Later editions featured slightly more sophisticated game materials (such as a box), but the essential simplicity of the game has been preserved. Several expansion sets have also been published, including additional cards and board segments, allowing for more players. The last published edition was the Seventh Edition. An Eighth Edition has been mentioned at Tom Jolly's website for some time, and has also been announced on the Chessex web site since at least 2002 , but as of 2008, it has not yet been published.
Actual copies of the game can be very hard to find, but are sometimes available on eBay. Dedicated players frequently make their own equipment, ranging from the simple to the elaborate. The cards and board designs are available on the Internet. Wiz-War has a small but very dedicated following, and the game's creator seems to encourage creativity and innovation within the Wiz-War community.
Cards are dealt to each player to represent spells that may be cast, objects (both magical and mundane) that may be used, and other actions that may be taken by that player. These cards are generally discarded when used and can be replenished throughout the game. Each player begins the game with fifteen life points that can be lost in a wide variety of ways.
A player wins by (1) placing two treasures belonging to other players on his or her home base, or (2) eliminating all other players.
The full text of the rules, included with the original game and each of the expansion sets, may be found at this website The description of the rules provided here is intended to synthesize these rules and game concepts in a clear and readily-accessible way for the novice player.
The relative simplicity of the game is deceiving; turns can be structured in a highly complex and sophisticated way to take maximum advantage of the cards in a player's hand and avoid interference by other players. Many players regard this as an essential part of the game's charm.
The treasures of players who have been eliminated can be used to satisfy (1). Note that in very unusual conditions, it is possible for the remaining two players to kill each other, causing the game to end in a draw.
Note that if both treasures are on the same living opponent's home base, that opponent has satisfied one of the victory conditions and the game is over. Also, note that it is sometimes possible to gain hit points as a result of certain magical actions.
Once eliminated, a player is out of the game permanently.
An important aspect of eliminating another player is that, if Player A is killed as a direct result of damage caused by an attack initiated by Player B, Player B receives all of the cards that were in Player A's hand. Player B must then discard enough cards (choosing freely between the ones he just received from Player A and the ones he already had) to arrive at the applicable hand limit (usually seven), but this can still be a significant benefit to Player B, especially if he used most of the cards in his hand in order to accomplish the kill. Some groups allow Player B to use excess cards rather than discard them as long as he is at or under the hand limit by the end of his turn. However, if Player A is eliminated in any other manner, his cards are simply discarded. A player who places Player A's second treasure on a home square does not receive Player A's cards, and neither does a player who causes damage with a neutral spell (such as by destroying a wall adjacent to Player A) or with a controlled monster. This fringe benefit of killing another player sometimes has a strategic impact on game play once one or more players have lost enough hit points to make killing them plausible.
Each board segment is composed of a five-by-five grid of squares each of which is a space. The layout of each board segment is a unique labyrinth of walls and doors and the boards are randomly selected by the players and randomly rotated and placed at the start of each game. The result is that the board is different every time the game is played.
The home base of each player is at the center of that player's segment, and the treasures are placed on indicated squares diagonal to the home base.
Each of the edges of the board "warps" to the edge of another board, as if the board were a projection of a very small world; the field of play therefore is finite, but has no boundaries. When the number of players is such that the board is both horizontally and vertically symmetrical, opposite edges of the board are deemed contiguous. Board layout is therefore simple for games of 2, 4, 6, 8 or 9 players. (Note that any number of players greater than 6 would require the use of multiple sets or homemade board segments.)
With three players, arrange the boards in an ell; the inside edges of the ell are deemed contiguous, and in the original (four player) edition, an "auto warp" board segment was included.
Cards are generally either 'spells', the effects of which are described on the card, number cards, discussed below, or represent objects or actions that can be used for a variety of purposes. Any number of unwanted cards can be discarded, which can make room for new cards to be drawn up to the seven card limit. The maximum number of cards that can be held is (usually) seven, and a player may replenish two cards from the undrawn pile at the end of its turn.
