Epic Spell Wars is out and selling extremely well. People who know nothing about the game beforehand buy it for the amazing art by Nick Edwards. The gameplay comes as a pleasant surprise.
It’s a game that can be played with friends who aren’t ordinarily interested in gamer-games. I refer to the appeal of the core mechanic as Baby’s First Combo; people who haven’t experienced card combos before react well to putting cards together for synergistic effect. I think of ESW as a gateway game, it has helped a couple people who usually aren’t comfortable playing with the rest of us happy about joining in.
The Baby’s First Combo tag got a workout a few days ago when a friend’s 20-month old, sitting on her lap during a game, got hold of the Thundering card and gave it a mouth-over. Lisa said, “When the box says the game is for 15+ it means months, right?”
ESW’s non-gamer appeal put me in the mockery seat when I played the game with a circle of non-gamers and Eurogamers. Whenever I referred to rolling one die I always said “Roll 1d6”and people at the table laughed at me and said, “You’re such a gamer! Roll 1d6! Only gamers talk like that!” It’s been a Loooong time since I got made fun of for being a gamer. Given the context, I could live with it.
Earlier in the day I’d been in a six player game. At some point Jay Schneider, my co-founder at Fire Opal Media, came by the table and said, “Oh my god! Mons IS the last Wizard standing! Look at yourselves!” You win Epic Spell Wars by being the Last Wizard Standing in two games. And our table of six included five former Wizards of the Coast employees and just one still-going-strong WotC employee. We could have handed Mons an LWS token on the spot but we made him work for it and he went down in spatters.