Author: Heinrich Glumpler

Publisher: KOSMOS 2005

Awards: none



Given the great success of the Harry Potter books, it would not seem unusual that publishers would try to acquire the according rights to release a more or less streamlined "merchandise" game with which they might long to participate in the Potter-boom. KOSMOS however has decided to go a different way, not acquiring any licenses but instead simply releasing a game about Wizards and Broomsticks, and as you will see, a game does not need to be concerned with Harry Potter to possess some magic of its own right.

In Zauber Stauber, up to four Wizards have mounted their modern-age electrified broomsticks and go on some hilarious races among the sky. The races are not played on a specific gameboard, but instead the playing area is set up on a simple table. Basically, the game components are composed of one Wizard riding a broomstick for each player, a variety of 20 differently curved playing pieces, and an assortment of various additional obstacles and counters (witch-houses, castles, spellbooks, the Cat "Quaddatsch".)

In the basic version of the game (the "Flightschool"), all participating players have gone on a hunt for the Cat "Quaddatsch". To set up the playing area, one witch house for each wizard is placed on one side of the playing area, and each player now aligns his wizard to one of the witch houses. On the other side of the playing area, the marker of the Cat "Quaddatsch" is placed, and as obstacles between the players and the cat all eight castles are placed. The game then starts with the players taking turns, and in his turn a player now may choose either to add one curved playing piece from the common stockpile to his spellbook or to start flying. When a player decides to add a curve to his spellbook, he chooses one of the available curve pieces and puts it on the accordingly numbered side of his spellbook (adjusting the curve either left or right - just in the way to player later desires to use the curve).

Instead of adding a curve to his spellbook, a player also may decide to fly. As a matter of fact, a spellbook only can "store" up to five curves in it, so if a player has accumulated five curves he will be forced to fly anyway. The flying is deal with in the following way: The player removes his broomstick from the table (leaving only a streak of stardust which is always placed behind a broomstick) and then he starts adding the curves from his spellbook in from of the streak of stardust. The curves must be used in the same order as they were placed in the spellbook, and furthermore they also must be placed with the same facing as left or right curves. This way the players develop a path of curves, and when all curves have been used up, the player´s broomstick is placed in front of the curve placed last. When the broomstick has been placed, all curves are returned to the common stockpile and the streak of stardust is added directly behind the broom, being ready for the next flight.


This actually outlines the basic procedure followed by the players to move their broomsticks. However, flight is not that easy! Thus, if a player´s path would cross any obstacle on the table while flying (Castles, Witch-Houses, another Broomstick etc), the player must end his flight with the last curve he can place while still being able to place his own broom in a valid position. The rest of the curves from a player´s spellbook then is discarded without use.

The basic game is won by the first player who is able to touch the cat "Quaddatsch" during his flight, but once the players have mastered the basic mechanics of flying they most surely will long for some more challenging tasks. Thus, the second scenario "Beeflight" sends the players on a race, starting from their witch houses and having to fly around one of the two most distant castles. After rounding one of these two castles, the game will be won by the first player to get back to his witch house, but here the additional difficulty is added that the player must reverse while "docking" at a witch house. Thus, this scenario introduces rules for reversing one step, giving the players even more possibilities to change the facing of their broomsticks.

Not enough ? The third scenario sends the players into a game of "Quaddatsch", first hunting for the cat and then flying around with it as long as possible. A player who has caught the cat gets a victory point for each round he flies with the cat in his possession, and the first player who accumulates 5 victory points win the scenario. To make it more difficult, the castles are used to set up a playing "arena" which the player with the cat may not leave, thus making it harder to get away from the other players. Also, the scenario introduces rules for "shunting" other players. Thus, if a player succeeds in ramming another player, he forces that player back to one of the starting positions at the castles. Furthermore, if the shunted player has the cat, he has to surrender it to the other player.

Finally, the toughest challenge included in the game is the hunt for the "Cloudbuster". Cloudbuster is a grumpy old wizard to dejects the modern brooms used by the players, and thus he has gone on an erratic flight to zap away the castles from the playing area. As you might have feared, a fifth broomstick with Cloudbuster now is added to the game and placed at its starting position at one of the castles. Now, each time a player flies, he also has to use his first three curves to move Cloudbuster, using the curves so that Cloudbuster always moves towards the lowest numbered castle still on the playing area. Whenever Cloudbuster touches a castle, it will go out of the game, and if he succeeds in zapping all eight castles the game will be won by Cloudbuster. The players however long to prevent this, and thus they try to hunt and ram Cloudbuster, and the first player who succeeds in doing so will have won the scenario.

Well, and here end the scenarios included in the game, although I am quite sure that these scenarios offer a long time of playing fun and keep the game challenging. Furthermore, there are no limits to a player´s imagination, and thus the players always are free to invent a scenario on their own. Being no boardgame in a classical sense, Zauber Stauber nonetheless is a great tactic game which demands of the players to have a rather good imagination and to succeed well in dimensional thinking. To my mind, Heinrich Glumpler succeeded rather well in creating a very unusual game, and - although the game can be played by players of any age - I think the game can be especially recommended for playing with younger players since it teaches in a rather funny way how to use your imagination. So, as said in the beginning, you do not need Harry Potter to create real magic!

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2005 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Trier, Germany