The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits is a card game for two to 10 players ages 10 and up. It is designed by Matthew O’Malley with illustrations by Felicia Cano. It plays in about 15 minutes.
In A Battle of Wits, you and up to nine other people participate in The Man in Black’s battle to the death (or nearly death) with Vizzini by trying to poison your opponents’ wine while making yours less toxic.
How it works:
Each player chooses a character and a deck of cards with their character symbol on it. Each of those decks has cards numbered from 1 to 7. Odd numbers have a poison symbol, even numbers have a grape symbol. (Some cards are removed, depending on the number of players.)
Each player is dealt one card from the Sicilian deck, which has the same seven cards, plus two with special abilities — immunity from poison with the player’s own symbol, and switch, which lets the player change two piles of bids. These cards are optional in an advanced game. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
One goblet card per player is placed in the center of the table. The dealer is given a time card, as well.
On their turn, players can put a card face down above a goblet, which counts as contents of that goblet. Or they can place a card face down below a goblet, which is a bid to drink from that goblet.
Every other turn, the dealer reveals the cards closest to the goblets. The dealer will do that three times. This is also optional in an advanced game.
Once all the players’ cards are played, the bids are counted. The player with the highest number under each goblet will drink from it. (There are rules for breaking ties.)
Then the contents of the goblets are revealed. The numbers on the cards are added according to whether they are poison or wine. If there is more wine in the goblet, the player lives. If there is more poison, the player dies.
All the living players win. There are also tournament rules to decide a single winner.
Why you might buy The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits:
Of the three Princess Bride games I reviewed, fans of the movie loved this one the best.
The cards have quotes from the scene, so before or after the game, you can read them out.
The rulebook is funny and weaves in the theme every chance it can.
People felt a bit like they were inhabiting the movie, trying to outwit each other with limited information. There was lots of laughter, and no one minded if more than one person won.
There are five options for gameplay with more and less luck. One option involves teams.
The more players there are, the more chaotic the game is, but it works as well with two as with 10 people.
The game is short, but you’ll likely wind up playing a few rounds.
Why you might not buy The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits:
I’m not sure if the game would appeal to people who aren’t fans of the movie. The gameplay is good, but it’s hard to separate from its charm.
The cost is a bit steep for a card game.
Battle of Wits is silly. There’s some strategy and lots of bluffing, but this isn’t a game you will be able to control.
The right crowd is really important for this game. If people love the movie and are ready to have a good time, tit will likely be a favorite.
If they can’t get into it or take it too seriously, it won’t be fun.
I’ve been a Princess Bride fan for two decades, so the theme is a natural fit for me.
But outside the theme, this game is quirky fun. If it went on much longer than it does, it wouldn’t work, but Battle of Wits does everything right.
If you can’t imagine shelling out $20 for a card game, though, I understand. It could be a great gift for a Princess Bride fan on your list.
Full disclosure: I got a review copy of The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits from Game Salute. I wasn’t required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.