Everyone I game with loves The Quacks of Quedlinburg, the silly push your luck bag builder about fantasy snake oil salesmen. In this review, I take a look at the first expansion for The Quacks of Quedlinburg, The Herb Witches.
The Herb Witches increases the player count for Quacks and offers a number of optional modules to the game including 6 value Pumpkins, a new ingredient, new recipes for existing ingredients, plus the Herb Witches themselves and more.
Is this expansion worth picking up? Read on to find out.
Disclosure: We love Quacks so much that we bought this expansion ourselves! Links in this post may be affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps support this blog and our podcast.
What comes with The Herb Witches for The Quacks of Quedlinburg?
Like The Quacks of Quedlinburg itself, The Herb Witches Expansion was designed by Wolfgang Warsch. It features artwork from Dennis Lohausen and was originally published in 2019. Who the publisher for the game is will depend on where in the world you are. My copy comes from North Star Games. In the US this expansion has an MSRP of $39.99
If, by chance, you don’t actually know anything about the base game I invite you to check out my The Quacks of Quedlinburg review before reading on about this expansion.
The Herb Witches adds a number of optional modules to your games of The Quacks of Quedlinburg. These include the ability to play with up to five players, a new ingredient called Locoweed, six point Pumpkins, overflow pots and three kinds of Herb Witches which offer rule breaking powers that can be invoked once a game by each player. In addition to this, you also get new recipe books for all of the original game’s ingredients.
For a look at what all of this looks like check out our The Herb Witches Unboxing video on YouTube.
The component quality here is exactly what I would expect and is excellent. I have no complaints at all.
The new cardboard punch boards were nice and thick, well cut, and matched the quality of the base game (something that’s rather important in a bag building game like The Quacks of Quedlinburg). I especially liked that they even included a couple of extra white chips, just in case you lose one at some point. Also, the rulebook for The Herb Witches is only four pages long and is very clear.
Another thing I greatly appreciate is that everything you get in this expansion will easily fit into the base Quacks box, and that’s without removing the cardboard insert.
What does The Herb Witches Expansion add to The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Since there are a number of optional modules included in The Quacks of Quedlinburg: The Herb Witches I thought the best way to discuss it would be to talk about each individual module one at a time. Just realizes that everything I’m about to mention can be mixed and matched.
The first thing that The Herb Witches lets you do is play The Quacks of Quedlinburg with five players. In this box, you get all the stuff you need for another player. The colour of the pieces for the new player is black.
You also get more copies of the ingredient chips from the base game, at all values. Since you could be playing with more players this means there’s less chance something will run out. Note these aren’t marked in any way and there’s no easy way to remove them once you’ve mixed them in with the base game ingredients. I don’t see this as a problem though as having a few extra copies of everything isn’t going to break a non-five-player count game.
Next, you have Locoweed. This is a new type of ingredient that doesn’t have a numerical value. Instead, the Locoweed’s value varies depending on when it’s played and the recipe in play. One recipe for Locoweed has it copy, exactly, the last coloured chip in your pot, another has the Locoweed move forward based on how many rat tails you used that round.
This brings me to what seems like the most popular addition to the game, six value Pumpkins. Just like the one value Pumpkins from the base game, these don’t do anything on their own. They don’t really need to do much, as the value six version moves six spaces ahead when placed into your pot. That alone can be huge. The price for one of these is extremely high for a reason.
Next up are the overflow pots, these slot in beside your bowl and let you keep pulling ingredients even after your pot is full. The way this works is that the coloured ingredients don’t do anything but the white chips still count towards blowing up your pot.
Once the round ends, when you score points (if you score points), you add up the value of all of the chips in your overflow pot and then get half of that in points. This includes both white and coloured chips.
Now we come to The Herb Witches. Each game using The Herb Witches will have three different witches in play. These are represented by tiles that you put out in the playing area, There are four different tiles for each of three different witch types. At the start of the game, you randomly select one witch of each type to use.
Each of these witches provides a pretty significant rule breaking ability which can be used by each player once per game. To track which players have used which witch, every player gets a set of three coins, one for each witch type.
