It is your last year of wizarding school and no, there isn’t an evil outcast magician looking to kill you. Instead, you’re facing a much more difficult prospect, final exams! In Potion Explosion you play a student working to complete different spells that will grant you end game points and special powers. It’ll take timing, luck, and maybe a helping hand from your professor if you want to come out at the head of the class.
Potion Explosion is a set collection game with a pretty cool twist The game centres around the ingredient slide dispenser. This is where, as students, you’ll grab Dragon Smoke, Fairy Dandruff, Ogre Mucus and Unicorn Tears. These ingredients come in the form of little glass baubles all stacked in the slide dispenser. On a normal turn you can take one ingredient out. Now this will cause everything above it in the dispenser to slide down and may result in an explosion. An explosion occurs when two of the same coloured ingredients smash together as the result of taking out a different one from the slide. On top of the first bauble you take, you can also grab the ingredients that exploded and any of the same colour that are touching the exploded ones. When these are all removed it’s possible for another explosion to occur! You take those ingredients as well, which may cause another explosion. It’s possible to string together some pretty sweet combinations.
At any given time you are going to be working on two different potions, each one requiring their own combination of ingredients. If you have the necessary elements you can place them on the flasks you’re working on. You also have a reserve where you can hold up to three different ingredients between turns.
Once a spell is completed you can flip it to its finished side and take another potion from the supply. Here’s where all your hard work brewing is going to come in handy. During your turn you can drink your potions to gain an advantage, like the Potion of Prismatic Joy which allows you to use any ingredients to complete your potions or The Elixir of Blind Love that allows you to steal all the ingredients in one of your opponents’ reserve.
There are eight different types of spells, but you’ll randomly take out two for each game. Skill tokens work as a timer. Whenever a player has completed five different potions or three of the same potion, they are awarded a Skill Token, worth four points. The number of tokens in the game is determined by the amount of players, but when the last one is taken the end game is triggered.
Once per turn players can ask their professor for help. For a cost of two points at the end of the game they can remove one ingredient from the slide dispenser. It stinks to lose those points, but it can sometimes be worth it to set yourself up for a big multi-explosion round.
This is a game that takes a simple mechanic like set collection and does something very refreshing with it. The slide dispenser works really well, with just the right amount of luck and strategy. There is an endorphin rush each time those ingredients clink together, and big turns and explosions can be really exciting.
Potion Explosion seems like it should be just a fun, simple set collection game, but the slide dispenser mechanic really sets it apart. I’ve heard it compared favourably to Bejewelled and that’s not inaccurate. Finding ways to manipulate the ingredients and set yourself up for a big round is a heck of a lot of fun. It plays really quickly and is easy to learn regardless of skill. Potion Explosion is definitely worth checking out and might just fit in to your collection.