I am going to wash my mouth out for that title (sorry, Joe!), but...
Six pages to describe how this works? There seem to be a lot of die rolls to figure out what happens, too, and numbers to track and compare, all of which sounds like a scene slowing down. There's plenty I like about it (Galactic Whale Nostril, when will I randomly roll YOU?
), but it seems overly complicated. There are nine steps -- nine! Actually there are technically MORE steps (duplicated steps) if you have more than two opponents acting at one time.
The idea that the bottom of the initiative is protected seems odd. I've always understood initiative to be circular. The way this reads is such that if I'm last in initiative and no spell duel has started, none is going to start when I cast... the first magic-user in the initiative can't counter me. I'm sort of guessing this is a slip in the writing of the rules for duels, but it makes my point. I think they may be overcomplicated (and on their way to being a separate game of their own, perhaps).
I fully admit I haven't played
any spell duels. I hope it plays better than it reads.
I really do hope I'm wrong about this.