When I first saw the rules to the game Spellcaster (Also known as Waving Hands), which was apparently written by a human named Richard Bartle way back in the ancient days of 1993 for a fanzine known as Duel Purpose, my mind came off its rails a little bit as I tried to wrap my head around it. The truth is this game is madness, but in a completely amazing way. I’m not sure I can honestly recommend the game to anyone, but I certainly recommend you reading the rules to it. I may be a bad person to ask about it, though, because I find rule sets fascinating. I enjoy games, computer, board, and roleplaying – with rules that let me play a game in a way that I have never previously seen. I have never seen a game quite like Spellcaste until … well, I saw Spellcaster.
The game is played with just a couple of pieces of paper, some pencils, and the 14 or so pages of rules (in fairness, some of that is an example of play). On each turn, each player chooses from one of eight options for each of their hands. So, on each turn each player chooses two options, on for each hand. If one of the columns (you right down your option in a column for each hand once you have performed it) make one of almost 40 spells then you perform that spell, causing damage to your opponent, protecting yourself, summoning monsters, or making yourself invisible. I love it when a game is not afraid to be esoteric and Spellcaster certainly does not fail on that front. It is complex (perhaps needlessly so), but it is also a game that looks like it needs some skill, since both players have the same spells and counter-spells at their disposal at any time. Still, I can’t imagine that many people wanting to sit through the explanation of how the game works or what all the spells do (Although starting off with five spells or so and adding spells as you play might be a viable way to help learn the game). In any case, I have to admire this game, which was made almost two full decades ago now, for the unflinching dedication to being exactly what it is.