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Subject: Compounded - A Five-point Review rss

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Sean May
South Korea
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Draw elements from a bag and use them to complete compound cards. Completed cards give points and bonuses such as levelling up the amount of elements you can draw, store and place. Player with the most points after someone passes 50 is the winner.

Aesthetics: 7

There are a couple of things I really like about Compounded's look. First is the plastic gem tokens that represent elements – they just have a crisp, colourful look to them. Another great thing is the scoreboard: it's a periodic table of the elements. Otherwise, the game's appearance is on the dull side – lots of grey and plain white. This does match the theme, I suppose, but it still should be possible to make a more visually engaging game without sacrificing its intellectual rigour.

Gameplay: 7

It's a set-collection game. Pulling the element tokens out of the bag is a simple physical pleasure, but the meat of the game is deciding which compounds to go for: do you want to go for points? or level up your ability to do something? or block an opponent? or get some other bonus?

The game flows pretty well and it's very satisfying to upgrade your 'experiments' – the game's term for being able to draw, store and place tokens – but it's a little rough around the edges. The rules don't make it clear exactly how many special bonus tokens should be in the game. Trading never seems happen much in my games. Lab fires are always an anticlimax – they're supposed to make semi-complete compounds explode and shoot elements everywhere, but this never happens. The rules are not organised especially well. The rules say play to 50 points – but scoreboard goes up to about twice that.

Interest: 7.5

I like the theme of this game and am generally always happy to play it, but it is really quite dry. I understand that scientists around the world may be racing to complete research ahead of their peers, but Compounded is set in a single laboratory, so it seems a bit weird to be competing against your colleagues. There is a module included in the game where you can collaborate with other players on more complex compounds, and that makes it a little more co-operative.

Also, do scientists generally obtain their raw materials randomly and in tiny quantities? Possibly from a black bag?

Fun: 6

I wish I enjoyed this game more, but it is often an exercise in waiting for the right draw from the bag to complete your compound. Apart from watching your and your opponents' points accumulating, there isn't much of an arc to the game – even with the skill levelling. I can imagine that's why the makers put in the 50-point cut-off: to avoid a repetitive series of final rounds.

Replayability: 6

I would play this again, but it is not my first choice, these days.

Overall: 6.7

I love the theme and I like scoring and levelling up in Compounded, but it could be a bit more colourful and a bit more fun.

I've retconned this review slightly to add one more category: Replayability.

The previous Overall score was 6.875.
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