Quacks Of Quedlinburg Review
The game you love to say the name of but hate to spell. Welcome to Quedlinburg, just beware the dodgy Doctors selling their potions. Oh, you want to set up shop too? Then by all means go ahead, I’m sure you’re the real deal, not like all these Quacks.
Ready, Steady, Brew!
In Quacks of Quedlinburg you are brewing potions, but in a rather haphazard manner. You have a bag of ingredients and you randomly put your hand in during your turn and keep adding whatever you pull out to your potion. Push your luck too much, pull the wrong ingredients and your potion explodes! Stop at the right time and you might just win some points and get some more ingredients for next time. Whoever has the most points at the end of the 9th turn, wins.
Preparing Your Ingredients
At the start of the game everyone starts with a few basic ingredients, including several bad ones. If the numbers on these bad ones, when placed into your potion, ever add up to more than 7, your potion explodes. All the rest of the ingredients are useful though, and which ones you try and place in your potion will depend entirely on your strategy. The game comes with several ingredient books which describe the abilities and costs of each ingredient, and associated ingredient counters. Some might cost more but are more powerful, while some might cost barely anything, but not do much at all, filler if you will. Never underestimate the usefulness of filler though when you are working out the probability of pulling bad ingredients out of your bag.
The ingredient books can be set up in different combinations and using different sides of the card that change the ingredient abilities based on how difficult a game you want. For your first few games it’s definitely worth playing the basic list before mixing it up. There is also a flask which lets you put an ingredient back in the bag if you draw really poorly, but only if it wouldn’t otherwise make your potion explode, and it’s a one use thing that has to be re-purchased. Oh and if you get too far behind, don’t worry, drop some rat tails into your potion. Gross, sure, but the further you are behind the more rat tails start in your potion, meaning you start further around the track and are more likely to score better.
It Didn’t Explode, Huzzah!
When everyone has either finished drawing from their bags or their potions have exploded, the evaluation phase begins. First the person with the highest scoring potion gets to roll the bonus dice to gain an advantage, but only if their potion didn’t explode. The main part of this phase however is the scoring. Based on how far down you got on the ingredient track in the potion, you gain a certain number of scoring points and other points to buy more ingredients. Crucially though, those whose potions exploded, have to either gain scoring points or buy more ingredients, a difficult choice for sure, but a good balance I feel to make the potion exploding not feel too bad.
From there, you continue through the turns, gaining more ingredients and hopefully brewing more and more successful potions. Luck definitely comes into it, for example I was a decent amount ahead on the last turn one game, with a lot of ingredients in my bag, and I managed to pull all the bad ingredients on my final turn with barely any others. Insanely bad luck for sure and feels a little bad, but not too much. I was still able to keep what scoring points I did manage to get and held onto second place.
I honestly would recommend Quacks of Quedlinburg to anyone. It’s a really solid game with a fun theme that is reasonably easy to teach anyone, even those who are new to board games in general. The luck element is well balanced with what you can do to offset it by buying different ingredients, and even if your potion explodes, you don’t lose out on everything, just some extras. I do wish the ingredient components were a bit easier to pick up, but that’s probably just me. There are also quite a lot of small components, so if you have younger children, best keep an eye out. I would highly recommend anyone to give it a go though as it’s a fantastic game. There are even two expansions, Herb Witches and The Alchemists, for when you feel like you’ve got everything out of it, but it’s a highly replayable game so that will take a while. There is even a mega box if you want to go all in!
This blog was written by Ross Coulbeck