Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Ka-Zing

Game: Ka-Zing

Publisher: Redwell Games

Designer: Tom Lovewell

Year: 2019



Spells and charms, cast with a swish and a flick – and the right incantation...

Stupefy - A useful spell used to knock out an opponent in a duel. When learning Stupefy, the stunning spell, wave your wand in the direction of an up-side down triangle and say clearly and loudly: Stupefy! If correct and accurate, the red jet of light should shoot directly from the end of your wand and hit the opponent.

If you've ever fancied your self as a witch or wizard, adept at spell casting then perhaps you should practice your skills with Ka-Zing.The aim of Ka-Zing is to be a better spell caster than your opponents. Spells are cast by linking together a series or one or more wand movements and finishing with a spell casting word.

Ka-Zing is coming to Kickstarter from Redwell games and we've taken a look at this pocket - sized card game.

Gameplay

While there are several different ways to play Ka-Zing they all share the same basic a gameplay. Each player will have a hand of cards, while a common pool is laid out in the center of the table. On your turn you choose to do 1 action: either draw a card, or cast a spell. To draw a card you either take 1 card from the face up selection, or blind from the top of the deck. In order to cast a spell you must play at least 3 cards together, after casting a spell you get the top card of the deck as a reward.

To cast a spell you must play 1 card to give you a starting location, you have to imagine the wizard as a 3x3 grid numbered 1-3 along the top row, 4-6 along the middle and 7-9 along the bottom. After playing a starting location you can then play any number of cards as movement cards, these allow you to flick your wand in a direction as you cast the spell and must be played in a way that allows you to move the want after every card (no moving right twice!). Finally you need to play a word card, a word of power to focus your magical essence!

On top of normal spellcasting there are 2 bonuses available with each spell, 1 bonus is for having your want end on the same location as it started. The second bonus is for using cards of only one colour to cast the spell. Exactly how these bonuses reward you varies, but it's usually enough to warrant aiming for them.

The objective of the game varies, you can play for points (each card has points based on how hard it is to use). Alternatively you can play in order to prove your mastery of magic, casting a spell that starts in each of the 9 locations (with bonuses giving you free wildcards, so a perfect spell could count as 3 locations completed!). Finally you can play a duel mode, in this mode the score of your spell is used either to attack your opponents or heal yourself depending on the word choice, with the winner being the last player with mana (health) left.





Amy’s Final Thoughts

Ka-Zing is a little bit stuck between two worlds: It wants to be easy to pick up and play, but if you even start to care about bonuses (and at times even to cast a legal spell over 3 cards long) things start to get surprisingly difficult. There is such a limited pool of spell cards available at one time that it can be very difficult to get the ones you need, especially word cards which are not only comparatively rare, but need to match the penultimate card's colour in order to be played at all. The rules are just a little complex for the audience that would likely enjoy Ka-Zing the most.

There is some fun to be had in the game and it does mostly come from getting into the theme. If you had a room full of Harry Potter fans swinging around wands in the motions dictated in the card then Ka-Zing could be a massive hit. Without getting drawn into the theme though the game is a little too clunky for as simple as it is.

The different game modes are all handled well and can require different strategies. My favourite was the duel mode where you drain your opponents mana, letting different magic words cause the spell to be attacking/defensive was a nice thematic touch, although at times could feel awkward as you might be limited in choice.

To me Ka-Zing felt like an excellent idea that didn't quite develop quite as well as it could have. Turns should be quick as its 1 action per turn, but could sometimes drag as players tried to work out in their head which of the cards best suited their spells. I certainly think there is a place for it on the shelf of people who love the witch/wizard theme, but if the theme doesn't sing out to you then you aren't likely to put up with the slightly awkward gameplay.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Ka-Zing is ultimately a hand management game. Turns are very simple - you add a card to your hand and try to make a spell, however making a spell can be pretty complex and brain burning. At the very least, your last card needs to match your casting word in terms of colour so that defines some limitations, then you need to contort your mind to try and figure out if you can make a spell that starts and ends in the same spot or is matching in colour throughout. Sometimes you realise you've done this, but it doesn't work with the starting position you're left with. It can be really puzzly as you try and figure out the best thing to to with your hand. The best thing to do can also change depending on the game mode and how much longer spells are more highly rewarded.


It's definitely a bit of a challenging game to pick up, which is not helped by the cards themselves. You need to have a very good imagination to be able to picture which numbered position from 1-9 you are currently in and whether you can play the next card from that position. I'm not sure all players would be suitably spatially minded, particularly young players. I think this is a shame, because it feels like the optional elements of waving your arm and chanting the spell word are aimed at a younger audience.

I love that Ka-Zing offers me different ways to play that change up the puzzle. I just wish it flowed better and was a little bit more accessible.

You Might Like...
  • The different game modes feel genuinely different, with a varying focus on big spells, small spells, getting bonuses and speed over quality.
  • The game is great for people who enjoy puzzles as you try to figure out the best cards to maximise your bonuses.
  • There's a lot of variety within a single deck - with special cards to explore even after you've mastered the standard game at different difficulty levels.
You Might Not Like...
  • The gameplay is not intuitive and the spatial reasoning required could be quite challenging for a younger audience that might enjoy the theme more.
  • The deck shuffle can really influence your game - we've had long periods of time with no spell casting words to end a spell.

The Verdict
Ka-Zing has some interesting mechanisms where you are trying to link cards together, but luck of the draw can be your worst enemy when trying to cast spells. Unfortunately the game does not quite deliver the promise of a game that channels the wand-movement and spell-casting that a Harry Potter fan might love.

Ka-Zing was a prototype copy kindly provided to us by Redwell Games. It will be live on Kickstarter from 30th October.

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