It always seems that no matter what happens, if you get too deeply involved into alchemy, bad things happen. It’s this fascinating old wives’ tale that must have been started by Moirai themselves during a period of downtime, because the damn idea just won’t go away. It’s captivated people’s imagination for thousands of years, from ancient writers, through Shakespeare and Chaucer, to Mary Shelley, right on to H.P. Lovecraft and J.K. Rowling. It’s spun off all sorts of stories in video games, movies, and TV shows, not to mention a popular manga/anime franchise.
Part of the allure is that it’s ever so simple, so enticing, and just, just out of reach of real science. There’s merely that small gap in the equation missing that needs filling in.
A small gap that’s been explored in real life and in fiction for centuries.
Many have failed in their attempts. Perhaps then, in Chaos & Alchemy, we’ll finally achieve that ultimate goal….
Okay, probably not, but it’s still worth trying.
Chaos & Alchemy is a light filler card and dice game that wants players to be the first alchemist to turn lead into gold. But as we’ve all come to expect, if it were that easy, someone would have figured it out by now. Perhaps that’ll be you.
Each player is given a handful of dice and a couple cards from a deck that represents their current proto-science options. Players take turns conducting an “Experiment” by rolling a set of dice and hoping to have each of them match or beat the Fortune die in the middle of the table. The Fortune die represents that unpredictable, uncontrollable nature of the work you’re doing.
They then total the number of their success dice (plus a freebie success) and the number of failed dice. Each success allows them to either draw a card or play a card from their hand. Each failure forces you to discard a card.
The idea is to get as many Innovation cards out into your Laboratory area as possible, as the first player to end their end their turn with ten points in their Laboratory area wins. Some cards are good, like Innovations with some potent powers, or Action cards that net you extra benefits. Some cards are bad, like Rival and Misfortune cards; you play those on other alchemists to stymie their progress.
Chaos & Alchemy has cards like this:
And it’s looking to turn them into cards like this (possibly through alchemy):
As with all things thaumaturgy, however, it’s not that simple. That Fortune die? The one that has a say over one’s odds? Yeah, that changes fairly frequently. Sometimes it’ll be from your own cards; sometimes it’ll be the result of another player. Just as common, though, is when Chaos is rolled.
Chaos is the game’s term for Yahtzee-like results. If you roll doubles, two sets of doubles, or all of the same number, the Fortune die changes. Sure, you have the choice of whether you wish to take your turn before or after it will be cast, but change it will. This keeps the game from getting too bogged down in pesky things like long-term strategy.
Chaos & Alchemy is an interesting mix: it’s a classic dice game with a lot of Munchkin-esque “screw your neighbor” effects. Maybe they lose some Innovations. Maybe you steal them instead. Who knows what the Fortune die will bring?
The game generally has some downtime between players, as with most dice games, but it’s otherwise a quick, random, easy to learn jaunt into the world where magic and science meet. It won’t win awards for complexity, and victory is anything but assured, but it certainly can be fun trying. If you’re up for attempting to turn lead into gold – and hassle your friends in the process – head on over to their Kickstarter.