Thursday, March 16, 2017

Potion Explosion (CMON)

I think it's safe to say that many of my readers are big fans of Harry Potter, probably not as big of fans as my wife, but who is? When I heard and read about the game Potion Explosion, I thought, "This kind of sounds like Harry Potter. My wife will love this!" In Potion Explosion, you and your fellow opponents are students in Albedus Humblescore's potion's class. With only four ingredients (Unicorn Tears, Dragon Smoke, Ogre Mucus, and Fairy Dandruff), you are competing to complete the most potions and score the most points. Potion Explosion is a game for 2-4 players, ages 14+. It takes about 45 minutes to play and retails for $50.
Setup
1. Before you play the first time, assemble the Dispenser following the instructions.
2. Fill the Dispenser randomly with all the ingredients (marbles) mentioned above.
3. Give each player a Desk Board.
4. Give the Starting Player Token to the person who most recently prepared a drink.
5. Take all the Potion Tiles and remove two types either at random or by choice.
6. From the remaining Potion Tiles, each player takes two random starter tiles (marked with a gold star) and places them on their Desk Board.
7. Shuffle the remaining Potion Tiles to form five stacks.
8. Put the Skill Tokens in a stack depending on number of players, which will trigger the end of the game after everyone has the same number of turns.
Game Play
1. You must choose and take one marble from the dispenser. If this triggers an explosion (two of the same color marbles collide), you take all the connected colors of that explosion.
2. You may also ask for a little help from the professor and take one marble from the dispenser. You don't get to claim any marbles from a triggered explosion, and the little help token is worth -2 points.
3. You may also drink one of your completed potions, which gives you a special ability, such as stealing ingredients from an opponent or activate a potion you have already used once.
4. Take all the ingredients, which you gained from the previous three steps, and place them in your incomplete potion tiles, matching the color (unless you drank a potion that let you ignore color). If you complete a potion, it gets flipped over and put in your completed area. Any marbles you cannot match, are put in your ingredient pool (max of three).
5. Refill the dispenser with any leftover marbles or marbles from completed potions.
6. Draw back up to two potion tiles.
7. Claim a skill token if you completed three potions of the same kind or five unique potions.
8. When the game ends, add up your points from potions and skill tokens. Subtract any help tokens. High score wins.

Review
Potion Explosion is a very fun game with a great feel to it. The game is very simple to learn, as it really comes down to picking a marble that produces the most chain explosions, while also matching the potions you need to complete. The theme is very tongue-in-cheek with their reference to Harry Potter, but people who aren't fans of the famous wizard will not feel in the dark when playing the game. The age rating on this game is 14+, and I think a lot of that has to do with the marbles being a choking hazard, but children as young as 8, maybe even younger can pick up this simple game. I personally consider this a great game to play with the family, young children, and non-gamers, as it provides a unique and dynamic experience that will suit these audiences well.

The components in this game are a mixed bag, which I have come to expect from games that bear the company logo Horrible Games (I'm looking at you Steam Park.). The cardboard didn't punch out as cleanly as it could have and the paint on some of the marbles was chipping right out of the box. Does this take away from game play? No, but it is disappointing from an aesthetics viewpoint. The big positive of the components is the ingredient dispenser. It is a clever use of cardboard that is not only fun in its delivery of ingredients, but it also serves as a randomizer, with the player never knowing exactly where the marbles will fall.

After the components, my biggest complaint about this game is that it only plays four people. The groups I play with are generally bigger than four, so I feel like I will never get a chance to share this game with them unless some are out of town, which is a shame, because it is really fun and seems like it should have accommodated more people without needing to buy two games. Apart from my complaints, I really enjoyed the game, and my wife did as well, so that makes this an easy recommendation for me. There is supposedly an expansion coming out later this year, so if you are a fan of this game, like me, be on the look out for it!

This game was provided to me for free by CMON in exchange for an honest review.