Magic Spell

Release Date: 
Monday, August 15, 2005
PDF icon magic_spell_tiles_and_cards.pdf84.75 KB
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Play Duration (experienced): 
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Minimum Age: 

by Jonathan Leistiko


You’re a student starting a new semester at Lunston Lifflammer’s Academy of the Magical Arts and Sciences. Like you’ve done in your previous semesters here, you’ve made a friendly wager with a few close friends. The first student to finish his or her courseload of spells for the semester doesn’t have to do any chores next semester. Instead, the other students in the wager will do that student’s chores for him or her. Next semester you’re slated to muck out the dragon hatchery three times a week. If there’s a worse chore at the school, you don’t know what it is. This semester you’d better win the wager or your nickname will be, “Stinky.” Good luck!


Be the first student to complete a full courseload of spells (9 credits worth).

You need

  • Letter tiles (Ingredients)
  • A Spell Deck
  • Beads or coins to keep track of Spirit


Spell – A card with a magic word in bold on it. Once the magic word on the spell is spelled with ingredient tiles, you add it to your spellbook. Until that time, you keep it in your hand as homework.
Ingredients – Tiles with letters on them, usually kept face-down in the middle of the table. Ingredients that you possess are kept in your cabinet.
Cabinet – Where you keep all of your ingredients that aren’t woven into spells yet. You should probably conceal the ingredients in your cabinet so the other students can’t see them.
Laboratory – The area of the table where all of the ingredients that aren’t owned by players are kept.
Spellbook – Your completed spells. When you finish weaving a spell, set it off to the side, face-up. That spell is in your spellbook and can be cast and used in the game. It also counts towards your 9-credit courseload goal.
Homework – Cards in your hand. Spells that have not been fully woven and added to your spellbook are kept in your hand as homework.
Weaving – The process of adding ingredients to a spell. A spell with some, but not all, of the ingredients it needs is in the process of being woven.
Spirit – What makes spells work. You start with 5 points of spirit and slowly recover spirit after it is spent.

Setting Up

  • Mix up all of the ingredients face-down in the laboratory. When you’re done mixing, no ingredient should touch any other ingredient. Draw five ingredients for your cabinet. You may keep your ingredients secret or you may show them to the other players.
  • Shuffle the spell deck. Draw three spells for your homework. You may keep your homework secret or you may show it to other players.
  • You start with 5 points of spirit.
  • Choose a player to go first.


General Rules

  • You may not have more than four spells for homework.
  • You may not have more than six ingredients in your cabinet.
  • You may not touch or move ingredients in the laboratory unless a rule or spell specifically permits you to.
  • When you return ingredients to the laboratory, place them face-up, allow all students to see them, then turn the ingredients face-down unless a rule or spell specifically says otherwise. Don’t mix ingredients into the laboratory; a student with a good memory should have a shot at scrounging them.
  • If you can not meet the requirement for a spell, you must fill its requirement to the best of your ability. If you are casting the spell and can not meet its requirements, the spell will not resolve its remaining effects.

On your turn you can perform one of the following actions:

  • Weave – Add an ingredient to a spell.
  • Cast – Use a spell in your spellbook.
  • Scrounge – Look at an ingredient in the laboratory and put it in your cabinet or weave it into a spell (as appropriate).
  • Research – Spend five points of spirit and draw another spell from the Spell Deck.
  • Rest – Gain two points of spirit.


  • Take an ingredient from your cabinet or one of your partially woven spells and put it face down on one of your homework spells. You must spend one spirit to take an ingredient from one spell and move it to another. The ingredient must match an unmatched letter in the magic word of the spell you’re moving it to.
  • Ingredients on spells-in-progress don’t count against your cabinet’s six-ingredient limit.
  • If the ingredient matches the last unmatched letter in the magic word, put all of the ingredients on the spell face-up in the laboratory, reveal the spell to everybody and explain what the spell does, add it to your spellbook, then turn the ingredients you returned to the laboratory face-down again. If you’ve mis-spelled the word, you must return the incorrect tiles to the laboratory, leave the ingredients you returned face-up, and start the cleanup portion of your turn.
  • Once you’ve finished weaving, you may immediately spend a point of spirit to take another weave action. You may do this as many times as you want to.


  • If a spell in your spellbook says you need to cast it before it does anything, you may choose to cast on your turn. When you cast a spell, you must meet all of its requirements before it will cause its effect to occur.


  • Pick one ingredient in the laboratory and look at it. Don’t show it to anyone else.
  • If it matches a magic word letter in one of your homework spells, you may add it directly to that spell as if you had woven it from your cabinet.
  • If you do not add it to a spell in your homework, you may put it in your cabinet.
  • if you do not want to weave the ingredient into a spell or put it in your cabinet, then return it to the laboratory.


  • You may spend five points of spirit to draw another spell from the spell deck.


  • Gain two points of spirit.

At the end of your turn:

  • If you have less than five points of spirit, you gain one point of spirit.
  • If you have more than six ingredients in your cabinet, you must return ingredients to the laboratory until you have six ingredients in your cabinet.
  • If you have more than four spells in your homework, you must return spells to the bottom of the spell deck until you have four spells in your homework.
  • Play passes deosil (clockwise).

When it is not your turn, you may make consensual trades with any other player who is not taking a turn.

  • You may trade ingredients from your cabinet, and spells from your homework or spellbook.
  • You may not swap spirit points.
  • You may spend 1 spirit to remove an ingredient from a partially woven spell to swap that ingredient.
  • Ingredients you get from a trade go into your cabinet. Any unwoven or partially woven spells go into your homework. Woven spells go into your spellbook.
  • If it becomes your turn, or the turn of the player you’re swapping with, you must end the swap promptly.


If you have 9 or more credits worth of spells in your spellbook at the end of your turn, tell the other players that you’re about to submit your spellbook for grading. Each other player gets one last turn, in order, and the game ends.

If you have the most credits in spells in your spellbook at the end of the game, you win.


Heavy Courseload – Instead of ending the game at 9 credits, end the game at 12 or 15 credits.

Low Enrollment – You can play with two players. You may swap with each other in between turns.

Philosopher’s Stone – There are three special tiles marked with a star, an exclamation point, and a question mark. These tiles are philosopher’s stones and can substitute for any ingredient in a spell. You may only use one philosopher’s stone in a given spell. When a philosopher’s stone would be returned to the laboratory, remove it from the game instead. Each Philosopher’s Stone you have in your Cabinet at the end of the game is worth one credit.

Open Research – Ingredients on partially-woven spells must be kept face-up.

Origin and Credits

I thought of this game way back when Rowling’s third Harry Potter book was about to be released. It’s one of those “subtle” educational games. Memory games are supposed to be fun and educational, but this is also a vocabulary game. I deliberately picked unusual vocabulary words, and strove to make game effects that reflected the definition of each spell’s magic word. The word selection process is what made the game take so long to produce.

Big thanks to Sharon and the Monday Night Games group for playtesting: Andrea, Brandon, J.P. Rodman, and Marcus.

Super-big thanks to Sharon for editing and telling me about the word, “deosil.” Note that I (Jonathan) wrote and modified the rules some more after Sharon edited them, so any errors or unclear rules are entirely my fault, not hers.

Letter frequency derived from:

Words for magic spells from: