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Subject: A (Short) Brew Review rss

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Andy Clautice
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Monday, I played Witch's Brew for the first time. By Thursday, I owned it.

If you want a concise description of how captivating this game can be, that's it. But if you want more, so be it.

If you are not familiar with the game, you spend your time collecting droplets of brew components and gold, which you then turn into cards and vials, both worth victory points. It's a tale as old as time, and while the flavor is well-presented and offers several good chuckles, these are just the nuts and bolts, the accessories to the real game. For you see, the engine that makes this baby hum is the Role cards.

Each player gets 12 Role cards -- the same 12 -- and secretly chooses 5 each round. When one person plays a Role, each other player in turn must play that card, if they have it. They can either opt for the minor favor, a perfectly safe but unimpressive ability, or they can ask for the major ability, a much more powerful effect, but one that can be stolen by someone further down the line. Only the last person to take the major ability gets to use it, granting them INFINITE COSMIC POWER!! ...and forcing them to lead off the next card, often practically guaranteeing it will get hijacked as it passes around the table.

The roles each have their own effects, mostly either taking resources or converting resources into other resources or points. How efficient those conversions are and how frequently you make them depend entirely on your ability to figure out your opponents. If you are wise (and fortunate) enough to choose different cards from everyone else, nobody will be around to take your effects, and you will reap the benefits. If you end up with the same cards as everyone else, taking minor favors will still leave you with some benefit as everyone else cuts each other off.

One of the best things about this title is how it exercises different brain muscles than a lot of other games. There is no actual randomness to the gameplay, but there is a great deal of hidden information, and the way other players' cards affect you means you have to focus a lot more on anticipation than reaction. Fans of Citadels or Fist of Dragonstones will find a lot to like here, but anyone looking for a bubbling cauldron of guesswork, backstabbing and (most importantly!) fun would do well to pick up a copy of Witch's Brew.

Presentation - B+; Good components and a solid theme that fits the game's rather lighthearted nature. The box seems way too big for the game, though.
Gameplay - A+; For all the reasons mentioned above. Like Agricola, you are frequently left wanting one more round...
Value - B+; The $35 list price seems like a bit much for the total components, which are not that numerous, but you can find it for less, and the quality of the game itself makes it easier to swallow. The game plays out differently every time depending on the players, and the easy-to-use variants for less than 5 players work beautifully.

Overall - A
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Daniel Chen
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This looks tasty...
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Funny, I taught the game to my friend Kris, and he owned it by the weekend. I taught the game at a game group, and one of the players has it on her birthday list.

I think its a great, light, filler. Always leads to laughter and a good time. (the cards look intimidating with all the text and rules, but after one or two hands, people usually get a good handle on it).
 
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Chef D
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Great review. I have to concur that I bought it a few days after I first played it. It is probably one of the easiest and best interaction games that is light enough for anyone to play without feeling too overwhelmed. It was nominated for the SdJ and I am surprised that it lost to a more favored designer. LCtBg is okay but no where as good a family time as Witch's Brew. My son constantly asked to play this one over many other games just for the interaction and laughs it produces.
 
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Sheamus Parkes
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Funguy wrote:
Great review. I have to concur that I bought it a few days after I first played it. It is probably one of the easiest and best interaction games that is light enough for anyone to play without feeling too overwhelmed. It was nominated for the SdJ and I am surprised that it lost to a more favored designer. LCtBg is okay but no where as good a family time as Witch's Brew. My son constantly asked to play this one over many other games just for the interaction and laughs it produces.


IMHO LCtBg has a lot of tension. Witch's Brew has bluff and interaction, but not a ton of tension. Mainly because the first and the last turn hardly feel any different.

I still own both, but I definitely see why they picked Lost Cities.
 
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