Release Date: 
Monday, November 15, 2004
PDF icon spellcycles.pdf179.59 KB
PDF icon spellcycles_cards.pdf83.81 KB
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Play Duration (experienced): 
Minimum number of players: 
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Minimum Age: 

by Jonathan Leistiko


Accumulate Prestige by casting complex spells.

You Need

  • Spell Components: 6 Icehouse sets: Red, yellow, green, blue, white, and black.
  • A Knucklebone: A six-sided die.
  • Prestige Certificates: A standard deck of playing cards.
  • A Casting Field: A checker board.
  • Moon Crescents: Chess pieces or checkers equal to the number of players.
  • An Essence Pool: lots of pennies, stones, or other generic markers.
  • A Spell Deck: lots of index cards and a pencil for each player (or you can print out Spellcycles sample and blank cards).

Setting Up

If playing with player-created spells, have each player write about six spells on index cards. Set these Spell Cards aside as the Spell Deck. If playing with pre-made Spell Cards, just set them aside as the Spell Deck. Example Spells

See the example spells below.

Creating Spells: With respect to Spell Components, spells may only specify Spell Component color and sequence; they may not specify orientation or size as requirements. Note that sequence is important. Red, Yellow, Blue is not the same as Red, Blue, Yellow.

Place the Casting Field where everyone can reach it. Set the Prestige Certificates and Essence Pool nearby. You do not start with either of these in your possession.

Set the Spell Components in a line next to the Casting Field. This is the Cauldron. Have each player take three randomly-selected large Spell Components from the Cauldron.

Shuffle the Spell Deck. Deal out a line of eight spells (Only deal out four spells for a short game. Deal out twelve spells for a long game). This creates the Spell Line. Place all Moon Crescents on the first spell in the Spell Line.

Choose a player to go first.


On your turn:

  1. Refresh: Take 1 Essence from the Essence Pool.
  2. Renew: Roll the Knucklebone to randomly select a large Spell Component from the Cauldron. Put it in your Apothecary. If the color chosen by the Knucklebone has no large components available, roll again. If no large spell components are available, skip this step.
  3. Contribute: Take a Spell Component from your Apothecary and place it in an unoccupied space on the Casting Field.
  4. Reap: Any spell in the Spell Line with a Moon Crescent on it is an active spell. Compare the active spells in the Spell Line the the Casting Field. If you find a match, you may cast that spell. To cast a spell,
    1. Pay any costs required by the spell.
    2. Use the Cauldron to swap the Spell Components on the Casting Field that match the spell you’re casting. The Spell Components on the Field go back to the Cauldron, and Components of the same color, but one size smaller, go back to the Field from the Cauldron. Do not replace small Spell Components.
    3. Enact the spell’s effects.
    4. Once the spell’s effects have resolved, gain Prestige Certificates equal to the number of Spell Components required by the spell, unless the spell itself indicates otherwise.
    5. After you’ve cast a spell, you may cast another spell if conditions permit. You may not cast the same spell multiple times in one turn.
    6. While Reaping, you may spend a point of Essence to change the color of a Spell Component on the Casting Field to any other color for the duration of one spell. If you have to replace a changed Spell Component, replace it with its original color, not its assumed color. You may spend multiple points of Essence to use this effect multiple times.
  5. Progress: Move a Moon Crescent from a spell to the next spell in the Spell Line. If you must move a Moon Crescent off of the last spell, then remove that Moon Crescent from the game.

Play passes clockwise.


The game ends when there are no Moon Crescents in play. The player with the most Prestige Certificates at the end of the game wins.


SpellStackers: Pieces may occupy the same space. Spells may require this.

Accelerando: At the end of the Contribute phase, you may spend two points of Essence to place an additional Spell Component on the Casting Field. You may not do this more than once per turn.

Duel: The goal of the game is not to accumulate Prestige, but to defeat your opponents by reducing their Essence to zero. All players start the game with 5 Essence. When a spell would normally award Prestige, it awards Essence instead. You should create more Essence draining / gaining spells.

Extra Credit: Keep the Prestige Certificates face-down during the game. When tallying points at the end of the game, count cards with 2-10 as one point, royal cards as 2 points, and aces as three points. The player with the most points wins.

Double-Plus Extra Credit: Keep the Prestige Certificates face-down during the game. Before tallying points at the end of the game flip the next Prestige Certificate face-up. This is the Marker. All Prestige Certificates that match the suit of the Marker are worth double. The player with the most points wins.

Example Spells

Bippity, Boppity, Blue: Move up to three blue Spell Components of any size from the Cauldron to your Apothecary.
Requirements: none

Blue Blue Blue

Friend of Jack: Take up to three Prestige Certificates from one player. Gain no additional Prestige for casting this spell.
Requirements: One Essence

Red Black
Black Yellow

Might: Double your Essence, or gain four Essence, whichever is less.
Requirements: One Essence

Yellow White

Translocation: Select 2 pieces on the Casting Field. You may swap their positions.
Requirements: 2 Essence

Blue vacant Yellow

Telekinesis: Move one piece adjacent to the green piece in this spell (other than the yellow spell component) to a vacant space up to n spaces away.
Requirements: n Essence

White Yellow Green

Implode: Return the piece in the space marked “xxx” to the Cauldron.
Requirements: 1 Prestige Certificate

Red Blue
xxx Black

Reverse Time: Roll the Knucklebone. Move a Moon Crescent back that many spaces.
Requirements: 6 Essence

Blue Green  
  Yellow White

Subtle Drain: Take 1 Essence from another player.
Requirements: none

Blue Black

Killing Time: Return all pieces in this spell except the white one to the Cauldron. Remove a Moon Crescent from the game.
Requirements: 6 Essence

Black Blue Red

Quick Fingers: Put a randomly selected piece from your Apothecary on the Casting Field. If you spent 3 Essence, you may also take a randomly selected large piece from the Cauldron and put it in your Apothecary.
Requirements: 1 or 3 Essence

Yellow Red


Origin and Credits

Inspired by a comment by Brandon from the Monday Night Games Night group. Conceived and drafted on 02/05/2004.

First playtest on 02/09/2004. Changed piece removal to reduction. Redrafted on 02/10/2004 and 10/19/2004.

Note that you don’t have to use the colors specified, as long as you have 6 different stashes. You’d have to change the colors required by the pre-made spells, though. Also note that you don’t have to play with 6 stashes. You could play with four stashes if you don’t have six. You’ll have to modify the spell deck to omit any colors you’re not using. Keep in mind that reducing the number of spells makes it easier to cast spells on the field.

I’m not so happy with the sample spells that I’ve included with this game. To tell the truth though, I really didn’t want to include any sample spells. I’m fond of 1,000 Blank White Cards, , and other games that reflect the idiosyncracies of their players. I deliberately picked somewhat lame spells in the hope that that would encourage you (the players) to make your own, better spells. On that note, if you do create spells and you’re willing to share them, please contribute below.