Science is one of those things you don’t mess with unless you’ve got a formal qualification. Nothing good ever comes of playing with science. It doesn’t play nicely. Hollywood and the likes have evidenced that! You know those science films, where you’ve got the mad scientist bloke screaming maniacally whilst standing over a strange figure on a table and inevitably everything goes wrong? Well, there’s always going to be that follow up moment of “whoops!” in the story, that moment of clarity and clear sight, that moment when you realise you messed up. And so they deny everything, and let’s face it, you can’t blame them. They don’t want to take credit for that strange, 6 legged beast leaking it’s fluids on the floor, they’ve never seen it before in their life! That denial is Weird Alchemy in a nutshell. The game is designed by Clever Unicorn Games and beautifully illustrated by Juan Moore.
Before we get started, the copy we played was a prototype, prerelease copy and therefore may be subject to change pending release!
How It’s Played
You play as an alchemist, all be it a bad one, who has accidentally created some questionable beasts and no longer wishes to take care of them. The best way to avoid credit? Dump someone else with the blame, as any good scientist should!
Weird Alchemy is a hand management/ake that game where each turn you play a Pass card, pass cards, and draw a card. Who you pass to is dependent on the Pass card and what you pass is going to determine your likelihood of success. (Think about each turn like a game of hot-potato but with a hideous monstrosity instead.) But be warned! You can only hide these creeps for so long… If you draw an accident, all your hard work may be ruined – the golden rule of the game is to have no alchemical abominations in your hand when an ‘accident’ is drawn. When one is drawn, all alchemists must show their hands and be held responsible for the creatures they have, these are then kept on the table as a demonstration of their current score. There are only 10 creatures in the game so revealing one is pretty bad, but revealing two is terrible. Luckily! Alchemists are wise (sometimes) and have other concoctions and creations to help them. There are a number of magic cards to help them deny, hide or move their beasts when an accident occurs, although some may be far less helpful than others!
An interesting twist from the game is that, by doing the worst, you also have a good chance to win. Monsters come in sets of three, indicated by a colour on their card. Having a mixed bag of monsters is a terrible thing and makes you a shocking alchemist. Having three of the same colour variety is brilliant as they do not score against you! Moreover, if you have all three colour sets, you automatically win! Good stuff, right? Well… Maths here does you no favours; ten monsters split into three sets leaves one left over. That beast isn’t one you’d want to claim ownership over, ever, and is not part of a colour set!
What We Thought
What we truly loved in this game was the artwork and the speed of play. The artwork is incredibly gorgeous. Stunning. Fits perfectly in the theme of the playful, medieval, alchemical antics of the game. The folk of the olden days had no clue how to science, and the alchemists who obsessed over making stuff into gold made no successes. Whatever these alchemists were trying to do clearly went sideways as well – although they’re not tremendously hideous, they’re not the ideal result!
The pace of the game made it very appealing as well. The accidents are shuffled in randomly so there’s no telling when you’ll need to reveal your cards, meaning you also need to be aware of where you’re sending your abominations! Before you know it the game will be over, the points will be totted, and you’ll play again! We played 3 times consecutively; once to get a feel and two more times because I couldn’t stand losing, but it didn’t feel like we were playing because it played so quickly! It meant there was no drag, no time for complaints and you were always needing to keep what was happening fresh in your mind.
Should You Be Excited?
We think so, yes! The game is incredibly accessible and was quick to pick up and learn. It’s not supposed to last for ages and it doesn’t ever leave you questioning your turn or the next event. The beautiful artwork coupled with the allowance of easy to understand tactics make for a quick but gorgeous game. You are made to be aware of the next steps, the process and the consequences, meaning that luck of the draw is no excuse for hideous abominations!
If you want to know more then check out Clever Unicorn Games’s Facebook or Twitter. Keep an eye out for this one on the 6th July, we will be!