The Quacks of Quedlinburg Review

Quacks of Quedlinburg - Cover

It is said here at Polyhedron Collider that I’m a bit adverse to random chance. It’s mostly true, probably because I say it. However, it’s not an entirely blanket statement as there are a few exceptions to this rule. Whilst it’s true that I’m hugely repulsed by games that place your victory or outcome in the lap of those infernal cubes of chance, being able to react to said result or proactively tip the balance in your favour is something I do enjoy. It all comes down to that ever-popular meaningful decision that we love so much.

This puts push-your-luck games into my line of sight as “games I might not hate” as I can’t deny there is a lot of enjoyment in defying the odds to pull off the occasional coup. Or falling foul of those annoying probabilities to have your plan scuppered at the first hurdle. It all adds up to create the ultimate goal of gaming: having fun. 

Quacks of Quedlinburg - Pot

Quacks of Quedlinburg places you in the role of a snake-oil peddler in the town of Quedlinburg where you’re trying to make the best (worst?) ropey, fake potion you can to oust all the other charlatans trying to do the same. Throw any old crap into a bowl, heat it up, give it a stir and see what you can do with the results. It is not, as my better half initially thought, about a gaggle of loveable ducks getting up to delightful mischief.

Simply put, you draw tokens (ingredients) from a bag and add them to your pot in order. Ingredients have a value (1, 2 or 4) and that’s the number of spaces you count to put down said token. Get further round your pot and you score more points and get more dosh to spend on buying new ingredients. But of course, there’s a twist. Part of your token array is a number of cherry bombs. These get your further round the track like everything else, but too many of them and your pot explodes and you have to stop. So the trick is to load your bag with more ingredients to tip the odds in your favour.

Quacks of Quedlinburg - Books

Spend your money like a gamer at an Expo on new ingredients to give you an edge over your opponents; each ingredient has a unique effect that can help you out by either reducing your cherry bombs, giving you flexibility on what you draw, bonuses at round ends and so on. Of course, lady luck can still screw you, but that’s part of the fun.

Astute readers may realise that there’s potentially a runaway effect going on; and they’d be right, mostly. Quacks combats this by giving those behind a catch-up element in the form of rat-tails which scale depending on how far you are up the victory point track. Chuck them in your pot to pad it out and all of a sudden you’re back in the game, or at least you stand a fighting chance.

Quacks of Quedlinburg - Tokens

There’s four different sets of ingredient effects to keep the game fresh and even an alternative play mode, so there’s enough in the box to keep you interested for a while. The big criticism is that it’s very much “multiplayer solitaire” as our own Steve puts it. You can’t affect your opponents in any way, so for those gamers who like a more competitive experience, you’re going to find Quacks a little lacking. However, Quacks is light enough to teach quickly and simple to pick up so it’s definitely in the “gateway game” category. I think at four players, it’s a bit small to be honest. You could easily combine two copies together and play with eight if you’re feeling a bit more inclusive.

Quacks of Quedlinburg - Scoreboard

So, despite Quacks sitting firmly in the random-chance category, there’s enough going on and the opportunity to weight your bag that it becomes and engaging experience with a lot of groans when your pot goes “boom” just when you thought you’d get the edge. Quacks is also very reasonably priced so you get a lot of bang for your buck. 

Just not too many bangs or you’ll lose the game. 

This review is based on a full retail copy of the game.
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