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How to teach "Quacks of Quedlinburg"

· 11 min read
Cory Cunningham

Introducing himself with a confident demeanor, the young knight humbly begs of you to, “Please potion seller, make me your strongest potion.” You look back at him. Trying to keep your shakes under control. You attempt to stay his request by explaining how he wouldn't be able to handle your strongest potion but nevertheless he persists.

You fumble a bit as you reach for your bag of ingredients. You know the potion you have brewed is indeed strong but you know of another potion that, with a few more key ingredients, would make your potion worth all the rubies in the land. You also know that in your bag there is one key ingredient that will make such a potion completely unstable. You're so shaken with fear that you don't even remember which one though.

You reach into your bag, grab hold of an ingredient that seems familiar enough. You hold it over the bubbling cauldron in front of you and before you release, you whisper to yourself… “here goes nothing.”

Game Basics

In a game of “Quacks of Quedlinburg”, henceforth known simply as “Quacks”, you are an up and coming potion brewer trying to create the best potions for the town of Quedlinburg's annual potion brewing contest. The way you do so is by pulling ingredients out of your bag one at a time and placing them in your pot.

The twist is that there are certain ingredients in your pot that cause the potion you're carefully concocting to explode leaving you messy and embarrassed. So, you'll have to decide when to stop adding ingredients… maybe just one more…

Once you've stopped (or exploded) you all will move on to spending your well earned coin on some new ingredients to add to your bag.

The game ends at the end of the ninth round, everyone adds up their points on the track, and the person who's point token is furthest along the track is deemed the best quack of Quedlinburg.

How to Teach

Lucky for you, Quacks is one of the few games where you really can teach a small set of rules to get started and then teach some more along the way.


Make sure you have all the books and their ingredients set out. Have the players area's set up as well including bags with starter chips, 1 ruby, potion token, and a rat tail.

You're going to want to use the base “single ribbon” books as they are generally the easiest to get a grasp on, even though they aren't, in my humble opinion, the most interesting.

Take out the blue Fortune Teller card that reads "In this round, you may put the first white chip you draw back into the bag" and put it on top of the deck. Then, take out the purple card that reads "Everyone rolls the die once and gets the bonus shown." and put that under the blue one. For the first round, I would skip using a fortune teller card just to keep it on the simple side. They tend to have a few boons that can either unnecessarily boost someone without them understanding why, or create a circumstance that can just be kind of awkward to play the first round in.


Feel free to use the flavor text I provided above or simply create a fun scenarios where you set the stage of the Annual Quedlinburg Potion Brewing Extravaganza, or, “AQPBA” for short.

Then do an overview of the basics.


I want you to cover this early on because it's critical in the decision making that goes into the first phase of the game.

As you will have gone over in the game basics, explain to the players that “this white chip”, presumably you'd be holding up the white chip right about now, “is called a cherry bomb. And it is your undoing!”

Then explain that an explosion happens when you end up pulling a cherry bomb out of the bag and the value of all the cherry bombs, calculated by adding up all the numbers on them, is more than seven.

Have them take a sigh of relief because all is not lost. Explain the glorious neutralizing agent they have at their side and how they can put any cherry bomb back into their bag with a quick flip of the token, so long as it's not the cherry bomb that blows up their precious potion, and rest easy as they attempt to pull what happens to be the EXACT SAME THING I JUST PUT BACK IN THE BAG! UGH!

Now onto the first of two phases!

Brewing Phase

Each player will simultaneously reach into their bag and pull out one ingredient chip at a time and then place it into their bubbling pot the number of spaces away from the previous chip as shown on the chip they just pulled out. They need not wait for one another, so long as you trust each other not to peek!

Rinse (if your hands become dirty I guess) and repeat until you have decided that you don't want to risk possibly exploding.

Once you've stopped you can calmly look around at others fortunate draws or revel in their tasty downfalls.

Pause here for an initial chip explanation.

PumpkinsThey do nothing themselves. They are cheap.
SpidersThey give you a ruby at the end of the brewing phase if they are the last or second last chip you place.

