If you are part of the online Disney community on twitter, facebook or message boards, you have no doubt heard the buzz about the new interactive card game that has premiered under beta testing in the Magic Kingdom Park – The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. As a local, we saw the little portal stations being built for quite some time, as speculation swirled regarding what these new screens and areas would mean to the parks. Would they interfere with guests’ experiences as they explored the lands of the Magic Kingdom? Would Imagineers be able to pull off the mixing of villains and animated film characters? The answers are a bit complex, but overall, I give the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom a hearty “thumbs up.” I’ll go into further detail below.
First, let’s go over exactly what the game is all about. The premise is that certain villains, organized by Hades, Lord of the Underworld, are teaming up to steal pieces of the crystal of the Magic Kingdom. Merlin is on board to fight evil, and enlists us – the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, to help defeat the foes.
How it Works (the short version):
- Head to the Main Street, U.S.A. Firehouse, pick up your cards and Sorcerers key card
- Follow the icons on the map to defeat villains at various portals throughout the Magic Kingdom
- Use your spell cards to defeat each villain and eventually become a Master Sorcerer
- Come back again and again to collect more cards and defeat more villains!
How it Works (the long version):
You start off by heading to the Main Street Firehouse. There you can watch a preview, check in with your ticket media and receive a key card, 5 spell cards and a map marking the portal locations. You are given a key card which will correspond with your park pass. So you cannot have 5 key cards and expect to get spell cards for each key. You must present your park pass with your key card, so everyone can play fairly. You then watch a tutorial with Merlin so you know exactly what to do when you set out on your quest. Now here you must make a decision with your group – you can all battle together under one key card, or if you each receive a key card, you will most likely be separated and sent to different lands to explore the portals at different times. When we first checked in, we got key cards for each of our family members, but only used one, so we stayed together. Now that we’ve been playing for about a week, my older kids or husband can go off and fight at a portal in a different location within the same land. We usually stay together until we all get portals in the same land though, so for example, if my son gets Adventureland and I get Fantasyland, we’ll go to one land and then wait until he gets Fantasyland too so we can be in the same area. Of course it’s up to you how you want to handle these battles, and keep in mind, not going where the portal tells you to can impact your wait time.
Who Can Play? As far as age-range for the game, this was something my 3 year old could play – at least the unlocking of the portal with the key card. He could still use the spell cards, but only if we told him how to hold them, etc. I’d say in a year he’d be perfect at figuring out the right way to hold or picking out the spell cards he wants. However, from the sounds of level 2 and 3, it would probably take an older child or adult to weigh the options for each card’s skill points and so on.
Once you start collecting your cards, you will get doubles or duplicates of some of them. Especially with our family, we are getting 4 sets of 5 cards each day, so our collection has added up quickly. In the case of dupes, guests can trade with other Sorcerers players and pick up some missing cards that way. So far, we’ve run into new players, who don’t really have anything to trade, and seasoned players, who have almost everything and don’t really need to trade. But we have picked up I’d say about 10-15 cards through trading and it’s a great way to complete your collection. Especially if you have friends playing, they can hold cards for you and will be more willing to trade.
There are 70 cards – but at this time cards 61-70 have been pulled from play. Cast members are saying they will be selling those last 10. As of right now, the packs arriving at the Firehouse don’t have cards 61-70 within them, so you’ll have to wait, or find someone that’s been playing from day 1 of beta testing who’s willing to trade. [note: as of 3/4/12 we have been hearing reports in the park and on twitter of guests getting cards 61-70 randomly in their packs of 5 cards, so keep your eyes peeled!] The game has been officially started since February 22, 2012 and during medium and hard, which cards you use to defeat villains now matters.
All About the Cards:
Once you start your collection of cards, you’ll notice some numbers and symbols on the face of each card. in the bottom left corner there will be a number out of 70, which tells you simply the number the card is in the collection. For example, Sorcerer Mickey is 1/70 and Cabellero Donald is 43/70. In addition, the cards are listed by spell – Mystic Spell (blue background), Princess Spell (purple background), Toy Spell (red background), Machine Spell (black background), Warrior Spell (dark blue background), Monster Spell (green background), Hero Spell (dark teal background), Animal Spell (dark green background), and Fairy Spell (pink background).
Within each spell card, there will be three types of numbers: attack, boost, and shield. So Merlin’s card has a 5 Energy attack, 0 Energy boost, and 1 Energy shield. Other cards will have other types of spells. Options are Energy, Charming, Wishful, Quick, Flying, Strong, and Gross. Right now, in level one, these distinctions don’t really matter as any card defeats any villain. However when the game really goes live, or in higher levels, the type of card and type of attack will most likely matter.
Lastly, above the number is a symbol, with one of three designations – a star symbol, which indicates a rare card; a moon symbol, which signifies an uncommon card; and a planet symbol, which indicates a common card. There are also cards out there with lightning bolt symbols, which seem to be the 61-70 cards that are now pulled. Hopefully we’ll get more facts as the game gets out of testing mode.
UPDATE: throughout the course of playing, my son has been using a few cards continuously. As a result, these cards have become more powerful. Now when he uses Lumiere’s spell card, he often shoots 3 candles, rather than the one. Similarly, my husband was using the Mike Wazowski’s Great Entrance card today and over time the animated spell scene changed to show different monsters. I know when I first used that card, all that showed up was Mike opening a door. This makes for a fun way to keep things continuously changing as you play. And spells that may seem rather boring at first could change to something more magical over time.
UPDATE 2: friends playing on hard are now reporting how certain cards will defeat certain villains easier. For example, one friend spent 2 1/2 hours trying to defeat Kronk on hard, and discovered that Flower, Thumper and Eeyore worked, because they are woodland creatures! So the game is now making you think and really pick and plan the best attack card for each villain. It’s not just the spell or type of spell, but the character casting it that matters.
