Rank: 8.8 out of 10 stars
This is my first board game review. What I hope to accomplish with these reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.
The Quacks of Quedlinburg is a board game that I have played many times with my family. This game made my top ten favorite board games for a reason! I will explain why it deserves such a ranking below. But first, a quick description of the game and its features.
The Quacks of Quedlinburg is a Push-Your-Luck game where you play as a quack doctor brewing potions for the market.
You start the game with a pouch of tokens. After the first player draws a card that determines the special scenario for the round, each player simultaneously places tokens in their pot. The tokens have a value on them that determines the number of spaces they progress in the pot.
Most kinds of tokens are helpful, but there is one type of token that is harmful. This token is called a cherrybomb. Each cherrybomb brings the pot closer to exploding.
If the pot explodes, the player has to choose between gaining points for the round or being able to buy new tokens.
The goal is to fill your pot as much as possible without your pot exploding. The player who accumulates the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Gameplay (10 out of 10 stars)
The gameplay is smooth and does not bring up problems. I have tried many combinations of ingredients that had variations in their abilities. Each time, none of the combinations clashed with each other, and each allowed for different strategies.
The game took about 45 minutes each time I played. It does not seem to drag on longer than necessary or end too soon.
The end of each round triggers a series of events whose order is indicated on the main board. If any question of whether it is time to do something arises, the board can be used as a reference rather than flipping through the rulebook.
Scoring is simple. Each round you get the number of points indicated on your pot at the spot directly after where you stop adding ingredients (tokens). At the end of the game, you divide the amount of money you would have received by 5 to buy new tokens and count these as bonus points. Every two rubies you have at the end is worth another two points.
Design (7 out of 10 stars)
Design includes two categories: art and components.
The art of the game is attractive and fits the theme well. While it is not especially remarkable, it does a good job setting the scene. The bright colors add to the sense that what the quack doctors and fortune tellers do is all show.
The components are decently made and consist of cards, boards, tokens, and gems. Most of the components are made of paper or cardboard with the exception of a couple of wooden pieces and the plastic gems.
Strategy (9 out of 10 stars)
Because this is a Push-Your-Luck game, I do not believe it would be fair to give it a lower ranking on strategy just because it involves a lot of chance.
For one thing, you can still have a strategy based on the probability of picking out certain tokens.
For another, the books of each ingredient that explain its ability dictate your strategy, but allow a lot of freedom. Which tokens you buy makes a huge difference.
For example, you may choose to buy more red tokens if the ability of the red tokens that round is to put them aside and then decide whether to use them at the end of this round or next round. If stopping at certain spaces on the pot is part of your strategy, buying more red tokens is an excellent choice.
You might likewise choose to purchase tokens that go more spaces forward, such as a 4-chip, or ones that have more desired abilities.
Furthermore, you may use a riskier strategy or play it safe. Should you place one more tile even though your pot is on the verge of exploding? It’s your call.
If you blow up, do you go for the points or buy more tokens? In this game, it seems like players are always in favor of buying more tokens because that improves your next turn. Part of the reason is that if you fall behind in points, the game gives you an advantage to make it more competitive in the form of rat tails, which allow you to start with your pot partially full. I think making buying the better choice almost all of the time takes away from the strategy, but just slightly.
Originality/Creativity (9 out of 10 stars)
This game has a creative theme. Although potion-making as a theme is not entirely original, making the potion brewers all quack doctors added to the uniqueness.
Using tokens pulled randomly to fill up the track in the pot, and then using the spot directly after for scoring was a great idea for a Push-Your-Luck game. The fact that you could explode if you pushed it too far was also a wise choice.
Also, the rat tails that give losing players an advantage prevent the game from ever feeling like they are too far behind to catch up. I haven’t played any other game that used a system like the rat tails.
Replayability (9 out of 10 stars)
There are so many combinations of ingredient books to use that gameplay can be different every time.
Additionally, the pot can be flipped over for a variation of the game. In the variant, you can trade in your rubies for prizes that give you even more options. I found myself not interested in using the prize track after trying it because it seemed much better to use the rubies to move the starting point where the pot begins to fill up instead.
Overall, its replayability is high.
How to play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcvK6ExuISM