The Herb Witches is the first expansion for The Quacks of Quedlinburg, a bag building and push your luck board game from publisher Schmidt Spiele. Designed by Wolfgang Warsch, featuring artwork from Dennis Lohausen, the expansions sees an additional cauldron added for a 5th player, herbal witches ready to help with the brewing, ingredients doing different things and a brand new ingredient. However, do more cooks spoil the broth? Let’s find out!
The herb witches have brought Locoweed with them, a brand new ingredient for players to throw into their cauldrons. Locoweed is effectively a wild ingredient, taking its stats from either the previously played coloured chip or from the number of rat tails in your pot. Both make picking up the Locoweed an interesting choice. Unless you have something good to copy, or a lot of rat tails, it may not be worth the upfront cost.
Unlike the other ingredients which have multiple ingredient books Locoweed has only the one double sided board which is included in this expansion. It could have had a second to up the variability but it isn’t needed. The way this ingredient works is completely different to others, though it isn’t a different realm of thought. It fits alongside the original ingredients, and a new player would be hard pressed to choose it, from the range, as the one that wasn’t originally included. This means players can happily use it in games with any players, experienced or otherwise. The only caveat to this is that it would be one additional ingredient on the table, and the sheer number does seem to daunt some before actually playing.
As well as a new ingredient, all of the existing ingredients have received new double sided books. These can see the purple ghost tokens scoring victory points based on the value of the next played tile, the red mushrooms always worth the highest valued red mushroom in your cauldron and the yellow mandrakes move extra spaces if a ruby is spent. The base game had a decent amount of variety, with some common combinations learnt over time. These new ingredient books shake that up nicely, without being overly necessary.
The herb witches themselves add in one time abilities. Think of them akin to the way the Fortune Teller cards from the base game impact an individual round. Each player can choose to activate them when the time comes each round, with each player able to activate each witch once. Note, there is no blocking – two or more players can activate the same witch in any given round. The abilities the witches have cover the main phases of the game: preparation, purchasing and scoring.
In one game, players could have the option to trigger full scoring and spending on a turn where their cauldron has exploded. Another game will see a free ingredient chip earnt when purchasing or the option to draw 6 chips to instantly use, or not, in any order. When to use them is the real choice, as using them is a no brainer. They are always good, but can be great if used well. For the first couple of games including the expansion the herb witches are somewhat easy to forget. Players have seemingly needed the reminder they exist. Even if you remember them, they blend so well with the other aspects of the game it is easy to forget that they are from the expansion.
Due to the way that the majority of the game is played simultaneously, aside from the final round’s preparation phase, the addition of a 5th player has little impact on the game length. There are still instances where players can be sat out with exploded potions, but this isn’t newly introduced by the expansion – happening about the same amount as with four. If you are often finding someone else wanting to join in it doesn’t disrupt the game. With more tokens added the additional player from 4 to 5 isn’t noticed.
Component wise the expansion is just as you’d expect if you own the base game. The tokens are the same bubbly like shape, so they blend seamlessly with the rest. This was a necessity so that there is no tell that they are the new ingredient or one of the originals from touch along. The artwork that adorns the the small sideboard (in case you reach and go above 35), the herb witches and the new Locoweed tokens all seamlessly blends with the art from the base game. The only slight oddity is that the Locoweed tokens have no number on them, because of how they work, though neither do they feature an X or ? symbol.
The Quacks of Quedlinburg The Herb Witches expansion is one designed for fans of the base game. After integrating the expansion content new players would struggle to pick the new elements from the base game content – especially as it all fits in the base game box. For this reason, The Herb Witches won’t be changing anyones’ mind on The Quacks of Quedlinburg experience. The core gameplay is untouched, with the new ways the ingredients work via ingredient books only adding variety. The base game wasn’t overly missing replayability from a variety front, yet there is something fun about adding the new ingredient and choices into the mix. It might not be a necessary purchase but those whom like the base game will find continued entertainment with The Herb Witches.
(Editor’s Note: The Quacks of Quedlinburg The Herb Witches was provided to us by Coiledspring Games for the review.)