Wiz-War is my favorite game. Its a card and board game invented by Tom
Jolly, with a simple premise. Wizards move about the game
board, using cards (spells, magic objects) to manipulate the game state,
in an effort to kill their opponents, or be the first to to recover a
pair of treasures. It is infinitely extensible; the cards that can
be added within the framework are limited only by one's imagination.
Of course, the above doesn't really describe the game for newbies. But,
this page really isn't for Wiz-War newbies, but for fans of the "Classic
I've been playing Wiz-War for over 25 years, and I think of it in terms
of 3 editions: what I'll call the "Original Edition", from the 80s,
which had two expansion sets, the "Classic Edition", from 1993, which had
one expansion set, and the "Modern Edition", released in 2012, which will
no doubt have many expansion sets. (Note that the above is from memory;
I could be wrong, and I guess I could Wiki it, but I don't feel like it
I started playing the Original Edition way back in the 80s, when I was in a
small gaming club (the "DAM Gamers" from Audubon, PA, anyone still out
there?). When it came time to buy my own set, the Original Edition
was out of print, replaced by the Classic Edition. I've been playing
that continuously since 1993. It has less cards than the Original
Edition (both as expanded), but it has plenty.
When the Modern Edition came out in 2012, I was disappointed. While
there is alot to like about the Modern Edition, in particular, the
artwork on the cards, some minor rule changes, and some refactoring
of the rules (tho if I were in charge, my refactoring would be more
extensive, yet it might take away from the original charm, so I prolly
would be loathe to do it), there were some negatives that were difficult
I won't go into too much detail on the negatives, suffice it to say that
the changes made it a materially different game to what I'd been used to
playing for 25 years. The main ones are that the ratio of NUMBER cards
to other cards is way whacked as compared to previous editions, making
movement more difficult, cluttery and weird cards have been eliminated
in an effort to make the game more combative rather than game state
manipulative, and, the dearth of NUMBER cards, coupled with the
ability to use certain cards as low NUMBER cards, provides incentives to
not use those cards (except as number cards), and I think the game is
more fun when a great variety of cards is used. So, you have less
diversity in cards than the previous edition, and incentive not to use
the ones you have.
I could write a whole essay on the changes, but I won't. Maybe sometimes
it just comes down to people hating change, and enjoying what they are
Be that as it may, I decided I wanted a way to keep the Classic
Edition alive, with all its cool cards that were eliminated in the Modern
Edition, its charm, its "Jollyisms", its weird, bizarre, and unpredictable
card interactions, combinations and debates, all of which seemed lost in
the Modern Edition, yet suck in new cards from the Modern Edition and
keep the game fresh as it continued to be expanded. Moreover, while I
was at it, have a way to add my own cards in the spirit and proper mix
of the original games.
So, that's what I decided to do, and that is what this page is about. If
you are a fan of the Classic Edition as well, I hope you find it useful.
This project involved 4 phases --
- Reverse engineering the game I love to keep the ratios the same
- Making my own cards of the Classic Edition
- Porting cards from the Modern Edition and adding them in
- Coming up with my own cards and adding them in
Ok, this section is really geeky. The idea is, that when adding new
cards (from any source), I think it is important to keep the
ratios of different types of cards the same. For example, if
you add 50 new cards from the Modern Edition, and don't add
any new number cards, the game risks getting bogged down with
lower mobility and lower power spells, and losing the free-wheeling
nature I'm used to.
Same with keeping the ratio of attacks to counteractions to the rest
of the cards, cards used for mobility and clutter, and so forth. The
Modern Edition seemed to take out most attacks of a pain in the ass nature
in favor of point-based attacks only (e.g., NO SPELL, IDIOT, MEDUSA),
and these cards can be interesting and fun, so not only did I want to
retain them, I wanted to retain the frequency of this class of card
in the game going forward. Same goes for all classes.
