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Subject: In depth User Review : Alchemist 5 player Game rss

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d clunie
United States
san jose
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Alchemist: 2-5 player
45-50 min play time

Components: Overall the artwork through out is top notch and very nice, it enhances the theme greatly.

There are 5 Schools Thick Card stock Chits (one for each ingredient).

1-10 Potion Point value Thick Card Stock Chits.

5 Thick card stock 50/100 point chits when/if you go over 50 pts in a game.

A large number of colored wooded cubes (Grey, Green, Blue, Orange, Yellow) representing the ingredients used to create potions.

6 colored wooden discs in 5 colors (White, Black, Brown, Purple, Red) representing player ownership these are called "seal stones".

5 Cardstock "screens" that are sturdy and are angled to stay upright without much fuss, used to hide your school card and your ingredient supply.

1 Cloth bag, used for random ingredient choosing and cube storage.

1 4 panel board. The board itself depicts 10 cauldrons. Each cauldron has places for 5 ingredients(small squares), 1 large square for a point value chit, and a circle for placement of a players seal stone(to show who created the potion), and to the side of each cauldron are two ingredients list(color coded), which are received when the potion is created and/or copied.

Setup: Each of the ingredient cubes are sorted into piles(the reserve piles), and a certain number are retuned/removed from the game depending on the number of players playing, the rest are put into the cloth bag. Then, each player chooses a set of discs, these are your seal stones(like a wax impression on a documents of ole done with the kings pinky ring), 1 Screen of your color, 1 School of magic card (randomly chosen and depicts a ingredient), and 12 random cubes from the cloth bag and place them behind your screen.

Rules: The rule books if very short, a mere 4 pages long. The rules themselves are very straight forward. Each player on their turn can do one of the following:

1) Create a new potion (if there is a cauldron available) You do this by selecting a cauldron, then by selecting One to five ingredient cubes from your stash and place them on that cauldron. When placing those one to five ingredients there are some restrictions:

A) you can't create a potion that has already been created. (e.g. if one cauldron has only two green cubes, you can't create another that has only two green cubes.)
B) you can't use an ingredient that will be produced from the creation of that potion.(e.g. if the cauldron has a orange and blue ingredient at its side you can't use a blue or orange cube to create that potion.)
C) you can't use more than two of the same color cube in a creation of a potion.(e.g. you can't use three green cubes, but can use two green cubes in potion)

Once you create a potion you select a point value for that potion 1 thru 10, and then receive those number of points, and then receive two the two ingredients' produced that are listed at the side of the cauldron.

2) Copy a potion already made by another player. You CANNOT copy your OWN potions. You select the configuration of cubes from your stash, point out who's potion you are copying, move your point marker that number for the value of the potion, and then out of the ingredients you used to create the potion you select one(your choice) to give to the owner of that potion. The remaining cubes used to create a potion are then discarded and are out of the game.

3) Take 1 ingredient from the "reserve pile" or 2 random ingredients from the "cloth bag".

End Game condition: When there are only two or fewer reserve piles left. When this occurs play continues around until the starting player is reached, then the game ends. (So basically everyone gets an equal number of turns).

Win Condition, besides the points earned, all the cubes remaining behind players screens are worth points. Players adds 1 point to their score for every two cubes (regardless of color), and then returns those cubes (along with any remaining in the cloth bag) to the remaining reserve piles. Those piles are then counted. The ingredient with the least amount of cubes receives points according to a chart in the rule book, and then the next least receives an amount, etc. So for example:

Blue has 3 cubes in the reserve and in a 5 player game receives 12 pts.
Yellow has 6 cubes in the reserve and in a 5 player game received 9 pts.

This continues but unfortunately 5th place doesn't receive any points.(see rules book for exact distribution).

Gameplay: The game is pretty easy to teach and fast and fun, that is until the cauldrons fill up. At this point the game becomes a bit more of a thinking game. At this point there is tension in the air because its a matter of choosing which combination of cubes you have in your stash to copy a potion, obtain points, and then the ingredients produced, which hopefully will set up your next high value potion copy. Of course you want to have your school of magic ingredient (depicted on your school card) be used and removed from the game so you can pick up those extra points, but you can certainly win without those points.

Strategy: About medium. I think the game has two phases really, the first is a fairly light, Strategy, where your just making potions, then the second half when all of those cauldrons are filled you are planning ahead maybe 2 turns on what your going to copy, receive ingredients, and then copy once more.

I think initially the only Strategy is that you want to include your schools ingredient in as many potions as you can create and select a somewhat decent (5-7) point value. Since you can't copy your own potions using the high value numbers for your potions will only net you the initial value once, while if others choose those, and as long as you have cubes to create what they made, you will gain the maximum points. However the opposite side of the coin for that is that they will be collecting cubes from other peoples successful copies, and thus will earn a nice point increase in the end where as 2 cubes for 1 point. I would suggest that you create a potion at every opportunity if you can, not only will this garner you the initial points it may push your use of your school ingredient(try not to make it obvious), as well as garner you cubes to use for other potions or for shear points in the end.

Conclusion: A great game and would recommend "a buy"! It's Fun, makes you think a bit and plan ahead, and is fast enough to play during a lunch period.

I've read a few of the other negative reviews and miss the subtle aspects to truely enjoy this game. Especially the ones that say they feel that multiple plays would become draining and boring. I find that to be absurdly inaccurate, unless each player playes the exact say way each and everytime. (but i guess then you would hate chess each time you played and some one put out the exact same pawn two squares ahead). It may be the group you play with I suppose.

One of the games I played in was a 5 player where the end points were very close, and infact the point leads were at 75 each for 1st and second place. Which according to the rules the tie go to the player with the least amount of cubes in their school. The player who won was helped by other players creating potions with his cubes in them and assigning them high point values. In addition everyone then were copying his potions over and over thus removing even more of his cubes, so he got the 12 pts increase in the end. The 2nd player didn't create one potion the whole game, and just copied everyone else's, so she managed her stash very well and the ingredients she received, and only drew from the reserve pile once toward the end. I believe the point difference was a 5pt difference between 1/2 and 3/4 while 5th was around 7 points out.

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