WARNING! DANGER! MAJOR GEEKINESS AHEAD!

So Shelly’s been trying to think of ways to study chemistry that aren’t mind-crushingly tedious, and we’ve started working on a chemistry game similar in some ways to trading-card games like Magic: the Gathering. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far:

The game is played with decks of cards, each of which represents an element. For example, there are oxygen cards, hydrogen cards, sodium cards, chlorine cards, and so on. Each player has one deck of cards.

Each player begins the game with twenty hit points.

Each player has a field in front of him, consisting of eight spaces where hydrogen and oxygen cards can be placed, and consisting of three slots in front of him where defensive molecules may be placed. All these fields are empty at the beginning of play.

Game play takes place in turns. On each player’s turn, that player does each of the following, in order:

1. The player may place up to three Hydrogen or Oxygen cards from his hand into the field in front of him. At no point may the field contain more than a total of eight cards.

2. The player may then create molecules by combining atoms which are not hydrogen or oxygen from his hand and combining them with hydrogen and oxygen atoms from his field to form molecules. These molecules may be used to neutralize any molecules which his opponent has previously played against him which continue to cause damage until neutralized (see below). The molecule thus formed and the molecule played against him are then discarded.

3. The player then builds defensive molecules by taking atoms which are not hydrogen or oxygen from his hand and combining them with hydrogen and oxygen atoms from his field to form molecules. For example, if a player has a Sodium atom in his hand, he may combine it with a Hydrogen and an Oxygen card from his field to form sodium hydroxide, NaOH, which is an alkali of Rank 3. This means that if it is in his defensive field, it neutralizes acids of up to Rank 3. A player may place no more than 2 defensive molecules per turn.

4. The player then builds molecules with which to attack his opponent by combining atoms from his hand which are not Hydrogen or Oxygen atoms with Hydrogen or Oxygen atoms from his field to form molecules. For example, if a player has a Sodium atom in his hand, he may combine it with a Hydrogen and an Oxygen card from his field to form sodium hydroxide, NaOH, which is an alkali of Rank 3. This means that if the player plays this molecule to attack his opponent, the molecule will do 3 points of damage immediately to the opponent, plus one additional point of damage per turn until it is neutralized. If the opponent has an acid of Rank 3 or higher in the defensive position, it is neutralized and both the NaOH and defensive molecules are discarded from the table, the defending player receiving no damage.

5. As soon as a molecule is played on a defending player, that player may immediately combine atoms from his hand with Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules from his field to counter the attacking molecule. For example, if the attacking player plays HCl, hydrochloric acid, an acid of Rank 3, the defending player takes 3 points of damage if he has no defensive molecules on the table which can neutralize acids. However, if he has a sodium atom in his hand and a hydrogen and oxygen in his field, he may immediately play NaOH to neutralize the HCl. In this case, he takes 3 points of damage, but the HCl and the NaOH are immediately removed from the table and he does not continue to take damage on subsequent rounds.

6. Some molecules are special; for example, fluorsulfonic acid (HSO3F), is a superacid of rank 4 which will inflict 4 points of damage on the defender, 2 points of damage on the attacker, and an additional 1 point of damage on each player on each turn thereafter until it is neutralized.

7. When the player no longer has enough atoms in his hand to form molecules, he then takes any damage from any remaining cards played against him that do periodic damage, and both players draw cards (if necessary) until they each have 7 cards in their hand. That player’s turn is then over and the next player’s turn begins this same sequence.

For the purposes of simplicity, organic compounds are not part of the game. Atoms in the decks include all the halogens, all the alkali metals, sulfur, nitrogen, and so on.

So…whaddya think? Too geeky?

38 thoughts on “WARNING! DANGER! MAJOR GEEKINESS AHEAD!

  1. Not at all geeky. The local science list here experimented with a card game from the periodic table, but aimed at a younger audience. We thought that if kids could handle the Japanese named characters from Pokemon and Card Captors then the elementals names and concepts would be a piece of cake.

  2. Not at all geeky. The local science list here experimented with a card game from the periodic table, but aimed at a younger audience. We thought that if kids could handle the Japanese named characters from Pokemon and Card Captors then the elementals names and concepts would be a piece of cake.

    • Good point, good point…

      Okay, since each player usually has about 5 articles of clothing, and since each player has 20 hit points, one article of clothing is lost after every 4 hit points of damage…

      • Just to make it interesting, clothing should be rated by resistance to pH intensity. Socks and gloves? Zap them away with mild alkalies like salt.

        The panties and brassiers, however, should disappear only when someone can produce the Alien blood that melted through the Nostromo.

        • I like the pH resistance idea, but I’m morally opposed to making it too hard to dissolve undergarments. As the husband of a chemist who has acid burns in most of her work clothing I feel that I can speak with some authority on this subject. πŸ™‚

          Would hydrogen and oxygen be mixed in with a player’s hand, or are they assumed to be in the environment and available for molecule building? They make the perfect baseline defense, since they can be used alone to make water (duh), which IIRC acts as a mild base in the presence of an acid and a mild acid in the presence of a base.

