Theme and What is it?
Players take on the role of a doctor selling their best medicinal cures at market. There may be a few legitimately great doctors selling products that have the greatest healing effects… But most are just any old quack who can toss in enough rat tails and odd ingredients to seem like the best. Brewing these potions can be dangerous as too many active components can make the entire pot explode!
Players start with identical potion ingredients in their draw bags. They then simultaneously draw until they are satisfied with their potion or they get too many special ingredients and have the batch blow up. The push your luck element of trying to get further without exploding adds tension and excitement to the game.
Each round, the player(s) with the best concoction are rewarded. All players are able to spend the money they made from selling their product to gain new supplies. There are various types of components players can buy and each game setup offers a different combination of powers. These powers often help lesson the effect of random luck on the game so that player choices will matter more.
There are a lot of potion ingredient chips! Setup is pretty easy just assigning one power to each color of chip in the supply and setting up initial bag offerings. The player boards are unique and intriguing. They have a pot with all sorts of symbols and spiraling bonuses. Players are immediately curious how these elements are going to come together in gameplay.
Game Build Quality
Everything is punch board! Fans of punching games will love first opening Quacks as each potion ingredient, player board, and special power books need to be punched out. The only other components are the wooden player discs, turn marker, a special die, and 4 thinly walled bags that were surprisingly good.
I have opened games with bags to find they have strings hanging off or shed threads as they are used. Overall, not the highest component cost a game can have but North Star Games will hear no complaints from me.
The art has a renaissance theme attempting to evoke a sense of fantasy. Dennis Lohausen did a great job and it is nice to see a game designer, Wolfgang Warsch, contributing art to his own game! The art lends itself to painting the scene of a bustling world where magic is flourishing. The mandrake chip in particular was an instant favorite for players.
There are 5 chips left in the bag, only two will cause your potion to explode but any of the other 3 will make your potion significantly more valuable. Do you draw? Do you bank the safe rewards? This critical, push your luck decision point is the key to so much of the magic in The Quacks of Quedlinburg.
Players make strategic choices between rounds; but, the fun of the game is in reaching into that black bag to pull out just one more ingredient… And just one more and done… Promise… Ack! The potion exploded!
Age Range & Weight
10+ is a good rating. How to play is simple and basic arithmetic is all that is really required. To avoid learning new rules each play, younger audiences can just keep the ingredient powers the same each time.
The Quacks of Quedlinburg was given the Connoisseur Game of the Year award for one simple reason: it is so much fun! Everyone has enjoyed the game. It is easily accessible to a non-gamer and offers enough to keep more serious gamers entertained.
Wolfgang Warsch has designed a lot of highly rated recent games and none more so than this. Every accolade Quacks receives is well deserved – go play this game!