Set collection, take-that, match-three
Designers: Stefano Castelli, Andrea Crespi, Lorenzo Silva
Artist: Giulia Ghigini
Publisher: Horrible Games
Number of Players: 2-4
Playing time: 30-60 minutes
Welcome to the Horribilorum Sorcery Academy for Witty Witches and Wizards. Today is the final exam in the Potions class, and you need to show the professor that you’re the top student by brewing the best potions. Potion Explosion is a two to four player game from Cool Mini or Not, designed by Stefano Castelli, Andrea Crespi, and Lorenzo Silva. What makes Potion Explosion unique is that it simulates “match three” games like Bejeweled and Candy Crush. Just a warning: there is a cardboard dispenser that needs assembly, and is not meant to be taken apart. Also you may need to use glue or tape to secure it. Now with that out of the way, will you be able to pass your fellow students or will you end up cleaning ogre mucus for extra credit?
In Potion Explosion you take marbles from the dispenser to complete your potions. Each marble represents an ingredient with awesome names like Ogre Mucus, Fairy Dandruff, Dragon Smoke, and Unicorn Tears (No mythical animals were harmed in the harvesting of these ingredients). Each turn consists of one major action where you take an ingredient from the dispenser. As you take ingredients from the dispenser, they start filling in any empty spaces. If two or more ingredients of the same color collide you can claim them. [JG1] Multiple explosions can happen in a turn so your choice can result in a whole fistful of ingredients. You can also ask for the Professor’s help, which counts as -2 points, but you can pick any one ingredient from the dispenser. Explosions can only happen during your normal pick, not from the Professor’s help, or from potions. After this pick you can allocate all ingredients you claimed to any of your uncompleted potions. You can keep up to three ingredients in your pool to be used later on, but any extra in your hand are returned to the dispenser. If you are able to completely fill a potion, you flip it to the completed side and return the used ingredients to the dispenser. You remove the completed potion from your desk. At the end of your turn, you take a new potion from a stack and add it to your desk. Each player continues taking turns like this until there are no more potions left or you exhaust the “Countdown” stack, which consists of Skill Tokens based on the number of players. At the end of the game the player with the most points wins.
Completed potions offer special one-time powers you can use at any time during your turn, and also help you towards claiming Skill Tokens. You gain Skill Tokens by completing sets of potions. A set consists of three of a single type of potion or one of five unique potions. Potions you have used continue to count towards points and sets. There are eight unique potions, but you will only play with six potions at a time. (For your first game, it is recommended that you don’t play with the Balm of Uttermost Stickiness and the Filter of Lavamancing.)
The potions consist of:
- Potion of Wisdom - Allows you to pick one ingredient from the dispenser.
- Elixir of Blind Love- Allows you to steal all the ingredients from another player’s pool.
- Potion of Magnetical Attraction - Allows you take two adjacent different colored ingredients.
- Potion of Prismatic Joy - Makes the ingredients in your pool any color you want until the end of your turn.
- Abyssal Draft - Allows you to pick one of each color from the bottom of the dispenser.
- Sands of Time – Allows you to reuse a potion you’ve already used.
- Balm of Uttermost Stickiness – Allows you to take two or more adjacent ingredients of the same color.
- Filter of Lavamancing – Allows you to remove up to five ingredients of the same color from a row, and add them back to the dispenser.
Potion Explosion is a wonderful gateway game, especially for those friends who love to play “match three” games. There isn’t a lot of strategy behind the game, but deciding when and where to use your potions gives the game depth. I played this game at Dice Tower Con 2016, and fell in love with it. The game was demoed at the con, and I accidentally abandoned Jacob (sorry!) to play it. I loved it so much that I picked it up as soon as I could. I have played this game with a lot of my friends, and each time has been a lot of fun. The friends that I played it with had various levels of experience, but overall they really liked it. I highly recommend this game as it is very easy to jump into, and looks great when set up on the table. The only issue I have with this game is putting the dispenser together. It may seem like a small gripe, but it can be annoying when you put it together just to have it fall apart when you lift it up. I recommend that you use glue to make sure it stays together.