A few beetles, some mushrooms, and a couple of vials. That’s all you need to brew some of the world’s greatest potions. And as a potion maker, you want to be the best (of course), so that means it’s time to outwit your fellow alchemists as players duel for the right to be called the greatest alchemist in the land. That’s the (somewhat loose) backstory for today’s review of The Potion from Foxmind Games.
The Potion is a bluffing party game for 3-7 players that takes about 10 minutes to play. The Potion plays best with 5-7 players.
The goal in The Potion is to be the first player with only one type of ingredient left. All players start the game with 2 of each type (mushrooms, beetles, and vials) of ingredient. To play a round, 2-3 dice are rolled (depending on player count) and each player secretly chooses one ingredient to offer up.
Each die will show 1-3 ingredients of a certain type. When players reveal their chosen ingredients, they are compared against the dice. If the total number of ingredients revealed matches one of the dice, those players get to discard that ingredient (called a “winning condition”). If none of the dice were successfully fulfilled, then any player who revealed an ingredient that didn’t appear on a die can discard their ingredient. Finally, if all players met the conditions set by the dice, then no one gets to discard an ingredient.
Rounds happen in this manner until one player is left with only one type of ingredient and wins.
The first thing you will notice about The Potion is the packaging and its production values. The Potion cleverly comes in a real pill bottle which was a nice play on its theme. However, I was a bit annoyed to find out that the rulebook doesn’t really fit in the bottle. You can stuff it in there, but it will be nigh impossible to get out. I ended up rubber banding mine to the outside. It would have been nice if Fox Mind would have made it part of the outside label.
However, the actual token pieces are really well done. The illustrations are sandwiched between two die-cut pieces of acrylic. These feel like they will hold up extremely well, especially compared to just cardboard tokens. I was a big fan of these components and hope to see them in other games in the future.
For its gameplay, The Potion feels like a quick take on the prisoner’s dilemma. You need to read your opponents and try and figure out what you think they will do. Are they going to offer up 1 beetle to fulfill that easy die? Or maybe they will all think others will fulfill the dice and try and go the failure route. For players that like to guess their opponent’s actions, they can have a lot of fun with The Potion.
As you can tell from the rules above, The Potion is a very light game. With a playtime of about 10 minutes, you can get in a game of the Potion before you even get your first round of drinks at the local pub. And due to its minimal packaging and table space requirements, it does make an excellent travel or pub game. You can play this one almost anywhere.
Yet despite its quick playtime, The Potion is best reserved as a filler game, something to break out for a quick moment here and there. While we had some fun playing it, the gameplay can get a bit repetitive if the dice don’t roll the right way or people make the wrong choices. After a game or two of The Potion, you’ll be ready to move on to something else.
Finally, I think that the Potion plays best at the higher player counts. With only 3-4 people this feels a bit more mechanical as you have fewer players to outwit and less chance of duplicating an opponent’s choice. As rounds are simultaneous, adding in more players only helps the gameplay become more interesting and no extra downtime is added.
While it may not be a game you are going to want to play over and over, as a light filler game, The Potion works well. It’s extremely portable, takes up almost no table space, and is quick to play and teach. It’s also is a game that is only going to work with the right groups. This is very much a bluffing and deduction game, so it will work great with players that like to read and outthink their opponents. However, I’ve played The Potion with many of my non-gamer friends and they’ve all had a good time with it. So definitely consider this one for your more casual game night.
Final Score: 3 stars – Excellent production values and some clever gameplay make this a good filler game for the right group or your non-gamer friends.
• Needs the higher player count to really shine
• Rulebook doesn’t work well with the clever packaging.