We here at Zatu Games have never got over Athens’ defeat in the Sicilian campaign of 413 BCE, and in our darker moments there’s nothing to do but blub. To pay tribute to that fallen democracy, we’ve decided to exercise some of our own. We asked gamers on the internet what they think of Alchemists, the 2014 release from publisher Czech Games Edition.
Responses are divided into positive and negative because grey is a boring colour.
I enjoy the game largely for how ‘safe’ or ‘recklessly’ you can play. You can play totally safe by only testing on yourself to avoid having to possibly pay a coin, and by only publishing theories you're absolutely certain of, and only ever selling to adventurers when you can make exact matches. OR you can play risky, publishing theories you have no information on, selling to adventurers and taking the 70% chance you make at least a neutral potion, and going for debunks that you aren't sure of working.
My favourite way of playing Alchemists is publishing the correct theory so I start with careful experiment, meticulously doing the logic puzzle and then publish journals.
Other players, however, play differently. One play recklessly and another, knowing that I publish safely, just piggybacking on my publication. That rat!
Great mechanics and theme. It really feels like you are all alchemists in your own labs. Looking outside your window at your fellow alchemist making potions and thinking ‘What the heck is he doing in there!? He’s going mad.’
I like that everytime I play I discover some small way I can have a little bit of extra information. Once you start dominating the basic part of the game, your mind has some free time to spot clues from other players.
I like it a lot, because for me it spices up the classic resource management genre.
Great theme, good humour and very innovative design.
desdemain (again) says:
It’s hard to get on the table because it requires a special kind of person, and usually it’s the only game that is played last night
Thornum (again) says:
It is slightly on the heavy side, my table generally needs a full 120 minutes to play (4p) Also, if you screw up your deductions at some point the game can slow down a lot if someone is trying to figure out their mistakes.
It’s a good game, but I think to enjoy it you need players who have a mastery of the deduction aspect. There’s been a number of times where someone has been playing and at the end they realise they got the rules for how things combine incorrect, thus it was impossible for them to win.
I feel it’s more complex than it needs to be. It’s not even overly difficult but so much gets in your way to stop it from being great.
The game is OK. I honestly think it’s over-hyped and tries to do too much.
Less is more and Alchemists has too much stuff going on and it’s not well integrated enough to really sing.
And possibly the most civilised internet disagreement in history
For the amount of fun I get out of it, I find it to be overly complicated, a bear to teach, and with some kind of deduction puzzle baked into it that seems cool in theory, but in reality making one mistake will ruin your entire game.
tydelwav takes umbrage:
That is part of the fun of it, like, a big part of the game is designed around misleading people into thinking something incorrect and benefiting from it. There’s a lot of ways to cross check your work also. Making a mistake with your deduction is a common thing that happens on your first game or two, but then it becomes a feature.
I think it’s pretty common in this game that someone puts a token in the wrong spot and makes assumptions based off that and it kind of ruins their whole game.
I’m sure once you’ve played it ten times it gets better, but I like games I can pull off the shelf, teach to someone without too much difficulty and have fun with it. This game to me is TERRIBLE for that.
tydelwav sees a point:
I agree, it is terrible for that, but if you have a regular gaming partner or two, it’s great for something different to pull out on occasion.
thisappletastesfunny steps proudly onto the middle ground:
Yeah I think it’s very group dependent. This is a game I always recommend people try before they buy, because I think it’s a bit of a love or hate!
Yeah… I dunno, you might be right, but the point I’m trying to make is just that I feel like it’s more of a try-multiple-times-to-enjoy. It definitely takes a few games to wrap your head around, so if you’re constantly rotating gamers, it’s not a game suited for that.
I’m surprised to see a lot of distaste in here because I haven’t met anyone who disliked the game, mostly it was just people being really confused on their first play.
Then they hugged, exchanged business cards and left the room arm in arm.
Time to Buy?
So there you have it: great mechanics, good humour, that rat, complexity, TERRIBLE. A comprehensive overview of Alchemists. If the first half of this article has taken root in your mind like some kind of disgusting conceptual parasite, order this game from Zatu today!