I just love a good trick taking game. Wicked and Wise is a trick taking game and a lot of care has been put into taking elements of games like Euchre and Spades and giving them a new face in this game. In other words, this is a trick taking game with partners.
Although the box count states that the game may be played with 2-6 players I would choose to play this game primarily with 4 or 6 players. The variants are there, and they haven't been ignored but they aren't quite as elegant of a play. In my initial rating of the game, I said I hadn't played it enough to rate it higher, and now that I have played it a few more times I would say this is a good place for the game to land in my rankings. It is a solid game with some fun new twists, but the variants don't do a lot for me personally. Having someone take on an additional role just doesn't feel as fun as having a game where you can't communicate with your partner but you are trying to achieve a common goal.
By the way, if you have never played a game where you get to take a trick it basically means to get the cards which have been played by the player in the current turn, either by playing a number which is higher or using some special power to trump. Suit is important in trick taking games as it determines much about the relevant rules as to what may or may not be legally played in a game.
I'm not going to go over the unique set up of this game, but instead focus on what makes this a good game for 4 or 6 players in two or three teams, respectively. Each team will have a Dragon, one of which who has the Lead token and plays to lead the first trick. As in other trick taking games, Dragons of each other team follow suit if able with their card plays. Mice follow suit next, but they also get to use the played card's ability.
For example, if this 6 fire card was played it has the text, "Mouse symbol: Draw 1 gem or 2 basic cards. Swap 1 card with Dragon symbol."
That's interesting. That's something a box of 52 cards can't do. Why would I want a gem though? Gem cards are the trump suit. They are kept in a separate deck location and have
better text too.
But gems don't make you win, they help you win. In order to win, you need coins. Mice get coins, but can't win tricks. Only Dragons can win tricks.
Super clear? Super. Like I wrote previously, it is probably best to just watch a video read the rules for yourself on how to setup and play. Just remember Dragons can never play cards for abilities, but they will decide the initial goals. Mice can't win tricks, but they do play cards for their ability and pick the exact goal for their team.
I really enjoy the fine balancing acts this game can provide, and I want to play it more. The mice really must be nimble. Thematically, it makes sense that the Dragons are playing with giant thumbs (claws?) on the pressure of the game in terms of general goal selection while mice have the finesse of final selection. The Beth Sobel & Jon Merchant artwork is gently captivating, helping to beckon and keep my interest.
I would recommend this game to those familiar with trick taking games and card games of different types in general. It may take a bit of getting used to for those not familiar with genre. Ideally, best in groups of 4 or 6 where people are good at working with their teammates.
The game can be on the longer side for a trick-taking card game. That doesn't bother me, but it is worth mentioning it, especially for those coming in on their first game.
Wicked & Wise by Fertessa Alysse, Published by Weird Giraffe Games
Artwork by Beth Sobel & Jon Merchant
Time 60 Minutes