Have you ever had one of those moments where you hear about something and it just immediately grabs your attention? The sort of thing that seems created just for you? Well Tom Francis, creator of Gunpoint and Heat Signature, has announced his latest game concept and it is one that I am 100% behind: Tactical Breach Wizards.

Tom describes the game as follows:

It’s a present-day turn-based strategy game about coordinating a small team to breach into rooms full of gangsters and other hostiles, but your team are all wizards. In tactical gear.

This image, from the Tactical Breach Wizards pitch page, shows the game concept

According to Tom the idea of a game like this—set in a realistic modern day situation but where the characters just happen to be wizards—has been bouncing around in his head for a long time. He envisaged a game where the characters had “kevlar over robes, staves with scopes, wands with silencers, grenades full of basilisk tears”. This feels different to, for example, the Shadowrun universe which uses a near future setting but where the use of magic and the different races that exist are very much a central point of the storytelling. The concept of Tactical Breach Wizards, instead, says “here’s an identifiable modern day setting, oh and by the way these people are wizards who use a magical analogue of modern weapons”. It’s a much more tongue-in-cheek approach that I suspect opens up the field for a lot of humour. Imagine less Rainbow Six and more Magicka.

You can see some of the humour in the images that Tom included in the pitch. For example, the Pyromancer with the Covering Fire ability which “covers everyone in actual fire” and the Fire in the Hole ability which “puts them in a hole and sets them on fire”.

One of the design rules that Tom and John Roberts, the artist working on the concepts, are applying is that the items carried by the wizards are magical in nature but are “housed, framed, and accessorised like a modern tactical weapon”. For example, there are a variety of magic staff concepts for the Elemental Sharpshooter to carry which all have a recognisable grip/trigger assembly, accessory rails, and scope.

Staff concepts showing how the magical weapons reflect modern weapon designs

In terms of gameplay there is, understandably, little set in stone yet. The current design is for a turn-based strategy game on a grid, similar to XCOM. A feature that Tom appears keen to include is the ability to plan out and simulate your turn as many times as you wish so you can perfect it before locking it in. This is similar to Frozen Synapse, but the turns occur in sequence rather than simultaneously, removing the uncertainty about what will happen.

An environment concept showing the grid-based positioning system

As I mentioned at the top of this article, Tactical Breach Wizards is a game that appeals to me. I enjoyed XCOM and Frozen Synapse and I certainly can’t complain about having another turn-based tactical game in my library. An important thing to remember, though, is that the game has only just been announced and is still deep in the concept stages. There are no guarantees about what will be included, what will be cut or changed, or even whether the game will make it through to being fully developed. Be hopeful, but don’t blame me if you go to purchase Tactical Breach Wizards and find it has somehow morphed into a cat petting simulator. Though maybe we do need one of those…