Now explain once everyone is no longer wanting to place new ingredients in their potions, or they exploded, the player who brewed the biggest potion (i.e. went the furthest) get's to roll the bonus die and reap a reward.

Market Phase

Here you will guide your elixir savants into the market.

Make sure you're pointing to the spots along the track as you explain them.

First, you'll want to point out what you're doing by guiding the philter philosophers through each event of the market.

”The day of brewing is finished, and however dastardly or delightful your brew turns out, it's now time to do some shopping!!”

Tell them that you already did the first phase, rolling the bonus die! (Yippie!) Next you'll ask if anyone got the green spider bonus and hand them a ruby.

“Next is the ruby check”
Then ask and see if anyone has a ruby on the space after their last chip, if so, give them a ruby.

“Next is scoring points”
Ask everyone, who didn't explode for the number on the square board on the space after their last chip and move it along the scoring track accordingly.

While the rule allows a player who exploded to choose between getting coins to spend or victory points, I have found, not being able to add to your bag in the first round to almost always be a worst option when starting a new game. So I find it best not to offer it the first round and just force them to lose the point options. If they're lucky enough, they may even get a couple rat tails to help them start the next round a bit stronger.
“Now we spend our coin!”
Let the tonic tinkerers know that the green number on the space next to their last chip is the amount of coins they have to spend at the market. They can buy up to two new chips to put in their bag but make sure they know, any coins they don't spend are lost.

Also make sure they know the purchase rules:

  • You can only buy one or two ingredients
  • If you want to buy two ingredients, they cannot be the same kind.

Take some time to explain the other ingredients the potion sommeliers are able to purchase at this time.

Crow SkullPlace the chip, then grab out a number of chips equal to that blue chips number. Play one if you want (you don't have to place any), place the unused ones back in the bag.
ToadstoolsIf you have three or more pumpkins already in your cauldron, place this chip two spaces further than the number on the chip. If you have one to two pumpkins, place this chip only one extra space.
Black MothAt the end of the round if you have more of this chip in your pot than both of your neighbors then you get to move your starting droplet forward one space and get a ruby! If you only have more than one neighbor, then only move your starting droplet (point at the droplet for reference) forward one space.

“Before we begin the next day” Here's where you reveal what you're hoarding rubies for. Explain to your cauldron characters that if they want to refill that precious neutralizing agent, or if they want to move their starting droplet forward one space they'll have to cough up 2 rubies.

Second Round

Before you start the second round, take note if anyone would gain a rat rail bonus this turn. If so then draw everyone's attention to the token on their board and explain what it's about, helping the players who are behind make sure they have correct placement in their cauldrons.

Before everyone starts pulling from their goodie bag again, draw a fortune teller card and explain that this is done before the start of each new brew phase. Read the card aloud and then resolve the effect.

Around the Cauldron We Go!

Now you're pretty much set to continue playing!

The only things you'll want to explain are the new round effects when they occur.

2Mandrakes are available for purchase! (see below for effect)
3Ghosts are available for purchase! (see below for effect)
6Add an extra white “1 chip” to your bag.
9Final scoring: Every five coins is a point and every two rubies is a point.
MandrakePlace this chip in the potion. If the previous chip was white, put the white chip back in your bag.
GhostIf you have one of these chips in your potion at the end of the brew phase, you get an extra point. If you have two chips, you get a point and a ruby. If you have three or more, you get two points and you get to move your starting droplet forward one space.


My family and I absolutely love Quacks of Quedlinburg. It's a wonderful “push your luck” game where you're constantly battling against the other players and your memory of what you had in your bag! Every round is filled with laughter and interesting decisions on what to add to your bag to help you get to that one spot that will help you rocket ahead in points.

Along with this there is so much replayability here. Most of the ingredients have multiple different effects to choose from that allow you to mix and match to make any game new and interesting.

As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to @ me on Twitter or pop an email in my inbox.

I hope that when you play you have as much fun as I do and that this teachtorail helps make it easier for you to get “Quacks of Quedlinburg” to the table.

- Cory 🎲


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