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In search of rare ingredients, you compete against other witches to become the king's favorite. Brew the best potions to win the game!
- 48 wooden tiles
- 48 stickers
- 1 start piece
- 10 recipe cards
- 4 witches cards
Hexen Werk is one of the new releases from Yun Games. Yun put out five games this year (Hexen Werk, Stonez, Goldgeier, Picknick Panik, Das Schloss), but this is the first one I've played. The common thread between all of them, however, is a box full of delicious wood. The artwork is fun, the rules are more fun.
The goal of the game is to earn the most points by completing recipes. Recipes are completed by collecting the set of ingredients depicted on the recipe cards. There are five types of ingredients: pink lizards, blue snakes, green leafy things, toadstools, and something we could only identify as a flying crustacean of sorts.
The joy of Hexen Werk begins almost immediately upon reading the rules, which are written in very good English. I am a big advocate of the ``arbitrary starting condition''. That is, I like the condition which determines the start player to have some tie-in to the game. For example, in Plenary Games' Fresh Fish, the start player is the one who dined on fish most recently. While this discriminates against vegetarians, I don't feel it's a serious offense. Yun caters to my predilection:
``The player who resembles a witch best begins the game. In case no player looks like a witch, the player with the biggest nose will start. In case all have similar sized noses and no one looks like a witch, oldest player starts. In case all players are of the same age, all have similar sized noses and no one looks like a witch, all players really must be witches, since witches naturally think they are young and beautiful and have small noses. In that case it doesn't matter who starts. Come on, point one out. Since it's finally clear who will start the game, this player takes the start-witch-piece and puts it in front of himself. Now all players are witches. Finally!''
There are jokes scattered among the rules which refer back to this tomfoolery. It was a joy to read.
The game itself is very straightforward. Each player has a ``witches-card'' with 10 blank (empty) spaces. The 10 recipe cards are placed face up where all witches, er, players can see them. They show the ingredients needed for each recipe, as well as the point value received for completing the recipe.
The start witch turns up n+1 ingredient tiles. Starting with the witch clockwise (deosil, if you will) from the start-witch, each witch may take one of the ingredients and places it on her witches-card. The witches-card is a cauldron used for gathering ingredients, per se. If a witch doesn't like the selection, he can pass. After the start-witch selects or passes, the start-witch tile goes deosil to the next witch. If all witches passed, the tiles are mixed back into the face down bunch, and the new start witch draws all new tiles. If a witch ends up with ingredients she can't use, she can remove them from her card when she is the start witch before she draws new tiles. She discards her unwanted ingredients face up. If the number of face up tiles is less than n+1, she draws enough tiles to make n+1. If the number is greater than n+1, no new tiles are drawn.
When a witch gathers all the ingredients for a particular recipe, he takes the recipe card and places it face down in front of him (with an evil laugh). He returns his ingredients to the face down supply, and the game continues. When all but one recipe card has been used, the game ends. The witches total their face down cards and the highest score ``wins the game and the heart of the king. In case two witches have the same score, both of them will be burned by the king. No, just a joke.'' The tie-breaker goes to the witch with the highest scoring recipe card.
When we played, we found the first few rounds to be rather pedestrian. Pick a tile. Pick a tile. Pick a tile. As the witch cards started to fill, however, it got interesting. What does each witch need? How can I prevent that from happening? We found it to be immensely useful (and perversely fulfilling) to remove ingredients from our own cards to keep new ingredients from being revealed when a witch was lacking only one. It proved to be maddening and quite disturbing for our 10 year old - but he picked up on how to do it.
The only potential problem with the game we saw is that the three lowest point recipe cards all have the same ingredients - they only differ by the position on the recipe cards. I've perused the rules, and there is nothing which indicates it is forbidden to move ingredients around on the card. Nor is there anything which explicitly allows it. I would think if it is forbidden, they would mention it and there would be a mechanism similar to the one used in Europa Tour to move tiles.
While this is not a game which will set the world on fire, it is a very pleasant way to spend 45 minutes with the family. And I keep re-reading the rules and giggling.