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Board Game Resource Guest Review – Alchemists

In Alchemists, All, Reviews by Zach Hillegas1 Comment

Alchemists Review

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Why bother transmuting lead into gold when you can be having fun?

Alchemists is a 2014 Czech Games Edition (CGE) release that helped usher in the Laser Age of the Future™ as one of the first major titles to offer a free downloadable companion app.  On top of that, the game itself isn’t too shabby, either.

Matúš Kotry, winner of Dice Tower’s “Best New Designer” award, brings us the medium-heavy deduction game that I never knew I’d always been waiting for.  Seating 2-4 players and lasting 120 minutes per game, this one isn’t exactly a game for every occasion, but it’s a game that I find fits a unique niche on my shelf.

The big question: does it deserve a place on your shelf?  Let’s see if I can talk you into it.

Gameplay

How do you play the game? Is it a fun experience? How much interaction is there between the players? Is there very much luck involved? Will it take forever to to learn and teach?

1

 

Depth

How much strategy is involved? Is there a sense of variety and balance? Does the game play well no matter how many players there are? How long does it take to play?

1

 

Look and Feel

Is the game aesthetically pleasing? Are the components made out of quality material, or do they feel cheap? Is the rulebook well-designed and easy to read? How well is theme integrated into the game?

2

 

Value

Is it a game you can play over and over? Are there expansions available for the game, and if so, are they necessary? Does the amount of the content in the box justify the price?

debunk

 

Conclusion

5

Alchemists is a meaty, chewy, and devilishly-complicated blend of intense deduction and medium-weight worker placement.  Let’s be honest: it’s not for everybody.  Allow me to tell you why not.

There’s a lot going on in this box, and that may scare a lot of people off.  The game is not easy to teach or learn, it requires more than a little setup, and it takes around two hours to finish a round once you eventually start.  For these reasons, the game might not hit the table terribly often.  Additionally, some of the multitudinous components may be excessive, and not everyone will have fun with the game.

However, this game is exactly what it should be.  It’s an unapologetically heavy deduction game, and it’s fantastic at what it does.  If this doesn’t intimidate you, Alchemists is absolutely worth a spot on your shelf.

Alchemists creates a rich, thematic experience.  Players dive into their roles in the game, and spend 120 minutes together in that world, competing in an arena of academia.  Players labor on their own to best understand the mysteries of alchemy through experimentation, all the while trying to keep up and win the race to publish the first and best theories and dismantle their rivals’.  This race to discovery is tense, fun, and excellently balanced.

Furthermore, I would venture to say that Alchemists may actually fill a unique spot on a game shelf, by merit of the strategic and thematic depth it brings to its genre.  The pen-and-paper deduction grid is transposed into a theater of quirky science, and the result is a game unlike any other I’ve played or heard of.

The bottom line is this: If you can stomach Alchemists, you may just end up falling in love with it.

Find out what others are saying about Alchemists

Verdict

YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAME IF…

  • You can see yourself playing a two hour game at game night
  • You enjoy immersive, thematic games
  • You always wished deduction games would come with a bit more material to chew on
  • You can accurately describe any of your top ten favorite games with the word “cerebral”
  • You like medium-heavy competitive games, but don’t absolutely need direct ways to interfere with your opponents
  • You enjoyed science class
  • You are a high school chemistry teacher, you have exactly 2-4 students, and you’re trying to think of a creative way to award some extra credit

YOU WON’T LIKE THIS GAME IF…

  • You’re not thrilled by the thought of a deduction game
  • You dislike not having a way to directly interact with your opponents
  • Two hours at the table just won’t fit into your schedule
  • Your attention drifts when people are explaining a new game to you
  • You need your medium-heavy games to have multiple viable routes to victory
  • You’re devoid of organizational skills
  • The guy with the app forgot to charge his iPhone before game night
About the Author

Mike Mihealsick

Mike is the founder and a senior analyst at his web service, Coalition Game Studios. The Coalition works to provide tabletop designers and small studios with professional playtesting and quality assurance. Apart from that, he is a paramedic and pro-circuit gamer, has an 8-pound dog named Ser Gregor Clegane, and he has been to all six continents that aren't covered with ice all year.

Comments

  1. A great write-up! My wife loves this game. We played our neighbors copy of the game, when then had to go out a get our own copy the very next day.

    We are going to try to get our kids to play it with us. Not sure they will like it. We will give a shot though!

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