Five Seals of Magic is one of our favorite games we acquired from Gen Con this year! It plays 2-5 people, and the components adjust for the number of players, so the experience is consistently good for two players (like us) and up through five. There are other games that claim to allow two players, but don’t play as well unless three or more participate. This is NOT one of those games! We thoroughly enjoyed it, so much that we played it twice in a row!
The story is quite engaging, too. The Master of the Arcana Tower has departed, and the players are mages who must elect a new sovereign. But first they need to explore the tower’s dungeon looking for hidden scrolls containing powerful spells. Those scrolls are protected by magical seals of the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water – and by magic mind power seals. The mage who wins will have collected the most powerful scrolls by game’s end.
How’s It Played?
First, we must say the components of Five Seals of Magic are… magical! You start by laying out the six board segments that form the circular dungeon. Each piece has two sides that show the number of players, so, we used the segments appropriate for two. This made our dungeon a bit smaller compared to the five-player sides. In the dungeon there are two types of spaces: Circles that represent the magical seals, and tiles that serve as the scrolls. Each depict the number of a die (2-6). There are 120 magical seal tokens in the element colors (red, green, blue, and yellow) also showing the number of a die on them. Players randomly place them in the circles that match the number of the die. These form barriers in the path throughout the dungeon you must break through to collect the scrolls.
There are 125 scroll tiles that contain spells, also with the die number on them and element color. Those are randomly placed on the scroll spaces during setup, which are along the outside edges of the dungeon. Now, one key point here – there are five “magical circles” the scrolls can belong to. The scroll tiles all have a number on them to represent what magical circle they’re part of. (0 – 4) For each game, you always choose the basic set (labeled “0”) and one other magical set (1-4) to use in the game. So, once you pick your two sets, you then mix them and place them on the board. Each set has different things the spells can do. This is an appealing aspect of the game as you can play with different sets and experience unique results each time. We played the suggested basic (0) and 1 (Circle of Might) sets during our first game, then the basic and set 4 (The Circle of Movement) for the second. There’s also a purple element that’s the “mind”, which is similar to a ‘wild card’ that can be used for any color in the game.
Each player gets a mage token and one that represents the mage’s familiar. Jane had the Witch of the East and her cat, while Philip played the Warlock of the Beyond and his toad. Those tokens are placed in the middle of the dungeon board at the beginning of play. Each player also receives a binding scroll for their familiar that starts you out with an option to cast a spell on your turn if you need it. As you collect more scrolls you’ll have access to more spells you can potentially cast. Also, there are 24 colored dice (six for each element). For the number of players, place that many dice (plus one) on the board in their appropriate supply spot. In our game, each element had three dice available.
Determine the first player, hand them the first player token, and let the game begin! Beginning with the first player, each player chooses three dice to start with from the supply. When choosing dice, the color is important because you need to match the color of the seal tokens you need to break to get through the dungeon. For example, when I started in the middle I had three green seal tokens and some blue with a value of “2” in front of me, so it would be prudent for me to retrieve green and/or blue dice during the first round. After everyone has their dice, you all roll them simultaneously, then the turns begin.
Play is actually very easy, but you do want to strategize your moves.
On you turn:
Each player keeps taking turns during the round until both players have no more dice to play. When it’s your next turn, if you don’t have any dice, you can then reset any scrolls you used for the next round, pick new dice for the next round, and bring back your familiar if they were on the board in play.
At the end of a round, check to see how many scrolls remain on the board with a “6” – in the two-player game if there are less than four on the board, the game ends.
Each player than calculates the strength on each of their scrolls and any bonus points they receive for having a Synergy spell (you get extra points for scrolls of that matching color). Whoever has the most points wins!
Timing of the Game
Both of our games took less than 30-minutes. It was a breeze to setup, learn, and play!
We look forward to having our friends over to play Five Seals of Magic again with more players, and try out the other sides of the board!
We highly recommend Five Seals of Magic, and hope you’ll give it a try!