GTM #198 - Mad Science Foundation
by Max Seidman & Sharang Biswas

The Mad Science Foundation (MSF) was founded with a simple mission: to support unappreciated geniuses and their misunderstood schemes by fairly distributing the rare resources vital to the practice of mad science: Cryptonium, dark matter, lasers, and, of course, sharks.

Unfortunately, we all know that by their very nature mad scientists are averse to working together. Theirs is a lonely calling, to be plied in covert undersea laboratories and hidden volcanic lairs. How do we get such individualistic (if ingenious) people to work together? Simple: force the mad scientists themselves to do all the work of dividing up the grants of resources!

You are new to this world. But, just like any other misunderstood scientific prodigy, you too must work hard if you wish to become the most infamous mad scientists on the planet. If you want to achieve this ambition, you must compete for grants from the MSF, and use them to build an arsenal of dastardly — I mean, helpful and world-changing — inventions.

Let me explain how the process will work. Each grant cycle (or “round”), the MSF awards all you mad scientists a small grant to be divided amongst yourselves: some resources, a few invention schematics, and maybe some minions looking for work. One scientist (the MSF director’s favorite for this round) is in charge of dividing the resources, inventions, and minions into piles for the others to choose. Each mad scientist is guaranteed a pile, but being the Director’s favorite can be a double-edged sword: every other scientist gets to choose his or her pile before the one who divided the grant. So it’s all about outsmarting the others: can you make a pile that’s useful for you, but that the other scientists don’t also covet? Will you have to give them bigger piles in order to get that one resource you need to complete that crucial invention you’ve been holding?

But, wait! Have you factored in the inventions your competitors have already built? Once the grants have been awarded, scientists get to use their resources to finish their inventions, gaining access to special abilities that may be used to net them an incalculable advantage by transmuting one resource into another, building more inventions, or simply gaining more Infamy.  And don’t forget the minions, either. Fickle as they are, they, too, can be divided into the piles and passed on to different scientists each round. So while you may have controlled the Spy earlier, an opponent may employ him against you this round. Watch out!

Ultimately, once a season of grants is over, scientists will need to compare themselves with each other. Who managed to earn the most Infamy from their inventions? Who used their minions wisely and gained Infamy through that route? Or for those who prefer a subtle but insidious strategy, which mad scientist best satisfied their unique, but secret, personality quirk earning vast amounts of Infamy at the very end?

That is for you, my young prodigy, my burgeoning scientist with the barest twinkle of insanity in your eyes, to decide. But, mark my words, this may seem like a simple game to you. Granted, it’s all very pretty. At times, you even may find the minions you command or the inventions you create to be amusing. But, in reality, it is a vicious test of wits! You will have to anticipate your opponent’s every move, every need, every whim! You will need to decide what is essential, and what should be sacrificed. You will need to be shrewd, efficient, and ruthless.

Because, remember, underneath their outward smiles, their claims of “friendship”, and their easy laughter, every one of your opponents hides a cold, brilliant, and calculating mind... a mind that’s wholly — and irrevocably — mad.