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Seeking Immortality With Sorcerer and Stones

Sorcerer & Stones

Sorcerer & Stones from EmperorS4 Games and Deep Water Games!
(All photos of Deep Water Games product were taken and edited by KristaG unless otherwise specified)

For centuries mankind has been trying to find the answer to immortality. Whether it be through fame, glory, eternal biological life or, in this case, through enlightenment, humans have been on a quest for immortality all over the globe. Sorcerer & Stones is a 2-4 player lightweight strategy game by Eros Lin and Chau-Hsin Chou that attempts to tackle the quest for immortality through enlightenment during the Qin Dynasty. Players will compete for points as they take on the role of Taoists studying, training, and hoping to reach the revered status of “Xian” through enlightenment. The game features artwork by Stephan Tsai and is produced by EmperorS4; an up-and-coming publisher in Taiwan. To further distribute the game, EmperorS4 has partnered up with Deep Water Games who has also helped to bring us Herbalism, Hanzi, Crows Overkill, and Shadows in Kyoto through a recent Kickstarter campaign.

Alchemy Board

The game is made up of 2 separate boards. This one is the Alchemy Zone.

To set up Sorcerer and Stones, it is almost like setting up 2 different games as gameplay is split between 2 separate game boards: the Alchemy Zone and the Element Zone. The rulebook makes set up seem a little daunting for such a lightweight game, but I promise once you set it up for your first game, it’s a breeze to set up for any games after that. Personally, I let players choose their color and give them their corresponding components (an 11 card Magic deck, reference card, and 2 player markers) at the very beginning of the game. That way, while they are shuffling their decks, I can work on the rest of the set up (I also tend to not be the first player in most games so this works out just fine for me). To start setting up the boards, I then tend to shuffle all 9 of the board tiles together before creating the 2 zones to help ensure variability. For the Alchemy Zone, 5 of the tiles are placed “front side up” in the shape of a cross and the remaining 4 tiles are placed “back side up” (or “element side up”) in a square to create the Element Zone. To complete the Alchemy Zone, fill the slots on each of the tiles with 4 random Spirit Stones of different colors and let each player choose their starting zone according to the order of placement rules on the board by placing their Player Marker (in this instance, the “Taoist”) in the center space (no 2 players can occupy the same space during the first turn). The remaining Spirit Stones are then lined up next to the Alchemy Zone mostly at random (no two same colored stones can be adjacent to one another) to create the Spirit Stone Supply. At either end of the line, place the Spirit Stone Refill Marker to denote the side from which new stones are drawn. The Qi Refining Stones should also be placed close by and within easy reach of all players (the number of tokens used for this supply is determined by the number of players).

Spirit Zone

The second board is known as the Spirit Zone.

To complete the Element Zone, you must first remove 1 random Elemental Rune of each type and then separate the remaining tokens by type and put them into stacks in decreasing value from top to bottom. The Earth runes go in the center of the Element Zone and the remaining Elemental Runes are placed in their respective stacks with one stack in each corner of the board. Like with the Alchemy Zone, players will then place their Player Markers on the Element Zone. However, each player’s marker (in this case, the “Spirit”) should go on the space with the corresponding color of Rune Stone instead of in a space of the player’s choosing. Near this zone, we tend to put our Artifact deck. The 14 Artifact cards are shuffled and placed within easy reach of all players; 3 of these cards are then placed next to the deck to create a 4 card Artifact Card Supply (in this copy they are double sided, but are the same on both sides so it doesn’t matter which way they are facing). Out of the 7 Objective cards, 3 are chosen at random to be used during the game and the rest are returned to the box. Each player then deals themselves 4 cards face up on the table to form their hand and play begins.

As I said, the setup seems kind of daunting, but it’s really not once you set it up for yourself the first time. Sorcerer & Stones is played over a series of rounds. Each player will have their turn, which is made up of 6 actions that must be taken in a specific order. These are described in length in the rulebook and are also laid out on the reference cards. Players will first play 1 or 2 cards from their face up hand and resolve their effects – either by manipulating the Alchemy Zones or moving their Taoist – and then will refill their hand back up to 4 cards. Once all cards are resolved, the active player will activate the Alchemy Zone where their Taoist resides and collect the Spirit Stones based on their resolved actions. All collected stones go on the player’s reference card. Should a player collect a stone of the same color as their player color, they will also receive a Qi Refining Stone. The player then switches their attention to the second board (the Element Zone) and decides if they would like to move their Spirit and attempt to collect Elemental Runes. To move their Spirit, they must move orthogonally along the board based on the colors of the stones they currently have in their possession. Should they end their move adjacent to an Elemental Rune, they can collect it. Once this is done, check the Objective Cards and reap any awards they grant if they were completed. Refill the elements on the Alchemy Zone board starting from left to right and top to bottom using the stones from the Spirit Stone Supply. Should a player have the resources to craft an artifact, then they may do so. Only one artifact may be crafted per turn. If a player has more than 5 stones in their personal reserve, they must discard them back down to 5. Play then passes to the next player. There are 3 ways for the game to end: the Artifact Card Supply is completely depleted, the Qi Refining Stone Supply is depleted, or a player obtains 5 Elemental Runes of different types. Once the game has ended, points are scored and the player with the most points has not only won, but has reached the coveted immortal form of a Xian.

Though playing Sorcerer & Stones was a lot like playing two different games at once, it was something that works for this game when it has not worked well for others that I have played that try to do this. The player markers are probably my favorite component in the game and I really wish the Spirit Stones were more similar to them. Though the game does scale, which I love, I feel it is drastically different to play between 2 players and 4 players. Don’t get me wrong, it does play really well at 2, but with each player you add to the game, the more chaos is also added to the game. For example, the Alchemy Zones move around quite a bit more and there is more of a push to try to craft artifacts and/or collect Elemental Runes. As a 2 player game, it plays pretty quickly while still being rather laid back. I felt the theme was very loose when compared to the actual gameplay as it doesn’t really seem to manifest itself (even for an abstract), but even with that being the case I really like the style of the art and the overall concept. I also like that for the most part this is a game that is language independent so I can play it with any game group anywhere. Sorcerer & Stones will be appearing on Kickstarter on March 27, 2018, along with two other titles from EmperorS4 (Roundhouse and Mystery of the Temples) in a new campaign brought to us by Deep Water Games!

Round House

Round House – A 2-5 Player Board Game
(Image from EmperorS4)

Mystery of the Temples

Mystery of the Temples – A 2-5 Player Card Game
(Image from EmpererS4)

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