Become the Overlord You’ve Always Dreamed
Flip the script by taking on the role of an Evil Lord in Bellum Magica. Invite goblins and dragons to join your ranks, gathering resources or looting human kingdoms.
In Bellum Magica, whoever is the most monstrous takes the die as the first player (the Captain) for the turn. Turns represent one day. Several events are carried out each day in this order:
1. Choose an Active Horde
The Captain rolls the die and the number determines which horde will work that day. Each castle board has two columns of die faces. The left side produce goods and the right increase attacking abilities. The die roll dictates which castle line (both left and right sides) activated.
Not happy with the roll? Starting with the Captain and continuing clockwise, each Evil Lord can buy a round of drinks by spending one Barrel token to force the Captain to re-roll the die. This step ends when no one forces the Captain to roll again.
The Captain may use a Confusion Spell to roll again and prevent others from forcing a re-roll. They flip the confusion token over and roll the die again. These tokens are not lost but can only be used once per day.
2. Gather Resources
Gather food and glyphs collected by the castle’s active horde.
3. Call Back Scouts
Each player counts the treasure map cards (icons) brought back by their castle’s active army. Whoever has the most immediately wins a metal chest. Keep the value of chests facedown so others can’t see; only the player who collected them may peek at their worth,
Following turn order, each player may carry out one attack on either a Human Kingdom card (also known as a Place) or another player’s Castle. When attacking a Human Kingdom, tally the total number of swords from the active horde and if it exceeds the defense value on a Place, the Place is defeated immediately. The victor reaps spoils like barrels, food and chests. Then discard the Place card.
When attacking another player’s castle, the active player must have swords equal to the number of shields printed on their opponent’s castle board and any shield tokens they acquired. However, in order for the attacker to be successful their horde must also contain a Thief depicted by the red mask icon. Each Thief allows the attacking player to steal one chest of any type.
Players may use Magical or Regular swords to defeat regular shields, but Magic shields on Place cards require Magical swords to overcome them. Just like Regular shields, the sum of the Magical swords played must equal or exceed the value of the Magical shields.
5. Recruit Creatures
Players can recruit as many Creatures as they want by spending food and glyphs. Recruiting Evil Creatures cost two food tokens while Most Evil Creatures will cost one glyph and four food or three glyphs. Immediately replace any recruited Creature cards from the correct deck. Players place the newly recruited Creature to the left or right of their Castle by sliding the card in the space below the cards already present so the creatures abilities can’t be seen. This allows players to decide what they want their recruited Creature to do – attack or gather.
Some Creatures provide a bonus token when recruited. Shields increase the number of attacks a Castle can withstand. Confusion spells prevent the Captain from rolling the die again. Bonus tokens are permanent and cannot be lost.
6. End of Turn
Replace Kingdom cards that were discarded and replace them with new ones. The Tavern card will always remain in play. Pass the dice to the player on the left who becomes the new Captain. A new day begins.
Bellum Magica ends when a player collects 10 or more chests. Players then tally the values of their Treasures and the richest player wins!
Impressions on the Rise to Evil
Bellum Magica is a fun, family-weight game that will bring people together to fulfill their dreams of becoming the most fantastical evil lord who ever lived. The game play is simple but clever, and gives players options to build up their hordes as they see fit. Turns will seem slow until a few creatures are recruited; but then the gathering can ramp up quickly.
Allocating creatures to either gather or attack is the most difficult decision players will need to make. How evenly should a player distribute Creatures to cover the die values?
One challenge early on can be a lack of resource gathering thanks to die rolls from other Captains. No one starts out with the tools to force a re-roll, so you could very well do nothing on a turn. This can be painful and require some catch up. Each day players should be buying a minimum of one Creature to keep building power.
With more swords at the player’s disposal, they have more Places or players to attack. Attacking is key as the spoils are plentiful! Players do have the option of attacking each other to steal treasure chests, introducing a little little bit of take-that. Be cautious of this with younger players who might be sensitive to this style of play.
Attacking a player can prevent them from triggering the endgame to soon. But it’s also handy early on when a player doesn’t have enough swords to overtake a Place.
Buying a Round
Spending barrels to buy a round of drinks is the best way to mitigate die rolls that don’t quite pan out. Not only can the Captain (active player) do it, but other players can as well (in turn order). Who would have thought lords would moan and groan after getting free drinks! Confusion spells are handy to prevent others from forcing re-rolls; time these just right.
Magica Bellum‘s art is awesome; they nailed the theme and everything looks great on the table. The whimsical nature of the creatures are appealing to younger players.
The only minor quibble I have is the odd mixture of component materials for tokens. Resource pieces were wooden, but shields, chests, and confusion spells were cardboard. While it doesn’t impair my enjoyment of the game, why not just go all wood? On the plus side, Blue Orange included really nice trays for keeping components tidy when playing and storing.
Who is the Game For?
Bellum Magica is for fans of fantasy, luck and a smidge of take-that. It’s easy to learn, easy to teach, and plays quickly. It’s light enough for family play and has plenty decisions for seasoned gamers. Bellum Magica also supports gameplay up to five players which we always appreciate.
If you’re ready to take the reins and become the best evil overlord you can be, find Bellum Magica on Amazon or your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Bellum Magica from Blue Orange for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Number of Players: 2-5 players
Age Range: 10+
Playtime: 30 minutes