This is the pre-production version, so the art, rules and mechanics may be subject to change over the next couple of months. Therefore please treat this as a first thoughts piece, based on version of the game that we were provided with. We have not been paid for the preview. We also do not provide a full play by play explanation of the game, so not all mechanics may be mentioned in the preview.
I've always insisted that the most difficult thing about starting anything is actually just getting on and doing it and then accepting that your first attempt at anything is going to be pretty terrible. Take the beginning of this review. I've done everything tonight from watch crap telly to take the dog out in the garden for an emergency pee. I've boiled the kettle some umpteen times and threatened to make myself a coffee countless times which I abandoned when it became far too late. I've written and rewritten some kind of clever arsed intro in the hope that you get dragged into reading to the end and consider finding out more about Wizard Miners. However, now we're here and I think we're almost at the end of the first paragraph and you're still wondering how the hell we can even begin to link this in to talk about the game.
It's not a good start and I'm hoping you accept it. I'm hoping you can see past the shaky paragraph structure and word count and appreciate that the overall message underneath isn't actually too bad, rather interesting and hopefully will entice you to go past the barriers. You see, I don't have the resources to farm this out to other people, but I'm hoping that you grasp that my overall vision for this piece of writing is sound and well intentioned. Pretentious as it all may come across. Now you can go away and read something that talks about rules and then tacks an opinion on the end if you like or you can continue pushing through the crust of this horrific review pie in the hope that the filling is something palatable and delicious.
From the off, Wizard Miners needs Kickstarter. This is a game that genuinely is not going to exist without some outside assistance. It needs the money to help pay for production, but it could do with some decent art. It could do with decent tokens, it doesn't entirely look like the greatest when set up on the table. In any other situation Wizard Miners looks would be passable, and during the play testing phase it would be considered acceptable to have something that people could playthrough and understand the mechanics.
At its core Wizard Miners is about clearing your mine in order to reach the untold riches at the bottom of the shaft of opportunity and at the same time trying to make it more difficult for you opponents to do the same. You'll start off with a wizard, a wand and a pile of cards that represent your own personal mine. This is all about clearing your own deck and you can use a mixture of tools and spells in order to make it happen. As per usual Wizards prove once again how absolutely useless they are at anything that requires the slightest hint of manual labour. Faced with this conundrum, they'll opt to purchase tools instead which will then allow them based on the dice rolls to clear a certain amount of cards form their mine pile.
This is when things get a bit clever and tasty. The tools that you have as well as your own wizard card have numbers on them. As you buy or upgrade tools, you increase the choice of numbers on your tool cards. If you roll a 5, then you can remove a card from your mine for every five you have between your tools and your own wizard number. Any gems that you mine are yours to keep and they can get added to your rubble or discard pile. As the game goes on and the number of tool you have increase, then you have a chance of clearing out more to your rubble pile. Or if you want to you can start to clear out the rubble pile itself by spending precious gems in order to clear them for good.
On occasion you need to take an action to Clean Up. Forget to do this on a regular basis and when you hit a cave-in or a cave-in hits you, then you're potentially going to take back a huge pile of rubble into you mine to clear, and bear in mind that this new rumble doesn't have the chances to earn gems. It's an interesting mechanic that tries to keep the game in balance and stop a run away winner who maybe has decent tools but too much ambition. As the game progresses and the chance of a Cave-in increase, you'll often find that the pace slows to being less about digging and more about making sure you aren't simply overwhelmed by your current progress.
The addition of spells will give you much need advantages when you need them, or protection when it really matters. Dynamite often adds to your woes and can make a cave more of a challenge. All in all there's been a reasonable amount of time spent here on making sure that Wizard Miners gives everyone a chance to reach the bottom and claim victory. Even in the last throws of the game, a decent run can win you the game with the right planning and some luck on the dice rolls.
There's some really interesting ideas here that make Wizard Miners more than just a fanciful expansion on UNO with idiots in pointy hats. The biggest issue, apart from the theme with the work shy fops with wonder glitter sticks is the overall presentation. It's going to take a lot of mining for some people to see past the simplistic artwork and into what Wizard Miners is offering. I hope you manage to because there is a lovely game here that isn't hard to learn to play and deserves to get it's place in the spotlight. I'm hoping it's a gem that doesn't stay hidden.
You can find out more about Wizard Miners by visiting https://sites.google.com/view/petrogaminggroup-wizard-miners/home
This preview will be updated with the Kickstarter link when live.