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Potion Explosion

Potion Explosion uses marbles to create a unique, puzzle-y board game experience, with an eye-catching set piece.  

Choose your marbles carefully and you might just cause an explosion! So be ready to brew some magic, stir some mixtures, and down some potions.

Gameplay

The center piece of Potion Explosion is the marble dispenser that has five rows for the game's marbles, which come in four different colors. The dispenser can also be refilled by dropping in marbles at one end.

Each player is given a player board that has room for two potion recipes and a flask with three holes to hold marbles.  On your turn, you select one marble from any of the five rows of the dispenser and take it into your hand. Because the rows are tilted, gravity will cause the marbles above it to roll forward. If a marble of one color rolls forward and hits a marble of a matching color, this is an explosion. You get to take these two marbles and any matching color marbles that are connected to them. If removing these marbles causes another explosion, you get those marbles as well, and so on until no more explosions occur.

Each potion recipe has several holes to hold marbles, and each hole is a specific color, indicating which marble is needed. You must place any marbles from your hand into matching holes in your potion recipes. If you have any leftover marbles, you may place them in your flask to keep them until the next turn. Any marbles still in your hand at the end of your turn will be discarded back into the dispenser.

Once during your turn you may take a Little Help token, which will allow you to take one more marble from the dispenser (however, explosions are not triggered in this instance). The token will be worth negative two points at the end of the game.

After all the holes on a potion recipe have been filled, the potion is completed and you move it off your player board, and the marbles are returned to the dispenser. Each potion is worth a certain number of points and has a special ability that can be used once per game. At the end of your turn, if you do not currently have two potion recipes on your player board, you draw new ones until you have two.

Once a player has completed three potions with the same ability or five with separate abilities, he takes a skill token which is worth four points at the end of the game. After a certain number of skill tokens have been claimed (the number varies based on player count) the game ends and the player with the most points wins.

Potion Explosion Components

Review

Potion Explosion features a unique set piece and adapts tried and true puzzle mechanics into an original board game experience. There are plenty of casual video games that involve similar concepts to the ‘potion explosions’ featured in this game, but having them in board game form is unique and creative.

It’s a lot of fun to play with the marbles, withdrawing them from the dispenser, watching them slide down — but there is also some clever strategy involved in selecting the marble you’re going to take. You can use a Little Help token before selecting a marble on your turn, and some potion abilities will also allow you to manipulate the marbles in the dispenser, which can allow you to set up a row to ensure you cause explosions and therefore have a more successful turn.

The rules are easy to learn and gameplay easy to get the hang of. The dispenser does have to be put together the first time you play the game, and there are a number of steps to do so, however once put together you won’t have to do it again. The potions also each have an icon showing their ability, but you will need to consult the rulebook to determine what these abilities mean (especially during the first few games). Player aid cards would be helpful.

There really aren’t many similar games out there, and marbles are a vastly underrepresented but fun component for board games. Clever and satisfying, Potion Explosion is a great option for puzzle loving board game fans.

Pros: Unique concept for a board game, great set piece

Cons: Dispenser needs to be put together, no player aid cards