Anyway, I took the Classic Edition (with the first expansion), and broke
down the cards into various categories, and determined their
frequencies, as summarized following --
|Card Type||Total ||%Total || Example|
|NUMBER||49||25%||average of about 3.286|
| Attack (points)||22||11%||FIREBALL|
| Attack (PITA)||21||11%||NO SPELL|
|Attack (total)||43||22%|| |
| Counteraction (major)||6||3%||FULL REFLECTION|
| Counteraction (minor)||11||5.5%||BLUNT|
|Counteraction (total)||17||8.5%|| |
| Mobility/Clutter (PITA)||19||10%||THORNBUSH, CREATE WALL|
| Mobility/Clutter (enabling)||12||6%||PICK LOCK, DISPEL CREATION|
| Sector||3||1.5%||ROTATE SECTOR, REDIRECTION|
|Mobility/Clutter (total)||34||17%|| |
| Special (normal, often enabling)||11||5.5%||PASS THRU WALL, MIST BODY|
| Special (manipulative)||6||3%||HEAVE HO, SAFE, TRADER|
|Special (total)||17||8.5%|| |
| Architectural (modifier)||9||4.5%||ADD, EXTEND, AMPLIFY|
| Architectural (out of band)||10||5%||INTERRUPT, REUSE SPELL, ANTI ANTI|
| Architectural (weird)||3||1.5%||ALTER EGO, DEMOCRATIC MONSTER|
|Architectural (total)||22||11%|| |
|Other: Wands||3||1.5%||SHIFT WAND|
How could anyone be so geeky, and what did you do with this data? Well,
I like the game, and wanted to keep the same feel while adding new
cards. This data became guidelines for adding new cards. It led to
the following rules for adding new cards.
Turns out that the common denominator of all that stuff is about 24,
so I decided that new cards would be added in tranches of 24,
keeping to the above ratios, more or less. So that's what I did.
- For every 4 new cards added, one should be a NUMBER card,
keeping the average of about 3.286.
- For every 5 new cards, one should be an ATTACK card,
alternating between points and pain in the ass type attacks.
- For every 12 new cards added, one should be a COUNTERACTION, in a
cycle of minor, major, minor, minor, major, minor, and so forth.
- For every 6 new cards added, one should be a mobility/clutter
card, alternating between pain in the ass and enabling/sector.
- For every 12 new cards, one should be a special, alternating between
normal, manipulative, normal, 2 for 1
- For every 9 new cards, one should be architectural, alternating between
modifiers and out of band cards, with a weird one sprinkled in once
in a while.
- 1 of every 50 new cards should be a normal monster.
- 1 of every 50 new cards should be a wand.
- 1 of every 25 new cards should be a stone.
Of course, I made it even more complicated, setting up cycles of
tranches for things that did not span 24, but this is already too much,
isn't it? The bottom line is that I was satisfied with the result of
this approach in actual play, so I figured I'd document it for future
reference. And, of course, it is only a guideline -- if I had a card
I liked, I threw it in anyway, but this approach also served another
purpose, to spur me to think of various cards in the different categories.
The most tedious part of this project was making my own cards,
but successfully completing it was the most rewarding, as now
I don't have to worry about my cards wearing out (which they
were after over 20 years), and I can always add any card I
want when I want to. Moreover, my set did not come with
RELOCATE SECTOR (a must have, which has been inexplicably left
out of the Modern Edition), or REMOVE CURSE. Now I have them.
Most importantly, it was a fun total family project.
Here's how I did it. I used business card stock, Microsoft
Word 2010, a color inkjet printer, slave labor, and plenty of
trial and error. I like the way it turned out, tho I have
some concerns about the long-term durability of the stock (my
wife claims it is sturdier than the Classic Edition Stock, maybe,
maybe not; it certainly is not as sturdy as the stock
in the Modern Edition).
For stock, I used Aged Parchment Business Card Stock, #B308 from
Rainbowkits.com LLC. This is a 65# stock. As these things
go, it is wimpier than a 100# weight stock, which I also experimented
with. The problem was, it was impossible, at least for me, to find
a 100# business card stock with the cool aged parchment (or any
design) look. So, it was a trade off between a cooler look, and
more durability. I voted for the latter, but my family out-voted me.
I bought a few packages of this stuff, just in case the place goes out
For layout, I used Microsoft Word 2010. You can fit 10 cards
per sheet of stock. Word has the tools to do the backs, all
the sideways printing, etc., if you know how to use it. I don't
(in fact, I rarely use Word unless forced to), but my son is a whiz
at it, and he pretty much did all the layout. He was brilliant;
I could have never figured all that out. We used an arial font,
point size 7 to 10, depending on how much copy was on the card
(I had a rule that I would not go below 7pt; if it did not fit,
we reworded cards (just the ones we wrote). My wife enjoyed
helping with that part, but those who know me know I'm picky
about wording when in the mood to be, and Wiz-War is one of those
games where it matters). Then, lots of trial and error on the printer.
(Of course, all that copy from the Classic Edition cards had to
be typed in by hand. I did most of that. I didn't mind; but it
is certainly a tedious part of the project). One rule I had was to
not change any of the wording of those cards, even where it is
merited (as it is on many, if not most of them). The campy wording
is part of the charm of the game. I did, however, break that rule
a bit, fixing a couple of typos, and adding clarifications based
on our house rules. A total of 6 cards were affected, and REVERSE
needs to be updated to work with the new cards from the Modern Edition
(more on that later, if I remember)).
For the printer, I used an HP Officejet 6500A.
