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A wild game of logic, game theory, guessing, and second-guessing that will make everyone’s head spin

Card Game Review: ‘The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits’ from Sparkworks

The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits from Game Salute’s imprint Sparkworks allows players to live out the deductive chaos of one of the best scenes from one of the greatest cult movies of the ‘80s.

After defeating both an expert swordsman and a giant in combat, the Dread Pirate Roberts is caught in an impasse with self-proclaimed genius Vizzini over who will have the captured Buttercup. Their solution: a battle of wits with a poisoned goblet. Of course, nothing is as it seems.

In A Battle of Wits the game, each player chooses a character card featuring someone from the film. Choices go far beyond the two who actually played out the battle of wits. Players could be the gentle Fezzik, crafty Prince Humperdink, cackling Miracle Max, Buttercup herself, and even Inigo Montoya. Each card features stills from the film on two sides: living and dead.

Then players collect their wine/poison cards, corresponding to the symbol on their character cards. An array of goblets, enough for each player to have one, is laid out on the table.

Rounds progress with players taking turns adding numbered wine/poison cards to the goblets. Players may add either poison or wine to the contents of the goblet on one side, or they may add to the bids on the other, which will determine who drinks what at the end of the game. As in the film, A Battle of Wits is a wild game of logic, game theory, guessing, and second-guessing that will make everyone’s head spin as strategies are confidently fulfilled or tactics changed. No one will know exactly what is where, meaning luck is just as important as reading people.

When all the cards have been placed, A Battle of Wits ends with the resolution of the cards. All face-down cards are flipped to reveal their amounts, beginning with the bids. The player with the most points on a goblet drinks it, with ties being determined by the order of play, on down to any player who may not have placed a bid at all. Then the wine/poison cards are revealed: If the goblet has more points in poison, then the drinker dies; if not, the player lives! With such an unpredictable setup, the game may end up with several winners or even with everyone dead.

The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits is a card game for two to ten players aged ten and up. It features a splash of variants that allow players to best suit the game for their home table’s style of play, such as working in teams or playing tournament-style so only one survivor remains. Players may add in Sicilian cards with special powers, placed face-up in front of themselves to switch goblets or have immunity to their own poison, completely changing up the balance of the game. They may also play with a day/night card, which allows every other round to have cards played face-up, giving hints as to what may be inside each goblet.

With flexibility and rowdy gameplay in just 15 minutes, players will return to the table for challenges again and again.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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