Power of the Atom: Chem For Beginners
You are in a very scary lab, in a very scary part of the Haunted Woods...and you should really be wearing some safety goggles! We need to set a good example for all those younger pets. Lab safety is not a joke, my friend. At least you're wearing closed-toed shoes.
You can't afford to be careless when working with atoms and elements. Some of them are inert and harmless, but others? Not so much, and you don't want to be around if one gets formed.
Sounds scary? Oh, don't worry. It's not as difficult as it sounds...if you plan to pay attention to the rules.
What's the Matter? Everything but Energy!
You didn't come here for a lecture so I'll make this quick and simple. An atom is tiny...too tiny for you and I to see. They're made up of even smaller things called 'neutrons', 'protons' and 'neutrons'. And even those are made up of smaller things, but that's way smaller than we need to go right now. The number of protons an atom has tells us what element it is.
Atoms also have a certain number of electrons, some of which they carry around on the outside. They want eight of these, and to get them, atoms have to give away, take or share them with other atoms. This is what makes a molecule, and this is what we're doing here.
The Instruction Table(of the Elements)
To make a molecule, you'll take atoms and place them on the board next to one another. There's no time limit to worry about...but you do have a limited number of elements. Crazed solitary scientists are not made of money, so don't waste them. You can see the next few elements in the lineup and the number you have left on the bottom and left side of the board, respectively. Pay close attention to the former! This will help you plan things out.
You're going to start with only a few elements. Really simple, safe little elements. As you go farther through the levels, you'll unlock more elements, and thus more molecules you can make. Note that you can only make a molecule(and get points for it) when you reach the level it unlocks at. On the bright side, this does mean you can't get a game over for creating an unstable compound(more on that later) until the level it unlocks. You can see what compounds are unlocked(and what points they give you) on the chalkboard to the right of the board.
Note that you don't have to put them all in a straight line. Your molecules can go around corners, allowing for longer chains of atoms and thus the more valuable combos. A lot of things are possible...'L'-shapes, 'U'-shapes, six atoms in a straight line and one on the end...but my experimentation has suggested that a bend or corner in a chain of atoms must be at the end. You can't string together seven Slothite by tacking the seventh on the second atom in the chain...it has to go on the first or the last. This is important, given how reactive Slothite is.
Periodic Table, Condensed
You're going to be working with five elements here, but as previously stated you'll have to unlock them as you go. Luckily, you will be starting off with one and unlocking your second immediately after, so getting your needed points won't be hard.
1. Np, Neopium
Unlocked at level 1.
Stable Compounds: 5
Unstable Compounds: 0
Super stable, and the most abundant element in the planet's crust...or, at least you'll wish that was the case. Half of your possible molecule combinations involve at least two atoms of Neopium. Be careful where you place these, that can mean the difference between a high-scoring molecule chain and a simple Np-Np...the point difference really counts in the end.
2. Ty, Tyrannium
Unlocked at level 2.
Stable Compounds: 4
Unstable Compounds: 0
Appropriately enough, this is arguably the second most important element. Four of your stable combos involve at least one of these...and one combination involves five of them! Try to keep these ones together, preferably close to Neopium molecules if you can. You don't have to worry about instability with these ones either. The same can't be said for
3. Sl, Slothite
Unlocked at level 6.
Stable Compounds: 3
Unstable Compounds: 1
Slothite is highly reactive and highly unstable...appropriate title, isn't it? And yet, for all its dangers, two of the three(stable) molecules you can make with Slothite are the highest-scoring molecules you can make!
4. Fae, Faeryllium
Unlocked at level 10.
Stable Compounds: 1
Unstable Compounds: 1
Unlike our first two elements, Faeryllium doesn't react as much. The only valid compound you can make with Faeryllium gives you the second-highest molecule score, and requires use of Neopium. Keep your Faeryllium in three-atom chains...and far away from our next element.
5. Kr, Krawkite
Unlocked at level 14.
Stable Compounds: 2
Unstable Compounds: 1
The fifth and final element you can work with. Initially, it won't be very useful to you. When it first appears, its only application will be in a sort of '2Kr' bond that's worth very little. It won't be that way for long, though. Later on it becomes part of one of the two highest scoring molecules. Keep it far, far away from Faeryllium.
