A Board Game of English Magic
First published back in 2004, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a gorgeous Georgian feast of a novel that delves deep into the lore of an alternative-history England where magic and fairies once existed … and have returned. I devoured the novel when I discovered it, especially enjoying the extensive and detailed footnotes throughout the text that document this wonderful milieu, and I’ve since enjoyed the audio version too. And I was very excited to see the release of this board game version by War of the Ring designers Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello.
Osprey were kind enough to send me a copy recently and, while I haven’t yet got it to the table, it certainly looks lovely, designed as it is by well-known board game graphic designer Ian O’Toole. The mechanics are relatively straightforward, and involve card and token collection as you travel across Europe and London, earning the ability to cast spells and improve your magicianship.
Some initial reviews weren’t great, but do note that since its release there have been some ideas from its designers to mitigate the game’s difficulty and reduce downtime. In any case I’m looking forward to trying it out myself—I’ll let you know what I think when I have!
In the meantime here’s my rules summary and player reference sheet to aid you in your attempts to become the greatest magician of the age!