Apotheca the Secret Potion Society
Why Is It Special
Apotheca The Secret Potion Society is a game that I was excited to play as soon as I heard about it, and it didn’t disappoint. This game stood out to me because of its beautiful artwork and the team play aspect that it brings to the table. It is easily one of my favorites this month and I always jump at a chance to play it, or share it with new players.
Apotheca was created by the Andrew Federspiel and is produced by Knapsack Games and Renegade Games Studio. Renegade Games also produced Lanterns the harvest festival. Lantern is another game that is stunning to look at. Both games use a mixture of vibrant colors, texture and attention to detail which are the hallmarks of Renegade Games. Apotheca is a welcome addition to their game collection and our collection of favorites at Tutor Games Online.
Apotheca can be played with one to four players, and has several different play variants to match your desired level of game play intensity. It is suggested that the game be played by players 13 and up, but we here at Tutor Games believe it can be played with players as young as 11 or 12 so long as an adult is playing also.
What Is It about
In Apotheca you are taking the role of an aspiring apothecary. You know how to mix potions but your dream is to become a member of the elite. The only way to do this is join the Secret Potion Society, a group of master apothecaries with strict inclusion standards. As you play you will gain gems that will allow you to pay for an audience with the Master Apothecary of your choice. With their tutelage you will have access to different tactics for moving tiles around the board. As you move the tiles you will attempt to make rows or columns of three matching colors to convince your Master Apothecary that you have what it takes to be a member of the Secret Potion Society.
How Do I Win
The first player to satisfy three Master Apothecaries is the winner. To do this you will need to gain gems by revealing different ingredients on the board. With enough gems you can purchase a Master Apothecary, and try to create potions with their special move. Once an apothecary is satisfied their move is no longer available, so be sure to build a good team or you may be stuck with no moves to make during your turn. Also be on the lookout for opponents that will try to thwart your plans and take your place as the victor.
What Happens On My Turn
Apotheca uses a pick two turn System. Meaning that during your turn you may pick two actions to do from a pool of available actions. This is a common turn system and is used in other Designer Games Such as Firefly the Game. It is really up to you what to do during your turn. Strategies may vary between players. But to give a better idea of what may happen I will outline the four available actions for each player, which are also outlined on a convenient turn card that comes with the game.
The first listed action to take during a turn is to Reveal. When the ingredient tiles come onto the board they are always facedown, therefore the player that places the tile is the only one that knows what it is. When you reveal an unknown tile you learn what color that tile is an gain a gem of the matching color. This is the easiest way to earn gems and pay for Master Apothecaries, which you will need in order to win the game.
Secondly you may Restock. After people have started moving tiles and making matches there may come a time where nothing of use is on the board. When this happens, and there are less than three face down tiles out you may chose to Restock. You may add tiles to the board face down wherever you like until there are a total of three face down tiles. You may notice an arrow on each of the tiles this arrow should be pointing to whoever played that tile. The arrow is a reminder, because at any point in the game a player may peek at tiles that they have laid down. Peeking is not an action and can be done at any time at no cost. This is really fun and adds to the mystery of what other players might be up to.
The third available action is to Use A Power of a Master Apothecary. Each time you receive an apothecary there will be a description of what its’ power is. I suggest reading the power before you buy. These powers will allow you to move tiles around the board in specific ways. Some apothecaries will allow you to switch tiles, rotate tiles, or even move tiles that have not been revealed. Of course you will be using this power to make matches and win. It is also important to remember that if you have more than one Apothecary you may use one power as action one of your turn, then a separate apothecary power as action two. This can really give you the advantage if played correctly.
The last and in my opinion the most useful action is to Hire. As apothecaries are revealed from their deck they are placed to the side of the board in an indicator bracket that comes with the game. Each section of the bracket has an image of two of the same colored gems. During the hire action the player may pay the two gems of the designated color and hire the apothecary in that bracket. You may also pay one gem of each color to buy any apothecary you like from the display, or draw a card from the top of the face down apothecary deck.
As I mentioned before Apotheca is quickly becoming one of my favorites it is easy to play and even easier to teach. There is also a master version that makes that game more challenging, which i didn’t speak about in this article. The four player mode is my favorite and I highly recommend it. If you are interested in more game reviews or different games stay in touch via Facebook or www.TutorGamesOnline.com
Dwight Kilgore II