The Let's Play Archive

SpaceChem (2013 Tournament)

by Wild M

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Original Thread: SpaceChem Tournament 2013



SpaceChem is a puzzle game about taking an open-ended problem and building your own path from point A to point B. Though any solution is good enough to progress in the game, SpaceChem also has (or had) a graphical depiction of your standing in the leaderboards, showing how you compared against everyone else as a whole.

This tournament is mainly an invitation to show off your own flavor of solutions. What interests me most about the game is how differently everyone approaches a challenge; for some, they instantly get it and build a solution from scratch. Others tend to write down pages and pages of ideas for their solution before finally building it in-game. Others drag symbols around and, through trial and error, finally work out a beautiful, functional mess.

Naturally, there will also be awards given for performing better than the rest. But first, let's figure out how to play the game.

First Time Players

Can you only hold yourself back two minutes before diving into the game? Give this one a go:

Do you trust last year's tournament host, GuavaMoment, more than me? He gave a great set of tutorials, and I don't even have to put any work in to share them:

SpaceChem Tournament - Tutorial Video
SpaceChem - Sensors and Flip Flops
SpaceChem - Bonder Priority and Output Quirks
SpaceChem - Fusion and Fission

If you'd like a fresh perspective on the game, though, I invite you to check out these tutorials as I make them.

The Basics
Other Symbols
Bonder Priority and Particle Smashing
Quantum Reactors

Tournament Rules

The tournament is split into an open tournament, in which everyone can participate, and a closed tournament, in which the best from the open will compete for the grand prize.

Open Tournament

The open tournament will consist of 3-4 puzzles a round over 8-9 rounds. Rounds should last a week, but I may extend one if a vacation comes up.

The open tournament will have two tiers: upper and lower. Each week will contain 2-3 lower tier puzzles and 1 upper tier puzzle. Naturally, upper tier puzzles will be harder and be more likely to contain special victory conditions. However, with an upper tier comes a higher seed and a better chance to look better than everyone else at SpaceChem. Players can submit puzzles for both tiers if they like.

Solutions will be scored on either cycle count, symbol count, or reactor count, based on the puzzle. Some puzzles can be scored based on other things as well.

Points are based on how well you perform against everyone else and are separate for each tier:

1st - 6 points
2nd - 5 points
3rd - 4 points
4th-8th - 3 points
Submitted a solution - 2 points


If two players have the same score:
  1. Compare score if no participation points
  2. Compare score if no 5th-8th points
  3. Compare score if no 3rd place points
  4. Compare score if no 2nd place points
  5. If all that's still tied, pick the player who got in the lead first.
  6. If that's still tied, randomly choose the order if they'll be in the closed tournament either way.
  7. If the order matters, I may pick a tiebreaker puzzle during the bye week where I verify that everyone is good to play.

Closed Tournament

To get the 16 players for the closed tournament, I'll first pull the top 8 from the upper tier, then rescore players in the lower tier without considering those 8, then pull the top 8 from the the lower tier. This should avoid a ton of ties for lower tier placement. This has a side effect of making the lower tier winners a bit of a surprise!

Unlike last year, we have a double-elimination tournament this time around! However, the loser's bracket will be competing against each other in an open-style contest, while the winner's bracket will be 1-on-1 contests only.

Winner's Bracket

Loser's Bracket


Tournament Rewards

Closed tournament rewards are partially sponsored by Zachtronics Industries this year!

Grand Champion: Any game on Steam (<$70), plus a 3D-printed SpaceChem pin from Zachtonics Industries, plus SpaceChem: Limited Edition!

2nd Place: A cheaper game on steam (<$35), a SpaceChem pin, and a copy of SpaceChem: Limited Edition!

3rd place (winner of the Loser's Bracket tiebreaker): A $5-$10 game on Steam or a forums upgrade, along with either a SpaceChem pin or a copy of SpaceChem: Limited Edition.

4th place (loser of the Loser's Bracket tiebreaker): A SpaceChem pin! You also get a special prize from meZachtronics.

Code Obfuscation Challenge

I am well aware that some players hate to compete and just want a chance to show off amusing solutions. I am probably one of them.

For them, I present the Code Obfuscation Challenge! Over the course of the tournament, players can submit hard-to-read, buggy, or otherwise interesting solutions to any puzzle in this tournament. To preserve my sanity, solutions should take less than 15 minutes to run at full speed. I will pick my favorite 8, and players will vote on them during the final round of the loser's bracket.

The #1 solution will be awarded a game on Steam valued at $25 or less along with a copy of SpaceChem: Limited Edition.

With all of that aside, I unfortunately cannot claim to be as notable as GuavaMoment in the world of SpaceChem, but I did place 2nd in last year's tournament, performing consistently high in just about every challenge. I also demonstrated some pretty interesting bugs while doing so. Why not make a couple of puzzles that show them off as valid solution methods?

I'd hate to break from Guava's excellent standard too much, so like last time, I will be showing off the best and most interesting solutions in video/graph/gif format.


Round 1 - Pop Quiz
The Chem in SpaceChem

Round 2 - Numbers
The Chem in SpaceChem

Round 3 - Destroying Atoms
The Chem in SpaceChem

Round 4 - Revenge of Polymers
The Chem in SpaceChem

Round 5 - Simple Production
The Chem in SpaceChem

"Random" Inputs by Prenton
Phases of Water by Tulip

Round 6 - Quantum Junctions and Quantum Tunnels
The Chem in SpaceChem 1
The Chem in SpaceChem 2

Fluoroantimonic Acid by Tulip

Round 7 - Isomers
The Chem in SpaceChem

Round 8 - Random Inputs and Ions
The Chem in SpaceChem

Distillation by Feinne


Round 1
Round 1 - The Chem
Round 1 Results & Round 2
Mass Contact by Feinne
Round 2 - The Chem
Round 2 Results & Round 3
Round 3 - The Chem
Round 3 Results & Round 4
Round 4 - The Chem
Round 4 Results
Round 5
Round 5 Results

Code Obfuscation Submissions
Code Obfuscation Results

Round 6
Round 6 Results

Puzzle Editing by WildM
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