Black Handed Henry's Potion Party is Ninja Division and Soda Pop Miniatures' latest card-game. From the same company that brought the likes of Karate Fight! and the hilariously fantastic Dead Fellas comes the tale of 2 to 4 alchemists attempting to recreate the great Captain Henry's potions. Ripe with "resource gathering" and Sabotage, Black Handed Henry's Potion Party is an enjoyable experience best played with three other friends.
The rules are actually quite simple; roll a series of dice (in fact they are the Super Dungeon dice, so if you happen to have Super Dungeon Explore as I do, then you will have plenty of dice to go around) in hopes of gathering enough "resources" to create the chose potion. Depending on how you roll you will gather "resources" or rather, Sapphire Stardust, Ruby Stardust, Emerald Stardust, Darkness or Alchemy. Depending on the objective that was selected at the beginning of the game, classified as "Simple" or "Complex," players will want to aim for collecting the appropriate resources. The first player to collect all of the resources wins the round.
The "Simple" potions have objectives like gathering 10 Ruby Stardust and 11 Sapphire Stardust and while it seems simple, when you take into account the act of Sabotage, things can be quite tricky and prolong what would normally be a short game. The "Complex" potions, such as the Soul Jar objective, require 15 Ruby Stardust, 16 Sapphire Stardust, 2 Heart Alchemy, 2 Potion Alchemy, 5 Darkness and 1 Emerald Sapphire.
On average games that we played last as short as 15-20 minutes to nearly an hour and a half (admittedly after 1.5 hours of play on a complex potion we lost interest as it felt like there was no end to the sabotage mixed with the incredibly high number of resources required). Oddly enough those games with only two players lasted far longer than those with four; likely due to games with two players was a back-and-forth roll-sabotage-roll situation that had things seemingly last forever; limiting Sabotages to only a handful (via "house "rules) sped things up a bit.
Prior to starting up a game the players will need to choose from 8 alchemists. Each alchemist has a unique skill or buff that, when played right can mean the difference between victory or defeat. Some Alchemists, like the Kobold Pyrotechnician with its incredibly nasty skill (when the Kobold uses Sabotage all other Alchemists loose one Stardust) are incredibly powerful and can be a bit too much at times, but overall there is balance among the various Alchemists. Though Sabotage is one of the particular skills, others have buffs that force the player rolling the dice to re-roll or a buff that allows the player to re-roll half of their hand. These little buffs or boons can significantly reduce the effectiveness of an opponent while boosting your own resource gathering.
Though longer games can become a chore depending on your company, Black Handed Henry's Potion Party is an excellent hybrid dice game. Incorporating the need to gather "resources" to complete an objective into a game that is largely chance that also awards players the ability to essentially screw a lucky player is brilliant if at times infuriating (what card or board game is not hyper competitive? Have you ever played Monopoly?). With Holiday 2016 here, Black Handed Henry's Potion Party is a must-have for a quick, or not-so-quick, game of alchemical chance.
Soda Pop Miniatures
Review by Robert