The copper witch’s abilities affect buying chips by letting you buy more ingredients or giving you more money to spend, the silver witch’s abilities are based around preventing your pot from exploding or mitigating the effects of an explosion, and the gold witch’s abilities feature new ways to score points based on the ingredients in your pot or on getting more rubies.
The final thing you get with The Herb Witches expansion for The Quacks of Quedlinburg is new recipe cards for each of the game’s original ingredients.
The box includes one two-sided card for each original ingredient. This ends up adding a ton of variety, and more importantly replayability, to the game. I think discovering what each of these new recipes does is part of the fun of this expansion so I’m not going to go into any details here.
I will say it was interesting to see quite a few recipes that let you collect things immediately when placing ingredients instead of just having everything resolve at the end of the round. There are also some new recipes that have you adding ingredients to other players’ pots!
Should you pick up The Herb Witches expansion for The Quacks of Quedlinburg?
I will start by saying that The Herb Witches is pretty darn close to being a must have expansion for The Quacks of Quedlinburg. The only thing, to me, that stops this from being an absolute must have is the fact that the base game is still a ton of fun without it. There isn’t some part of the original Quacks of Quedlinburg game that just didn’t work that this expansion fixes. However, I will also say that I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want this expansion.
To break down why you want this expansion, I’m going to share my thoughts on each part of The Herb Witches in the order I used above.
Being able to play The Quacks of Quedlinburg with five players is cool and a welcome addition. My personal game group often goes up to five or six players on Sundays, so it’s great that I can now play my copy of Quacks with a larger group.
One warning though: adding a fifth player adds more playtime than you would expect. You might think that since most of Quacks can be played simultaneously, adding a player wouldn’t have much of an effect, but it does. This is due to things like AP (analysis paralysis) while shopping, doing math in your head, and just having to evaluate another pot for scoring, etc, at the end of each round.
Game length aside, adding a fifth player doesn’t change the game mechanically at all. Everything plays exactly the same and I appreciate that.
The new ingredient, Locoweed, is a nice addition to the game. I like having a wildcard ingredient in there that can also work as a catch up mechanic if using the rat tail recipe card.
One interesting thing about locoweed that you may not realize right away is the fact that it has no numeric value can actually be a hindrance. There are a number of ingredients that do things based on other tiles values and when you pull a locoweed for one of those that value maybe zero. For example, any locoweed in your overflow pot isn’t worth any points. An interesting side effect of this is that the value of locoweed in each game is going to be dependent on what the other recipes in play are.
While I know it seems like everyone else in the world loves the six value pumpkins, I’m not feeling that love myself. Six value Pumpkins are okay, but that’s it, to me. My problem with them is the cost, they are the most expensive ingredient in the game and often it seems like you would be better off buying two other ingredients rather than one of these. It’s all about the odds for me, but they can really pay off for those that take a chance.
Similar to the locoweed, the actual in game value of these new pumpkins will depend on what other ingredients are in play. If the number of pumpkins in your pot matters or if you have ingredients that base their worth on the value of other chips, these expensive ingredients become more appealing.
If I did want to remove any part of The Herb Witches expansion from my copy of Quacks these six value pumpkins would probably be the first to go. That said, I don’t actually mind the new pumpkins being in play and no one is forcing me to buy them, so I don’t see why I wouldn’t just leave them in.
The new Overflow Pots are neat and are a solid addition to Quacks. I really appreciated the physical design of these and how they slot onto the existing player boards.
As for gameplay, I enjoy the fact that something now happens when you reach the end of your pot other than just having to end your turn. While it always felt great getting to that point in the base game, it could be disappointing if you knew you had a lot more good stuff in your bag that you would never get to.
We did notice, after multiple plays, that the new ingredients and recipes in The Herb Witches, when combined with the witch powers do usually mean that everyone ends up with fuller pots, and I strongly recommend using Overflow Pots when using any of the other modules from The Herb Witches.
The actual new Herb Witches rules are my favourite part of this expansion. The witches’ abilities seem like a solid counterbalance to some of the randomness to be found in The Quacks of Quedlinburg. These witches are great for mitigating that one bad draw when despite playing the odds your chips just don’t want to play along. I also appreciate that these new options provide more ways to earn points that aren’t just based on what ingredients are in play and finding good combos.
