Wanna Be Kickstartin’ Somethin’: Wrong Chemistry by @magecompany
Wrong Chemistry, by Mage Company and available for funding on Kickstarter right now, is ostensibly about chemistry (you might have guessed as much). It’s not, though. Not really. It’s really an abstract, brain-burning two-player puzzle game about move optimization played on a seven hex board. It is, at first, a deceptively simple game. On each turn you have four moves. With each move you can remove an existing white or black game piece, move a yellow hex to a different spot (the middle, blue hex doesn’t move), or place a white or black game piece back on the board. If you can make the board match one of the cards in your hand (you have four at a time), then you get to score it by playing it in front of you. Harder configurations are worth more points and the game ends when you are out of cards. Once per turn, you can also reset the board back to its default position and you can always trade a previously scored card for three more moves.
What really caught my eye about Wrong Chemistry, however, is that there is a free print-and-play version of the game available on the Kickstarter page (Edit: This no longer appears to be available.). The game is very little trouble to assemble (a few sheets of cards and seven hexes; I used nickels and pennies for the playing pieces). Within a few minutes I had a game set up and ready to play.
|Wrong Chemistry all set up and ready to play.|
It looks pretty simple, but it definitely made my head hurt a little. You only have four cards in your hand and you only have four moves a turn, so you really have to work on optimizing your moves for that turn. Early in the game, I have found (in my admittedly very brief play experience) it might be good to dump high-point, difficult cards in favor of trying to draw some one and two point cards that can be paid for extra moves to play high-point cards later. It creates a pretty interesting economy that way.
|A few turns in.|
Still, I found long-term planning (other than the aforementioned attempt to set up my hand) hard because the game board can be reset every turn by each player. This makes it even more important that you make sure you are doing the very best moves possible given the cards in your hand. If you are prone to analysis paralysis (which is to say, you tend to take too long thinking about your hand), you might even need a chess clock or something similar to stop people from taking really long turns. This is an issue faced by many strategy games, so I wouldn’t count it against Wrong Chemistry, at any rate. Also, while the luck of the draw lightens the game up enough that it may be a little less intimidating for newer or less experienced players, it may frustrate those that come from ‘pure strategy’ games like Go and Chess, where the only variable outside your control is your opponent (although you have perfect information about what your opponent can do).
Wrong Chemistry is up for Kickstarting now and is currently a little short of its goal of $8,500. If you are even a little interested, I would definitely encourage you to give the print-and-play version a spin to see if it is something you would like.