1. Each player receives a Desk board and places it in front of himself, leaving some space both above and below it.
2. The player that most recently prepared a drink is the first player and takes the First Player token. This is just a reminder: it won’t change during the game. Players play in turns, in clockwise order.
3. Take all the Potion tiles and remove 2 of the 8 different kinds of Potions, either randomly or by choice, and put them back into the box (they won’t be used during the game).
For your first few games, I suggest you to leave out the Balm of Uttermost Stickiness and Filter of Lavamancing potions. Only the most talented potion brewers possess the necessary expertise to handle them!
4. From the 6 remaining kinds of Potion tiles, take 2 random starter Potion tiles (marked with the symbol ) per player, and lay them out in the middle of the table, with the Recipe side (the one with the grey ribbon) facing up. Starting from the First Player and proceeding clockwise, each player takes one Starter Potion tile. Once all players have taken 1 Potion tile, each player takes a second Starter Potion tile, starting with the last player and proceeding counterclockwise.
5. Each player places their 2 starter Potion tiles, with their Recipe side up, on the two Bunsen burners of their Desk. This will be their Brewing area.
6. Once all the players have chosen their Starter Potion tiles, shuffle the remaining tiles together and divide them into 5 stacks, with the Recipe side facing up.
7. Put all the Ingredient marbles in the “tank” of the Dispenser, and make sure they roll down to completely fill the 5 tracks of the slide (see Refilling the Dispenser).
8. Place all the Little Help tokens and the Skill tokens near the Dispenser. Put some of the Skill tokens in a “countdown” stack (see End of Game). The number of Skill tokens to be put in this stack depends on the number of players:
2 players: 4 Skill tokens
3 players: 5 Skill tokens
4 players: 6 Skill tokens
You’re ready to go!