Any spell that requires a number card may be cast without a number card, in which case it is as if the card was cast with a number card of one.
Distances are generally calculated as a player could move.
Play begins with the player who rolled the highest.
Each player takes a turn during which they may move, cast spells, control monsters, pick up certain objects, and take other actions. Each player starts the turn with three movement points, which they can supplement with a number card. At any point during their movement, a player may cast spells from their cards. A player may only "attack" once per turn and the act of picking up an object ends a players turn.
Because of the scarcity of original games, it is common for players to make equipment, or indeed whole sets, for their own use. Tom Jolly seems to be aware of this, and does not appear to have raised any copyright or other objections to the making of homemade sets for personal use.
Perhaps the most common pieces of homemade equipment, apart from complete sets, are new spell cards and additional board sectors allowing for more players. While the expansion sets contained additional boards, allowing for six-player games, players have made sets allowing up to eight players.
Tom Jolly has offered his views on some rules questions, either in the rules or through his website, but groups are of course at liberty to decide whether this interpretation is dispositive. Some examples of ambiguity are below.
Player A uses "Illusionary Attack" on Player B. Illusionary Attack, which mimics the effect of any other attack, but with only a 50% chance of the victim "believing" the attack. Player B has "Full Shield", which shields the player from the effects of any attack. Player B is vulnerable and must shield whatever attack Player A launches. Does Player A get to roll the die to see whether Illusionary Attack "works" and then, if it works, play Full Shield (Player B's theory); or must Player B either immediately play Full Shield, or accept the 50% chance of a successful attack (Player A's theory)?
One argument Player A might advance is that the relevant attack that is being shielded is the Illusionary Attack itself, rather than the (possibly unsuccessful) attack it is pretending to be. Therefore if Player B wished to shield anything, it has to be the Illusionary Attack at the moment it is cast. Player A might point out that gameplay is improved by not allowing Player A two chances to disrupt the attack.
Player B could reply that Illusionary Attack only mimics the effects of another attack, for example, a "Fireball". From Player B's perspective, a Fireball is hurtling down the corridor, Player B sees it and is either convinced by it or not (hence the 50% chance of being affected). If Player B disbelieves the Fireball, Player B simply ignores it. If, on the other hand Player B believes it is a real Fireball, Player B can counteract it as any other Fireball. Player B might also argue that Illusionary Attack is an intentionally weak spell, and it would disrupt gameplay to allow it to always require a player to use a counteraction.
"Swarthmore's Enchantment" is a spell widely thought to be of limited utility and often discarded to make room for more powerful spells. It can be cast on any "object" and causes that object to do one more point of damage than it ordinarily would. One player creatively decided to cast Swarthmore's Enchantment on his fists (which can normally be used to punch a player or object for one point of damage), rather than discard the card, raising the question of whether a player's fist is an "object" within the meaning of the Swarthmore's Enchantment card.
On one hand, a player's fist is clearly an "object" in the game context in the sense that it occupies space, has mass, is not a magical force and does physical damage. Other spells that affect "objects" can unequivocally be used to affect players (unequivocal because those cards or the rules are more specific in these other spells' application), implying that the player as a whole is, at the very least, an object. This interpretation also makes useful a card that is otherwise of very limited utility, and shows a great deal of creativity. On the other hand, the set of examples enumerated on the card itself is evidence that its original intent was to apply to a limited subset of damage-causing in-game weapons; for example, the Large Rock and the Dagger. A proponent of this view could argue that the alternative view makes unreasonable use of a spell intended to be weak and of limited utility, and that it could not have been in the contemplation of the author of the rule that it would be used in such a way.
An analysis similar to that discussed above applies to casting Swarthmore's Enchantment on monsters capable of doing physical damage, like the Skeleton.
"Thumb of God" allows the caster to "flip the die from a distance of no less than six inches onto the board so as to hit playing tokens." Does the six inches include vertical distance?