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Subject: Techno Witches: light & fast fantasy racing on broomsticks rss

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Michael Pennisi
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“Techno Witches” doesn’t really grab your attention when you hear it does it? It makes me think of a bunch of pale-skinned, black turtle-neck wearing, Europeans dancing to Kraftwerk in a club in Munich. If you look past the name, you’ll find the game is about witches racing on broom-sticks which, to me, means this game screams for a Harry Potter / Quidditch theme. More on that later…

Inside the box

Inside you will find many linen-finished cardboard pieces. There are bunch of “magic trails” of varying lengths and turn. There are also lots of small, medium, and large discs showing huts and numbered castles. You’ll also find a spell-book board in each of four colors. These are semi-circular cards with the numbers 1 – 5 going around the semi-circle and a spell-book in the middle. There are small tokens in each color and a “cat” token. Finally you’ll find 5 cardboard witches that fold up to make a 3-D figure of a witch riding a broomstick. Why five witches when only four can play? One is used in a scenario and doesn’t belong to a player. As you fold up the figures, it looks like friction should hold them together but don’t count on it. Even though I tried to carefully assemble these witches I still found that 3 of them wouldn’t stay together without glue.

Playing the game

Techno-witches is not a single race game, but rather it’s bunch of pieces and a general set of rules around which you design a race scenario. When you start a game, you pick a scenario and set up a course (which will differ every time). The beginner scenario is a race across the course to capture the cat token. There is also a “rugby” variant where you try to hit the witch who has the cat token as well as a slalom variant (hence the numbered castles). The game encourages you to develop your own.

After you set up the course you place your witch in a starting spot (usually a hut or the colored disk) and put a small “exhaust” piece on the back of your witch. Players now take turns. During a player’s turn he may choose one of the following:

A) Select a magic trail. I call this “casting a movement spell”. You can pick whatever trail you like from what is available and you place it on your spell book at the lowest open number. Note that the orientation of the trail is very important because the piece will later be placed so that the side of the trail touching the spell book is oriented towards the “exhaust” piece on the back of your broom. You aren’t allowed to pick up pieces and see if they will fit on the board or turn the way you want when you select a trail, you just take one and put in on the book.

B) Fly! You get to move your witch using all of the trails you have selected, if possible. First you remove your witch but leave the exhaust piece. Starting with the trail at the lowest position on your spell book you place your tiles one after the other on the board. If, as you are placing tiles, your trail hits an obstacle like a castle or another witch then you must remove that tile and all of the other unplaced tiles are lost. If the trail is OK but when you put your witch back at the end of the trail, the witch hits an obstacle, you still remove trail pieces until your witch doesn’t hit anything. After you safely move, you remove the all trail tiles that were played and place the exhaust piece behind your broom again. Note that if a player has a completely filled spell book , he must fly (unless there is an obstacle right in front of him in which case he can defer to the next turn and not do anything).


That’s pretty much game play unless a particular scenario has different rules (like one scenario where you steal the cat token when you bump into another witch).


Impressions

This is a light game that requires good spatial perception. You need to know which piece to take just by looking at it and so you have to estimate lengths in your head and visualize the curve of the trail without actually putting the piece on the board. There are some tactics to game play in both selecting tiles since you can choose to hoard certain trail pieces preventing others from taking them and in knowing when to fly so that you can take advantage of the trail pieces as they return to the pool. You can use your position to block opponents just like in a real race.

Make sure you have a nice table to play this on because that’s your board. I played one game on my colorful holiday tablecloth and found all of my spatial estimations were distorted. I wouldn't play this with obsessive-compulsive people because the pieces do tend to move around a bit as they are placed / bumped and I'm sure that would drive these people crazy(-ier).

While the game suggests 2-4 players I have found that 2 is a bit boring because you don’t feel the “chaos” that you would expect in a magical race. Perhaps the proper scenario can make a good two player game. 4 player games have a nice mix of interaction between the competition for getting trails and from board position. The lightness of the game also makes it an excellent choice for to play with young people.

It’s fun to fly the broom around while making whoosh sounds and thinking about Harry Potter. In fact I wish Hasbro people would take note of this game, buy the rights, and repackage it because I think the rule set is easy enough for kids to really enjoy it as a Harry Potter game. That being said, there’s nothing keeping anyone from designing Quidditch rules for this game system but I think that, to do it properly you would need more that 1 set so you could have enough trails. As it stands you could have a mini Quidditch game of 2 on 2 with one beater/bludger and one seeker with a randomly moving snitch token. I’m still developing rules for that.

I hear a lot of comparisons made between this game and Wings of War. I’ve never played WoW but I know I prefer the theme of this one. Overall I give this game a 6.5 because it is on the lighter side and I prefer a meatier game but I think that, every so often, Techno Witches is going to hit the table because it fills a pretty unique spot in my game collection… I don’t have anything else quite like it.
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Thee Insidius Doktor Glaze & His Sidekick Donut Boy with the Amazing Monkeytime Dancers Ooh!
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fizzix wrote:
“Techno Witches” doesn’t really grab your attention when you hear it does it? It makes me think of a bunch of pale-skinned, black turtle-neck wearing, Europeans dancing to Kraftwerk in a club in Munich.


Actually, I may be the target audience for that game about Kraftwerk. Harry potter does nothing for me, but a race game about Kraftwerk would fetch a pretty penny from me. I mean I'd pay a LOT of money for that.

"Trans-Europe Express: The Boardgame" designed by Martin Wallace with stunning 8' by 14' game board art by renowned artist Paul Niermeier. Coming April 2006 from Eagle Games.

Build it and I will play.
 
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And not Mucich. Dusseldorf, of course.
 
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Alan Kwan
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fizzix wrote:
While the game suggests 2-4 players I have found that 2 is a bit boring because you don’t feel the “chaos” that you would expect in a magical race. Perhaps the proper scenario can make a good two player game.

I'm pretty sure that the scenario is the key. The first two book scenarios allow "too much room" for 2 players. The course needs to be tougher, to force the players to "interact" and to force them to make more turns (and hence, errors and chaos). I'm working on this.
 
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David Fair
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Re: Techno Witches: light & fast fantasy racing on broomsti
There is a scenario available for download called "Dogfight" that works great for 2 players.

http://www.erlkoenig.ws/hrrg/receiver.php?do=StartGameInput&...
 
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David Molnar
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Re: Techno Witches: light & fast fantasy racing on broomsti
That link takes me to an online solitaire version...
which is great...
and I suck at, just like the actual game, so it's realistic...
but I don't see anything there about scenarios.

David
 
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David Fair
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Re: Techno Witches: light & fast fantasy racing on broomsti
Oops, wrong link. Try this one:

http://www.erlkoenig.ws/hrrg/website/home/receiver.php?do=Sh...
 
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