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You must constantly choose between growing your resources and undermining your opponents as you compete to become the Royal Alchemist
You must constantly choose between growing your resources and undermining your opponents as you compete to become the Royal Alchemist
90 backers pledged $14,085 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Alchenemy - A card game of turning lead into gold project video thumbnail
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$14,085

90

[Click here for info on the theme music in the project video]

The Blurb

You have spent your life as an Alchemist for The Kingdom. You have attempted to control Nature, and commanded crude matter “Transmute!” into purer substances - substances that could bring you knowledge, wisdom, and possibly gobs of money.

But times are tough. Budget cuts have pared the Monarch's staff to the bone. The Royal Treasury, enraged by a lack of results and bloated Laboratory budgets, has demanded that all Alchemists demonstrate their ability. The one who makes the most Coin for the Treasury shall be the Royal Alchemist; the rest shall be fired. Will you prove up to the challenge? You may, but beware! As you pit your skills against Nature you must match wits with your opponents, for every colleague has become...an Alchenemy.

The Basics:

What kind of game is it?

Alchenemy combines elements of resource management (cards that count towards winning can be discarded to perform actions), “take that!” (inevitably, someone breaks out the Aqua Regia and dissolves something you were really attached to), and a novel mechanic that gives players some control over when the game ends: you choose whether to draw from a common, limitless deck of basic resources or a limited, personal deck of more powerful cards – with the catch that the game ends when any personal stack is exhausted. Two, three, or four people may play and it should take first time players about an hour to finish.

How is it played?

Starting with only Air, Earth, Fire, and Water as ingredients, play Formula cards from your hand to make valuable Materials. These Materials are worth Coin towards winning, but can also be used as ingredients for Formulas that steal, transform, destroy, or regenerate cards; you must use them wisely. Download the instructions here.

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You can see more videos and get additional information and some extras at  Alchenemy.net

What do I get?

  • One deck of 108 Formula cards (poker size)
  • One deck of 108 Element cards (poker-width square)
  • Twelve Alembic Tokens
  • Symbol/Turn Order Reference Cards
  • Instructions
  • Two-part storage box

Everything is four-color offset print with gloss varnish coating for protection from wear. The cards are printed on 300gsm blue core stock. The instructions are printed on 120gsm glossy paper, while the box that holds it all is made of 1.5mm thick HDP (high density paperboard).

Different backgrounds and art style distinguish Formulas that perform actions from Formulas that make stuff.
Different backgrounds and art style distinguish Formulas that perform actions from Formulas that make stuff.

 

The basic Elements and an Alembic token.
The basic Elements and an Alembic token.

Check it out! Everything Boardgames likes it!

"Alchenemy is easy to learn, provides a fun mix of strategy and luck, and has enough variety in its simple design to keep you coming back..." See the full review here.

Development

Discovering Magic: The Gathering changed my perception of what constituted a card game, and I appreciated the intricate mechanics, the otherworldly story, and the incredible art over many years of play. Its intricacy and huge selection of cards, however, made it difficult to play on an occasional, casual basis, especially with less experienced gamers. Non-collectible deck-building games had a similar issue - their set-up time was frequently a drawback. Alchenemy was born of my desire for a card game that balanced strategic depth with ease of set up and quick play.

The making of a game

The basic mechanics of Alchenemy came from two ideas that had been kicking around in my head after many years of playing games: having to choose between drawing from a limitless deck of basic resources or a limited, personal deck of cards, and having to choose between saving cards towards winning, or spending them to affect your opponents’ play. The medieval theme came to me quite quickly: I wanted the game to have a fantastical setting and magical feel, like M:TG, and alchemy was an apt choice. The limitless, common cards mapped easily to the classical elements Air, Earth, Fire, and Water, while the personal decks of powerful cards suggested books of alchemical formulas. Finally, the financial opportunism engendered by the quest to turn lead into gold made the win condition obvious – it's all about the money.

We’ve come a long way, baby…

Spreadsheeting skills and statistical models helped me dial in card quantities and values, limiting the possibility a bad draw would ruin the game. Excessively disruptive cards were identified and removed so no single strategy would be a clear winner. Many beloved, but secondary, cards, themes, and mechanisms were eliminated during extensive play testing in an effort to make the rules as simple as they could be (but no simpler).

Some ideas didn't pass go, some I really liked and wanted to work but had to cut, and some popped in and out as I solved problems.
Some ideas didn't pass go, some I really liked and wanted to work but had to cut, and some popped in and out as I solved problems.

Layout, language, and iconography also evolved to make the cards easier to quickly read and comprehend.

One change, in the timing of the draw, had a surprisingly large impact. Originally, players drew at the beginning of their turn, but that made everyone else wait while they read the cards and plotted. Changing the draw to the end of a player’s turn, so all the thinking happens while someone else plays, kept everyone busy and shaved 30% off the length of the game.

