It’s been a while since I’ve sunk my teeth into a proper Euro-style board game, but The Quacks of Quedlinburg most definitely fits into that category. It has an unusual theme – with players cast as quack doctors, competing to brew the most potent potion. Try pushing your potion’s potency too far and you may end up with no mixture at all…
There’s a bit of a steep learning curve to The Quacks of Quedlinburg, but like all the best Euro games it’s actually pretty simple once you’ve got your head around the basics. Each player has their own potion bag full of ingredients and everyone draws from this bag, adding ingredients to their own personal cauldron, until they decide to stop. Drawing white ingredients will push the potion close to exploding; each is numbered and a drawn value exceeding seven is what causes the potion to blow up. When all players have decided to stop drawing, they can purchase new ingredients to add into their potion bag, with different colour ingredients offering specific bonuses when drawn and placed in the cauldron. Points are also accumulated after each round, with the player who has the most points after eight rounds being crowned the winning quack.
Naturally, there are a few extra rules – rat tails added into the potion to stop there being a runaway winner or fortune teller cards that generally affect the round for everyone, as a few examples – but those are the basics. It’s a surprisingly compelling and addictive, with the temptation to push your luck just a little bit further every time being ever present.
If I have a complaint, it’s just that it can feel like you’re playing on your own, as you aren’t directly able to affect your opponents or what they do – but this is a minor nitpick. Though this is the case, it’s great to see everyone anxiously pushing their luck with the potion draw and celebrating with them when they do well – or laughing at them when they go a little too far!
Though there’s luck inherent in the design, which I am not usually fond of, it’s the mitigating or pushing of the luck element that makes The Quacks of Quedlinburg so incredibly compelling.
It’s got that very distinctive European look to the design and the great quality of the components also give it a nicely durable feel.
Though it does have a little bit of a hurdle to overcome with learning the mechanics, The Quacks of Quedlinburg soon becomes a very addictive game that moves quickly and can be very competitive. The luck pushing element keeps things exciting and – without a reliance on pure strategy – means that it’s suitable for all ages and player abilities. It’s a game I’d highly recommend as one that’s worth checking out, though it may well be worth checking out a video of the game being played before taking the plunge and giving yourself a head start on getting to grips with the basic mechanics.
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