Inside the Box: Compounded

February 19, 2014

Inside the Box is an in-depth look at the contents of a board game. It covers the quality, quantity, and aesthetic value of what is found inside the game box.

With a background in Chemical Engineering, I just couldn’t pass up a game about creating chemical compounds in a lab. Compounded was successfully funded through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter just over a year ago by Dice Hate Me Games. I wasn’t a backer, but I am thankful all of the stretch goals were achieved so that there is quite a bit of stuff in the box.

The box itself is rather plain looking: wood grain finish (that is supposed to be a lab bench) with the name of the game with just a little thematic flair.

A lot of components in this small box.

A lot of components in this small box.

Just looking at all of the components you really get a sense that you are about to do some chemistry! It’s not a rulebook; it’s a “Chemistry Textbook”. The 5 player boards are each players lab bench with 4 testtubes where they keep track of their experiments. There are lab goggle, Bunsen burner, graduated cylinder and dropper chits. I think my favorite component is the scoreboard:
The Periodic Table is also the score track.

The Periodic Table is also the score track.

And as great as it is, it isn’t the ideal score track. The first dozen points scored in the game get a little tricky to score just due to the way the periodic table is set up. And the end game is also a bit of a challenge. The game end can be triggered when someone scores 50+ points – with the final scores ending up higher than that, often into the Transition elements (57-71). The designers chose theme over function, but I’m OK with that.

Each player has wooden pieces with stickers to keep track of various in-game information. These tokens along with the chits are on the small side but are quite functional and are easy enough to use. My biggest complaint with the tokens would be the Flame Tokens. They are tiny! They are easily the smallest component that I have in any game. They measure 9mm (0.375 inches) in diameter. I grabbed a couple of relatively small tokens for a comparison.

The tiny red Flame Token

The tiny red Flame Token

The middle bottom component is a relatively large(!?) coin token from Small World. In the middle top is the rather ‘small’ single gold token from Jambo and even that looks big. It’s roughly the same size as “big” components in Compounded. The small components were not due to lack of space on the cardboard sheet. Those bits on the left side of the image – the ones much larger than the flame tokens – are advertisements for the company’s other games. So this was a choice and a bad one. Supposedly a future expansion may fix this issue, but I just don’t understand how this was overlooked. Fortunately it doesn’t hurt gameplay.

The elements to make your compounds are different colored plastic ‘gems’. While these gems are found in many board games as ‘gems’ for some reason they just work as atoms of a compound. You draw these elements out of a high quality black draw string bag and you’ll be placing them on the compound cards.

Watch out! Some of these are flammable.

Watch out! Some of these are flammable.

These are all real compounds with their chemical structure. They also show the ionic charges of the different atoms and you can learn how these bond together. As far as gameplay goes, the cards have a few symbols on them and a score value once they are complete. The symbols are a bit ambiguous at first but after a game or two they are easy enough to remember.

Overall, I’m really impressed with what’s inside the Compounded box. All of the components are of a very good quality. Sure, the score board is a minor inconvenience and the flame tokens are just too small, but the theme of the game really comes to life with the components. I look forward to using this game as a fun teaching tool for when my kids are old enough to learn about chemistry.

Washington’s War Session Report: The American Perspective, 1776-1777

October 11, 2011

This report will cover the next two years of the Washington’s War game between John and I.  The first two parts can be found here and here.

Year: 1776
American Hand: 3op, 3op, 3op, 2op, 1op, 1op, Minor Campaign
This time my hand is much better operations point-wise.  I again opt to go first to continue to act and hopefully force John to react.  But my first move is to put 3cu with Washingtonto try and recover from my big first turn mistake.  If I don’t reinforce Washington I risk Howe taking him out.  The mistake is quite costly.  I use the rest of my turn to place PC markers.

Near the end of the turn I move Lafayette and his 3cu to Fort Detroit to score an easy American victory.  The French alliance marker is now at 5.  The British meanwhile continue to slowly creep up from the south and take out Arnold on the way.  I’m not too worried about that though as the American troops just act as speed bumps in this game.

The end of the 1776

Year: 1777
American Hand: 3op, 2op, 2op, 1op, 1op, Minor Campaign, “Mad” Anthony Wayne, 2op
The Americans usually do better off when they aren’t aggressive militarily.  Just use the American forces to slow down the British advance.  However, with the French Alliance at 5 and the +2 drm battle card, all I am thinking is where is my next battle going to be!  I start by reinforcing the south by moving Arnold back into Virginia.

Then John starts hitting me with 2 consective plays of placing PC markers in 6 locations.  The board is getting red.  I start to look for ways to isolate those markers.  I see two spots and take one with a one op card.  Moving Lafayette to Genesee, NY, cuts off one British PC marker and it’s bait to set a trap for Carlton.

John doesn’t bite and instead sets his own by moving Burgoyne into Virginia.  I take my chances and attack with the help of “Mad” Anthony Wayne.  However, the British bring their Light Cavalry so it turns into a straight up die roll and I lose.  Losses are minimal though.  John continues to press north so I bring in Lincoln and 2cu into South Carolina to try to shake things up a bit and reclaim parts of the south.  The distraction seems to work as John brings in his reinforcements into the south.

With my last plays I try to position my armies to avoid too much isolation but it’s not looking good. But then The Gamecock: Thomas Sumter is discarded and I grab that to shore up any isolated PC markers in the south. I’m still feeling OK, but I think the tide is turning.