How to Play
The goal of Hocus Focus is to acquire the most wizard cards. To begin the game, all of the cards are shuffled. Twelve cards are dealt face up. The rest of the cards form the draw pile.
Each turn the top card from the draw pile is turned face up and placed on the top of the draw pile. All of the players at the same time try to find a wizard that is exactly opposite of the wizard on top of the draw pile. Each wizard has five different characteristics:
- Size of Wizard (skinny, medium, wide)
- Color of Hat (red, purple, green, turquoise)
- Color of Wand (red, purple, green, turquoise)
- Color of Robes (red, purple, green, turquoise)
- Color of Shoes (red, purple, green, turquoise)
To be considered an opposite, the wizard has to be a different size and have a different color hat, wand, robes, and shoes than the wizard on top of the draw pile. When a player finds a wizard that is the exact opposite they yell out “Kazaam”. The player then points out the wizard that is opposite.
If the player is correct they get to keep the wizard they pointed at. The wizard card on the draw pile replaces the card that was taken. A new card is turned over on top of the draw pile and the players try to find the next opposite wizard.
If the player was wrong, they cannot play until the next card is drawn. If you are using the advanced rules, an incorrect guess requires the player to discard one of the cards they had previously acquired.
If two players say “Kazaam” at the same time, the card on the draw pile is set aside. This card will be given to the next player that correctly finds an opposite wizard in addition to the card they normally would get for finding the wizard.
If it turns out that there are no exact opposites of the wizard, the first person to say “No Match” gets to take the wizard card from the top of the draw pile if there are indeed no matches.
When the draw pile is depleted all of the players count up the wizards they have accumulated. Whomever has the most wizards wins the game.
Hocus Focus is your typical spot the difference game. You are given an object and you need to find another object that is the exact opposite of it. I have encountered quite a few of these type of games since they seem to be a lot more common than you would expect. As a matter of fact I have already reviewed the game Set. Set is quite a bit like Hocus Focus but instead of wizards the game uses shapes. Set also requires you to find three different cards that either all share or all differ in four different characteristics. Hocus Focus is a simpler version of Set and therefore for an adult audience Set is the better game.
I think Hocus Focus is a better game for young children though. Despite having a low recommended age, Set is not what I would consider an easy game for children. Hocus Focus on the other hand is more gauged toward children than adults. There are less characteristics that come into play and the differences are easier to spot. All but one of the characteristics are color related unlike Set which uses quantity, color, shape, and shading.
Overall the cards are solid. The biggest problem with the cards and the game as a whole is that it is too hard to tell the difference between the skinny and medium sized wizards. There are some distinctions between the two (mostly the shape of the bottom of the robe) but when you are quickly looking through the wizards you can miss the small distinctions. I think the game could have made the differences between the two sizes a little more prominent and easier to see.
If you play the game without any young children I highly recommend using the alternate rule for incorrect guesses. The normal penalty is way too lenient and should only be used when first learning how to play the game and maybe for younger children that are having a harder time with the game. Otherwise the alternative penalty is better since it dissuades people from just randomly guessing. For an experiment our group actually tried to see how well a player could do by just randomly guessing without even looking at the cards. The player who just guessed actually did a lot better than expected. The one card penalty is a stiff enough penalty that players need to be sure before they make a guess.
While not the best game in the world, Hocus Focus is not terrible either. The game is fun to play in short doses. It is quick to learn and a game generally only takes around 10 minutes to complete. Unless you have terrible reaction time or are terrible at spotting differences, you will be able to have some success with the game. The player with the quickest reaction time will most likely end up winning the game but you should have some fun playing the game.
Overall Hocus Focus is a solid game. The game is fun to play and is simple to learn. The biggest problem with the game is that it is not highly original and there are many other similar games that are more challenging and therefore are more enjoyable for adults.If you already own Set or another game similar to Hocus Focus, I would recommend passing on Hocus Focus unless you find a copy for cheap. If you don’t already have a similar game, the game sounds interesting to you and have younger children; I don’t think you could go wrong with Hocus Focus.