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Board Game Review: The Quacks of Quedlinburg (Quacks)

Being introduced to this game purely as ‘Quacks’, I was expecting a game about ducks. Turns out this is actually all about quack doctors; quackery, as per the Wikipedia term, is in regards to “fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill“. Now that your duck-based expectations are out of the way, The Quacks of Quedlinburg is an entertaining, simple, easy to play little romp through potion creation. If you’ve ever wanted to make some of the strangest potions imaginable in board game form, then this may be the game for you. Are you interested in how making potions translates to a board game? Read on to find out more!

Overview

Developed by NorthStar Games
Release
Approx. 2018
Genre Resource-Building, Luck

Review

Components

The game comes with the following components:

  • 4 playing boards,
  • 1 scoring track,
  • 215 ingredient chips & 3 replacement chips
  • 12 ingredient books
  • 24 Fortune Teller cards
  • 20 Rubies
  • Various tokens for playing boards
  • 4 bags (for the chips)

The box is nicely presented with a bunch of different components, all of which are used for various means throughout the game. I’m happy to say that on my playthrough, we never felt like we struggled with the number of components, although I did think some of the components there could have been more of if we did a 4 player game. Nevertheless, we never truly ran out, so that was welcome! There’s no Monopoly effect, where you can buy out all of the hotels (or ingredient chips in this case).

Gameplay

There is a finite amount of rounds, which is indicated on the scoring track. During these turns, more ingredients gets added to the potential pool, giving you more opportunity to make bigger and better potions. The scoring track also keeps track of how many victory points you’ve earned, along with reminding you how to deal with the phase after you’ve crafted your potion for the turn. The victory points are represented by a token for each player, along with rat tails – These rat tails represent where a rat will end up in your potion on your playing board. If there is one rat tail between you and the person in the lead, the rat goes 1 point ahead of your current starting location.

The board itself is a cauldron, which spirals out. You start on 0 to begin with and on your first round of play, you place pieces into your potion that you draw from your bag. If you play more than 7 points worth of white tokens, your potion explodes and you get to decide whether you’re going to take money or victory points. You can stop crafting your potion at any point, simply by declaring that you’re not going to place any more pieces. You determine pieces that you’re putting into your potion by pulling them out at random from a black bag. Once you pull one out, you can’t change it, unless you have a piece or a rule that says otherwise. It’s because of this that the game favours those who press their luck, more than those who are reserved and careful.

Once a round is completed, players can spend the coin they got in game (represented by the larger number on the tile next to the last tile you placed an ingredient chip on). At the end of the round, the person with the highest overall score can roll a dice, potentially giving them bonus victory points, or chips. Players go around fulfilling the end of turn rules as dictated on the scoring board and players buy chips using the coins they earned. Coins do not carry between rounds, so it’s worth keeping your eye on what’s happening.

The game has a great sense of balance, allowing someone to take the lead, but also allowing players to catch up. In the game I played, I came second, but not too far off from third place. However, first place did manage quite the feat, getting pretty far ahead of us. One thing we did note was one of the ingredient chips, the blue ones, was rather powerful. Each ingredient has a different rule; For instance, pumpkins are your default ingredients, they’re simply just used to add space to your potion. There are chips that give victory points if they’re in the final or penultimate positions on your board, there are chips that let you remove the white chips and more. Each of these rules are written on the cards that manages the “shop” area of the game.

Overall

The Quacks of Quedlinburg is a great game, perfect to pull out for a quick and easy session, but it’s certainly not a deep game. With 2-4 people, it’s a good choice for a game night, but if you want to entertain larger audiences you’ll have to look elsewhere. The expansion, The Herb Witches, increases the maximum potential playerbase to 5. However, the game would fall apart with any more players. If you’ve got a small group of friends or family together, then this is a great game with lots of nice pieces. If you enjoy having a board game with plenty of pieces to play with, then this will satisfy your itch. Hey, I think I’ve made a potion that’ll cure that itch, too!

Have you ever played Quacks? What did you think of the theme and how easy it is to play? If you’ve never played it, what do you think of Quacks? Share all of your thoughts and opinions below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

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