Time to play: 20 minutes (Teaching: 5 minutes)
Best played with: 4 Player (2 – 4 Players)
A lot of people ask about my game reviews – oh like apps…. no board games. Well in this case, Potion Explosion is kind of like an app – it’s a version of the candy crush app games but in a physical manifestation!
If that (plus my slightly simple picture of the game) doesn’t excite you enough, then let me explain the core mechanic. You have lines of marbles finely balanced to roll down a slope. Each turn, you pull a marble out and you get to keep the one you pulled out and the ones that then bashed into each other (if they are the same colour!). This mechanic can even chain multiple times as you pull more and more marbles out of the rows.
Frankly, that’s probably enough of a game for me, but for those who want a points system and a way to compete the game very smartly adds some recipe making to the mix. The game requires you to mix potions (hence the name!) and for this you will need the marbles of the specific colours in specific numbers. This adds the difficulty now as the best chain available on the board, may not be the one that completes your potion.
Pulling out marbles in order to complete the potions is clever, but then add that you are racing against other players to complete a set of potions and exhaust the bonus points available and you have the game. A cunning race, taking what your opponent needs, planning for the future and trying to grab as many successful and large combinations.
Player blocking goes one step further as players can also think about reducing the optimal chains available in the board between turns – trying to avoid your opponent getting huge amounts of marbles as well as just avoiding the most essential ones.
So, in the game you are completing two potions at a time. Each potion has a type though and these types will trigger the bonus points – three of a type is one bonus whilst 5 of different types also gets points. On top of the points though, the type of the potion will give you a bonus effect – potentially the option to take more marbles from the pool (or even your opponent!).
This crafty mix of special bonuses means the game accelerates through to a finish where players rush to complete their last potions before the game ends. It’s exciting, tense and a really enjoyable game for all players.
Yes, you can block players / steal from players / prevent players from achieving their goals. However, no one is so far behind in this game that it feels as though you have lost out or slipped unbelievably behind in the race to win. As long as you are careful and plan well, you can get back into this!
Plus the bonus chains of actions can make a huge difference in a turn and therefore the damage from other players never feels as significant as your own skillful play. That said there is luck in the potions you draw and the way the marbles fall so you can potentially feel locked out of the game for a couple of turns. However, a carefully played bonus marble mechanic which allows you to draw one extra, will cost you points but might get you unstuck at that vital moment.
This is a simple and enjoyable game that I highly recommend, and the production quality is really high.
- If you like fast paced but deep games – this is a must
- If you have to carry this to a venue, it is bulky!
- If you win, try again and see what bonus chains you can create!