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Subject: A review of the Brew rss

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jeff morales
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I picked up Witches Brew last night and convinced a couple of the regular gamers to give it a whirl. This is a short review. If you want an excellent pictoral review, I highly recommend EndersGame's review:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/364093

What is Witch's Brew?
Witch's Brew is a role selection, figure out what the other players might play kinda game. I think of it as a light melding of elements between Basari/Pirates Cove, Race for the Galaxy/San Juan, and Spades/Tichu...with the seriousness of Piranha Pedro.

The Play
The game is driven by players selecting from 12 different roles. The roles enable you to either:

1. Get resources

2. Turn resources into other resources
or
3. Turn resources into victory points.

Players in turn play these roles, where they must decide to either vie for the title of supreme being and feast from the bounty of the gods, or humbly acquiesce by cowering in the shadows begging for their share of guaranteed welfare cheese. Those who attepmt to lay claim to the greater prize may be striken down by subsequent claims and thus get nothing.

In other (non-pulitzer prize winning) words, there are 2 prizes on each character card...a big and small prize. Only the LAST person to declare that they are that character may take the big prize. Anyone previously attempting to take the big prize gets nothing. Any one who accepts the small prize may take it.

That is pretty much the bulk of the game. In the course of the game, the goal is to get victory points. The most common way to get victory points is to make potions. You simply turn resources (by way of the character cards) into potions. On some of the potion cards, there are pictures of ravens. Once 4 ravens have been claimed, players finish the round and the game ends. At this point, everyone totals up their victory points and the person with the most, wins.

Strategies?

Strategy in Witch' Brew is pretty light. Really, strategy revolves around balancing the selection of characters that benefit you, but are not going to be trumped by others. Secondarily, there is some strategy to deciding whether to accept the big or small prize. Trying to get the big prize is dicey not only if there are others after you, but it also makes you go first the next turn. Going for the small prize may be safe, but you may miss out on opportunities to turn the game in your favor.

Who would like this game?

This game is definitely a medium-light game. Would you like this game?

IF...you view poker mostly as a game where you must master the odds and understand how likely it is for you to have the winning hand, thus only betting big when you know that you have the best odds of winning...then Witch's Brew is NOT for you.

IF...you view poker mostly as a game where you must master the art of reading your opponents and betting big when you think that the opponent is weak, the Witch's Brew will work for you.

IF you liked Basari, Pirates Cove, or Piranha Pedro, then this game will work for you.

IF you like multiplayer solitare games, this game is NOT for you.

IF you like games where you try to second guess or outwit your opponents, then Witch's Brew will work for you.

IF you like a nice Echézeaux Red to go with your Chateaubriand then Witch's Brew is not going help.

Did I like this game?

I know that you have been skipping down to this part of the review... shake

I enjoy playing this game...with the right crowd. I can see playing this game with people who really get into the mood of trying to outwitting their opponents, but not getting too serious about it really fun.

However, I can see playing this game with serious gamers that are used to having full control of their destiny being a bit better than pulling teeth.

I would love to play a game of Witch's Brew with people that talk trash. "Sitdown Ho! I'M the baddest Mo Fo Herb Collector in Harlem!"

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William Crispin
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Very much like Citadels this is a very good game with the right players but the wrong players can make it painful....

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Manny Castro
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I thought that is this game was going to tank with my regular gaming group (generally pretty resistant to games with luck elements) but surprise they liked, and not only liked it but I was commanded to bring it back a couple of days later. This is really like the child of all the games previously mentioned.
 
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Randall Peek
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Surprisingly, my wife and her best friend were only lukewarm to this one, which I had expected to get a much better response. I suspect that with a full complement of five players, or even four, it would shine. I think it may have suffered in comparison to Agricola, the other game played last weekend, and which received rave reviews.
 
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William Crispin
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I was lukewarm with 3P. It is definitely better with 4 or 5. The role selection, which is the key mechanism of the game, does not seem to have much tension with 3.
 
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Anthony Rubbo
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wwscrispin wrote:
I was lukewarm with 3P. It is definitely better with 4 or 5. The role selection, which is the key mechanism of the game, does not seem to have much tension with 3.


Did you remove the appropriate cards each round?
 
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Andy Clautice
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LemonyFresh wrote:
wwscrispin wrote:
I was lukewarm with 3P. It is definitely better with 4 or 5. The role selection, which is the key mechanism of the game, does not seem to have much tension with 3.


Did you remove the appropriate cards each round?


Yeah, the 3- and 4-player rules at the end of the rulebook should be standard. They make the game still work well at lower numbers.
 
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William Crispin
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I did not because it was marked as a variant. I will try it. Part of the problem is that even with increased competition for the roles that the variant provides, it is still more exciting for me when there are more people choosing the roles.

There is not much use to "So be it!" except for the first person in a 3 person game. This game is inherently a single mechanism game and the role selection is it.

I do not want to make it sound like I do not like the game. I think it works well and it is a welcome change from worker placement.
 
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Andy Clautice
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wwscrispin wrote:
I did not because it was marked as a variant. I will try it. Part of the problem is that even with increased competition for the roles that the variant provides, it is still more exciting for me when there are more people choosing the roles.

There is not much use to "So be it!" except for the first person in a 3 person game. This game is inherently a single mechanism game and the role selection is it.

I do not want to make it sound like I do not like the game. I think it works well and it is a welcome change from worker placement.


You're right that the dynamic still works better with more players. But don't underrate the power of "So Be It" even with only three. I've played a fair number of games where all three players chose the same role - Toady seems to get this a lot - so the middle player still has tough choices to make. Also, even the last player sometimes passes on the major effect just so they won't have to lead the next card!

One thing - when you refer to "the first person," do you mean the first person after the card is played? Because the person leading the card cannot use the "So be it" effect.
 
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William Crispin
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Wood4Sheep wrote:
wwscrispin wrote:
I did not because it was marked as a variant. I will try it. Part of the problem is that even with increased competition for the roles that the variant provides, it is still more exciting for me when there are more people choosing the roles.

There is not much use to "So be it!" except for the first person in a 3 person game. This game is inherently a single mechanism game and the role selection is it.

I do not want to make it sound like I do not like the game. I think it works well and it is a welcome change from worker placement.


You're right that the dynamic still works better with more players. But don't underrate the power of "So Be It" even with only three. I've played a fair number of games where all three players chose the same role - Toady seems to get this a lot - so the middle player still has tough choices to make. Also, even the last player sometimes passes on the major effect just so they won't have to lead the next card!

One thing - when you refer to "the first person," do you mean the first person after the card is played? Because the person leading the card cannot use the "So be it" effect.


Yes, right. The first person has no choice, the second person can choose it.
 
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mike christiansen
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excellent review. I liked how you didn't spend 3000 words on how to play.
 
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