The Grand Alchemist
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The Renaissance period saw many important changes in Europe. Many works of art were created by painters, scholars and architects alike. New ideas emerged. European courts lead a sumptuous existence and Princes from all over the Continent became great patrons of the arts.
There were some very mysterious people also living during this age. These alchemists were trying their best to discover the Philosophers's Stone, the secret of transmuting "base metal" into gold. Thet lived in the deepest recesses of European castles, working night and day in secret labortories sponsored by the aformentioned Princes. These men - part scholars, part scienctist - were versed in Alchemy, a form of chemistry expecially conserned with trying to discover a way of changing ordinary metals (such as lead) into gold. They were great travels as well; they visited the major European universities in search of forgotten scrolls or formulae.
But they were watched and hunted by the Inquisition
Each player plays as an alchmist and two of his assistants: who travel around Europe in search of secret scrolls which enable them to perform a transmutation. They must gather all the secret scrolls of an alchemical family (Earth, Moon or Sun) and creat the long coveted gold.
But they must hurry! Other players can steal their scrolls and hinder their movements. They can also discover their secret labortories and reveal its location to the Inquisition! The Inquisitor searches Europe's cities for the location of these secret laboratories. He can arrest an alchmist, send him to prison and destroy his scrolls. The player who first obtains 5 gold ingots becomes the Grand Alchemist (thus winning the game).
Players: 3 - 6
Time: 90 minutes
Ages: 8 and up
Weight: 1,015 grams
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. Game components are printed in English.
- 1 game board
- 1 investigation sheet
- 25 wooden pieces
- 1 piece board
- 3 dice
- 1 rule book
Average Rating: 3.3 in 3 reviews
I've only played once (with 3 people in total)but I definitely want to play again.
One person was very dismayed with the dice rolling randomness aspect- she rolled 3 ones and couldn't move on one turn, and it messed up her whole approach afterwards.
I got lucky and with a turn transmuting two lead pieces I scored 4 points. I won the game eventually but the others made it closer than I thought it would have been since I had the huge lead to start with. I think maybe I'd leave the 3 poit gold ingot in the box next game to make it a bit more fair.
I saw the potential for great mischief by using the plague card, sending the Grand Inquisitor in an opposite direction from my pieces and by enlisting the assistants to work for me, but there are a lot of random factors involved.
I liked the theme, the pieces, the box for organizing pieces. I thought the rules were a touch vague, but workable.
Positives: A very underused era for gaming, especially with boardgames, and one with many possibilities. The presentation is very alluring; the designer deserves a lot of credit. The game keeps open a variety of possibilities for each player on each of their turns, and allows for a variety of gameplay and strategies. They include a convenient plastic tray to keep everything organized, a very helpful addition that is oft overlooked.
Negatives: The first game will be much slower than their claimed 90 minute average. But there have to be some games slower in order for that to be an average, I guess. :) In any case, there is a steep learning curve that will demand a little bit of patience with your group. After this initial game, however, it will become much easier and faster, and the variety of strategies more evident.
Verdict: A little pricey, but the game is well-made and solid. It would be a nice addition to any game collection. If you can afford it, try it out.
I had the misfortune of being introduced to this game over the weekend. I have to say it is one of the very few games that I won't play again. It was unbelievably boring. You have to collect a card from each of 6 cities and turn them in representing an alchemical experiment. Then, based on the number of symbols on the cards (each card has one symbol, with their being 3 symbols in total), you get one, two, or three chips which represent either failed experiments or a number of gold ingots. This is at complete random. Someone drawing one chip may yield 3 gold ingots, while someone who's worked the purity of his formula (represented by the symbols) and draws three may get nothing for it.
After you've done your experiment, you turn in all of your cards, and, assuming you haven't won, head back to all 6 cities to get more cards. Sure, there's an inquisitor who searches for secret labs (kind of like a logic puzzle), but there was never any real tension.
It was just too boring, too repetitive, and too random. The only reason it didn't get ONE star is because the components are nicely done and the game is attractive.