Lab Mayhem Comprehensive Rules 1.0

These rules are as in-depth as possible, attempting to cover the vast majority of situations and terms that come up when playing Lab Mayhem. You probably don't need to refer to them unless you have a specific question about the rules unanswered by our Quick Start guide.

If the rules below do not answer your question, don't hesitate to contact us. Any rules confusion you may have will help us refine these rules as well as develop an FAQ.


Lab Mayhem is a competitive profession! Your goal is to defeat your opponent alchemist by destroying their alchemical workshop.

Preparing to Play

To play a game of Lab Mayhem, you'll need an opponent and a deck of cards. In a constructed format where you bring your own deck to the table, you may build your deck from any cards you own. Your deck can have up to four of any card, and must contain exactly 44 cards.

Playing Cards

Every card in Lab Mayhem can be played three different ways: assembled as a recipe, played as a room, or used as a reagent.

Assembling Recipes
Assembling a card means to pay a card's cost and produce its effect. Cards are most commonly assembled from their owners' hands. Every card costs ingredients to assemble, which are indicated in the upper-right corner of the card.
Rooms represent a section of your lab that you have emptied out, a clean workspace. Once per turn, you may play a room by placing a card from your hand face down. Rooms are used to produce ingredients from reagents.
Every card has a reagent value, indicated in a bar on the bottom of the card. You may play a card as a reagent from your hand or from your scrapheap. Most commonly, reagents produce ingredients, but some also have special effects. To play a reagent, the card is placed rotated 180˚ in an unoccupied room. Only one reagent may be played per room per turn. Reagents with the [Recycle] symbol are put into your scrapheap upon use, while reagents without it are vaporized after use.

Card Types (Recipes)

Recipe cards are physical, printed cards that can be used to make a deck. There are four kinds of recipe in Lab Mayhem: servants, transmutations, spellbombs, and nexuses.

Servants represent a semi-sentient being you’ve constructed alchemically. Every servant has four statistics that determine its offensive and defensive capabilities. When you assemble a servant, it goes into your entourage.
Transmutation cards represent a modification to a servant. Every transmutation is attached to a servant upon assembly, and remains in play, usually with an ongoing effect. If a servant is removed from play, all transmutations attached to it are removed from play in the same way.
A one-use card representing a volatile concoction with a near-magical effect. Spellbombs are used immediately upon assembly, ending up in the scrapheap.
Nexuses are places of power, persistent magical effects tied to a physical location. They remain in play once assembled, usually with ongoing effects. Their nature makes them vulnerable to vandals—attacking servants can choose to attack and damage nexuses. All nexuses have 4 life. Completely vandalized nexuses are turned face down. (They become empty rooms.)

Location Terms

Areas of Play

Your deck is your laboratory. It represents the massive building out of which you conduct your business. Each card represents something your laboratory is capable of producing. In addition to defending your lab with servants, you may protect it withfortification.
Your hand contains the cards immediately available for you to play during your turn. Only you can see your hand unless a card specifically says otherwise.
The discard pile. To "scrap" a card means to send it to the scrapheap. Cards discarded from hand, expended reagents, assembled spellbombs, and any scrapped permanent cards (nexuses, servants, transmutations) go here, as well as cards discarded from the top of your laboratory by damage.
Cards that have been vaporized have been permanently removed from the game.


Servants currently in play (as well as transmutations attached to those servants) are always in one of the following zones.

