Lab Partners

Lab Partners is a quick and easy game of assembling chemical combinations and testing them by "experimenting" (rolling dice) and then using multiple compounds to attempt to deliver products and claim points and special powers. It's easy enough to be played by families but the tactics of choosing which powers to go for could interest some serious players.

On your turn, you first draw three cards, Ticket to Ride style (you can choose from three face up cards or "go random" off the top of the deck). Choose cards to add to your compound and roll dice to see if it succeeds - if not, it could explode and you'll lose all but one of the cards. Add a card of each color ((1 stabilizer, 1 or more reagent card, and 1 catalyst card) to create a compound:

TTG_moleculecard1_al_v5_rgb.jpg     TTG_moleculecard2_flouro_rgb.jpg    TTG_moleculecard1_zine_rgb.jpg

In this example we've created "alflourozine," (which as usual for this game is not a real chemical, but is still worth 8 points if you succeed in rolling at least an 8).  If you want to press your luck you can use multiple "reagent" (yellow) cards in a compound to try for more points. Your "partners" (the other players) can add their own reagent cards to your attempt, possibly foiling you - or possibly giving you additional points if you succeed anyway!

Once you have at least two compounds, you can attempt to combine them to form a "solution" and claim points or special powers. Each solution has a target range you must roll within. Roll too low and the chemical is inert - your turn ends, try again next time. Roll too high and boom! lose one of your compounds.  Here are some example solutions:


On the cards above, you can see a beaker with a threshold (5-8 and 4-8 respectively). If the player rolls between those numbers, they score all the chemicals they used to create this "solution" and earn money (victory points) based on that. Additionally, they earn the power indicated on the bottom of those cards.

Lab Partners aims for a sweet spot that is not too hard to learn and play, but that a range of people might enjoy. The choosing of cards for your compounds seems of lesser importance - as long as you have one of each color you can try for a compound. Which solutions to go for is the more "Gamery" part of the game. By choosing well (and rolling well), you can increase your ability to succeed in future. The down side of this is the game could potentially reward a "runaway leader" who does better and better, and the rich get richer. Luckily it's a short game and so having lots of luck in the game is not a huge problem - you could always just play again.

The game will mostly appeal to families with kids, who will get a real kick out of rolling successfully (or thwarting their opponents with a surprise additional card - or getting additional points from a card played on THEM!) There's otherwise not a lot of interaction in the game, although you can trade cards 1-to-1 with other players. It will especially appeal to kids with an interest in science. The game does not claim to be educational, but it offers a "sciencey" experience. The creators of the game tell me they have some expansion ideas in the works that could up the complexity and enhance the appeal to experienced gamers.

Lab Partners is on Kickstarter soon! I will update this entry when the campaign is live.