Game Designer: Lauren Woolsey
Logo Art: Marianna Burgett
Players: 3-6, ages 7+
Length: 30-45 minutes
Amino is © 2016 CGS Unit LLC. All rights reserved.
Rules Sheet, v4.2 (Click for PDF)
Goal: You are a group of scientists competing to terraform sections of the atmosphere on a newly colonized world. Collect molecules and environmental effects in your atmosphere to foster the creation of amino acids, the building blocks of life, so that you can get discovery credit and be the best scientist on the planet! The player with the most points at the end of game wins.
Overview of Game: An atmosphere can hold a total of four cards, all of which are played face down. Players can never place a card into a full atmosphere. Cards played are kept in order; no shuffling!
→ A game lasts for several hands, until the End of Game condition below is met.
→ A hand consists of multiple turns for each player, and lasts until all atmospheres are filled.
→ A turn consists of four actions, then the game continues clockwise for the next player’s turn.
Start of Game: The player who most recently performed a science experiment goes first. First player rotates clockwise each hand, such that everyone will be first player once over the course of the game.
Start of Hand: Deal four cards to each player at the start of each hand; the remaining cards form the draw deck. Put a card from the top of draw deck into each player’s atmosphere, hidden from all players (see below for variants). The first player takes a turn, then play continues clockwise until all atmospheres are full (see End of Hand section below for more).
During a Turn: On a player’s turn, they must take all of the actions below, in the order they are listed.
- ANALYZE: Look at any two played cards.
- BUILD: Play a card into your own atmosphere. If yours is full, skip this action.
- CHANGE: Swap any two played cards OR play a card into any atmosphere (yours or another’s).
- DRAW: Draw the top card from the deck. If deck is empty, skip this action.
End of Hand: When a turn ends and all atmospheres are full, the hand is over. After each hand:
- Flip all cards in atmospheres face up.
- Discard all cards in players’ hands into a pile.
- Shuffle the discard pile into the draw deck.
- Resolve Sunlight cards (see Description of Cards section for details).
- Tally scores based on face value of atmosphere, including lightning multipliers.
- Check if all four elements (C, H, O, N) are found on cards in your atmosphere. If yes, amino acids are able to form: add six points to your score! The bonus is not multiplied.
End of Game: The game lasts for one hand per player (e.g. in a four-player game, play four hands), such that each player will be first player once (see below for variants). The player with the highest cumulative score at the end of the final hand wins! If there is a tie, play one additional round. If there is still a tie, shake hands and agree to be co-authors on the discovery paper.
Description of Cards: There are three types of cards in the 42-card Amino deck, each described below.
Atmospheric gases (33 in deck)
The six different atmospheric gases in the Amino deck are as follows:
- Diatomic Hydrogen (chemical symbol H2): worth -2 points, 3 cards in deck
- Diatomic Nitrogen (chemical symbol N2): worth -1 points, 6 cards in deck
- Methane (chemical symbol CH4): worth +1 points, 7 cards in deck
- Ammonia (chemical symbol NH3): worth +2 points, 8 cards in deck
- Carbon Dioxide (chemical symbol CO2): worth +3 points, 5 cards in deck
- Water (chemical symbol H2O): worth +4 points, 4 cards in deck
Sunlight (5 in deck)
Sunlight cards are a form of wild card. To resolve at the end of the hand, discard the played sunlight card, draw three cards, and choose one to fill the spot in your atmosphere. Resolve sunlight cards one at a time in turn order starting with first player.
Lightning (4 in deck)
Lightning cards are stackable multipliers. A single lightning card will double the worth of the atmosphere, two lightning cards will quadruple the worth, and so on. The multiplier is used on the sum of the points shown on all atmospheric gases and is calculated before the set bonus.
Game Variants: Below is a set of game variants developed along with the base game. There may be other interesting changes to the base game that work for different game groups. Let us know what house rules you like best by tweeting us at @cgsunit !
- MOON VARIANT: At the start of each hand, skip the initial “seeding” of the player atmospheres. All atmospheres instead begin with no cards in them!
- MARS VARIANT: At the start of each hand, deal five card to each player instead of four, and each player chooses one card to play into their atmosphere as a seed card.
- PHOBOS VARIANT: Mars variant, but instead of their own atmospheres, players choose a seed card for the atmosphere to their left.
- DEIMOS VARIANT: Mars variant, but instead of their own atmospheres, players choose a seed card for the atmosphere to their right.
- MARS CYCLE: Rotate through Mars, Phobos, and Deimos variants for consecutive hands.
- JUPITER VARIANT: Game play remains the same, but the end of game is determined when a player reaches 100 cumulative points at the end of the round, instead of a set number of rounds.
- PLUTO VARIANT: End of game is after only one hand; highest score for that hand wins the game!
Reviews and Comments
December 2014: The Care and Feeding of Nerds Playtesting Lab
We submitted Amino! to the Playtesting Lab this past December for blind playtesting. A total of twelve playtesters, reflecting a range of tabletop experience, played several games of Amino! with varying player count. Here are specific bits of their anonymous feedback:
- “This game took maybe 3 minutes to learn and I never felt like the more experienced gamers had a big advantage over me.” –Novice Gamer
- “After learning Amino, I kept making comparisons to chess or checkers; it’s easy to learn, but there’s a wide variety of strategies that you can employ to win.” –Veteran Gamer #1
- “This game seems like it can fit into that role of bridge-gapper if you’re at a party with a mix of gamers and non-gamers.” –Veteran Gamer #2
- “It’s so fun, fast, and portable. This seems like an ideal way to pass time with fellow gamers while, say, waiting in line at a con.” –Veteran Gamer #3
Using a scale of 1-10 — with 1 being “absolutely unplayable” and 10 being “I must own this now” — to rate their playtesting experience, the playtesters gave the prototype a median score of 9 out of 10 (the arithmetic mean was 8.8 if you’re curious).
February 2015: Seal of Approval and Unpub 5 Feedback
Here are some of the highlights from the Unpub 5 feedback forms submitted by playtesters:
- “Scientifically educational games, rather than lectures disguised as games, are rare and beautiful when they happen.”
- “Having the cards in the atmosphere played face down was incredibly fun; it was the right combination of strategy and luck“
- “It was fun, cute, and simple.”
- “You really had to decide who you wanted to look at and when and what to switch. High Risk, high reward“
- “It’s good to see a heavy science game married to a simple concept.”
Links to Additional Reviews
March 2015: Kathy’s Cluttered Mind
April 2015: Amino! on Kickstarter
Amino is © 2015 CGS Unit LLC. All rights reserved.