Another year has come to an end at the School of Sorcery and it’s time for the final exams! Students are going to have to square off against one another to compete for the Witches Cup. They’ve gathered a bunch of different ingredients for their potions and hexes and they’re preparing to hurl attacks at their opponents. Only one witch-in-training will walk away with the victory!
Witching Hour is played over three rounds. Players receive a number of cards depending on the player count and a Hex Pile Marker. The cards come in 10 different suits like Mirrors, Chalices, Familiars, and Candles, each with their own special abilities and number of point values.
On their turn, they will take one of two actions. They’ll either Make an Attack or Play a Card for its ability.
To Make an Attack, the active player must first select a target. They then play any number of cards of the same type to the middle of the table face up. The defender then has a chance to block the attack by playing the same number of cards as the attacker. The defender must play all the same type of cards as well, but they don’t need to be the same type of the attacker.
If the attack is defeated, then all cards played are discarded. However, if the defender is unable to defend the attack, they take all of the cards and place them under their Hex Pile Marker.
Alternately, players can choose to play a card for its ability. For example, the Chalice can be played directly into anyone’s Hex Pile, Skulls allow you to search the discard pile for a card and take another turn, or Books allow you to look at another player’s hands, take a card and then another turn. Not every suit has a Play ability. Some suits’ abilities come into effect at different times like the Mirror, which reflects attacks back at the attacker when it’s used as a block, or Toadstools, that can’t be blocked when used in an attack.
Rounds continue with student witches hurling attacks at one another until only one player has cards left in their hand. That player adds those cards to their own Hex Pile and then players add up their score for the round. Now, the goal of the game is to have the lowest score against you, so the less cards in your Hex Pile, the better you’re going to do for the round. Cards are scored out is sets. One Bell will earn a point for a person if they have it in their Hex Pile, but five Bells will earn them eight points. One Candle is worth only one point and two Candles is still only worth one point against. You have to get all the way up to five Candles in your Hex Pile to earn three points, so they’re not the worst thing to collect. One Chalice is worth negative three points, so getting one can be a good thing, but if you end up with three, it’s worth five points against, so you’re playing with fire if you start collecting them.
Once players have collected their points, the next rounds starts. Although point tokens can be kept facedown, players must announce how much they earned in a round, so you can pay attention to who is forming a lead and maybe target them going forward.
After the third round, the game ends and the witch with the lowest total points against them wins the Witches Cup.
There is a lot of luck in what cards you’re dealt. And you have to be savvy on how you use them, but Witching Hour is a pretty fun, light distraction. Perfect for pub or patio nights with friends that won’t take your cursing too personally.
A copy of Witching Hour was provided by Indie Boards and Cards for this review.