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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Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- The Quacks of Quedlinberg: The Herb Witches

Game: The Quacks of Quedlinberg: The Herb Witches

Publisher: Schmidt Spiele

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch

Year: 2019

 In the UK, we've been very fortunate to have the expansion for The Quacks of Quedlinberg arrive surprising early in an English edition. After winning the Kennerspiel award, The Quacks of Quedlinberg has really become a massive hit among gamers, in spite of being a light game and with the amount of table time our copy has been getting, it's already perfect timing to expand it.

The Quacks of Quedlinberg: The Herb Witches adds plenty of extra content to the game, which you can easily combine with your base game box. There's a couple of new ingredient types, including a size 6 pumpkin (!) and a set 5 & 6 of recipe books giving new abilities to all of the existing ingredients in the game. There's a selection of witches, which give you one-off in game abilities. Plus, it also adds a 5th player, which is a no-brainer for a game that is often multi-player solitaire - it doesn't slow the game down and makes the game cover an often awkward player count.


Gameplay

If you've played the basic game of The Quacks of Quedlinburg then skip to the next paragraph. The Quacks of Quedlinberg is a bag building, push your luck game. Each round you will draw ingredients from your bag which push you further around your swirling potion track. At the end of each round you gain some points and some income to spend on new ingredients to add to your bag. Each ingredient type has a different power, including the white ingredient which causes your potion to explode if you draw too many. Unfortunately you start with a ton of whites and not much else, so it's your job to refine your ingredient selection and improve your potions to prove that you aren't just a quack!

To the base game The Herb Witches adds a 5th player, potion kettle overflow boards, 1 new ingredient and 2 new special powers for existing ingredients along with the inclusion of the titular witches. The new powers for existing ingredients simply add more variety to the game, with each ingredient having 6 different potential powers now there is almost a guarantee that no two games will be the same! The new ingredient is a bit of a copycat, either taking it's power from the previously laid tile, or from the number of rat tails you currently have. Combining these new ingredients with the new 6-powered pumpkin and you might notice that you are now going further round the board. To assist with this each player now has an overflow board in which they can dump extra ingredients (though without any special powers) for bonus points should they go all the round the potion track.


The biggest change to how you play are the three witches. Each game you pick one bronze, one silver and one gold and hand out a set of 3 coins to each player. Each witch wants a specific coin in order to help you so you can only use each power once. Using these powers is often about timing, with them giving you abilities such as spending rubies at a better rate or putting white tokens back in your bag. Of course if you manage to do without them then the coins themselves are worth points at the end of the game if unspent.


Amy’s Final Thoughts


The Herb Witches feels like a 'big money' expansion to me, with it's new powers and tokens I've found myself more often reaching the end of the track and even getting to dump some pieces into the overflow pot. This ends up feeding on itself, being able to take slightly bigger turns then gifts you with more points and income that you can spend on bigger tokens which then give you bigger turns. Combine this with some of the witch abilities allow you to propel you start marker forward at a huge discount and you'll find you are able to achieve way more in a game than before.

Since these abilities are open to everyone there is little risk of the rich getting richer, and if you do worry about that then one of the sides of the new ingredient gives you an excellent boost to Quacks already impressive catch-up mechanic. Of course with the witches and new ingredients selection the game does become a touch more complicated, making it less approachable to non-gamers than the base game.

What The Herb Witches doesn't really do is change things up very much, sure the witches present a nice tactical opportunity and the new ingredient uses are nice, but it feels very much like there's simply more of what was already present in the base game. Of course The Quacks of Quedlinberg is a fantastic game, so more of the same was very welcome! But don't get the expansion expecting it to really change the way you play.


Fi’s Final Thoughts

The Herb Witches adds plenty of extra content to The Quacks of Quedlinberg but maintains the same core gameplay. My favourite element is definitely the witches, because triggering their abilities can give you a huge boost, accelerating your progress in your game and giving you more opportunities for huge turns. As with many expansions in this style, the reason that big turns feel so great is only by comparison to the games you've previously played, so I'm glad we've got plenty of experience with the base game to really feel the joy of the new expansion.

I've really enjoyed playing with the expansion, however, a few issues with punchboard quality, a lower standard of attention to detail in the ingredient explanations, and creating a balanced ingredient set, lead me to think that the expansion might have been a little rushed, but for fans, this is likely to be no big deal. With the base game I never really saw myself mixing and matching the ingredients from the four different sets, but the new possibilities the expansion offers have started to spark my imagination to do some more mix and match and get even more variety out of the game.


The Quacks of Quedlinberg is a game we've introduced to my parents, which means it will reliably hit the table for a long time into the future. My perception is that the expansion will be a little too overwhelming for them, with the addition of the witches to think about, as well as more complexity in the ingredients. However, since we often burn out on the games my parents love (for example Azul), The Herb Witches is an expansion that we'll play with our gaming friends and at home as a couple, so we almost have two different games for different audiences.


You Might Like...
  • Tons more variety is added to the game through additional ingredients, ingredient variants and the witches.
  • The witches have really powerful abilities and the timing of when to make the best of them can really affect your game plan.
  • This is exactly the style of game that does benefit from a 5th player expansion.
You Might Not Like...
  • It's definitely a 'more of the same' expansion with no huge changes.
  • Having no additional Fortune Teller cards feels like a missed opportunity, since the small original deck is already becoming very familiar.

The Verdict
7.5/10 If you love Quacks of Quedlinberg and it's hitting the table as much as it is in our house, then this is the perfect expansion to add more content and replayability. The witches give you a chance to become even more powerful, and some of the additional ingredients turn this into the kind of 'big money' expansion we love. We'd have been grateful for some extra Fortune Teller cards, but nevertheless we'll be adding this expansion straight into our copy.


The Quacks of Quedlinberg: The Herb Witches was a review copy kindly provided to us by CoiledSpring Games.

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