Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 7 February 2017

Great Balls of Fire!:- Potion Explosion

GamePotion Explosion

PublisherHorrible Games and CMON Limited

Designer: Stefano Castelli, Andrea Crespi, Lorenzo Silva


Potion Explosion is a 2-4 player game, which I suppose you could call set-collecting based on the scoring system, but really the gameplay is more akin to games like candy crush. This unique system leads to turns with huge combos, especially once you start using power ups to manipulate the rack and score huge marble runs!

At It’s heart Potion Explosion is very simple, each turn you take one marble, and place it one of the two potions on your player board, there are four colours of marbles and potions will use varying amounts of up to three colours to complete. Once you complete a potion then you put it aside and you gain some points depending on how complex a potion it was, you then pick a new potion and carry on. There is an element of set collection as once you complete three of a kind, or 5 different kinds of potion then you get a 4 point bonus, there are only a few bonuses in the game and once they run out the game ends, (though everyone plays to the same number of turns and if they earn a bonus on their last turn then can take a spare form the box).

The dispenser, learning how to manipulate this is the key to the game, it's always a good sign when you play a game and think "I can't believe no-one has done this before"
Simple enough, but I’ve been ignoring the most important part of the gameplay. Once you take your marble, due to the nature of the dispenser, the marble above it will roll down, if this causes 2 or more of the same colour marble to connect then they “explode” and you get to take them too. Should removing the exploding ingredients cause another set of the same coloured marbles to connect then they will also explode and so on. Getting a big explosion run feels great, you can easily have a round that lets you complete both your potions and still have up to three spare that you can carry over for your next turn.

To help you get this big marble scores each potion you make is drinkable once. When you drink a potion you can use its effects which vary from stealing marbles from an opponent, to taking marbles off the dispenser to help set yourself up, to ignoring marble colours when you add them to your potion. If you don’t have any potions, but still need to make a slight adjustment to the dispenser to get a great play, worry not! You can ask the professor for help to take an extra marble, though no explosions are caused and this costs you 2 points at the end of the game.
The player board part way through a game, they have 3 brewed potions, one of which they have drunk, then 2 potions which they are currently brewing. As they had too many blue marbles last round they have put one on their storage in the hope it will become useful later.

Potion Explosion is surprisingly tactical once you ahve a few potions ready to drink, they have done a brilliant job of making you feel like you are playing a puzzle game, the transition to boardgame impeccably implemented. There are a few flaws, the dispenser itself is surprisingly flimsy, it’s easy to break it when you are putting it away, of course a little glue could solve this problem permanently. Also since some of the dispenser is hidden you can sometimes get some massive luck when just the right colours come out, though this is pretty true to the genre which inspired the game. Potion explosion is incredibly fun and I highly recommend trying it out, it works great with 2 player and is rapidly becoming one of my favourite games.


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