When they announced Wizard Kittens, I was surprised to see it was a card game. Although I knew the quality would be high, given their record, I wondered, “Could my favorite indie/story RPG publisher provide us with decent tabletop gaming fare?”
The answer is “YES,” Magpie has done it again. Wizard Kittens is a fun game fit for families to groups, and a fantastic addition to anyone’s shelf.
The premise behind Wizard Kittens is just as the name suggests – you are playing kittens who are wizards. Unfortunately, being kittens, you’ve been messing with the wrong books and unleashed dangerous curses.
You have a limited amount of time before the librarian, Professor Whispurr, catches you in the act. You’ll need to work hard, find the right components, and put everything back in its tome before he arrives.
A semi-cooperative game, each player is still trying to win by earning the most points. However, everyone must work fast because, if the librarian catches you, only the kitten with the cleanest paws gets away.
The basic structure of a turn is simple: draw a Component card, perform a Spell (action), and clear any Curses you match. The strategy behind the game and the steps taken is more complicated.
Each game has six total Curses and three Chapters (although only two are open to start). Each Curse has a list of Components that you must have in your own matching Chapters to defeat it.
When you play Components, you place them wherever you see fit in your Ritual Circle (playing area). At the end of your turn, if you have the right Components in the matching Chapter, the Curse is put into your scoring pile!
It’s never that simple, however, as You’re trying to match those Components and only those cards. Should you defeat a Curse, any extra Components also go to your scoring pile, and you lose points for them.
To make play more complicated, each player has access to four different Spells:
- Summon (draw a card)
- Sling (move one of your cards to someone else)
- Swat (discard two of your cards)
- Switch (trade cards with someone else)
A kitten may only perform a single Spell each turn, and never the same one in a row.
These limited actions, and restrictions on doubling up, create some unique strategies. You might focus on drawing cards or stealing from the other players, or you might choose to sling cards into other’s Chapters (messing with their scoring) or swap those around in yours (to help your own).
The goal is to clean up as many Curses as possible with the least amount of Components necessary. Yet, this is Magpie Games, so not everything is simple.
For one, some Curses score straight points while others add additional points based on other effects. You might have a Curse that even scores you points based on how well your opponents have done!
For another, each player also has an Extra Credit card based on leaving specific Components in your Ritual Circle. Of course, doing so leaves you open to accidentally cleaning Curses with remaining cards (and losing points).
Worse, should the Professor show up, your Extra Credit cards are worthless, and you’ve left yourself open with all those leftover Components lying around!
Wizard Kittens also adds more complications in the form of random cards shuffled throughout the Component deck.
Chaos Cats may show up in the middle of the deck, with one of them opening up Chapter 3 and adding a new Curse that everyone must defeat. If using the Advanced rules, which I’ll mention later, they can even change the rules of the game!
Toward the end of the deck, there’s a chance of Professor Whispurr showing up via a Caught! card. This event ends the game immediately and makes winning the game far harder (and possibly impossible).
Wizard Kittens runs until two things happen: all Curses are defeated, or Professor Whispurr shows up. Once one of those events occurs, players then proceed to score the game.
Cleaning all the Curses is the best way, as it provides the most opportunities to score, both through Curses and Extra Credit. However, Professor Whispurr only lets the kitten with the “cleanest paws” escape – those who scored low enough and have the least Components in front of them win!
Wizard Kittens has so many positives, and it’s hard to list them all.
I love games that are simple and fast (a game is usually done in under 30 minutes) but have a lot of strategies. Wizard Kittens appears easy, but the routes to victory and the chaos that can happen (or you can cause) are just like an actual cat.
Despite these complexities, this game is accessible to families. Although early elementary kids might struggle a little, by 3rd grade, this game is well within their capabilities.
The artwork is also fantastic, living up to the standards set in Magpie’s products. Children and adults alike will love the brightly-colored cards and cute characters.
For those looking for sophisticated experiences, Wizard Kittens doesn’t disappoint. Once you have the basic game down, Magpie has included tiers of additional rules.
Advanced Rules allow the Chaos Cats to add New Rule cards, which can have immediate or lasting effects on how the game plays. Kittens also have an Advanced side, where their Switch Spell is replaced with an action unique to that specific character.
Chaos Mode takes the previous New Rules a step further with one of four unique cards for your session. When a Chaos Cat appears, you immediately enact the matching rule listed, and these rules can escalate and compound.
Magpie has also released an expansion, Magical Monsters, that adds new cards and room for a fifth player. The new rules also add Monster cards to the possible Curses, which have effects on the game as long as they’re in play (i.e., undefeated).
All-in-all, Wizard Kittens will find significant replayability thanks to these further rules, modes, and expansions.
Designers Brendan Conway, Marissa Kelly, and Mark Diaz Truman prove their creative prowess expands beyond TTRPGs. Also, Ms. Kelly’s team of artists, including Micro Paganessi, Meagan Trott, Dawn Lawson, and Miguel Angel Espinoza, deserve recognition for their fantastic work.
If you’re looking for that perfect game to play with family or friends during these times, you can’t go wrong with Wizard Kittens.
Wizard Kittens is on shelves now. 2-4 players, 15-30 minutes, Ages 7+.
I give Wizard Kittens a paw-some 5 fur-midable fireballs out of 5.