What happens next?

I’m ready to place an order with a manufacturer, I just need to cut a check. That’s where you come in. To date, this has been a labor of love, with all the time and money required for development being fronted by yours truly. Now I need the help of accomplices to release the game into the wild. All money raised by this campaign goes towards the manufacture, delivery, and support of the game. So go ahead and mouse up and over to the right there and click on one of the pledge levels.

Ordering Multiple Games

KickStarter does not have an option for ordering more than one item, or making more than one pledge, so if you want to order multiple copies of the game (the holidays will be here sooner than you expect), or offer additional support, this is what you do (more on managing your pledge here): Once you make your basic pledge, you can click on the "manage" button that appears on the project page, and then select "Change your pledge" on the following page. Adjust the number to the TOTAL pledge you wish to make. If you want additional copies, add $33 ($25 for the game, $8 shipping) to your initial pledge for each additional copy.

Don't live in the USA?

I'm sorry, but since this is my first project and I am a one-man show, I am currently unable to support the cost or complexity of EU VAT and international shipping. But if you are outside the USA, especially if you have navigated this before, please let me hear from you, and I'll see if I can work something out.

Risks and challenges

You've read this far - you like the game, you're thinking of pledging, and you're thinking "I've never heard of this guy...What are the odds of getting my money's worth?"

This is my first Kickstarter, but because my day job involves new product development and introduction I am no stranger to the perils and pitfalls of making a new thing. I’ve used that experience to account for the ways in which a project like this could go south, and mitigated risk through planning, testing, and redundancy:

>Design
Alchenemy has gone through extensive testing, and (outside of a few “thank you”s to be added to the instructions) all collateral is complete and print ready. Alchenemy may not be your cup of tea, but if you like what you see here there is no risk that the design will change significantly or fail to be completed after you pledge.

>Production
Great designs can suffer from poor execution, but here again the risk is small. AdMagic, PandaGM, and Print Ninja are all known for delivering games with high production value. Because of minimum order requirements, the final choice of manufacturer depends on the number of pledges, but in any case timely delivery of a quality product is to be expected.

>Delivery
I have high confidence in the estimated delivery date. The design is done, so there will be no lag between the end of this campaign and the placement of an order with the manufacturer. I've selected experienced vendors that will handle freight and customs. I am the most likely bottleneck to delivery as I send the game out on the last leg of its journey to you.

>Budget
Everything could come to a screeching halt if there is not enough in the bank to cover expenses. Fortunately, with the design complete, the expenses are mostly predictable. Hitting the goal will cover all costs at the minimum order quantity. Additionally, the game fits in a USPS flat rate box, so even if everyone who wants my game lives in Bangor, Maine, I can get it there without a problem.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Lead ("Attaboy!")

    You think the world needs the game, but you don't want a copy. At this level you get the deep satisfaction of helping bring this project to life, as well as a Good Looking Certificate bedecked with original art expressing my appreciation (in PDF form, suitable for printing and framing).

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    Iron ("Gimme!")

    "Yes, I must have this!" you cry as you mash on your mouse button. At this level you get one copy of Alchenemy for your very own, as well as a Good Looking Certificate expressing my appreciation.

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    Silver ("Take my money!")

    You get the stuff from the Iron level AND a signed, oversized (2X) giclee (pigment-based ink print on archival paper) of one of the Formula cards (chosen by random die roll).

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    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    Philosopher's Stone ("Patron!")

    You get all the Silver level swag, plus everyone will know you are a Patron of the Gaming Arts because your name will be listed in the instructions!

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Mercury ("Like a Sir")

    Generous people such as yourself will receive the Philosopher's Stone swag *AND* a piece of original art! Own one of the illustrations Thomas Little created just for this game, done on 300# watercolor paper with hand-made ink and a dip pen! How cool is that?!

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    Gold (!)

    The good stuff just keeps on coming! If you go Gold, you get all the Philosopher's Stone bling and a piece of Thomas Little's art that !!did not make it into the game!! Several cards got cut during play testing - you'll get a print of the card as well as the original artwork.

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    Pledge $225 or more About $225

    Royal Achemist ("There can be only one")

    You're at the pinnacle of your art. You turn Lead into Gold. You get everything the Philosopher's Stone level gets, plus I will send you a personal greeting on the holiday of your choice for five years!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Her Royal Highness, the Queen B

    It is good to be The Queen! Assume the Royal mantle and judge the Alchemists at their labors! Point your mouse right here and click for all the awesome Philosopher's Stone booty, plus a special certificate of proclamation that you are the one and only Queen B of The Kingdom!

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Funding period

- (30 days)