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Das Geheimnis der Zauberer


Guido Hoffmann &
Jens-Peter Schliemann


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Only a few years ago, the American company MATTEL started a new line of elaborately designed games for children. Formerly known for multiple variations of Uno and some simple games for their famous trademarks like Barbie, Hot wheels and Fisher Price, the company made a first presentation of their new ambitions with Geister Geister Schatzsuchmeister, instantly winning the children's games award in Germany in 2014. Following in the line and even more elaborate to my taste is their new children's game Das Geheimnis der Zauberer.

In the game the players are young magicians who come together to decide who of them will be the next one to enter the fraternal order of wise wizards. To decide this the young magicians compete against each other in a test. One by one they enter a hall of mirrors to perform a spell, and meanwhile all other magicians have to find out which spell the magician plans to cast. What the magicians probably did not know is that the guessing is the real test, and that is not too easy, because the illusions in the mirrors can really be distractive.


But before we can begin to guess, we have to prepare the game. So, first of all we have to build the castle with the hall of mirrors. The edge of this hall of mirrors consists of 12 mirrors that are applied with glue on wall tiles which on the other hand are put into slots of a castle shaped inlay of the game box. The whole construction is then placed on top of the cover of the game, so that everyone has the hall of mirrors at eye level. The mirrors are placed towards the inner space, so that you look in the mirrors when you peek in the hall.

After this preparation, which is already a quite exiting business for children, the game can start. The rules are quite simple: One by one the eight magician figures are placed in the great hall. Then, after a magician is placed, by command each of the 2 to 4 players removes one of the mirror wall tiles from his side and tries to look under the magician's cloak. The reason for this strange process is that the magicians have symbols on both sides under their cloak that reveal their secret spell. The rules do not explain why the magicians have their most precious secret right under their cloak, but I guess they are so nervous that they needed a crib sheet for passing the test…

According to where a magician has been placed in the great hall, a player may see more or less what the magician is hiding. In most cases however, it is necessary to look from various angles. Sometimes it will be quite easy to see the front symbol and with the help of only one mirror it is also possible to see what he is hiding at his back, and in this case the player will know exactly which spell the magician is hiding. But sometimes you also have to guess, because you only can see glimpses of the one or other symbol. Here it is quite helpful that the symbols have also colours and each player has a deck of the symbols as spell cards in the same colour. So, if you see something red, you know that it cannot be the dove, because the spell indicates that it is white. So once all players think they have seen enough, they take the two corresponding spell cards (one for each symbol) from their hand. Again at a command they show their guess to the other players and speak the spell out loud (so for example a fire symbol on the one side and a shield on the other side would be the spell fire-shield).


That all seems to be quite simple, but it is much harder when you are sitting there with the great hall face to face. Not all positions of a magician in the great hall will be good for every player. It all depends on the angle a player is looking from. So, there might be a game situation in which one player perfectly sees the front and the back symbols on the magician, while another player can only see the symbol at the front. In the latter case, it is time for guessing. This guessing becomes easier with progressing time, because every spell combination can only be found once in the game.

Still, the difficulty level raises during the game, because all magicians remain in the great hall after they were tested and so they slowly reduce your field of vision. The simple rule: an angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection only helps partly in the game. Of course it is still right but in most cases it will be necessary to look through more than one mirror to see both symbols of a magician. With four players there are still eight mirror walls with different angles to a player, so looking in one mirror will often lead your eye to the next mirror again. So this is a great experience for children and grown-ups likewise, since it is a little bit like they are really standing in a hall of mirrors. A perfect condition for immersing in the game! The game ends after all magicians have been added to the great hall and the last spell has been guessed.

Jens-Peter and Guido, the two authors of the game, told me that it took them a lot of time before they finally had the idea of the 12 mirrors to form the great hall. They wanted to create something very special, haptic and challenging for children and parents likewise. They did not want to create a simple three-dimensional game, but they wanted to create a unique game with a special playing atmosphere. That's why they moved away from their first idea of just using one mirror. They wanted to have the game much more unpredictable, but at the same time they wanted to encourage the children and their parents to explore their surroundings more precisely, and this feat they succeeded by stimulating the players to look into the great hall from many different angles.


Already the unpacking and preparing of the game is a big fun for most children. They really like the idea of looking into mirrors and peeking under the magician's cloaks. There is much to be discovered, since children usually are fond of the story and the beautiful mirror walls create a unique game atmosphere. Although I am not totally satisfied with the material of the castle inlay (thin plastic), I think MATTEL has found a good compromise between the material-intensive game and a reasonable price for a children's game. The mirror tiles as well as the magicians are definitely a good value for the money.

Although Das Geheimnis der Zauberer is fully language-independent, there are no other rules but the German ones. I don't know why, because other publishers like for example DREI MAGIER SPIELE nowadays spend their children's games multi-language rules. So, at the moment you will be in need of someone who can translate the rules or explain you the game, but after the first round there should be no problem anymore to play the game.

In principle I think that Das Geheimnis der Zauberer is a very interesting game especially for families with younger children, but I don't want to keep quiet about the fact that I also made the experience that not all children equally like the game. Maybe one reason for this is the fact that the children develop their three-dimensional thinking quite differently. So, for some seven-year-olds the game will already be too simple, while some ten-year-olds will still have problems with the game. I made the best experiences with 5- to 8-year-olds. Of course the younger children still had problems to use the mirrors, but they had already a lot of fun and used different sides of the game box to look at the magicians. Although the rules do not allow this, it was fascinating to see how they knew how to make do it. Even helping each other by prompting was a method they gladly used. So, it was quite often a game for me playing against all children. But who cares, at least everyone had a nice time...

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Copyright © 2016 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany