Designed by Wolfgang Warsch | Published by Schmidt Spiele
2-5 Players | 45 Minutes
In this expansion to The Quacks of Quedlinburg, the Herb Witches have arrived in Quedlinburg and are ready to provide their unique services. Potion mixing players will be able to call on each of the 3 herb witches for help once per game allowing them take advantage of a series of bonuses and benefits. Along with the new witch benefits, The Herb Witches’ expansion provides a number of new ingredient books, a player board and tools necessary to add a 5th player and overflow boards that allow you to keep the party going even after you’ve filled up your pot.
HERB WITCH BOARDS
The Herb Witches expansion doesn’t bring any changes to the standard gameplay. This expansion is about adding more of what Quacks does well along with a few additional wrinkles to keep it fresh. You do need the base game to play this expansion.
The 12 herb witch cards provide an immediate, one-time benefit to each player throughout the game. 3 witch boards are used each game – one representing each coin level (bronze, silver or gold). Players receive 3 corresponding coins at the beginning of the game, each capable of triggering a witch at that coin value/level. The immediate benefits start slow at the bronze level such as negating a pot explosion, or returning the last 2 white chips you pulled or allowing you to keep your bonuses even if you explode.
As you move up to the silver and gold witch levels the benefits increase. Players may activate these witches at their own discretion throughout the game and aren’t required to do so in any order.
The second level provides some pretty cool benefits such as doubling your purchase value for one round or taking a second chip of the same type after purchasing one. Finally, the gold level allows you to take as many rubies as victory points, earn victory points for valuable tokens left IN your bag amongst other things.
The overflow bowls attach to the final spot on your player board/pot. Previously, players would have to stop pulling chips at the 33 spot. With the new bowls, players can keep pushing their luck, earning additional victory points as they successfully pull chips.
Eight new, double sided ingredient books are added to the mix. These provide new varieties to play with each of the standard game chips creating new strategies and wrinkles. One of the more interesting additions comes with the new African Death’s Head Hawkmoth (the black chips). The new ingredient rules allow you to give your black chips to your opponent on the left. You’ll be allowed to immediately move your droplet. When the player to the left plays the black chip, you’ll receive a free ruby for each black chip they pulled. The other black ingredient variation allows players to move their droplet or receive rubies based on the location of any drawn black chips. Overall it provides some player interaction that wasn’t there before.
Herb Witches introduces a new chip called the locoweed. The first locoweed variation will allow you to add one additional value to any chip pulled immediately after the locoweed. In the second variation, once played, players will duplicate the value of the previous chip placed.
5TH PLAYER BOARD
Finally, the expansion provides the necessary boards, tokens and additional chips and rubies to play with a 5th player.
COMPONENTS & ARTWORK
As far as artwork and component quality, the Herb Witches provides more of the same you’ve come to expect from Quacks. The artwork is solid and fits in perfectly with the current game. While I had some struggle with punching some of the new tokens, the cardboard quality is solid and I have no complaints.
I am a huge Quacks of Quedlinburg fan. This was one of my top games played in 2019 and it continues to hit the table constantly. At its core, the Herb Witches is more of what makes Quacks great, providing new ways to draw chips and score benefits.
The 5th player is a no-brainer. While some of the new ingredients allow for additional player interaction, Quacks is essentially a solo game that should be playable with 5 (or 6, 7 or 8 players). It adds a minimal amount of playtime to the game and provides tons more accessibility for larger families or play groups.
I like the additional chip types, ingredient boards and overflow bowl, but they didn’t provide anything earth-shattering I couldn’t live without. The new ingredient boards do provide some new twists to your strategy which is nice, but some fall a little flat for me. I think it’s also understood that these are intended to mix in with the current ingredient boards. We played one game with ALL the new ingredient boards and it was a total disaster. Used sparingly, they should provide some fresh actions and choices.
The biggest strategic offering is the herb witches themselves. Having the ability to activate a witch when it most benefits you reigns in some of the randomness and luck associated with the game. While it’s limited to only 3 plays and 1 of each witch, a timely play can get your engine going earlier, stave off a potential busted pot or give you enough boost to take the entire game. The key here is a “timely” play. Wasted, the herb witches can provide little to no value – even at the gold level. But patiently waiting for the right moment can net you big chips and even bigger points. While this opportunity to mitigate some of the luck might help reel in a Quacks cynic, it doesn’t do too much, and the spirit of the game stays intact.
While The Quacks of Quedlinburg: The Herb Witches provides some new twists and turns, I wouldn’t declare it essential for anyone but a die-hard Quacker (and there are a lot of them out there). The witches do add a bit more of a strategic edge, but not one that dramatically alters the gamer overall. They may change the outcome of a game or two, but it really exists to provide a fun, new button for fans to press. Some of the new ingredients work while others aren’t quite as effective. The player interaction provided in some ingredient rules does provide a fun twist that creates more player engagement (I’d love to see more of this). The 5th player may be the biggest value for someone holding off on the base game because it doesn’t fit their family or group. For big-time Quacks fans… pick this up! It’s more of everything you’ve come to love. For those on the fence… it probably won’t change your perception of the game one way or another.