Chemistry is cool and not so long ago, kids got kits that allowed them to explore varying combinations and concoctions of chemicals and compounds. Today, these gifts are not as common and probably not so safe. But fear not! Compounded allows players the opportunity run their own chemistry labs, collecting and combining elements to build as many chemical compounds as they can before game's end.
During the game, players work towards completing chemical compounds using 5 basic elements: hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium and sulfer. Players take turns discovering new elements; studying which compounds they want to work on by placing their research discs on an array of available compounds; doing research by playing their elements out onto compounds in the array; and lastly, lab work in which completed compounds are scored and players gain skill in different aspects of their research. Much of the fun in the game comes from the risks involved working in a lab and especially with certain compounds. Some compounds are flammable, some volatile, and some even explosive... not to mention the occasional lab fire that may arise. These instabilities and uncertainties may potentially put everyone's work at risk, so players need to weigh the risks when choosing what compounds to work on in the lab.
Compounded gets chemistry right, much like Antoine Lavoisier did in the 18th century. The compounds are all reflected accurately, displaying the structure and elements accurately as well as reflecting their volatility. And it works wells as a game, being thematic and immersive while dealing with what some might call a topic that doesn't scream game material, and that is very much a feather in its cap. Unlike some games, where the thematic names and flavor can be overlooked, Compounded succeeds in drawing learners in to learn more about the nature and composition of elements they are playing with. Because of the accessibility of play, and the fact the game can go up to five, a handful of copies of the game could easily facilitate a class over two days which would be ideal. While that time can easily be shortened by cutting the deck of elements in half and playing through a single day's play, the curricular value in the game really warrants the extra time spent with the game.