Friday, July 14, 2017

Mystery Box Friday (Incantris)

Hey Game Fans we’re back with another Mystery Box Friday review.  Today we’ve got something a little different, we have a copy of Incantris from Rainn Studios.  The folks at Rainn Studios were nice enough to send us a copy of the game and we’re going to do an article on the game, an unboxing video , and we might try to do a playthrough of at least one of the games versions.  Today we’re going to talk about Setting up your game and getting ready to play.  Let’s dig in and see what sort of neat things we can find.  


Incantris is a wonderful game of magical teamwork where players take control of a team of wizards to take on a variety of challenges and threats.  Each wizard has specific magical abilities and unique options available to them, and the teams are color coded for easy play.  Each team has specific strengths and weaknesses, so each one has a different play style.  Learning to play to the strengths of your team and maximize your capabilities is the tactical challenge of the game and it’s a complex tactical puzzle that changes each time you play it.  


Setup is an easy process of 5 steps.  Once the setup is complete, you’re ready to start your game.  The steps (in order) are:
  1. Distribute Game Components:

    1. Each player chooses one of the four color coded teams (Red, Blue, Grey, and Purple) to use for the game.  This means the player gets the three minis of that team’s color, the reference boards, life point trackers, and the wizard turn tokens.   The life point trackers attach to the left side of the wizard reference board (set it at the highest number, which is the wizard’s starting life point total).  Make sure you put the white casting dice (and these are neat dice) in easy reach of all the players.
    2. If you are new to the game, make sure you check out the Selecting your team sidebar on page 3 to get a rough overview of what each team is good at, and the areas they excel at.  
  2. Choose a Scenario:

    1. There are four scenarios to choose from in this book, Battle Royale, Crystal Sap, Capture the Crystal, and Shifting Arena.  Players should work together to pick a scenario and then get ready to set up the play area,  (The Scenarios are detailed on page 11).
  3. Construct the Arena:

    1. Each of the tiles that make up the arena (playing board for Incantris) have hexagonal grids overlaid so that players can track movement and ranges.  The size and shape depends on the number of players (and there are a variety of options displayed on page 5 for a visual guide).  
    2. You can pick any tiles you want to use for the game you’re playing as long as they correspond to the diagrams on page 5, so you can customize your battlefield each time you play.  You need to make sure that water connects to water, and also keep in mind that you’ve got punch out terrain feature trees and walls to spice up the battlefield.
  4. Deploy Wizards:

    1. Each Player chooses a starting zone in the arena that consists of a half tile.  (If you’re looking at the diagram on Page 5, these are indicated in orange).  Players place all three of their wizards into any of the Hexagons in their selected starting zone.  Only one player can put their wizards in a specific starting zone, and only wizard can occupy any given hexagon.  
  5. Establish Starting Player:

    1. Now that you have the board put together, the people playing need to roll the 5 casting dice.  The Player who rolls the most green wands (as opposed to the purple wards) gets to be the first player, and play proceeds clockwise.  The Game is ready to start.  

Sequence of Play

Now that you’ve gotten the board setup, the game is ready to start.  The game is played in a number of rounds which are broken up into turns.  During a round, starting with player 1,  each player activates one of their wizards during their turn.  After a player activates a wizard, the turn passes to the next player, and so on until every wizard has been activated.  Once all wizards have activated, the round advances and all of the activation tokens (more on those in a second) are flipped back over and play starts over.

Starting with player 1, each player will pick one of their wizards to activate.  Activating a wizard in this game involves moving and casting spells.  You can either move and cast spells, or cast spells in move, (one of the wizards, the Shadow Weaver, can move before and after casting spells). Activating a Wizard is kept track of by flipping that wizard’s turn token over (indicating they have been activated) and this is mandatory.  You have to activate one of your wizards during each round, but all the other actions a wizard can perform are not.  You can activate and do nothing, effectively passing your turn.   
One of the more interesting tactical aspects of this game is that as a player starts to lose wizards, they lose options.  A Wizard has activate during a player’s turn if there is a wizard (You can’t choose to activate a dead wizard to delay your activation to a later turn in the round).  Tactically this means i can see players working towards either a dominant first strike that takes out an enemy wizard or players building counterpunch strategies to take advantage of an error in another player’s tactics.  It’s got potential to turn into a nail biting game of tactical supremacy while being small enough that a casual player isn’t overwhelmed by the choices.

Movement and Terrain

Every wizard has a personal reference board (for more information, make sure you check out page 13 of the rule book) and one of the key stats is a small hexagon with a number in it.  This is that specific wizard’s movement points and covers the amount of distance a wizard can move in a turn.  Most terrain is considered open, but there are a few specific exceptions.  Open Terrain costs a single point of movement per Hex to cross, and Wizards can move freely through Wizards of the same team.  Wizards can’t occupy the same hex ever, and they can’t use partial hexes for anything.   Now there are some special cases that crop up about movement.


Stream tiles have creeks, streams or rivers moving through them,  Remember that when you are laying out the arena that you need to connect water to water when using stream tiles.  Wizards have to use 2 movement points to enter a hex containing water on a stream tile.  If the wizard has insufficient movement points available, they are unable to enter the water hex.  A Wizard can leave a water hex on a stream tile for 1 movement point.  If the hex is more than 50% percent water in a stream tile, it’s a stream hex.  If the stream has a bridge over it, the bridge counts as open ground and neither it, nor the stream block line of sight.  


Ocean tiles have large groupings of water hexes and a little bit of surrounding terrain.  Wizards can’t enter, move over, or otherwise occupy any of the water hexes on an ocean tile.  Ocean hexes (like stream hexes) don’t block line of sight, and any hex that is more than 50% water on an Ocean tile is an Ocean hex.


There are three types of obstacles included in the Incantris set, High Walls, Low Walls, and Trees. These are all three dimensional cardboard punch out terrain and have specific lengths, heights, and areas they occupy. All obstacles prevent a Wizard from entering, passing through, or occupying the same area they occupy.  Some of them also block line of sight.  High Walls and Trees block line of sight and are obstacles, but Low Walls don’t block line of sight.  (If you have any questions about these, make sure you check out the section on Obstacles on page 6-7).  

Conclusions, For Now

Incantris fills a very neat place in my gaming brain.  It’s a quick paced game of skill and planning where the players have a variety of options for overcoming the rest of the players.  With a variety of scenarios to play with, and multiple permutations of the same game, you can approach Incantris from a couple of different angles.  For serious tactical gamers, there are enough nuances and differences within the color coded teams that you can find interesting bits of crunchy tactics to keep you happy.  More casual gamers are as likely to grab a color coded team and see how the game the plays out.  Either one of these approaches is perfectly fine, and this is a game where both of these gamers can get together and play.  Finding a game that bridges this well isn’t easy.  I am having fun with this so far, and i will do another one of these in a couple of weeks covering how to cast spells and activate magical abilities, and we’ll take a closer look at the scenarios while we are at it.  

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy, make sure you take a look at Rainn Studios here.  We’ll put some videos of us tinkering with this later on, and we hope you take a look at Incantris, from Rainn Studios.  A special thanks to Heath Robinson (at Rainn Studios) for sending us the copy we used for this write up and review.  

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