Stats at a glance
Ages: 10 +
Publisher: North Star Games
Welcome to the lively town of Quedlinburg, home of the annual bazaar! You’ve booked a stall of your own to market your latest magical inventions — potions!
These aren’t just any potions and they’re definitely not tested by the FDA. In fact, you usually just throw a bunch of ingredients into a cauldron, mix them up, and call it a day.
While this miracle cure-all seems like a perfect concoction of random components, you haven’t exactly been the best mixologist lately. Try your luck at combining various elements without blowing up your pot, or you’ll be asked to sit this one out next year.
Brief Overview of The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Quacks of Quedlinburg is a push-your-luck game for 2-4 players, played out over nine rounds.
All players act as quack doctors, brewing up the perfect potion one ingredient at a time.
Every round, players draw from their bags of ingredients and add them to their cauldrons. The more expensive the ingredients, the higher the price of your brew! You’ll have to tread carefully; not all ingredients can be combined without the risk of explosion.
Versions & Expansions
In contrast to the original game, where most Quedlinburgers just wanted the most bang for their buck, this expansion has a sinister feel to it. You’ll need to help your local people by crafting up the best potions to cure nightmares, obsessions, and hysteria — oh my!
The Alchemist Expansion increases the player count to five.
The Herb Witches
This expansion includes additional ingredient book variants, fortune teller cards, and three new single-use special abilities!
Just like in The Alchemist’s expansion, the player count increases to five.
Unboxing The Quacks of Quedlinburg
The game contains the following components:
- 4 Pots/Player Boards
- 4 Flasks
- 4 Bags
- 8 Droplets
- 4 Rat Stones
- 1 Scoring Track
- 4 Scoring Markers
- 1 Flame
- 24 Fortuneteller Cards
- 20 Rubies
- 12 Ingredient Books
- 216 Ingredient Chips
- 4 0/50 Seals
- Bonus Dice
Looks like everything you need to craft the most explosive potion on the market… just kidding, don’t do that!
Each part of the game is tailored to the theme; from the player board cauldrons to the double-sided flask tokens. The event cards are crafted beautifully with a bit of flavor text that ties into the medieval concept. Not to mention, the round tracker is an adorable little flame that jumps from lamp to lamp every round.
The books are made of a thick cardboard material with a 3D art look to them. The cards are built decently and have withstood wear gracefully.
The rulebook is straight to the point visually and textually. It doesn’t add any fluff to the instructions yet stays on-brand with the theme.
Speaking on flaws, I am a huge fan of round/turn reference sheets. It helps new players follow the sequence of events and keeps the game running smoothly. Sadly, Quacks of Quedlinburg doesn’t have this specific addition, but it is included in the rulebook. They did include a separate sheet of the token book powers which is beneficial!
How to Play The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Although the list of components is long, you can set up this game in under 10 minutes.
Place the scoreboard, choose your player color, dish out resources, and then choose which ingredient books to use for the game.
For the first game, I recommend using Set One. Consult with the rulebook on what ingredient books work best for your player count.
Understanding Card Types
The game is played over nine days, or turns. In each turn, one player will draw the top card from the Fortune Teller deck. If the card is purple, the effects will apply immediately. If the card is blue, you’ll resolve these effects at the end of the round.
Fortune Teller card effects apply to all players, not just the drawing player.
The Potions Phase
Begin by drawing a single chip from your ingredient bag. The number listed on the chip tells you how far you place the ingredient from the droplet. After the first chip, count from the last ingredient you placed.
You want to end as far from the droplet as possible, up your bubble track.
However, your bag includes a couple of “cherry bombs” that will explode if you mix too many into your potion. If the amount of cherry bombs exceeds seven, your concoction blows up and you’ll stop stirring in new ingredients and suffer future penalties.
If you just pulled a cherry bomb, you may empty your flask to return the chip to your bag. This isn’t a one-time use cop-out either- it can be refilled throughout the game.
Unfortunately, you cannot use the flask to bail you out once your pot has exploded. It’s more of a mitigation tool than a failsafe.
Special Chip Abilities
Later in the game, you’ll get special chips added to your bag. Some have immediate effects, while others are slow burners, applying their effects at the end of the round.
Immediate Effect Chips:
- Blue chips: Place the blue chip on your board, draw 1-4 chips, and choose which one you’d like to place.
