Review: Animalchemists - by @svsjboardgames

Review: Animalchemists - by @svsjboardgames

Brew potions and cast spells to see who is the most powerful of all!

Animalchemists deck

Jess and I love card games, we love animals and whilst we are probably indifferent towards alchemy, Animalchemists was always going to be a game we’d enjoy due to it’s pretty artwork, engaging theme, quick play-time and simple set up.

Take the role of animal alchemists (name didn’t fool you then?) and gather ingredients, craft potions and cast spells to become the most powerful of all! But beware as your opponents will play every trick in the book – or deck – to undermine and overtake you, keep your wits about you!

How the game works

The aim of this cute little card game is to score the most points from casting spells from various ingredients and potions.

Well, it’s so simple! On your turn you take one of three possible actions:

  1. Draw 2 ingredients from the ingredient row. You can select any two ingredients from the 5 available or draw blind from the deck if you don’t see what you want. Here you’ll find Mushrooms, Herbs, Honey, Seeds & Bones. Yummy!
  2. Use ingredients to craft potions. Each potion in the row will have a requirement of two ingredients in order to craft it. Use ingredients in your hand to create the potions Incense, Poison, Tonic, Essence or Extract.
  3. Use Potions/Ingredients to craft spells. These are worth between 5 and 15 points and require a varying number of ingredients/potions to craft.
Animalchemists deck 2Simple set-up: The top row contains the 5 ingredients available to choose from and is replenished from the ingredient deck. The middle row contains the 5 different potions you can create and the bottom row contains various spells that can be obtained by mixing potions and ingredients.

In addition to your action you can also use as many of your previously-crafted spells as you like. These have all sorts of nifty abilities which can give you extra benefits or scupper your opponents’ plans! Each spell can only be used once per game so plan them wisely!

A couple of examples of the spells in the deck. Confuse forces opponents to draw ingredients blindly from the deck and gives you 15 points. Disrupt forces everyone to pass an ingredient to the next player.

Once the spells deck runs out all the players tally up their tableau (you also score a small number of points for leftover ingredients/potions) and work out who has won!


As far as family friendly quick-play card games go, you really won’t do much better than Animalchemists. When we sat down to play it for the first time, Jess had learnt the rules and set the game up. The iconography and layout of the cards was so simple that I was genuinely able to guess the rules of the game without her explaining it. We’ve reviewed some easy-to-learn games in the past but this one definitely wins the award. You’ll be playing within 5 minutes of opening the game for the first time.

On the face of it the Animalchemists gameplay is quite simplistic- two ingredients make a potion, two potions make a spell, spells give you points. What adds the extra layer of strategy and intrigue is the abilities of the spells. These can give a player the edge as playing one at the right time can block off an opponent or gain you extra ingredients. Each player also has a character which has a special ability. These, like the spells, can only be played once in the game.

It’s also extremely diddy, it’s the size of a deck of cards so is perfect for travelling or if you’re away on holiday and you need some smaller games to take with you. And at only 15 minutes play time it doesn’t outstay its welcome on the table either. Our favourite kind of game night is one where we can rattle through 5 or 6 different games so this makes a perfect opener/closing game!

Obviously it’s on the simple side so replayability isn’t huge here – you are going through the entire spell deck each time you play so the only variability is the character abilities you use, but that doesn’t make it any less of a fun game to play.

We’d say that 2-3 players is the sweet spot for Animalchemists, because there’s not a huge amount of player interaction (short of players taking cards you want before you get the chance, and some of the spell effects), there is a little more downtime with higher player counts. Having said that the turns are still pretty quick so as long as you don’t have anyone who takes ageeeees making a decision you should be absolutely fine 

My final tableau of spells, potions and ingredients. It’s possibly too small to see, but I scored 50 points from my six spells, 3 points for my remaining Incense potion and 3 points for my 3 remaining ingredients. Still got battered by Jess though.

And of course it’s worth mentioning the artwork is good too, even if you’re not drawn in by the artwork on the box, the cards are sure to please the eye, it’s a very nice game to play. Some of the cards have slightly reflective elements as well which is a really nice touch.

Overall we loved playing Animalchemists and if you enjoy light, quick card games and enjoy quirky cute artwork then this game is for you!


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