Have you ever heard the phase “too many cooks in the kitchen”? Now picture that image, but with those cooks as wizards working on the same arcane concoction. The Potion is a bidding and bluffing game that pits you and up to 6 of your closest enemies against one another. It’s a race to be the first to run down to a single ingredient type as you all work to contribute your ingredients to “the potion”. This cleverly packaged game, while small, is not an easy pill to swallow as it has a lot of depth to its tiny game play footprint. With that said, let’s jump right into game play.
Mushrooms, Vials, or Bugs?
Games of The Potion are played over a series of rounds with players rolling dice and bidding one of the 6 starting ingredients in their hand. Players can collect mushrooms, vials and bugs to use as bids, and each round you may bid exactly one item of one of those ingredients to contribute to the potion. Simple enough, but how do you get to contribute to the potion? That’s where the subtle fun of The Potion comes into full swing.
Each round the lead player will roll three dice. These dice will indicate what ingredients are needed for the potion that round. Each die will show 1-3 of any ingredient type or nothing at all. Once the dice have been rolled, players secretly select one of their ingredients to play that round and then all players will reveal at once. Players will total the amount of each ingredient revealed. If it exactly matches the amount shown on one of the dice faces, they may all place those ingredients into the potion. If, however, there are more ingredients showing than a die face, all players have to keep that ingredient until the next round.
Players may also bid an ingredient not shown and if no one meets the requirements of any die face, they may put their ingredient in instead. If there are less ingredients present, players must also keep their ingredients in hand. The final rule is that if all players could put their ingredients into the potion, then no one does and the next round begins. Game play continues in this manner until one player can reveal that they have only one ingredient type in their hand.
Fun or Flop?
Spoilers: it’s fun! Who would have thought a small bottle could be such a nice addition to my collection?
Like a meatier In Vino Morte, The Potion is a beautifully fun game of bluffing and guessing as you try to read your opponents, out think them, and keep them from getting down to that single ingredient type. I found myself using non required ingredients simply to try to keep others from meeting dice requirements that needed multiple people. The bluffing and deduction scales nicely with more players and it’s a very fun “filler” game. I do not often use that term as it implies some form of simplicity or “less than” nature to a game, which I do not feel that The Potion has.
The Potion does play quickly, and while it is a one-trick pony with no asymmetry or unique replayability, I think that it gets top marks for being a beautiful, thinky, unique experience that has a small footprint. It’s also a great waterproof option, making it playable at almost any venue. If you are looking for a game that you can take on the go that is not too long yet not too light, then The Potion may just put a spell on you and your gaming group.
Genre: Filler, Bluffing, Bidding
Pros: beautiful and inventive design, straightforward yet complex in execution, small footprint
Cons: Game play could get redundant if overplayed
Rating: 8/10 ( my go-to on-the-go game)