Spell Stealers - Preview

Spell Stealers – Preview

Hurry through an enchanted temple to reach a fabled magic spell using a combination of dice rolls that will test your luck and good timing.

Title Publisher Genre
Spell Stealers Greg Santo Games Board Game

In The Box

The high production values we saw in the early prototype of Spell Stealers hint at a high bar for quality, which means a successful Kickstarter campaign will most likely result in a polished final product. Not that back-of-the-napkin ideas can’t be great, but it’s nice to see some indication of a game creator’s attention to detail. There’s a lavish assortment of bits and bobs included with this game, starting with a set of three dice per player, split between a d4, d8, and d12. These types correspond to a set of so-called Artifact Dice you’ll pass around each turn. So, expect lots of dice rolling!

Lest you think this is all about the dice, Spell Stealers also includes a colorful board mapping out the path you’ll take toward your ultimate goal, with spaces around the outside for a solitary movement token, used to track movement points accumulated each turn. A special d8 Success Die is rolled to determine whether you actually earn these points, and a combination of character tokens and cards for each player round out the package. The manual is particularly detailed and helps to showcase the game’s fine details with descriptive text, charts, and images of the game in action. This treatment helps to get you set up and playing quickly, always important in a game with unique mechanics.

How It Plays

Spell Stealers combines elements of a traditional racing game, where you attempt to beat other players around a track, with dice games that involve push-your-luck strategies. Add to this a timed stealing mechanic that gives the game its name. Each turn consists of secretly picking one of the three Artifact Dice mentioned earlier, to roll along with the Success Die in an attempt to collect movement points. The need for secrecy comes from the fact that other players have a chance after your roll is revealed to use one of their three dice against you. If they can match or beat your roll, they’ll steal your points. If their roll is a misfire, they’re forced to backtrack by the number shown on their die.

Raising the stakes further, Artifact Dice and the Success Die share a mix of colored sides that determine the odds of rolling a match. The Artifact Dice each end up having a slightly different chance of success that informs your strategy each turn, keeping in mind that you can roll several times for more points at the risk of losing all you’ve accumulated. Stealing can only happen between the time you roll and the moment you update your movement token. Since the odds of rolling successfully and stealing are clear enough, the timed mechanic really just adds some pressure that may influence decision making.

When playing with younger kids we tried dropping the timed stealing in favor of saying, “I’m going to score these points unless anybody wants to try stealing them,” and found it worked really well. A counter example is that when you roll the d4 you’re basically begging to get your points stolen, but the penalty for success or failure also isn’t that high. Your mileage may vary but we came away feeling like timed stealing takes what is already a solid combination of racing and risky dice rolling into party-game territory and isn’t at all a requirement.  Spell Stealers suggests taking the timer off  as a variation for beginners, and also outlines optional rules for two players. The core game is designed for up to six “thieves” and suggests a 20-minute play time that we feel is about right once you have a good understanding of the gameplay.

Spell Stealers will be funding soon on Kickstarter from Greg Santo Games. Read more details here about the campaign and consider chipping in to help make it real.