It's been almost a year since I last looked at Wiccage, but during some daydreaming recently, I suddenly saw a path forward. One of the problems of the game was that the spell system was both important to the game, and a distraction. You found yourself managing mana, but many of the plays were trivial. It wasn't really doing the right thing in the game, but it was still there, taking up space. The spells also allowed for some kind of cheap behavior, to avoid having to play the cards you were dealt/drafted. Something needed to be done.
Another problem was a little more subtle, but once a player started getting ahead, they could draft cards and just keep snowballing. It was a bummer to be on the wrong side of that, and just sit there getting hammered. The spells were intended to help out with breaking that cycle, but they were doing a poor job of it, so the runaway leader problem was still present.
Another issue was that the deck, while I liked the number of suits and the size of the deck, needed some more going on. The special powers of the Queens/Witches were fun, but the rest of the deck was just a stripped poker deck. It seemed like a missed opportunity.
Finally, the scoring system just didn't work. I greatly admire Roma, and Roma's scoring system, but without the points loss that Roma has, it just didn't make sense. The rules weight of the scoring subsystem was too much, and it just was too complicated. This, at least, was an easy problem to fix - just go to keeping score normally.
As for the rest, the idea was sparked by a playtester mentioning that maybe spells should be a lot more limited. Well, what if that is the angle? Then I thought, what if casting a spell was triggered by playing a particular card from the deck? That would limit it to three spells a hand, which seemed like enough to be important, but not enough to steal focus. But if I were going to put stuff on the cards, maybe I could put more things.
In the end, I made all of the odd-ranked cards special in some way. It gives players more tools to control the flow of the game, gives more texture to the deck, and it simplifies the spells while also making them more important. Now, you have to think about if you want to use one of your precious special cards. Is it the right time?
After trying this version out several times, I think there's a game here. It's a long ways from done, but it's entertaining already, and much improved over the last version. Dumping two entire subsystems (Runes and Mana) makes for a sleeker game, and there's more room for skillful play. If you'd like to look at the rules, you can check them out here and even comment. And you can download the print-and-play of the cards here. It's a pretty easy build, just forty cards in total. Take a look!