Manasurge - A Double-Take Review


Imagine, if you will: You're a wizard. So are your friends, except they're not your friends! They're your competition!

Now picture this: There's a crystal, called The World Crystal, and you and your (not) friends all want to control this crystal. So how do you do that? By battling over shards of the World Crystal by slinging spells around and collecting shards of the Crystal.

That's pretty much what's going on in Manasurge. It's a game for 2-6 wizards, that plays in 20-45 minutes. So, is Manasurge a Fireball blast, or does it fizzle out? Let's find out!

The Components


Manasurge is a ladder-style game, so it's mostly made up of cards:

  • 72 Spell cards: There are 12 cards in each of the 6 suits, plus 12 Metamagic cards.
  • 6 Wizard Role Cards: These are optional; they give you a special ability throughout the game.
  • A pile of Shard tokens (essentially score tokens)
  • The Caster Token (first player token)

The GamePlay


Setting up Manasurge is pretty easy. There are six suits of cards - Blades, Frost Wave, Quake, Fireball, Lightning, and Entangle. You'll need to select 5 of the 6 suits to play with. It's suggested that for your first game or two you play without the Entangle suit. Shuffle those five suits together, along with the Metamagic cards, and then randomly deal out a wizard role to each player (if you want to play with those). Deal five cards to each player, pick a starting player, and you're ready to go!

Each of the cards (except the Metamagic cards) have a numeric value, and a special ability, The suit's ability will sometimes affect play during the round, and sometimes it'll affect scoring/damage at the end.

The starting player will play a card, and place a shard on it. This determines the active spell for this round. The starting player (or caster) also sets which direction game play will go (left or right). Players must, in turn order, play a card that is either equal to or greater than the card played just before them, even if it doesn't match the suit of the card lead. There are a few things that happen when a card is played: If the suit matches that of the card played by the caster, it "resonates" with it and the wizard who played it gets to put a shard on it (from the general supply). If it doesn't match suits, that's okay--you at least get to stay in the round. If its numeric value is the same of the card previously played, you can choose to "counter-spell" and reverse the order of play.

You can always play a Metamagic card (they have no suit or numeric value), you just can't lead with one.

Play continues until someone can't play a card, and the player who can't play a card takes damage and doesn't get to score any of the shards they played (if they have one to lose). But the player who last played a legal card scores an extra shard. All of the players who resonated that round collect the shards off the cards they played.

Okay, let's talk about Damage, Manasurge, Rebirth and all that jazz.

When you take damage you draw cards from the deck equal to the number of shards on the table, and place them face down in front of you. If you have 5 cards in front of you, you "rebirth" by discarding all of your hand and drawing those damage cards into your hand. If you, during a round, play the last card from your hand, you get to Manasurge: You draw a new hand of 5 cards, and score two shards. It's difficult to do, but worth it!

After the round ends each player chooses whether they want to draw back up to 5 cards or keep their hand in hopes of surging.

The game ends when a round ends and a player has scored 12 shards (10 with a 5-player game).


The Verdict

Jeremiah--For as fun as this game is, I feel like it's an unknown title in the hobby, folks are always in the market for a good filler length game and this delivers a great bang for your time invested.

Firestone--This feels a lot like Uno, right down to reversing the direction. But for what is a lot like a souped-up Uno variant, I've had fun playing this. Because of that familiar base gameplay, this is easy for nongamers to pick up. But there are nice decisions in a 15-minute package. 

Jeremiah--Yep, there's an Uno-esqu feel about this game, except it's WAY better. The way the suits play weighs into which card you lead, and the meta magic cards add some nice flavor to the game as well, there's not a TON going on with this game but there's enough to make it really fun, and Manasurge gets to the table a lot because of that!

Firestone--I like the colorful and evocative artwork, and I appreciate that this is in an appropriately sized box. It's a filler, and it should only take up filler space. 

Jeremiah--Yeah, great artwork, and components, I'm a fan of the first player token to, it's a cool little fist looking wooden token. It's all quality work that fits the theme really well!

Firestone--I know it goes up to six, but I didn't enjoy it at that number. Three or four seems to be the sweet spot, and that's perfect for my family, or a game night filler. There are plenty of other fillers that play larger numbers. Also, there are some rules ambiguities, but the designers have been great about being in the community and answering those questions. 

Jeremiah--I've never played with more than 4, and it's great. Likewise, my kids love this one, the gamers I've played it with are on board with it as well. The thing that sets it apart from standard card games (such as Uno), is the scoring mechanisms, the ability for multiple players to score/lose points during a hand is clever, and interesting to me. It's totally outside of the "I won this hand/round, so let's see how many points I scored..." box. It really keeps the game interesting from start to finish!

Jeremiah's FInal Verdict--Manasurge is a super fun filler. Play it with family, with friends, and gamer types, because it's fun. Clever scoring mechanisms, cool special powers, and well executed artwork combine to give you a ton of fun in 15-20 minutes! Huzzah!

Firestone's Final Verdict--I never thought I'd say I enjoyed a game that feels so much like crazy Uno but there it is. It's a fun filler that mixes familiar gameplay with new twists to create something worth throwing into the game tub as a filler. 

Thanks so much for reading! Have you played Manasurge? We'd love to hear your thoughts, too! Just comment below or email us by clicking the contact button up top!

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