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We've been playing a bit of the excellent (and silly) Elixir, but we often end up with long periods of inactivity. When players are unable to cast spells, we have several rounds where all players draw their card and then pass, since they don't have the right ingredients. This can go on for some time.

We've tried doubling the draw rate so players pick up more ingredients - this seems to work, but might unbalance some of the "draw X cards" magic items.

Is this a problem others have encountered? Are there any official or well-tested solutions - do any of the expansions (which we haven't tried) address this problem?

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Yes, others have encountered this problem. At least one poster on BGG (Tim, it isn't you, is it?), posted that the game drags and proposed a Draw 2 Variant.

No, there is no official variant to my knowledge. No variants are listed in the rule books for Elixir or any of it's three expansions. No variants are listed on the designers websites.

I am not sure precisely how your Draw 2 cards/finds is a better solution to just drawing 1 card and passing. You only pass half as often (since you are drawing 2), but how long does it take to Draw 1 and Pass in the first place? How much time are you actually saving?

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Heh, no, it's not me. But I did think about registering to reply to that post ;) –  Timothy Jones Apr 10 '12 at 5:45
    
The purpose of draw-two isn't necessarily to speed up the game time, it's to speed up the time between any player actions (to prevent players getting bored with the constant passing)- if players pick more cards each turn, they are be more likely to be able to cast a spell, or will be able to participate in (or start) transactions more often. However, even draw-two still has long pauses. –  Timothy Jones Apr 10 '12 at 6:04
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