Quick game review: The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Quick game reviews aren’t just quick reviews of board, or card, games. They’re also intended to give an overview of games that are quick, both to get to grips with and play, for those who love a good game but are short on time. Over the last month or so we’ve been playing The Quacks of Quedlinburg, designed by Wolfgang Warsch. We’ve been playing the English version released by North Star Games.

Because these reviews are intended to look at games for people with limited time, and equally limited desire or capacity to spend pouring over rulesets they need to be:

Quick to learn – understand the game mechanics within a couple of attempts.

Quick to set up – out the box and ready to play by the time you’ve made a cup of tea.

Quick to play – possible to go from deciding to play to back in the box on the shelf in around an hour.

There is also one more vital ingredient – depth. The game needs to have something that will get the brain working and make you want to revisit it again and again.

What it’s all about

The concept of the game is really simple: players purchase ingredients to make potions to sell, but you have to be careful your potion doesn’t explode as you prepare it.

I love a good back story and fun artwork. The Quacks of Quedlinburg have both of these in spades, and that definitely drew me in. Add to that the playing time is given as 45 minutes, it sounded like the perfect combination.

When I opened the box, I started to have some reservations. There are a lot of counters, rubies, cards and bags. Then I read the rules which didn’t seem to be as clear as other rulesets I’ve read, maybe I was already getting preoccupied with set up and packing away times? I had a quick cup of tea and reached for the internet. Fortunately, how to play videos are pretty easy to come by, so after a couple of viewings and some time spent popping out counters (which in itself is pretty calming) I gathered the team for a first play through.

This is undoubtedly one of the most involved games I’ve reviewed for this site, and whilst the play time is under the hour mark the number of bits add some extra minutes to the “from shelf to set up, play and back to shelf” time. The number of different bits also adds an element of complexity, so if your gaming group like things to be really straight forward they may need a bit of gentle encouragement, but it’s worth it. The actual rules are fairly straight forward. The complexity comes from the different effects of the ingredients, which offer loads of different ways to make potions and allows players a variety of strategies to explore. This, in turn, makes it really replayable, and so worth the extra time spent getting to grips with the game.

The verdict

Quick to learn – How to play video first, followed by a couple of play throughs – not the end of the world.

Quick to set up – The tea will probably be made before you’re set up, unless you like a strong brew, but it will still be hot.

Quick to play – No more than an hour.

Depth – The ingredient mechanic creates loads of different ways to build potions and there are two game variants in the box, so plenty of reasons to get it off the shelf again and again.

Published by Eddie B

A blog about fantasy wargaming and literature.

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