Review: The Institute for Magical Arts

The Institute for Magical Arts is a two-player dice and area control game by Steve Finn in which players use dice rolls to place "power stones" onto different cards in an attempt to win those cards. Once won, cards offer either special powers or victory points or both.

The game does an amazing job of introducing area control mechanics in a card-based game. Interestingly, the dice in the game are not used for randomization in the traditional sense, but for directing the focus of your available actions. The number on the die determines which cards you can target, and you have a limited set of action cards which you must allocate to each die. Thus, the die roll does not determine the outcome—you decide what to do with the die that you roll. I find this mechanic very satisfying and fun.

As in other area control games, you win a card by having more power stones on the card than your oponent, but each card has its own requirement for acquisition, which adds to the varability of gameplay in a simple and effective way. Once acquired, the cards grant you interesting powers, such as being able to have more flexibility in power stone placement.

The components are of good quality, and the rulebook does a good job of explaining the game. The game is fun, challenging, and has a lot of depth.

Find out more about the game on Board Game Geek.