I carefully documented
how I fed the sheets in (flush left and so forth), printed little guide
words on the front so I wouldn't have to think about which direction to
feed the sheets for the backs, and so forth. Very important for a
project like this, especially for the backs, as you don't want any
inconsistencies. I was very happy with the results. I believe I blew
thru 2 or 3 ink cartridges.
(As and aside, I would NOT recommend the 6500A in
general, despite the fact that it worked well for this project. I
hate the printer in all respects; it is just a lemon. But, the print
quality works for a project of this nature if you are willing to put
up with such a frustrating printer to use. Problem is, I'm now stuck
with it, cause if I want to print cards again on a different printer,
I will have to recalibrate everything. There is prolly a way to
separate form from content using some sort of Word template or
something (or at least there should be), as any intelligent person
would seek to, but I didn't look into that. If you do this project,
FWIW, expect to pay $100-$200 to do a project like this, between the stock and
the ink cartridges, forgetting the time involved. Prolly better to just
buy the Modern Edition. That's gains from specialization as
an economist might say. This is only a project only for diehard fans.
I wonder how many diehard fans of Classic Edition Wiz-War there are out
Porting Modern Edition Cards
Once I was set up, taking the new cards from the Modern Edition and
moving them into my game was more or less straightforward, with a
First, my intent was to take every new Tom Jolly card that I could get
my hands on (unless it is ridiculous, e.g. THUMB OF GOD (and even in
that case, we ported it); the only Jolly cards I've never used in any
form is SWAP HOME BASES; maybe someday, and LIFESAVER (doesn't work
in our house rules)), that's what diehard fans do. So, I went thru
the Modern Edition cards, and brought in everything that was not in
the Classic Edition.
The exceptions I made were as follows: I did not port BOOMSTONE; I
didn't understand it, nor how it would fit rationally or uniquely into
the Classic Edition framework (or even the Modern Edition framework,
for that matter). Secondly, I had already written an analogue to
NEGATE NEUTRAL (called VOICE OF GOD), which I preferred, and NEGATE
NEUTRAL seemed to play to an element of of the Modern Edition
architecture (which I otherwise like, BTW), that was inconsistent with
the Classic Edition architecture, and besides, I felt my card was more
fun. Finally, while I liked LIGHTNING BOLT, the Classic Edition already
has a card called LIGHTNING BLAST, which I retained, so, at my wife's
suggestion, I renamed LIGHTNING BOLT to THUNDER BOLT, and kept it. I
like it, too bad the economics of either edition (but more so in the
Modern Edition) will prevent its use most of the time (but that's fine,
variable and situational usage is a big part of the fun).
Otherwise, the porting project pretty much amounted to adding
Duration equals NUMBER card played to a boatload of new cards. Its
clear that the NUMBER card architecture (at least in nomenclature), is
being deprecated, and while such language isn't really necessary, its
nice to be consistent.
The other issue in the Modern Edition architecture is the concept of
Self affecting spells. This is not present in the Classic
Edition architecture. It is implicitly present, in that most spells I
classified as "special", earlier, are generally cast on oneself (e.g.
MIST BODY, BIG MAN), but technically, as per the Classic Edition rules,
it is legal to cast these sorts of spells on opponents as attacks.
While it is rare to do so, it is sometimes necessary and desirable in
terms of what we call the loser's game, so I did not want this
Modern Edition restriction imposed on my Classic Edition games; if
people want to cast these sorts of spells on someone else, for whatever
reason, then they should be allowed to do so.
Thus, I ported these Self spells to LOS spells. This did have
one unintended consequence (so far) -- STRETCH, a modern yet cool
Jollyesque spell, was ported from Self to LOS, and it was interpreted
that the STRETCHing could be performed within LOS (even if magically
modified to wrap around corners and the like), while the intent was
to port the casting of the ability to STRETCH to LOS, while the physical
STRETCHing remained contained to the physical domain. (If you don't
understand this paragraph, I'm surprised you have read this far :-)).
The bottom line, STRETCH is a cool modern Jolly card that needs to be
reworded to be ported to the Classic architecture.
Well, that's the big stuff, if you can call it big (as, IMHO), it is
actually pretty minor, but there are a few more loose ends in the
porting project. These may be interesting to Wiz-War geeks, or not, who
First, is the concept, in the Modern architecture, of Objects.
I like this concept. Problem is, what if the object sources an ATTACK,
or NEUTRAL/COUNTERACTION effect? Problem continues -- the left sidebar
offers only one slot for two inconsistent modalities. The real
answer is another sidebar which introduces the modality of
Spell vs Object. (If I were refactoring this thing,
so many things I would do), but the real challenge is to remain true to
the original, while incorporating the new, so, what I did in this case
is port the new objects with an "object" modality on the sidebar, while
retaining old modalities (e.g. ATTACK for DAGGER), on the old cards.
