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Alchemists Review

October 11th, 2017 by

Alchemists 001Well there is no prizes for guessing what this game is about. As you can tell from the title, you take on the role of an Alchemist. You create potions, you test them on your trainees, and you drink them. You eventually have enough information to publish a study on the ingredients. Later in the game you will probably find out other Alchemist’s theories, or you won, are wrong and will write a critical piece in the local scientific magazine debunking the previously thought theory.

As you can see in the above video you get a fair amount of kit in this box. There is one critical piece missing from within the box. Alchemists is another app driven game and therefore requires a tablet or phone device which can access your app store of choice.

At the start of the game the app randomises the ingredients in relation to the alchemicals for the game meaning that pretty much every game is different. Every alchemical has a red, blue and green aspect, each aspect can be large or small and positive or negative. Combining ingredients, and in turn alchemicals, the result is a potion with a certain colour and a certain sign. You can also create a neutral potion which happens when the aspects of the ingredients have the same size and colour but opposite signs.

So to recap briefly, you have eight ingredients which make up the eight alchemicals and a combination of two ingredients gives a very specific result – a potion with a colour or a potion with no colour and sign. Keep this in mind and the rest will be a doddle.

Let’s begin then. The game takes the form of six rounds of worker placement where you can do a ton of amazing stuff depending on where you place your marker cubes. You can choose whether to start your day early or late – the later you start the more bonus you get at the beginning of your turn but also has the disadvantage of not being able to see where other players are placing their markers.

You can gather ingredients, perform transmutation on ingredients, or turn said ingredients into gold. You can buy better equipment or even an artefact to aid you in becoming a world renowned alchemist.

You can then experiment with your ingredients and a student is at yours, and your opponents’ disposal. These guys love drinking potions of unknown effects, however if they drink a negative potion, rest assured they are going to want some gold before they drink any more. He is crazy but not that crazy. The app will keep track on whether the student has been used and if he needs paying or not.

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You could also drink the potion yourself but a negative potion will result in consequences from losing reputation points, to going last the next turn or having less marker cubes for the following round.

The worker placement side of the game is a simple one and pretty straightforward. Except for the sell potion action there is always something to be done each round. There are advantages to starting your day earlier as you actually place your workers last meaning you can nip in and forage that mandrake your opponent has their eye on, or test a negative potion on a student resulting in them wanting coin from the next player who can’t afford it and has to forego their experiment.

Now we get to the logic and deduction elements of Alchemists. Performing these experiments allows you to place a cross or tick in your alchemicals grid. For example combining a mushroom and a fern results in a paralysis potion (Negative Green) therefore you know that both ingredients have a negative green element so in turn you can cross off all alchemicals with a plus green element for those ingredients.

Knowing how to mix potions is handy for when adventurers visit the town as you can guarantee your potion will be what they want resulting in extra coins coming your way. However you could also guarantee the adventurer that you would make them a potion but not know how it will turn out. This will result in less coin.

Figuring out the alchemicals of each ingredient is the crux of the game, you must write about these findings and publish them. The more you publish the more chance you have of winning grants which awards you money even if your theory turns out to be as useless as Matt’s S**t or Decent scoring system theory he keeps trying to get me to use.

Of course if your theory is wrong and another Alchemist debunks your theory, they gain two reputation points and you lose five reputation points and your standing in the Alchemy world.

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At the end of every round points are awarded to alchemist with the most published theories and during the sixth round you cannot test potions but instead there is an exhibition for alchemists to show off their skills and gain reputation if they have the ingredients that is – a points for potions round if you will.

After this round the game ends and points are added together and the reveal of the correct alchemicals made, this rewards each correct theory with even more points.

I did mention that this game is app driven in that it keeps track of whether or not the student needs a coin to test a potion as well as randomising the alchemicals of the ingredients for each game. The app once again is a great component of the game and integrates nicely and is less of a distraction than a lot of people will have you believe. The only drawback is that you do need a good source of light in order to scan the cards and if you can’t achieve that then you will be much quicker in just selecting the ingredients in the app by tapping on the relevant ingredient cards.

The quality of the analogue components is also very good and whilst there is a little bit of fiddling to be had in creating each alchemists secrecy triangle and laboratory, the board and cards as well as the triangle are all superbly illustrated and looks stunning and above all fun.

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I am struggling to find fault with Alchemists really. I personally found it exciting from beginning to end whether playing with the whole family, just the wife or playing one of the many solo variants to be found online. Time simply flies when playing this game and you will quickly do a double take when you realise you have been playing for two hours and you never really feel that you are waiting for another player to conclude their turn.

There is a point in the game where the penny drops and it make take one or two games for that to happen but put simply I urge everyone to pick up Alchemists and give it a go, if it doesn’t click straight away give it a couple more games and I pretty much guarantee that, like me, it will be the first game you go to grab off your shelf for many a game night.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 9.5/10     Year of Release: 2014
Designer: Matus Kotry & David Cochard     Manufacturer: Czech Games Edition
RRP:  £36.99

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a copy of  Alchemists by Czech Games Edition for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of  four weeks. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.






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