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Quacks of Quedlinburg Review

Quacks of Quedlinburg Review

Quacks of Quedlinburg Review

Welcome to our Review of CMYK’s Quacks of Quedlinburg. In this game, you take on the role of quack doctors mixing your potion from ingredients in your bag. Watch out, though; if you pull too many cherry bombs, they will cause your potion to explode. 

This game is a great family game for 2-4 players. Let’s dig into how this game plays and what makes it fun!

Quacks of Quedlinburg – Game Overview

In Quacks of Quedlinburg, the players are competing against each other to create the most complex potion over a series of 9 rounds. They each have an opaque bag filled with ingredient chips to do this. Each game round has two phases, the potion phase, and the evaluation phase. Players pull ingredient chips from their bags during the potion phase and place them on their pot board. The pot board is laid out in a spiral track with spaces starting in the center and moving towards the outside edge. The goal of each round is to progress along the track without having your potion explode.

So how is that done?

Well, each ingredient has a number on it. This number represents the number of spaces you place this ingredient in front of the last place ingredient. For every other ingredient except for the white chips, you consult the “spellbook” boards to find out what advantage the ingredient gives you. Pumpkins, for instance, don’t provide you with anything, but Mandrake allows you to return a white chip to your bag if it was the last one placed. These white chips are the cherry bombs, and they will cause your potion to explode. In the beginning, your bag will be primarily white chips. When the cumulative number of cherry bombs (white chips) adds up to more than 7, the potion explodes, and the player stops adding ingredients. During this phase, a player can stop adding ingredients at any time. The advantage of stopping before they explode is that they can get a bonus at the end of the round.

The game moves to the Evaluation phase once all players have decided to stop or their potion explodes. During this phase, the players look at the next space on their potion board. If they have not exploded, they gain the victory points listed and the number of coins listed. Those coins must be spent at “the shop” immediately or will be lost. The shop allows players to buy more ingredients for their bag, reducing their odds of pulling cherry bombs (as you don’t buy these) 

There are a few special rules which we’ll touch on during our gameplay section, but basically, this is all you need to know how to play Quacks of Quedlinburg.

Game Components

The game components are pretty detailed. The level of detail present on the potion boards is fun. Each board shaped like a bubbling cauldron feels like you are creating a potion with all the bubbles, and we particularly like the flask and how it sits on a tray in the cauldron. A lot of the components have a 3D perspective to them. For instance, the ingredient books look like mini books that are open to the page for the ingredient. There are also lovely subtle queues to distinguish between two-player components and 3+ players, specifically the bookmarks on the books. 

We like that there are components to help create more advanced games. For instance, those “books” actually have four sets of books. When you set up to play, decide which you want to play with and flip the boards to the right side for the level you want to play.

Game Setup

Overall the game setup was pretty straightforward. As mentioned above, there are multiple ways to set the game up depending on the difficulty level and the number of players you have. Setup involves gathering the initial ingredient chips, a black bag, a potion board flask, and a few different tokens. 

Once done, one player shuffles the fortune deck, and you are ready to go!

The setup doesn’t take too long. Well, not as long as some of our other games… We’re looking at you, Arkham Horror. (That’s a long setup!)

Game Play

This game is predominately a game of chance and luck. If we’re completely honest, this is not the type of game we usually play here at Detective Hawk Games. The only real strategy in the game is choosing what ingredients to buy at the end of each round. When creating the potion, deciding when to stop adding ingredients is crucial.

Outside of those two strategies, there’s not much to this game. We do prefer more strategy and narrative. As a game, we felt that the strategic decisions were on the lighter side. That’s not to say this is a bad game; it’s just not an “our type of game,” if that makes sense? 

The gameplay of removing chips from your bag is a bit mindless. The one good thing is some ingredients have unique abilities to help either immediately or at the end of the round. This mechanic does help add to the game’s strategy, but pulling these out of your bag is pure luck.

The advantage of stopping early is that you get to roll the bonus die in the evaluation phase if you are in the lead (by advancing furthest along your track). You also get the victory points AND coins (marked on the board in the next space after you finish). If your potion explodes, you don’t get to roll the die, and you can choose EITHER the victory points OR the coins.

The victory points move your token along the victory track board, and coins allow you to buy additional ingredients to put in your bag. Each round, you must spend all your coins, or as many as you can, as you lose the remainder. Ingredients all cost different amounts and have varying values along with unique benefits. Buying items is excellent on the surface, but really is the only strategy in the game. The only actual decision is “Do I take a higher point value chip or do I take multiple lower value chips?” (you can only take a maximum of two per round) 

You can’t control the order the chips come out of the bag (as it’s a black bag), and once you do take it out, you must place it on the board. 

That all said, if you enjoy press your luck-type games, this game is for you! Once we got into the rounds and started playing it, we began to see the game’s appeal. The game’s main mechanic is just the blind pull of a chip, so that’s our only complaint.

Overall Impressions

You’re probably going to think we will say we didn’t like Quacks of Quedlinburg. The truth is, it was ok. The game mechanics make it easy to learn, and it’s a game the whole family (up to four players) can get into quickly. The idea that you go shopping to add chips to your bag is a novel one, and we’ve seen it before in other games, but here it’s boiled down to simplicity.

What could be better is the overall theming, while good from the visual perspective, doesn’t extend to the strategy needed to play. There is a light theme of being a quack doctor attending a festival, but no reason why the festival is going on or what you were trying to achieve. Maybe that’s not needed in this game, but it felt like, “why are we doing this?”

Now, would we recommend this? Yes, as a family game to gather everyone around. It might also be an excellent game to bring to a party. We wouldn’t recommend this to board gamers who love strategy and making complicated decisions. 

If you think you might enjoy this game, we have this game in our store! This game also has two expansions, The Alchemists and The Herb Witches, which we have not played but look to add more complexity.