It's not that I don't like Quacks of Quedlinburg...I just don't think it's a great game. It's enjoyable, that's for sure. But it feels like a crossing of a few genres, none of which it pulls off better than other games in those genres.
Quacks is a push your luck game, the players are quacks brewing potions, hoping for the best potions that preferably don't explode. This is simulated by buying ingredients each round to add to your potion, ingredients that both extend the sheer points of your potion and add abilities with a large variety of effects. At the same time in your ingredient bag there's an inevitable amount of duds, that cause your potion to eventually explore. Do you continue to brew knowing that you're one step shy of a boom? But then again, you're also only one ingredient away from having the largest potion?
The game plays over 9 rounds and is a pretty fun. It's always fun building your bag, and it's fun making those hard decisions about whether to pull just one more ingredient from your bag. If this sounds fun to you so far, you'll probably enjoy it. I also enjoyed it, but I'm not keeping it.
You see, Quacks, while fun, is essentially the love child of a deck builder and a push your luck game, and successfully blends too genres in a way I haven't seen done before...but at the same time if I want to deck build I've played much better, and if I want push your luck, I've played much better.
The deck building is far too random, chaotic and even limited to offer an ideal deck building experience. I'd rather play a dozen other games from Dominion, Puzzle Strike, Star Realms and my favorite, The Quest for El Dorado. These games are all faster than Quacks while providing a better more meaningful deck building experience.
The push your luck is fun, but is restricted to a few moments in an otherwise too long game. The game is mostly deck building for the strategy, followed by a dozen obvious choices when pulling, followed by a few pauses and tough choices on the push your luck. But push your luck works best in shorter games, games where you aren't punished that badly when one player is reckless and defies all odds to win...whereas the other players play the stats accurately and still manage to strike out. Push your luck is great for laughs, but it works best with less strategy and shorter games. Games like Can't Stop, Incan Gold/Diamant, Welcome to the Dungeon and Dead Man's Draw. These are all much shorter experiences, and I find much better ones.
Quacks is a fun game, people rave about it, you'll probably love it too. Or maybe you'll be like me, and think it's just pretty good. Go ahead....try it...what's the worst that can happen?