Herald's Call

I am an historical archaeologist and a linguist by training, a retail expat, and a writer. Gaming keeps me sane. This blog (my first) will be a place to chronicle my escapades (in gaming, in writing, and in life). Welcome! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and feel free to stay awhile. Cheers, Rachel/Herald Selenay
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First Impressions - Explosion in the Laboratory

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and historical archaeologist
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And we're off to the races! Weird Giraffe's newest game and first microgame has gone live on Backerkit! And perhaps the best news of all- this campaign marks the return of Fire in the Library, one of my most favorite solo games.

So what's the new game all about, you ask. Well, it's actually the prequel to Fire in the Library AND I count myself very lucky that I was able to put a preview copy of Explosion in the Laboratory through its solo paces before sending it on to another previewer. To be clear, I got to play a preview copy with the expectation that I would play and review. My opinions are very much my own.

From gallery of Herald Selenay

Explosion in the Laboratory: Quick Facts
Designer: Corey Andalora
Publisher: Weird Giraffe Games
Players: 1-4
Play time: 15-25 Minutes
Campaign Link: https://www.backerkit.com/c/weird-giraffe-games/explosion-in...

From gallery of Herald Selenay

Look how tiny the new game is?!? For scale, that's the Fire in the Library: Technology microexpansion.

Premise: You and your fellow chemists are mixing up rather combustible concoctions. Try and score the most points, without blowing yourself (and the lab) up too much, after all there's a Library next door whistle.

What this boils down to: A cute, quick-playing, push-your-luck 27-card game tiny enough to slip in your pocket or in your purse. Seriously, it's tiny!

The Cards:

For a 27-card game, there are a few different types of cards.

Process Cards:
From gallery of Herald Selenay

Lab Cards:
From gallery of Herald Selenay

From gallery of Herald Selenay

And the Beakers:
From gallery of Herald Selenay

Solo Push-your-luck Fun:

Since most of my physical plays these days are solo, that's what my focus was on with Explosion in the Laboratory.

In the solo mode, you are playing against a Robot Opponent rather than a second player. If you score more points than the bot, you win! The Robot's Turn is very simple and you can adjust the difficulty a bit if you find yourself winning too often.

Play Time:

From gallery of Herald Selenay

Setup is a breeze. The Robot Player goes first. The total number of flammable icons on the row of Beakers tells you which Lab Card the Robot will select a chemical from.

From gallery of Herald Selenay

In this example, there is one flammable icon. It's on the bottom edge of the second beaker, so we'll be looking at Lab Card #1.

Shuffle and Draw the Lab Cards in a Row. The first # on left side of first card is added to the # on the right side of the rightmost Lab Card. The total tells you which test tube the Robot gets. Look at it and the two chemicals after it. Then consult the Robot's Turn guide in the Rules. The combination of chemcals tells you what the Robot gets to score this turn.

From gallery of Herald Selenay

X doesn't count. So the Robot selects the Red test tube "3" , along with the blue and yellow chemicals after it. Red, blue, and yellow means that the Robot scores the Beaker with the highest index value and the associated research points. In this case the Robot scores 4 points for the Purple Beaker having the highest index value and 3 research points (the value in the black star on the Beaker's edge,).

Then, you get your turn. You get to select chemicals the same way the Robot does, by drawing and consulting the Lab Cards. However, you get to pour your chemicals into Flasks. You can only have three active flasks in a given turn, so you need to be careful. Especially since some chemicals are really explosive .

From gallery of Herald Selenay

Mess-making in the Lab.

Different combinations of colors score you different points and can even allow you to score Beakers (more points). When you (or the Robot) score a Beaker, you turn the Beaker to the next position. Play continues with the player (Robot or human) with the lowest score. The turn order kind of reminds me of Tokaido. Play continues until one of the Beakers shows an "x" as its index value on the bottom edge. Highest score wins.

From gallery of Herald Selenay

Game over.

First Impressions:

I love this little game. That said, I wish the artwork tied in better to Fire in the Library, especially since Explosion in the Laboratory is being cast as the prequel to Fire. However, the Lab Cards are what make Explosion tick and I really don't see how you could fit potion bottles onto the cards. Perhaps the test tubes are the best solution after all... I have two other wishes 1) a solo mode player aid printed on a card and 2) a score tracker or sheet. Since you're constantly checking what a chemical solution triggers the Robot to do, having a key printed on a card (instead of just in the rules) would be super useful. As for keeping track of scores, I just kept scratch paper handy.

Stay tuned for more explosions and fiery fun throughout the week.

Happy Tuesday and happy playing!
- Rachel

Thank you for reading my blog. If you liked it; then please click the green thumb Microbadge: You know what they say about guys with big hands... They give big thumbs! at the top of the page. If you really liked it; then please subscribe.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy by Weird Giraffe Games to preview the game. My opinions are my own.
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