, there’s no 10 minute anything in the game. At best, I’d imagine that’s the longest any particular game can go.
Game Play ^
In 10 Minute Heist, players make their way down a seven-story tower while pilfering items from the floors that they’re on. Each item is categorized by an item type, given a value, and is either cursed or not. Players try to score the most points by collecting the largest sets of items that meet one of the scoring conditions such as “most gems” and “most 3s.” Players can also score points by being either the first or second person out of the tower and can lose points if they have the most cursed items. In a nutshell, that’s it.
At the start of the game, the tower is constructed of seven floors of five items. The top two floors from a category of items identified by “lit” rooms and the bottom floors by “dark” rooms. When set up, all but the very last item (nearest the door) is turned face up.
Then, each player is given one of the four characters. The characters are placed on the balcony on the top floor. Players will then take turns moving and taking items. The only real limitation is that once a player moves down a floor, he or she can never move up.
To change floors, players move their character down the outside edge of the tower. They’re free to move down more than one floor, just never up.
On a floor, a player can take any of the items from that floor. Most of the items have just a number value and a type. At the end of the game, points are scored awarded to the player with the most valuable items of a particular type. That means having a single 7-value item in a group is worth more than two three-valued items of the same group.
However, high value items are also usually cursed. This is shown by a skull icon in the lower left. If you wind up with the most cursed items, you’ll lose three points.
There are also a handful of items in the tower that also provide certain powers, like the ability to take another turn, discard items from the tower, be treated as one of two items, etc. These usually carry with them a cost in the form of no value or cursed or something else.
Once players reach the bottom of the tower, or there are no more items, the players exit the tower. The first player out gets two bonus points, second player out gets one, everyone else gets none.
The scores are then tallied up. Usually this is just a matter of counting up the value of a type, counting the number of a particular value, and summing up the number of curses. In each case, the player “winning” that grouping collects the score card.
In the hole ^
Play time. This is a very quick game from start to finish. Most players easily selected the items in pretty rapid succession. I’m not sure that any actual game place takes anywhere near 10 minutes. Scoring and setup take almost as long.
Balance. There seems to be a good balance in the available options. In our plays, I’m not sure that one strategy prevailed over any others. The numerical balance lends itself to some strategic planning: figuring out a combination of items to get enough of the victory points to win. There are lots of combinations of ways to do this, which is a good thing.
I will note that despite being otherwise well-balanced, curses seem a bit off considering how valuable they turn out to be. The penalty is just three points and only goes to the person with the most curses, but you can easily offset the penalty by gaining just one extra “set,” which is highly likely given the value. After that, you’re best off snagging as many cursed items as possible. And, for other players, the number of curses carries no penalty. As a result, despite what would seem like should be a deterrent, turns out generally to be a boon to everyone.
Items and art. There is definitely a group of people that will love the loot gathering aspect of this game. There are loads of unique, detailed illustrations on the cards. Gathering the loot itself does capture some of the fun of loot-drops in role playing games.
Where it comes up short ^
Wizard Ikea? This game is about as pure a set-collection game as there is. But, in that vein, my biggest concern with this game is that there isn’t a lot more than that. This is clearly by design, but I worry that it doesn’t provide a great deal of depth. Part of me wanted some “pressure” in the game to increase the urgency. Like a wizard chasing you. Or a consequence for taking too long. At times it feels less like a heist and more like a leisurely stroll through Wizard Ikea.
On that point, I’m not sure that the title is all the fitting: “10 minute heist” is suggestive of time pressure. I think at least some players are going to be mislead by that.
In the hole ^
10 Minute Heist – Wizard’s Tower is a no non-sense, set-collection game filled with lots of loot and goodies. It certainly knows what it is and tries to make the best of it. The art and illustrations will definitely appeal to those who enjoy massive loot drops of role playing games.10 Minute Heist can definitely serve as a light game for those looking for something a bit of a break from deep strategy.
10 Minute Heist – Wizard’s Tower is in the hole for a par. ^
Fairway was provided a pre-production copy of the game. He was not otherwise compensated for his opinion. Since this was a pre-production copy, aspects of the design and art may change.