Its inconsistent, but we'll figure it out.
Second, is the concept, in the Modern architecture, of Global
spells. I like this concept as well. The only analogue in the Classic
architecture is CHAOS. Thus, I made the decision to port new Global
spells in the Modern Edition to work as CHAOS. A better approach, and
an approach I will most likely implement, is to refactor this concept
out, write a new Classic Edition house rule, and rewrite the CHAOS
card and the relevant new Modern cards based on this refactoring. As
an ex IT guy, I love the concept of refactoring cruft; as a passive fan
of the Classic Edition cruft, I hate the idea. The tradeoffs we must
Finally, there is the REVERSE concept (I did remember after all).
This came up in all the playtesting of this stuff, The Modern
Edition offers the concept, for lack of a better word, of
BACKLASH damage -- basically COUNTERACTIONS to spells which do
damage to the attacker which cannot be evaded. (The concept of
evasion is not in the Classic architecture, but I did not bother to
port it, as such damage can be mitigated via BLUNT or ABSORB per the
Classic rules). Except in the case of REVERSE. The card says damage
from an "attack spell" or the like, where what we really want is
"magical damage". This is a case of porting a Classic Edition card
to make cards from the Modern Edition work, and that's what I'm gonna
do (once I buy an another ink cartridge). Does that makes sense? Is
anyone really reading all of this? I don't think so.
The best part of this project finally arrives, and that the is writing
of my own cards. They are at the following link. Hopefully I'll be adding
more one of these days. We'll see.
Note: One of the rules I placed on myself when writing my own cards was
no changes to the Classic Edition rules or architecture; all new content
had to be placed on the new cards. And, I was able to do that. But,
in reconsidering this, I decided it was ok to refactor my own stuff.
I'm not totally comfortable with the idea, and I guess what we have now
is not pure Classic Edition Wiz-War, but it is still fun to play.
So, I added the following 2 new rules, which are used by a couple of
my new cards.
So, that's that.
Some cards may specify the occurrence of something (e.g. IVY will creep), on a Common Event or
Events can occur when the die is rolled in the normal course of gameplay (e. g. when rolling to hit an
INVISIBLE opponent, or when the TROLL rolls for damage). A Common Event will occur when an odd
number is rolled, and a player points this out; an Uncommon Event will occur when a 4 is rolled, and a
player points this out. Note that Events normally have no effect; they only have meaning if a card in play
specifically says they do (e. g. IVY, BLACK HOLE).
The D4 should always be used in gameplay when a die roll is required, unless a larger die is necessary for
the situation, in which case the smallest die that will handle the situation should be used (i. e., if there are 5
random possibilities, use a D6, rerolling sixes).
Events will not occur on rerolls. For example, if there are 3 possibilities, you would use the D4, rerolling
fours. An event could occur if a 4 is rolled on the first roll, but not on any rerolls.
Events will not occur recursively. For example, if a card requires something to occur on an event, and
handling that occurrence requires rolling the die, that rolling will not generate further events (e. g.,
IVY creeping to random edges).
Layered Edge Alterations
A Layered Edge Alteration sits on top of another edge feature such as a WALL or DOOR, rather than
replacing it (thought it is possible these types of alterations could occupy an edge all by themselves,
either because they were created in an empty edge, or because the underlying WALL was destroyed). It
sits on ether one side or the other of the WALL, though two separate instances could sit on each
Unless otherwise specified, there is no LOS to the underlying WALL thru a Layered Edge Alteration, though
a VISIONSTONE could see thru the first layer to the WALL, but not then thru the wall, unless there is a sort
of stone or spell that allows seeing thru two obstacles. When passing thru or destroying edge features, each
one must be dealt with separately, e. g., if IVY is covering the side of a WALL, a MIST BODY could get thru
the IVY, then a PASS THRU WALL, DESTROY WALL (just as you are passing thru the IVY, and see the
WALL), or DISPEL CREATION (assuming the WALL was a created WALL) could be used.
When damaging layered edge features, there is no damage carryover. E. g., a 10 point SUDDEN DEATH on
a 7 point IVY would remove the IVY, but the underlying WALL would still have 20 points.
First, thanks to Tom Jolly for making this game, which has provided
me and my family so many years of enjoyment.
Second, thanks to my family for helping with, and putting up with
this project, and to Chip for playtesting this stuff.
Finally, FWIW, here are our house rules,
clarifications, and the results of endless debates of playing this
game over the years. Its a Word doc (yuck!); I do have a TeX version
somewhere tho -- that's how old this stuff is originally.