28th March 2021
I'm logged into my PC and Sunday gaming on Board Game Arena continued.
The next game of the day was Potion Explosion, a game about creating magic spells through set collecting and a match 3 mechanic.
"Yer a wizard Har," no, no, let's not go there!
Caveat: The digital version of the game was played, but previously we have also played a physical copy.
What's in a game?
The game's art style and theme obviously draw some inspiration from the you-know-who films but that's fine. For the most part there isn't too much art on the components but what there is, is bright and colourful.
What's in a game?
On to play
In Potion Explosion, players use the marbles to complete their potions, these earn victory points. Completed potions can also be used to give the respective player a special action to perform.
Play starts with the starting player and progresses clockwise. The following actions are available to players.
Play continues until the endgame is triggered
The game's stack of skill tokens are also used as a countdown time, once the stack is depleted, the endgame is triggered.
Then the current round is completed, ensuring that all players have had an equal number of turns, skill tokens can still be earned and are drawn from remaining previously unused reserve of tokens.
Then victory points from completed potions are scored as are skill tokens, finally points are deducted for every help token taken.
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
When a marble is removed from a track, there's a satisfying little clink sound when the other marbles hit one below that's down to the use of proper marbles instead as plastic components. The designers and publishers have put thought into the look and feel of the game, it shows and adds too the game.
There's a degree of luck when playing Potion Explosion. Sometimes how the chips - or in this marbles fall can have a big influence on a player's turn and how many marbles they get to collect in a turn.
A player draws a single marble from the dispenser in their turn, but really they should always be aiming to raw as many as possible because the game is essentially a race between players to complete potions. Potions can be used to facilitate this and despite feeling counter-intuitive to use, so can help tokens. Being able to remove a marble before drawing one can sometimes turn getting a single marble into triggering a chain reaction.
Players must also be able to adapt to constant changes in the dispenser, there's no point in planning your move until it's your turn. Every time a marble is drawn it will figuratively change the landscape, sometimes dramatically. Keeping your fingers crossed, hoping that no one spots a combo you've seen probably isn't the best of strategies.
Additionally, when a player takes a new potion, they're faced with a choice, do they go for the highest scoring potion, or go for a potion that works towards completing a set, or a potion with specific ability?
Players need to pay attention to the spread of colours of their current uncompleted potion and any new potion they take, repetition of colours between potions can slow a player down. It can be irritating when you draw a handful of marbles in a colour you can't use.
All in all, this gives Potion Explosion a subtle depth that belies it's simplicity and seemingly gimmicky mechanic. Winning requires players recognise when it's best to use potions or exploit the help tokens in order to most efficiently accumulate ingredients, which then in order means that players must recognise which new potions to acquire.
Ultimately players always have meaningful decisions to make and that makes it an engaging game.
I play, I paint.