You probably made some plans today. I’m guessing none of those plans involved learning about Xenon. A lot of card games are the same way. Making a plan is crucial to creating a long term strategy…but sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
So let’s talk about Xenon. It’s a noble gas with atomic number of 54. It was discovered in 1898. Since then it has found uses in a variety of applications from lamps to lasers to medical equipment. And every day, the number of applications grows as scientists discover ever more interesting properties.
Xenon is an incredibly rare element, thought to only be created through the intense pressure exerted inside the supernova of a dying sun. Commercial xenon production means separating and filtering the substance (1 part per 11.5 million) from a huge volume of normal, everyday air all around us. What does this sound like to you? To scrappy designer T.C. Petty III (VivaJava), it sounded like the beginnings of a fine card game.
Behold this Kickstarter from Gryphon/Eagle Games.
Players start out with a typical collection of gases in their deck…nitrogen, oxygen, krypton and xenon. They try to remove the other elements from their hand until they get purified xenon that can be sold for points. But to get more xenon, you need to add more air to the system, which adds more of the cards you don’t want to the deck and forces you to start separating again.
Fortunately the game has numerous upgrades you can buy along the way to give you additional actions and benefits. So while you spend some part of the game in a Sisyphean cycle of deconstructing your deck, you are also looking for ways to create an engine tableau to increase efficiency and speed up the process.
This game has three things going for it from my point of view.
One, you are manipulating the contents of your deck for fun and profit. Historically, I have loved doing that. Two, you are creating an engine. Every time I hear about “engines” I envision taking a super-charged 12-point Consume action in Race for the Galaxy and a bead of joy-sweat trickles down the side of my head. Three, this is an incredibly esoteric theme that has not been done before. You would not believe how much I have learned about xenon, and will continue to learn about xenon just through digesting the kickstarter.