Wizard's Quest: Treasure Hunt on the Fantastic Island of Marnon is an Avalon Hill Bookcase Game, #825. It is played on a map divided into 6 regions (each of which contains 6 territories) and 8 castles, and is played by 2 to 6 players.
Each player has a number of armies represented by tokens on the board, including two special tokens, the sorcerer and the hero. There are also three "neutral" factions: the dragon, the wizard Peacemaker, and the orcs. The object of the game is to recover your three treasures before any other player recovers hers.
Setup is comparable to that for the game Risk; the players take turns selecting territories by placing an army on each, and then get an additional number of armies to place throughout their territories.
There are, of course, differences. In Wizard's Quest, the orcs get to select twelve territories (at random) before the players begin to decide. Also, between selection of territories and reinforcement, an opponent also places your three treasures (ring, crown, and treasure chest) in different territories or castles on the board.
Each turn consists of a number of phases. First, in the orc phases, two random territories have their orc population increased, and then orc-controlled territories with greater than a threshold number of orcs frenzy, attacking the territories around them. In the dragon phase, the dragon eats a random number of armies in a randomly chosen territory, and in the wizard prosper phase, the wizard Peacemaker "prospers" one territory, increasing the number of armies there, and extends his protection to the entire region for the rest of the turn, making it immune from attack.
On a player's turn, she may draw a petition card if she wishes (these are usually positive but minor effects, and may be saved in most cases), and then receives some number of reinforcements related to the number of territories she has connected in a continuous chain to a castle. Then, she may make one attack from a region containing her armies to a region containing another player's armies, orc armies, or the dragon or wizard Peacemaker alone.
There is a special attack that comes before the normal attack if the player wants to fight either the dragon or the wizard Peacemaker in a territory containing other units. A hero or sorcerer is necessary to attack the dragon; a sorcerer is needed to attack the wizard. If the dragon is defeated successfully by a hero without loss of the hero, the player gets 6 additional armies in the defeating company. If either the dragon or wizard is defeated by the sorcerer, it is sent to a random territory in the region of the victorious player's choice. This is called dispersal.
In a normal attack, if the sorcerer is involved on the attacking side any defeated armies are sent to a territory containing the same type of army of the victorious player's choice. This does not happen if a sorcerer is defending unless there is a sorcerer on both sides of the battle.
Battle proceeds as follows: the attacker and defender each rolls one die and compares the result to her die range, a number dependent on the composition of the force. If the number is not greater than the die range, that number of the opponent's armies are destroyed (or dispersed in the case of the sorcerer). This is repeated until one side is destroyed or the attacker decides to stop.
The die range for ordinary armies is given by the number of armies in the battle, up to a maximum of 4. The hero adds 1 to the die range, and the sorcerer adds 2. There are also defensive benefits coming from defending in a castle, across a bridge, in forests or mountains, or through the great tunnel. Both the wizard and dragon have die ranges of 6.
There are several other features to the combat system. A force including a hero can only be attacked by a force including a hero, but this is often irrelevant, because a hero or sorcerer can be brought from any territory to lead an attack; only one of the two is allowed in the same territory but the attacker may switch them if desired. Also, armies may be drawn from adjacent territories to aid in an attack. As in Risk, one unit must always be left in the attacking territory, but that unit counts toward the die range.
There are a few other specialized rules, such as the boat privileges petition card which allows attack across the inland sea of Marnon and the Amnon River, and the specific rewards associated with recovering each treasure. All of the rules that are important in practice are described above.
In play, Wizard's Quest tends to become lopsided. Because only one attack is allowed each turn, it is relatively easy to maintain an infrastructure with only a perimeter defense, and it is difficult to get around a single heavy pocket of resistance. If one player, for example, is able to establish a kingdom (continuous swath of territories connected to a castle) over the northern portion of the Field of the Fallen and the eastern half of the Ancient Forest, with a well-defended outpost at Marl's Gate on the other side of the Great Tunnel, it is usually very hard to disrupt the flow of reinforcements from this setup. Meanwhile, the player can make forays everywhere except into the Golden Dunes to disrupt opponents' kingdoms. Only a judicious use of boat privileges has a chance of success against this strategy.
It plays much quicker than Risk but can be thought of in roughly the same category, although the attack limitation makes for a radical difference. Also, the orcs, especially in a many-player game, can become a huge factor, as they overwhelm whole regions over time. Overall, it is probably a good game for a group including people who think Risk is too serious or takes too long.
The Territories of the Isle of Marnon by Region
- Golden Dunes
- Lair of the Lizard
- Hidden Hollow
- Melting Sands
- Red Dune
- Whispery Meadow
- Portston Moor
- Sheep Meade
- Gaudy Greene
- Orc Hill
- Misty Forest
- Moss Glen
- Marls Gate*
- North Hemp
- South Hemp
- Field of the Fallen
- Cattle Meade
- Dread Moor
- Radner Fen
- Ancient Forest
- Sunken Dale
- Earthen Pass*
- Crystal Mountains
- Blood Rock
* Includes a mouth of the Great Tunnel