Science Ninjas Valence is a game by Nathan Schreiber. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will be taking or the role of scientists as they use different elements to form Molecules in order to gain points. The player that can best channel their inner scientist and gain ten points first will be declared the winner.
To begin, the Molecule cards are arranged in the middle of the play area in a specific order and layout as noted in the rulebook. This layout will form the Molecule Bank. The Element cards are shuffled together. Each player is then dealt 6 cards. The remaining cards are placed face down near the Molecule Bank. The top card is drawn and placed face up in the discard pile beside the deck. Players check their Element cards and the player with the highest atomic number will be the first player. Play now begins.
On a player’s turn if they didn’t react with another player on their last turn, they will start by drawing an Element card. If they have only one card in their hand, they will draw two cards. If they have no cards, they will draw three. If a player is drawing only one card they may choose instead to draw the top card from the discard pile. The player may also choose to discard their entire hand and draw three new cards instead of drawing cards. If the player reacted with another player on their last turn, then they will skip drawing cards on their turn.
The player may then perform 3 actions; build molecules, react and trade up. Building molecules is done by finding a combination of Element cards whose Valence numbers add up to zero. The Valence number is the large number at the top of the card with a plus or minus beside them. The player will then take the Molecule from the Molecule Bank that matches the colors of the Element square on the Element card. The player may check the back of the Molecule card to make sure that they built the Molecule correctly. The player will then place the Molecule card face up in front of themself. This becomes the player’s Molecule Stash. The Element cards used are placed in the discard pile. The player is allowed to build as many Molecules as they are able to from the cards in their hand.
Another action the player may take is to react. Acid and Water Molecules are Reactors and they can react with certain white bordered Molecules. Reacting is done using an opponent’s Molecule. The player takes one of their Reactors and chooses an opponents Molecule that it is able to react with. The bottom of the Reactor cards tells exactly which cards they will react with. An Acid reacts with a Base and with Metal Oxide. Water reacts with Deadly Carbonyl. The player will then return the Reactor to the Molecule Bank and take a random Element card from the player’s hand. If the opponent has no cards then the player will draw an Element from the Element deck. The opponent will then replace the white bordered Molecule that was in their Molecule Bank with the products of the reaction. A Base or Metal Oxide are replaced with a Salt and a Water Molecule. A Deadly Carbonyl is replaced with a Carbon Dioxide and an Acid. The opponent will then skip the draw phase of their next turn. Reacting may be done by a player as many times as they are able to on their turn.
The last action that a player may perform is to trade up. Trading up is done by returning a Salt to the Molecule Bank. The player will then draw two cards from the Element deck. This particular action may only be done once per turn, unlike the other actions.
Once a player has completed all their actions by building molecules, reacting and/or trading up, they will then finish their turn by checking the cards in their hand. If the player has 7 or more Element cards, they must discard down to 6. Play then passes to the next player in turn order. The game continues until one player collects ten points worth of Molecules in their Molecule Stash. The first player to do that is the winner.
One thing should be noted, Helium is a special Element card. If it is drawn into a player’s starting hand, it is returned to the bottom of the Element deck and replaced with another card. If it is drawn later, then the player may add it to their Molecule Stash directly from their hand as if they were building a complete Molecule.
The game consists of two decks of cards; a deck of Molecule cards and a deck of Element cards. These cards look absolutely great. They have an almost linen finish to them that looks and feels really nice. The artwork on them is whimsical and fun. I really like how each element has it’s own look and it’s own ninja to represent it. I also like how that the Molecule cards have all the game info on one side but on the back of the card there’s the different formulas, names and how to make each of the different molecules. There’s also more educational information on the back including, on some of the cards, a sample reaction. Honestly I think the cards look great and they do a great job of educating as well as entertaining. Needless to say, I really like the components for this card game.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for the game is very compact, fitting nicely inside the box. It’s full color with a glossy finish to it that looks very professional. There are lots of pictures throughout the book and even some examples of gameplay. The first several pages cover the components and the actual rules of the game. The rest of the book is pretty much devoted to each of the different Element ninjas and their element. This is such a nice edition. It’s educational in the way that it explains each element and it’s fun by giving backstories to each of the ninjas. The book also includes some tips and tricks for playing the game, as well as some alternative rules for playing a few different ways. One page even explains what Valence is. I’ll be honest, before reading this explanation and looking at the pictures, I had no idea what this even was. Guess even us old guys can be taught something. Let me just say, I’m very impressed with the overall work that was put into the rulebook. It took a lot to put everything together like this and to even go so far as creating stories for the ninjas. When I first opened the box and looked through all the cards, I thought the ninjas were cool, but after reading the backstories and learning more about each one, I found them to be awesome. I know in the grand scheme of things that it’s not necessary for all that info and stuff but I think it was a nice touch to add all that and really give kids and parents something more with the game. Needless to say, I’m thoroughly impressed.
9 out of 10
When I first got this game, I thought it would be like so many of those other educational games that seem fun for the first play through and then you get tired of it afterwards. That was not the case with this one. This game is not only educational but fun to boot. It has elements of trick taking and take that and it doesn’t wear out it’s welcome. The idea is of course to get 10 points worth of molecules but you’ll need to not only form your own but mess up your opponents molecules to stay ahead. So many times you’ll get close to winning before one of your opponents will create a reaction that takes that high point molecule and reduces it to nothing but water and salt or acid and carbon dioxide. It’s a bit frustrating but a lot of fun too, especially if you’re the one doing the reaction. I have to say, I really like this one. The quick play time makes sure that you don’t get bored of it. Too many of these card games wind up like playing Monopoly for 3 or 4 hours straight…BORING. This one, however, is not boring. I would even say it’s probably one of the best pure card games that I’ve played. It’s a great game that’s not only educational but family friendly. It’s not overly complex either and can easily be played by players 8 years old and up. It’s extremely fun and definitely a game that I would highly recommend. Homeschoolers will love having this for their science curriculum as it will definitely help get across some of those chemistry concepts. Needless to say, this one won’t be leaving my collection any time soon.
9 out of 10
Science Ninjas Valence is an educational card game that teaches chemistry concepts though the use of ninjas in a massively fun way. The game doesn’t take long to play at all. Most game sessions last around 15-20 minutes. The cards are very high quality and I love the artwork and design of everything. I especially like the extra educational info on the back of the Molecule cards. The rulebook is very well designed and looks amazing. I especially enjoy all the thought and hard work that was put into the extra pages for each of the element ninjas and their elements. The game itself is lots of fun. As a matter of fact, you could easily forget that it is an educational game. That’s just how well designed the game is. It’s very simple to play and is family friendly so that everyone from the 8 year olds to the 80 year olds can play it. It has a lot of great mechanics that die hard gamers will recognize. For homeschoolers, the game is wonderful as it helps teach some chemistry concepts while playing the game. Needless to say, this is a great game for everyone and it’s definitely a game that I highly recommend. I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t enjoy playing this one. I can’t wait to play it again. The world of science ninjas call me.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out the Science Ninjas at their site.