Just head to the portal the Firehouse initially tells you to go to, and then you’ll be instructed where to go next. After you’ve played once, you can pick up where you left off, unless the system has been reset. You can always check where you are supposed to be by scanning your key card at any portal and it will tell you where you need to be. If the game has been reset, it will tell you to head to the Firehouse to get reassigned. There is also a booth in Liberty Square, behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, staffed with cast members, who can fix errors, show you the tutorial and help you out. (You can also sign up there with usually no line compared to the Firehouse) In no time you’ll have all the portals memorized and be able to go from place to place without even needing a map.
The game itself involves defeating 8 villains at this time:
- Main Street, U.S.A. – Cruella DeVil
- Adventureland – Jafar, Yzma and Scar
- Liberty Square/Frontierland – Dr. Facilier and Governor Ratcliffe
- Fantasyland – Maleficent and Ursula
Once you defeat ALL of those villains, you will have a final battle with Chernabog and Hades, and become a Master Sorcerer. Then you proceed to medium and from there, hard. You must check in with either the Firehouse on Main Street or the Sorcerer’s Training booth in Liberty Square, to be set up for medium or hard. They will then tell you where to go to continue your games, and give you 5 additional cards for moving up. Here’s a video of the Master Sorcerer announcement. If you don’t want the finale to be spoiled, don’t watch! You can check out another video on my YouTube channel of the scene before this one, where you actually battle Hades.
The first portal you go to tells you the story of the villain, and where to go next to help out. The next portal you will get to pick spell cards (you can combine spells up to 6 at a time!), and usually one of the portals will ask you to use the Sorcerer’s Crest on the back of the card (I actually don’t like this since you don’t get to pick the spells!). The final battle for that land’s villain will let you use two separate spell castings (again, up to 6 cards for each one). Then you have defeated that villain and Merlin will tell you if you’d like to continue to help, which land you should head to next.
Now that we have been playing Medium, I can update that the main differences here are an additional spell added to the scenes where you use spell cards vs. Sorcerer’s Crest card. Where you once cast one spell, you’ll cast two, and in the final battle, you’ll cast three spells, not two. It’s a little choppy in parts because you are just getting repeats of scenes where you had to cast spells before, but in some scenes, there are a few new lines thrown in.
I highly recommend playing in both daylight and nighttime. At night you can see many details and lighting effects of the portals that just aren’t visible in bright sunlight. It’s also usually less crowded, though you must wait to play in Fantasyland until the fireworks have ended. After playing at night and in the day when the park was a crowd level 10, I have to say I much prefer night time. Waiting in the sun for your turn at the portal isn’t the most fun, and I can only imagine during the summer months it could be downright unbearable.
If you’d like to see more photos, I’ve created a flickr set for all our Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom adventures. Just click to see the portals – I’ll be adding more as I make future visits to the Magic Kingdom.
Pros and Cons to the game:
As far as pros go, for the most part, I’d categorize the game as unobtrusive to the average guest. You don’t have to pay attention to it as you are passing, though some portals are hard to ignore and can all be a bit loud. I don’t think a single portal detracts from its land or the space it is in. If anything, the only problem is the fact that passers-by will often ask WHAT you are doing, and you’ll have to give a quick synopsis of the game, usually while your animated scene is playing. In addition, those with quite a few cards can expect smaller children who’ve just started playing to ask “where did you get all those cards?” and even “can I have some?” so just be prepared for lots of questions. Since first writing this review, the additional issue of lines for portals has cropped up. On a weekend day, a queue for a portal can be up to 10 deep and definitely puts a damper on making the game fun. I am confident that Disney is aware of this issue and will attempt to come up with a solution as time passes.
I can see how those on a one-time trip to Walt Disney World or even a once-a-year visit would perhaps get frustrated by the time it takes to become a Master Sorcerer, but of course, that’s what Disney wants: return visitors. Or, for guests to plan a day longer vacation to be sure you get enough game time. In the 4 times we’ve played, we have not gone on a single ride in the Magic Kingdom, and we’ve spent about 17 hours playing (not counting time spent dining). Again, being locals, this isn’t a big deal to us…but those on a yearly vacation may feel they are missing valuable ride time. What we did get to do was notice more details around the park, and enjoy the various parades and nighttime shows from different angles than usual. And just like pins or Vinylmation figures, the cards become your own prize collection, free – for now, and unlike Vinyls or pins, you get to actually use them in the park. There is a reward for your patience and your play.
My hope, when the game goes officially live on the 22nd, is that cast members at the Firehouse are able to better explain the ins and outs of card use. What the symbols mean, what you want to do or not do in the second or third levels – even if only to give us a vague idea and let us figure it out for ourselves. [Note: now that the game is live, this hasn't really happened yet. I can understand letting us all figure out the little secrets and tips within the game, but I do wish more help were available, with so many variables in play] In addition, there needs to be a more pronounced explanation about keeping the map and cards. A handful of times, I have heard, “do we get to keep these cards?” or “do we have to give the map back?” from guests. I understand that given the only other comparison game within Walt Disney World – the Kim Possible missions, you are instructed to return your Kimmunicator, but it makes me sad to think that people are worried they have to give their cool cards and map back, and the problem is easily solved by cast members up front.
With ALL of that said, I’m so excited to see where this game goes in the coming months and will of course update this page as I find out definitive facts or news. [I've decided to wait on reporting news that I hear until I can confirm it first hand through gameplay or experience.] Even as I type this post, changes are happening to some of the portals; updates, props, new posters and banners…Disney really is working to make this an amazing experience. You can also follow all the latest updates on twitter at @DisneySorcerers, an unofficial account offering tips, news, photos, videos and more. Now go get ‘em, Sorcerer!