Card Game Review: Chaos & Alchemy

Chaos & Alchemy is brilliantly simple and chaotically fun. I’m going to front-load my review, then talk more about it below.

In Chaos & Alchemy, you play an alchemist in the employ of the king. Each turn, you perform experiments, gathering resources and working against fate itself to turn lead into gold.

The deck consists of reactions, actions, innovations and misfortunes. At the beginning of your turn, you perform an Experiment by rolling three dice, aiming to match or roll higher than the Fortune Die. Any that match or exceed are Successes, others are Failures. Failures force you to discard cards, while successes allow you to draw and play cards.

At any point, if you roll matching numbers on your Experiment dice, Chaos erupts, forcing you to reroll the Fortune die. This can make success more difficult to achieve, or easier, depending on how fate swings. First person to 10 points turns lead to gold and wins!

This game has an incredibly small print run, only 125. Each is hand-assembled by Michael (the designer) and, I’m guessing, his wife. Contained in a very sturdy cardboard box, the game actually looks really great. Good graphic design on the cover, accompanied by the gorgeous cover art make you want to pop it open and play.

The cards look really good, with great design. Some of the card art itself is really good, while other pieces are hit-and-miss, but none of them stand out as bad, really.

The quality of the cards is nice. They’re all nice and sturdy, with smooth, rounded edges. I hate it when card games have sharp edges, as they’re prone to getting smashed up. The game also comes with a good quantity of dice, so you won’t be lacking.

Bridget and I sat down, and pretty quickly got the gist of the rules. While she normally doesn’t like to have a lot of backstabbing and throat-cutting in games, she immediately hopped onboard and was stealing innovations from me, placing hexes and forcing me to throw cards into the discard pile. The game came very, very close, with both of us sitting at 9 points. A last minute success when she rolled all successes on her final experiment gave her the ability to leap ahead and win the game.

This is definitely a game we’ll be playing again. I plan on having a card game night soon, and will be pulling this one out for everyone to try.

Michael, you’ve knocked this game out of the park, and I hope we see a second print-run soon.

Full Disclosure: Michael sent me a free copy of this game in the mail for review.

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