Adam P. McIver
*This quick review is adapted from this series of tweets: https://twitter.com/ad7m/status/393400934317166592
Right up front, it's good!
The Darrell Louder and Christopher Kirkman signature polish is all over Compounded. Incredible graphic design and iconography throughout. The rulebook is remarkably well laid out and easy to digest. Win conditions right up front, which I think more rules should do. Compounded's theme is incredibly strong, with every game mechanic & design choice reinforcing it.
Best. Chemistry. Game. Ever.
Gameplay is VERY accessible. It could easily act as a gateway game. The turns flow quickly, with very little player downtime.
Compounded has a very good balance of strategy, tactics, randomness, and negotiation. A little bit of something for everyone. The interaction between the four "experiments" is really nice. It's a great intro to tech trees for new gamers. Lab fires are a nice push-your-luck-style element, but not so risky or destructive as to ruin your game when they occur.
There are plenty of choices to make at all times in Compounded, but they never come across as overwhelming. At times you'll want to collaborate with your opponents, a second later you'll want to swipe an unclaimed compound from them. Compounded really shines when players embrace the negotiation aspect of the game, making shrewd deals and shaky agreements.
The only complaint I have is the size of some of the components & type on them. (Graphic designers love tiny letters - guilty!) One sight-impaired group member always gripes at the type size in my designs, & I have a feeling he'd have trouble with this. I kindof want to swallow the candy-like components, and they're small enough that I could probably do so without much trouble!
Overall, I really enjoyed Compounded. Darrell has created a game that truly feels unlike any other I've ever played. Dice Hate Me Games is by far the best of the Kickstarter-era publishers, and I see Compounded in my collection for a very long time.
My Rating: 7/10
Fits right in the sweet spot between a warmup game and an all-night meaty game session.