- Red chips: If you have orange chips in your pot, you can place this chip 1-2 more spaces further than usual.
- Yellow chips: If you just placed a white chip, you can return it to your bag and continue to place the yellow chip.
This phase is triggered once all players stop drawing chips or all pots have exploded. Players must then follow the six steps presented on the playing board:
- Bonus Die: The player who’s the furthest (with their pot still intact) on the bubble track gets to roll the bonus die. Collect the points or gems.
- Activate Chip Effects: Select chips award various gems and points.
- Collect Rubies: Any chips on the rubies spaces are awarded the corresponding gems.
- Victory Points: Players who blew up their potions must choose between victory points or buying chips. Other players get to do both. This is one of the penalties for an exploded pot.
- Buying Chips: Purchase up to two ingredients of your choice. They must be different colors.
- Ruby Exchange: Trade in two rubies to move your droplet or refill your flask. This can be done multiple times.
Round Additions and the Final Round
After round two, rat tails are accounted for during the scoring stage. Players count how many rat tails are present between their player marker and the leading player, moving their rat token the equal spaces ahead of their droplet. From then on, you’ll place ingredients counting from the rat token.
In the second and third rounds, place the yellow and purple ingredient books. In round six, each player acquires an additional one-value white ingredient. Lastly, in the final round, players will draw ingredients and reveal them to the table simultaneously.
The game ends after the ninth day. Players trade in rubies, play through the final evaluation phase, and round up victory points.
The player with the most victory points is the winner and the quackiest potion-ologist in Quedlinburg!
Pros & Cons
This was a table favorite three times in a row. It’s lighthearted, not based on calculated strategy, and all-around fun. Anyone can pick it up quickly, without breaking a mental sweat. Just as well, it sets up and tears down in less than 10 minutes.
- Minimal downtime
The best selling point here is the minimal to zero downtime between player turns. The only time you’re focusing on an opponent is when you’re evaluating chips and rat tails. All actions are being taken at the same time, and you don’t have a second to get bored.
Thanks to the unique ingredient abilities, the replayability factor is high. Each token can carry out up to four abilities. All seven of the ingredient books spice up the gameplay in an unusual way. Plus, the game board is double sided and there are two expansion packs!
- Not full of strategy
- Easy to cheat
There’s no heavy strategy or calculations needed in this game. This leaves players feeling like the game lacks flavor. There is an advanced game on the other side of the player board that puppets strategy, but doesn’t actually deliver on it.
When I wasn’t actively playing the game, I caught a few opponents switching chips so they wouldn’t burst their cauldrons. Since you’re so focused on your own potion mixture for 99.9% of the game, it’s easy for people to think they’re getting away with small gains like that. If you’d like to avoid this, you can play the final round revealing chips element instead — although it will take up more time.
The Quacks of Quedlinburg Review (TL;DR)
The Quacks of Quedlinburg is a low-complexity board game that pushes players to try their luck as peddling potion merchants. As fun as this sounds, nobody knows what it takes to craft the perfect concoction so they’re all just tossing random ingredients into their pots and brewing for the best.
Will you magically create a delightful cure-all to all of Quedlinburg’s needs and desires? Or, will you end up blowing up your cauldron with all of your randomized ingredients and be left begging for victory points?
This game has a special place on my board game shelf because it works for a vast range of players’ ages and levels. It’s not difficult or aggressively competitive. Even when you lose, there’s an aura of humor and positivity to it.
Blowing up your pot isn’t an end-all, and could even be considered a low-key strategy if you play your chips right. Nobody is ever out of the race until the ninth day.
If you enjoy other push-your-luck style games; such as Clank!, Sleeping Gods, Port Royal, or A Feast for Odin, give The Quacks of Quedlinburg a spin!
We hope you enjoyed our Quacks of Quedlinburg review! This potion-mixing board game is easy to learn and fun for the whole family. Have you tried playing The Quacks of Quedlinburg before? What about its expansions? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think of this Kennerspiel des Jahres 2018 winner! We’d love to hear from you.
Lurking deep in the dungeon is an intermediate board gamer, testing her luck in Clank! When Jess isn’t writing about board games, she’s probably at a gaming cafe learning the ropes of a new game or savagely harvesting wheat in Catan. Her favorite types of games are deck-building, strategy table toppers, or social deduction thrillers like Werewolf. If you don’t see her after dark, you know why.