The best part of the herb witches themselves is that they give all players more decision points and agency. Trying to figure out when is the best time to use the witches, or even deciding not to use them, is a welcome addition to the game.
Finally, we get to the new recipes for existing ingredients and all I can say is yes please, and more, please. Every recipe added to this game adds an exponential number of ingredient combinations making it even more replayable. With the sheer number of possible combinations, at this point, I don’t think you would ever have to play the same game of The Quacks of Quedlinburg twice.
Looking at the specific new recipes themselves, I found a mixed bag and that wasn’t unexpected. I think everyone who plays Quacks has their favourite ingredients and they don’t necessarily match with other players. Having more options gives you more to choose from and I think there’s going to be something here for everyone.
My personal favourite new recipe is for Ghost’s Breath (purple), specifically the one that gives you buying power based on what victory point spots your purples cover at the end of the round. While my wife loves the new Toadstool (red) recipe that lets you draw an extra chip that you don’t have to place right away but do have to place at some point that round.
Overall, The Herb Witches is a fantastic expansion for The Quacks of Quedlinburg. One that gives me everything I want from a board game expansion.
It gives me new ways to enjoy a game I already love and it also provides some simple, in game, fixes for some of the problems some players found with the original game. This expansion provides new catch up mechanics and more ways to mitigate the randomness found in this bag building board game.
Usually, when I get an expansion that features a number of modules you can mix and match, use or not use, there’s one or two I don’t like, a few I like and at least one I love and will never not use. That didn’t happen with The Herb Witches. There is nothing here that I truly don’t like. Since trying out the modules in The Herb Witches, I use all of them in every game I play. That is unless I’m playing with less than five players. Though I will admit, even in that case, someone usually chooses to play black over one of the original colours.
While the base game of The Quacks of Quedlinburg is fantastic and is a solid game on its own, I don’t see why anyone who enjoys Quacks wouldn’t want to own this expansion. If you own and enjoy The Quacks of Quedlinburg you should go out and pick up The Herb Witches expansion as soon as you get a chance.
The big question is in regards to people who don’t already own The Quacks of Quedlinburg.
While you can buy this expansion on its own you can also currently get it in one of two The Quacks of Quedlinburg bundle boxes. The first is The Quacks of Quedlinburg Big Box, which comes with the base game and The Herb Witches expansion. Then there’s also The Quacks of Quedlinburg Mega Box, which comes with the base game, The Herb Witches expansion, and The Alchemists expansion.
I recommend that anyone who is thinking of getting into Quacks start with at least the Big Box edition. I really do think that The Herb Witches expansion makes the base game better and will be worth it. As for the Mega Box which includes The Alchemist expansion, I’m not certain. While I have heard good things about The Alchemist expansion I have yet to try it myself.
Finally, there’s another group of people who may want to check The Herb Witches out, based on my wife’s updated opinion on The Quacks of Quedlinburg.
Deanna wasn’t a big Quacks fan. She knows I like it and the kids like it and our regular game group like it so she would play but, it was never a game she would recommend. That changed once we started playing with The Herb Witches.
Her main complaint with The Quacks of Quedlinburg was a lack of player agency. She found that The Herb Witches with its’ new ingredients, more options, and Herb Witch powers, gave her a sense of control she found missing from the original.
So if you played The Quacks of Quedlinburg and thought it was just okay, perhaps finding it too random, you may want to see if you can find a way to try it with The Herb Witches.
This expansion might just be what it takes for you to fall in love with The Quacks of Quedlinburg as much as my regular game groups have.
The Herb Witches expansion for The Quacks of Quedlinburg is my favourite kind of expansion. One that adds a number of new optional things to a game that I love, each of which enhances the base game and makes it more fun. Unlike many of these style of expansions, The Herb Witches really nails it, as I like every single one of the new gameplay modules and now always use all of them in all of my games of Quacks.
What’s an expansion for a game that you love that did everything right? Tell me all about it in the comments below!