          The advanced set should include proton bombardment, so you can upgrade individual atoms. πŸ™‚

          Great idea, Franklin. I’d like to throw my name in the hat for the beta test as well.

          • Hydrogen and oxygen are available only from a player’s field and can’t be played from a player’s hand. The rules we’ve worked out now allow a player to take two hydrogen atoms from his field and combine them with an oxygen from his opponent’s field during the attack phase, which deprives his opponent of oxygen he might use to build defensive molecules; the cards are then discarded. However, if you do this and your opponent has an alkali metal (such as lithium) in his hand, he can drop it into the water; theresulting explosion does a point of damage to you.

            Water is not effective as a defensive molecule, though.

  3. Good point, good point…

    Okay, since each player usually has about 5 articles of clothing, and since each player has 20 hit points, one article of clothing is lost after every 4 hit points of damage…

  4. Technically, developing such a game is not major geekiness. That comes later, when you spend 20 hours straight playing it.

    To make it playable, you are going to have to do some major limitations, writing a manual similar to the Scrabble Dictionary outlining compounds allowed and what they mean, just to prevent some savant from waltzing in, zapping his cards with a few random neutrons, and dropping plutonium on someone’s ass.

    Still, it sounds like fun. I would be very interested in beta testing with pals.

    I finish with:

    Harry was a chemist,
    But Harry is no more.
    What Harry thought was H2O
    Was H2SO4. . . .

    • There are a limited amount of acids, bases, and explosives that you are allowed to form and they are specified on the appropriate element cards.. So, you shouldn’t need any chemistry knowledge to play..

      – Shelly

    • “To make it playable, you are going to have to do some major limitations, writing a manual similar to the Scrabble Dictionary outlining compounds allowed and what they mean, just to prevent some savant from waltzing in, zapping his cards with a few random neutrons, and dropping plutonium on someone’s ass.”

      Ah, but that’d be a nuclear reaction, not a chemical reaction, so isn’t allowed in the rules. πŸ™‚

  5. Technically, developing such a game is not major geekiness. That comes later, when you spend 20 hours straight playing it.

    To make it playable, you are going to have to do some major limitations, writing a manual similar to the Scrabble Dictionary outlining compounds allowed and what they mean, just to prevent some savant from waltzing in, zapping his cards with a few random neutrons, and dropping plutonium on someone’s ass.

    Still, it sounds like fun. I would be very interested in beta testing with pals.

    I finish with:

    Harry was a chemist,
    But Harry is no more.
    What Harry thought was H2O
    Was H2SO4. . . .

  6. Just to make it interesting, clothing should be rated by resistance to pH intensity. Socks and gloves? Zap them away with mild alkalies like salt.

    The panties and brassiers, however, should disappear only when someone can produce the Alien blood that melted through the Nostromo.

  7. I like the pH resistance idea, but I’m morally opposed to making it too hard to dissolve undergarments. As the husband of a chemist who has acid burns in most of her work clothing I feel that I can speak with some authority on this subject. πŸ™‚

    Would hydrogen and oxygen be mixed in with a player’s hand, or are they assumed to be in the environment and available for molecule building? They make the perfect baseline defense, since they can be used alone to make water (duh), which IIRC acts as a mild base in the presence of an acid and a mild acid in the presence of a base.

    The advanced set should include proton bombardment, so you can upgrade individual atoms. πŸ™‚

    Great idea, Franklin. I’d like to throw my name in the hat for the beta test as well.

  8. There are a limited amount of acids, bases, and explosives that you are allowed to form and they are specified on the appropriate element cards.. So, you shouldn’t need any chemistry knowledge to play..

    – Shelly

  9. Hydrogen and oxygen are available only from a player’s field and can’t be played from a player’s hand. The rules we’ve worked out now allow a player to take two hydrogen atoms from his field and combine them with an oxygen from his opponent’s field during the attack phase, which deprives his opponent of oxygen he might use to build defensive molecules; the cards are then discarded. However, if you do this and your opponent has an alkali metal (such as lithium) in his hand, he can drop it into the water; theresulting explosion does a point of damage to you.

    Water is not effective as a defensive molecule, though.

  10. I have to say this is wonderful. Not only does it sound like a hoot to play, it sounds like you really are able to get involved and learn very well. ON TOP OF THIS – The fact that you thought it out and put the idea into a cohesive thought for someone you love just floors me. So Nice and Sweet and Just Plain Good! Most people do not take the time for the ones they love, much less to do something as involved. I think it is wonderful!

  11. I have to say this is wonderful. Not only does it sound like a hoot to play, it sounds like you really are able to get involved and learn very well. ON TOP OF THIS – The fact that you thought it out and put the idea into a cohesive thought for someone you love just floors me. So Nice and Sweet and Just Plain Good! Most people do not take the time for the ones they love, much less to do something as involved. I think it is wonderful!

  12. “To make it playable, you are going to have to do some major limitations, writing a manual similar to the Scrabble Dictionary outlining compounds allowed and what they mean, just to prevent some savant from waltzing in, zapping his cards with a few random neutrons, and dropping plutonium on someone’s ass.”

    Ah, but that’d be a nuclear reaction, not a chemical reaction, so isn’t allowed in the rules. πŸ™‚

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