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Potion Slingers

Designed by Anthony Fasano, Potion Slingers is a light-hearted combat card game where the 2-4 players are throwing potions at each other to deplete their opponents' health. Players each start off with a set number of 'essence' cubes depending on the number of players, and each essence cube represents 10 health. When health on your tracker is reduced to zero, you lose that essence cube. The game can be played in 'elimination mode' (winner is last player left standing) or 'capture mode', where you collect an opponent's essence cube when it is reduced to zero and the winner is the first player to collect/capture 7 cubes.

Players each have a character card that shows their unique abilities. These tarot-sized cards are double-sided and they are flipped when the condition indicated on the card is met. The flip side of each character card gives you different abilities. Some of the characters come with unique artefacts.

Potion Slinger is mainly tho' about using the potion cards, vessel cards and artefact cards. Players each start with two basic potions, a vessel and an artefact. There's a market display that always shows three potion cards and three vessel and/or artefact cards. The game uses a deck building mechanic: each turn a player has 6 'pips' to spend on cards. You can sell cards to add to the number of pips you have available, and you'll need to do this in order to have a chance of acquiring more powerful cards that have a cost of >6 pips. You don't get to carry forward unspent pips, so even tho' items sell for less than their purchase price, it usually makes sense to spend all your pips, even if it means buying an item you don't really want because at least that can be sold in a future round as a backdoor way of carrying pips forward. The game includes a 10-sided die for the purpose of tracking the pips you have available to spend, tho' in our plays at Board's Eye View we found we didn't really need this.

Cards you buy go to the top of your draw pile, and the first action you take on your turn is to 'put cards in your holster'. This means drawing cards from your deck so that you have four cards in your tableau. Note tho' that potion cards can be loaded into vessels or artefacts, in which case they are stacked and so don't count against the four card limit.

Aside from spending pips to acquire more cards, whichever mode you're playing you'll obviously be using your cards to attack other players. As the game's title suggests, you can sling potions at an opponent. These dish out the damage indicated on the card. You don't get the potion back: it goes to a central discard/trash pile. You can load a potion into an artefact, in effect as ammunition or fuel. When the artefact is used, it does the damage indicated on the artefact card; the artefact remains in your holster but the potion is expended and so is lost to the trash pile. You also have the option of loading two potions into a vessel. When you throw the vessel, the damage done is the combined amount of both potions and there may be an extra amount of damage caused by the vessel provided you've used potions that meet that vessel's specific requirements. When you throw the vessel, the vessel itself is lost to the trash but the potions are recycled to the bottom of your draw pile.

Whichever mode you play, Potion Slinger games have a distinct game arc. Games invariably start off quite slowly: your starter items are weak and have zero resale value so players are initially just slinging potions and/or vessels imposing just one or two points of damage and they are only slowly acquiring stronger potions and vessels from the market because they initially only have 6 pips to spend per turn. It's only after the game is several turns in that players are able to sell items to increase the pips they can spend and so put together more powerful combos of potions and vessels. It's at that point that the game hots up; players will all be dishing out more damage and you'll also have more meaty choices to take over when to sell cards, and when and how to use combos to best effect.

There are so many cards that once you get going and access the cards and combos with special effects, no two games are ever likely to play the same way. Nevertheless, the rules offer several suggestions for optional rule variants and they invite players to come up with their own. Capture mode works especially well with three or four players. We've especially enjoyed Potion Slingers as a two-player combat game in elimination mode but to make it a tad more visceral, we've played using Nerf guns - firing at each other whenever we sling a potion. Somehow it seems in keeping with the spirit of the game.

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