Potion Explosion Game Review (CMON)


Potion Explosion is one of those classics that we pull out when we can't figure out what to play and want to play something fast. Despite this, every time I play it it occurs to me that there are certain things that we didn't think about, and that the game is actually more complex than it seems. Potion Explosion is a pattern matching game in which players are pulling colored marbles in an attempt to craft the right potions. Potions themselves give you special abilities, which you can use to control the types of marbles you get.

Game Details

Players: 2 to 4

Game Time: 45 Minutes

Age: 14+

Genre: Pattern / Strategy

How is Potion Explosion Played?

Players are able to select one marble from a tray filled with random marbles. If marbles of the same color touch, it "explodes," giving you those marbles as well. So if you have a red, blue, red pattern,  you can take the "blue" marble and the two red will connect, giving you two "red" as well. If the pattern was yellow, red, blue, red, yellow, you would also get the yellow marbles. If the pattern was yellow, red, blue, red, black, you would not get the yellow and black marbles.

From there, the marbles go into the colored slots on the potion bottles. It's that simple. The potions, however, add a level of complexity, because they can give you special abilities such as stealing marbles from another person or using marbles in a differently colored slot. 

Each completed potion has a victory point score. Players continue until all special award tokens have been given out, which are distributed by creating three potions of the same type (there are six types in each game) or creating one each of a different type.

How Does Potion Explosion Look?

This game is probably the shoddiest made game that I enjoy. Everything about this game is just joyfully crappy, from the box that falls apart immediately after you put it together, to the marbles that aren't just weirdly colored but often different sizes entirely. The cardboard potion bottles are just slim enough that marbles regularly fly out of them, and they're irregularly shaped as well, making them difficult to randomize. 

It all kind of has the hectic feel of a dangerous laboratory, and absolutely none of it detracts from the experience of playing the game. If anything, the third time a marble flies off into nowhere is a welcome distraction from the fact that someone just stole your last black marble. 

What's in the Box?
1 slide dispenser * 1 bag of marbles * 4 player mats * 1 active player token * achievement tokens * ask for help tokens * six types of potion bottle

How Does Potion Explosion Feel?

Potion Explosion makes you feel like a kid again. Or like an adult with Candy Crush loaded. It's a bit baffling that it's recommended for 14+, as it's a solid game for young children. If anything, it would encourage them to learn about pattern recognition. Though the game itself is straightforward, you can pull off some very complex moves with the aid of your potion abilities.

The only negative to the game is that you'll spend a lot of time looking up potions when you're learning it. They aren't intuitively labeled: the "potion of lavamancing" removes up to five of the same color marble, for instance. There's no way to intuit that from looking at the potion itself (even the symbols aren't helpful), and many people will find themselves completely forgetting what their potions do from time to time. 

Potion Explosion Game Review

PRO: Easy to pick up and start playing right away, while strategic enough to get better at it over time.

CON: The marbles get absolutely everywhere and the slide dispenser is neither random nor well-made.