Molecular Instability: The Terrible Two
There are only two unstable molecules you need to watch out for. Initially, they're relatively easy to avoid, but as levels progress(and the board becomes more cluttered), it becomes so much easier to carelessly place an atom where it shouldn't go, especially as one of these molecules is so close in structure to a stable molecule. Of course, these molecules aren't anything to worry about until you've actually unlocked them. But when you do...
1. Sl-Sl-Sl-Sl (The Quadruple Sloth Combo?)
Unlock: Level 7
This is the danger area. You'll tend to have quite a bit of Slothite in some of these levels, and trying to put it down to get the next element can make you run into problems if you aren't extremely careful where you're putting it. In addition, just three more atoms of Slothite is a stable molecule!
2. Fae-Kr (The Faker Combo?)
Unlock: Level 18
This is ultimately less of a concern. You won't be unlocking Krawkite until later, let alone this unstable combo. It can be a danger when the board starts to get crowded and you're looking for a better atom. Of course, it is rather deceptive because it's so simple to make. Unlike the first, this only takes two. A single misplaced atom can mean a game over with this one, so be wary.
The Stable, Hardworking Molecule
This is what you want to make. These will range from complicated to put together and ridiculously easy, to the point where later on you might find yourself making the lower-scoring molecules without realizing it...that's not a good thing, of course, but it shows you how simple some of the compounds can be...and how much of a matter of strategy this all is.
Unlock: Level 1
This is your first...but you really don't want to rely on this any more than you have to, if indeed at all. You can end up accidentally creating these trying to make larger molecules, and that's a subtle but noteworthy source of lost points later in game, as it's essentially a waste of valuable Neopium.
Unlock: Level 2
Better...in the beginning, you'll be making this and one other molecule for a little while. It's better, but by no means the best. Once you start getting farther along, you'll want to save your Neopium for some higher-scoring combos.
Unlock: Level 3
Despite the same point total, I'd argue this is better than the previous combination. This one doesn't require any Neopium. Once you hit level 5, of course, you'll have a much better option, but this one may still come in handy if you lack the space for it.
Unlock: Level 5
Of course, what you want to aim for is this one. It's not too tricky to master, you just have to place down a string of Ty-Ty [Space] Ty-Ty and then place your fifth Ty in the middle.
Unlock: Level 6
When you hit this level, you're likely to be getting quite a bit of Slothite. Be careful making this. Don't put these too close together. Beyond that, this is definitely a good way to clear out Slothite if you can't make one of the higher-scoring compounds that use it.
Unlock: Level 8
This is another one that will require a bit of finagling, but the essence of it is the same as it is for combination number four. The middle Np is placed last.
Unlock: Level 10
This one's pretty simple and doesn't require a lot of effort, except perhaps to avoid forming combinations with your Neopium...and later on, avoiding getting too close to Krawkite.
Unlock: Level 13
This is the one I warned you about. To form this big-scoring molecule, you're going to need some space, and --just to be safe-- no other Slothite atoms sitting too close. To form this, you'll do it the same was as combo 6, by starting with two chains of 'Sl-Sl-Sl' with a space in the middle. This will keep you from triggering the four-Sl combo when preparing it. Then you can just place the seventh in that empty space.
Unlock: Level 14
This...is really useless for anything but clearing the board for a 5 point bonus, or for room to make other molecules. Possibly if you want to place down some Faeryllium nearby.
Unlock: Level 16
Now this is the proper use of Krawkite. This one gives you the benefits of the seven-Slothite combo without the need for as much Slothite or the danger of forming the four-Slothite unstable combo.
The Tricks of the Trade
-Given its volatility, you're going to want to get rid of the Slothite first. If you can make a big chain of it, always do so.
-You do get bonus points for the extra elements left over, so that's another incentive to not us everything up. Since you have to make a certain number of points to pass the level, it's in the bonus points that you can really boost your numbers.
-There's another form of bonus available. From level six onward, you can accrue bonus points for clearing the board of atoms. It doesn't add to your level score but adds to your total score, which makes it instrumental in top scoring.
-For the first fourteen levels, the layouts will always be the same. This means you can practice time and again to find the best solution. From level fifteen and onward, the initial layout will change every time you play. You're going to have to find the solution through careful thought and attention to detail.
-Above all, practice makes perfect.