Lizard Wizard: A Little Too Much Lizard Amidst the Magic
Explore the magical realm of Astoria with all sorts of wizards, towers, spells, and familiars to discover in Lizard Wizard.
When Lizard Wizard first came to crowdfunding, it promised an included solo mode. Turns out my husband missed the short timeframe to request this separate feature, so it took me around a year to actually get a copy. Oh, my! I was a little skeptical going in, but with such beautiful artwork and an enchanting concept, I was ready to make some magic!
A tableau takes shape through a variety of magical elements, like wizards and spells. Reagents offer an interesting economic system with supply and demand to maximize mana. Finding optimal combinations across the different types of magic aids the path to victory!
May 20, 2023
May 20, 2023
1 Hour & 15 Minutes
46" x 36"
Into the Realm…
Featured are some of the premium components, but this play area is absolutely enormous! The top area requires a lot of manipulation, so I had to stretch every few rounds.
Gorgeous? Absolutely. I’ll showcase some of the artwork below, which is simply amazing and has a unique feel.
I was immediately overwhelmed by the size of this, though. Giant cards are beautiful, but too large.
After waiting so long to try out this solo mode, the setup process felt rather lengthy. Some decks had to be partially sorted and shuffled, too. “A lot” is an accurate adjective!
The metal coins and mana tokens looked amazing, but… No. The gold coins are the same size, shape, and color, with different numbers. So never stack different values.
Mana are slightly different sizes with apparently unique shapes cut out in the center. The problem is that the numbers don’t stand out: These were so hard to use.
I played 2-player with my husband, too, and he had an even worse time than I did. Be careful with these upgrades.
Worse yet, we ran out of gold coins before the end. Just imagine a 5-6 player game… Not enough by a lot!
The Mechanica Magus
Despite my initial issues, I was still excited to see this solo mode. The main rules seemed pretty straightforward, and I figured I would have something similar for solo.
Unfortunately, every action has multiple steps and a required priority. None of this is easy to memorize.
Worse, it feels incomplete. Converting reagents made no mention of affecting the prices, which is a huge element of gameplay. I just assumed it happened.
Recruiting a wizard was also mystifying: What did the solo opponent bid if I took the action? This same amount?
A beautiful World
Such a gorgeous game, though! The upgraded first player marker didn’t serve much of a purpose, yet it was huge and felt like it added to the aesthetics quite a bit.
Better yet, the various spells are almost all unique. They have different schools of magic and may be cast with the right combination of ingredients, or reagents.
Everything interacts in some way, too, so there are some very interesting decisions to make and plan for.
Again, there was so much excitement about this game in general! The problems were an unfortunate damper.
Mis-Matched Expectations and Components
Although I don’t consider this to be a lightweight game, it just barely moves outside of that category for all of the interactions. Yet for this large of a play area, it wasn’t needed, apart from having specific spaces to hold a lot of cards. I was initially amazed by the artwork, but this dissipated when I had to stand up to adjust the reagent pricing all the time.
Even more problematic was the play time. A little more than hour might not seem too bad, but the end game trigger was when the 4 objective tiles were claimed. With the specific magic school not showing up very often, even with trying to cycle through some decks, it all slogged on with the solo opponent predictably gaining more victory points.
I had a lot of issues with this solo game, but I also played against my husband. He had a lot of the same issues I did with the premium components. He jumped ahead early on because I depleted my mana and he picked up wizards for practically nothing. Then, play continued until a deck was depleted. That took us almost 3 hours. For 2 players.
This isn’t meant to leave a purely negative opinion about the game, but it feels fundamentally flawed. There are ways to win in multiplayer rather early on, and then your opponents just get strung along for hours. The solo mode feels unpolished with so many questions. It’s a beautiful game that could be excellent, yet fell quite a bit short for me.
At the same time, my husband enjoyed it enough to want to keep it. Trouble is, 2 players is the maximum player count we would ever use… So I expect some more losses in my future. Help. Ha ha! It still has its fun moments, though.
Victory points come from many sources, yet recruiting wizards and matching towers for them to live in is paramount for a number of different reasons.
Each wizard provides an additional reagent during the action to gather ingredients. This is major! Resource generation is vital to gathering mana and casting spells.
This is where the artwork truly shines. Keep in mind the wizards are duplicated, but there are 7 unique types.
Matching wizard and tower pairs also help make spells of the same magic school worth more victory points.
A Magical Economy
Buy low and sell high! Reagents aren’t actually purchased, yet gathering these items comes with a secondary step that raises the price of some reagents.
Collecting the same reagents and then selling them for a high price is the main way to generate mana. This, in turn, is used to pay for the majority of different actions.
This is a very neat mechanism that I enjoyed a lot! Well, apart from having to practically jump across the table.
Of all the premium components, these resource tokens definitely feel worth it. They added a nice touch!
Where Do You Live?!
My first play was a little bit of a debacle… I misunderstood the pairings, and didn’t match any wizards to towers. Mine lived a nomadic life, which doesn’t work. Oops!
I probably focused too much on the familiars and delving into the dungeon, which was actually a rather unusual part of the game that felt slightly detached.
The losing margin was enormous, although I didn’t mind. No sense winning when I had the wrong strategy!
Also, the premium neoprene mats don’t hold all of the cards and feel unnecessary… With a large storage box.
I enjoyed all of the different spells and finding some neat combinations. My dungeon expeditions were great, and resulted in plenty of gold! Just not enough to win.
Of the 6 available actions, choosing a new spell can be the most exciting. Reagents must be used to cast it, although this doesn’t necessarily have to happen immediately.
There were plenty of glimmers of greatness, and I liked how all of the actions had something to connect them.
I reset the game to see how I might fare in the solo mode with the right understanding of wizard and tower pairs!
The scores swung wildly, mainly because I struggled to complete the final objective to trigger the end game. I loved the artwork and some of the choices, yet there were so many issues that made the play time drag and feel like rounds went on and on. Absolutely lovely concept, yet I was left with a non-magical opinion of the solo mode.
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- Each piece of artwork is amazing and absolutely beautiful with so much detail and excellent use of shadows.
- All of the actions interact or pair up in some way to create interesting decisions and synergies to discover.
- Spells are almost all unique with different effects, and it can be very fun to discover the combinations.
- The reagent economy is a central element that can be partially controlled to make mana from ingredients.
- Icons are easy to find, which is useful for figuring out the schools of magic that are worth the most victory points.
- Blocking the solo opponent is possible in some instances and can create a tense race to buy or recruit a card first.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Most of the premium components are not worth it, particularly the metal coins, metal mana, and neoprene mats.
- Gameplay drags on when the right cards don’t show up, which allows the solo opponent to score a lot more.
- The solo mode leaves a lot of questions unanswered, feels overly complex, and is extremely difficult to find.
- With enormous cards and so many components, the play area is much too large, especially for a solo player.
Score the Most Points
- Overall Goal Progress 50% 50%
Goals and Milestones
Score at least 100 points.
Win at least 1 game at the easy difficulty level.
Continue the Conversation
Have you played Lizard Wizard? What other solo games have extremely whimsical and unique artwork? I wanted this one to work out so well, and it was rather disappointing when all of the issues piled up. There are likely those out there who will enjoy this magical world and all it has to offer. I’m apparently still going to play 2-player… Wish me luck!