Witch’s Brew - Board Game Box Shot

Witch’s Brew

| Published: 2008
27 6 1

Whether it is the druid, the witch, or the wizard. All these masters of magic help the players brew their potions, helping them to become rich and successful.

Players take turns at the different roles, but also compete for them. The player who can best choose when to take risks and compete and when to sit back and allow others the center stage will win the game!

So who will make the best witch‘s brew?

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“What Witches do when they have nothing to brew!”

What Is It About? – An Overview of the Game
Witch’s Brew is a game about Witches collecting the ingredients to brew their favorite potions. Three to five players secretly select five of twelve roles that help them meet this goal. The catch is that if someone after you selects the same role, you risk getting nothing! The game is over once enough ravens are released. The winner is the player with the most brewed points.

What Do I Get? – The Components in the Box
This is from the Alea “small box series” and has their usual high quality components. Each player gets his own deck of cards. Most of the main components (cauldrons, book shelves, and magic spells) are standard euro-sized cards. All of the ingredients (wolf blood, snake venom, and herb juice) are wooden pieces shaped like drops of liquid. The remaining components are the thin cardboard gold nuggets and extra vials. The insert is designed to keep everything snug.

What Do I Do? – Playing the Game
Each player has his own set of the exact same 12 role cards. At the start of a round, players will select 5 of the roles to help them with their cauldron creations. A player is selected to go first, preferably the most experienced player since this is a disadvantage!

The start player will select a role and place it face up starting a new set, proudly announcing “I am so-and so.” Each player, in turn order, must play the same role card if they selected it. They have one of two options. The least risky option is to declare “So be it!” and guarantee a lesser benefit this turn (called a “favor”). The riskier option is to declare “No! I am so-and-so.” This bumps out any player previously declaring themselves “so-and-so” while those stating “so be it” are safe. The turn continues until all players have had a chance to play this specific role. All players you declared “so be it” now collect their lesser reward while the player who really was “so-and-so” collects the full reward. All of those that were bumped receive nothing!

The player fulfilling this turn’s role, starts the next turn. So going last is a benefit but taking the full action forces you to be the start player in the next set. Sets continue until all roles (anywhere from 5 to all 12) are played out. A new round begins with players again secretly selecting 5 roles (even the one just selected in the previous round) and playing through the sets.

As players fulfill the roles, the will collect cauldrons or books shelves worth points, typically increasing in value as the game is played. On certain cards, a raven is present. If four of these cards are collected, the game ends at the end of the current round. Players then sum up their points, including any vials which are worth 1 point each.

The engine of the game is the roles, which are broken down into 5 categories.

The first group of three are green-bordered and allow you to either collect 3 drops of the corresponding type or just one as a favor. All of the witches have funny names related to what they do. Wolfi collects the wolf blood while Herbie collects the herb juice.

The second group of three are blue-bordered and allow you to brew the top cauldron card by turning in the appropriate drops. You must match the color and quantity of the top card. You can turn in one additional drop of any type for a vial worth 1 point at the end of the game. The favor on each allows you to brew as well but for a cost of 2 gold.

The third group of three are yellow-bordered and the alchemists of the bunch. The allow you to trade drops for gold, gold for drops, or gold for vials. The favors on each of these allow you to still make the exchange but you get less back.

The forth group of two are red-bordered and the beggars of the bunch. They cause everyone else to pay up a fraction of their collected gold or potions. These collected resources are placed on a book shelf and the one executing the role can get access to the book shelf, also worth points. The favor for these cards is to pay one less of your resources due to the community pot.

The fifth and final group consist of one card, gray-bordered Toady. Toady can cast the randomly selected spell for the round. The favor consists of collecting one gold piece.

What Do I Think? – Final Thoughts
This is a unique game that mixes hidden role selection with a push your luck aspect. Do I follow with a “So be it” and get at least something out of it? Or do you go all the way and declare the big prize for myself, only to risk losing it all? When you are last in turn order, you can guarantee a full reward. But is it worth it to have to lead the next set? These are all tasty decisions that go on.

In addition, the game has great social interaction as you bluff and bluster. You have to keep an eye on what you need as well as others so you can guess what roles they may take. It is a great feeling to select different from the group and have several rounds where you play and no one follows!

I really enjoy the game as a hearty filler. But it also serves as a great gateway game since it is so easy to teach. I foresee this one getting played many times. So be it!

What Next? – Other Recommendations for this Game
The biggest problem with this game is availability. The US edition has been out of print for quite some time. However, it can be picked up on the secondary market for a hefty premium. Another option, the one that I selected after playing this a couple months ago, was to purchase a foreign language edition. This saved me from having to duplicate the wooden and cardboard tokens. Scans are available of the English cards, so mock-ups can be made and the entire set of cards sleeved to slide in the text. Or if that sounds like too much work, the card actions are easily memorized after just a play or two (since graphics accommodate the text). The rules are readily downloadable and easily printed.

If you manage to get the game, three expansion modules are included in the Alea Treasure Chest. One expansion adds role cards for a 6th player, including actual Raven tokens to make tracking the game easier. Another allows even more magical abilities. And the final one adds amulets that helps make a game with less players much more interesting.

 

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