Designer: Matthew Killeen
Publisher: Variable Outcomes
Artist: Jackson Gee
Some people make and sell bread for a living, while other people make and sell shoes. You, on the other hand, are a witch and you make and sell potions with other witches. You and the other witches are competing against each other to be the first to make each potions.
Matthew was kind enough to send us a copy of Witchful Thinking for review.
Witchful Thinking is a light mathematics-based card game in which players take on the role or witches mixing ingredients of different numerical values in a cauldron to produce a potion of equal value.
At the beginning of a game the group decides how many potions they want to work towards creating. The game will finish when the last of these potions have been created.
The first potion is selected from the stack and placed face up on the table, next to this, four starter ingredients are placed forming “The Cauldron”. Any ingredients placed on a players turn must always overlay existing ingredients and the cauldron can never have more than 4 stacks of ingredients in it.
Each ingredient and potion in the game has a numerical value, ingredients range from -5 to +5 and potions from -19 to +18. On a players turn they take an ingredient from their hand and place it in the cauldron on the table. Players are attempting to combine 4 ingredients in the cauldron which equal the number on the potion that they are trying to create.
Once the four ingredients add up to the number shown on the potion, the person that placed the final ingredient to complete the potion wins that potion and takes the card into their own scoring pile.
There are some ingredients in the game which are marked with a “W” instead of a number, this stands for “Wild”. On a players turn they can place a wildcard instead of a normal ingredient choosing the value they want it to represent, these are worth anything between -5 to +5 and the chosen value must be declared as it is placed into the cauldron. Wildcards are however optional and can be left out of the game for a simplified version.
There are two other cards in the game which add another layer of strategy to gameplay, these are the action cards, “Sneaky Witch” and “Witch Hex”.
The Sneaky witch action allows players to place two ingredients on their turn instead of just one. The Witch Hex action card allows a player to steal a random ingredient card from one of their opponents before they place an ingredient. Using these cards correctly can give the active player a powerful advantage on their turn.
Once the final potion has been completed the Witch that has the most potions is declared the winner.
So, what do we think of the game?
Witchful Thinking is a very clever, well designed and streamlined card game, it plays quickly and will make a perfect filler style game for game nights and families.
If you would like an extra challenge the game also includes optional Character cards. Character cards are double sided and offer two different ability choices for each character. Only one of these abilities can be used during a game and players must choose which one they want to take affect at the beginning of the game. These abilities only apply for the player holding that character card unless otherwise stated.
These character cards can give players powerful abilities that will help them throughout the game; For example, Cuddles the Cat can allow you to pick up 3 potion cards in addition to your ingredients at the beginning of the game which don’t affect that players hand limit. Instead of placing an ingredient card, that player can “accidentally” place a potion card in the cauldron potentially allowing them to bump up the potion total considerably.
As you are overlaying cards with different values on top of each other in the cauldron, deciding which ingredient card to play and where can have a dramatic effect on the overall combined value of the cauldron, this element provides a nice level of strategy and makes you really think where it would be best to throw in that ingredient to get you closer to making that illusive potion.
There are plenty of elements in the game which can be added in and changed around (the Wildcards and the Character cards) giving Witchful Thinking great replayability.
The thing that strikes us the most about Witchful Thinking is that it would make the perfect game to act as an educational tool for families with School Children and would be a fun alternative and introduction to learning basic maths alongside traditional methods. The ability to choose the length of the game by adding potion cards in the set-up means you could easily set up a game as a quick test or equally put more in for a longer challenge.
The artwork in the game is striking, graphic and bold, each of the cards is beautifully illustrated and match the theme of the game perfectly. Our favourites are the character cards which have so much charm and character and stand out beautifully against the brightly coloured backgrounds. The potions and ingredients all have amusing names that help to tie in with the fun illustrations.
We really enjoyed Witchful Thinking as a quick little filler game with enough depth to keep both adults and children engaged whilst helping strengthen maths skills in a fun, witchy way!
While some people might see a maths game and be turned off by the idea, the maths in Wishful Thinking is straight forward and doesn’t feel too daunting (we are both pretty rubbish at maths but didn’t see this as an obstacle while playing). Included with the game are Spell Book cards which contain a number line ranging from -20 to +20 to give players that might need a little more assistance working out the maths a helping hand.