Entourage Zone
Servants in your entourage zone are those capable of defending your laboratory. They may be dispatched to attack enemy servants and laboratories. When a servant is first assembled, it enters play in the entourage zone.
Dispatch Zone
When a servant attacks or uses certain abilities, it is dispatched to the dispatch zone. This represents leaving the vicinity of your laboratory and being unable to defend it. Servants may also be dispatched to the dispatch zone by other means. To return a dispatched servant to your entourage, you must recall it.
Familiar Zone
One servant may occupy your familiar zone at a time. This servant acts as a personal aide and research assistant, contributing to your alchemical endeavors rather than to your offensive efforts. Having a familiar causes you to rummage during your Explore step. Some servants have bonus abilities that only activate while they are in the familiar zone. Servants in the familiar zone don’t participate in battle. Players can't play cards or abilities targeting a familiar.
Sometimes, a card can 'hide' another card, usually temporarily. The hidden card ceases to interact with the rest of the game, and only obeys the specific rules of the card that hid it. If a card is hidden beneath a card that leaves play, the hidden card leaves play in the same way unless otherwise specified by the card the hid it. Hidden cards don't count as being in play; they don't dispatch or recall; their abilities—including triggered abilities—can't be activated. Cards attached to a hidden card are hidden alongside it, and return with it if ever. Hidden cards retain counters and damage. When a card is hidden or unhidden, it doesn't count as leaving or entering play or changing zones for the purposes of triggers that care about that.

Beginning the Game

Each player puts their Starting Familiar (see "The Familiar") into their familiar zone, then draws 7 cards. Randomly select a player; that player chooses whether they want to go first. The player who takes the first turn skips their first draw, but otherwise proceeds as normal.


Each player may vaporize any number of cards in their hand before the game begins. The first time a player mulligans, that player draws the same number of cards he or she vaporized in this way. On subsequent mulligans, the player draws that number of cards -1. Cards vaporized in this process remain vaporized throughout the game, reducing the size of the mulliganing player's laboratory.

Steps of the Turn

  1. Recall
    1. Check for “beginning of turn” triggered abilities.
    2. Recall all dispatched servants you control to your entourage. (Except stunned servants.)
  2. Explore
    1. You uncover more useful things in your lab. Draw one card.
    2. If you control a familiar, it rummages about, attempting to aid you in your search for ingredients, recipes, and workspace. Rummage. (Draw a card. If you do, discard a card.) Some rare familiars may modify or replace this action, as specified on the card.
  3. Alchemy
    1. You may play up to one card from your hand face-down as a room.
      • You may look at the rooms you control at any time. (Do this to remind yourself which cards you've played as rooms, whether or not you have traps, etc.)
    2. Play any number of reagents from your scrapheap and/or hand, up to the number of rooms you control. Reagents occupy rooms, and cannot be played into rooms that already contain reagents. You must play all your reagents at once.
    3. Produce ingredients from any cards you control that have resource-generating abilities.
    4. Expend any number of reagents to produce ingredients.
      • To expend a reagent, check for a recycling icon next to the card’s reagent value. If there is a recycling icon, scrap the card. If there is no recycling icon, vaporize the card. (Remove it from the game.)
      • Some reagents may have special effects that occur when you expend them, replacing the normal effect of producing ingredients. These effects trigger at the same time you get your ingredients, and must resolve—in an order of your choosing—before the next step.
    5. (In no particular order:)
    6. Play any number of recipes, using ingredients from your workbench.
      • Servants are assembled into your entourage.
      • Nexuses are assembled alongside your rooms.
      • Transmutations are assembled attached to servants.
      • Spellbombs are used as they are assembled.
    7. You may select, dismiss, or swap out your familiar at any time during this step. To do so, simply set aside the servant you wish to use as your familiar. And if you previously had a familiar whom you would like to send back into the fray, move that servant over to join the rest of your servants in your entourage.
    8. You may activate any number of activated abilities on your nexuses and servants.
      • (Servants that entered play or left your familiar zone this turn, unless they are eager, can’t use activated abilities.)
    9. You don’t need to expend all your reagents. You may leave reagents in rooms (occupying them) for a later turn.
  4. Attack
    1. Each servant in your entourage may attack. Dispatch your attacking servants, and assign them to your opponent's unattacked servants. Multiple servants may attack the same servant. Then, if your opponent controls no unattacked servants in their entourage, you may assign attackers to their laboratory or nexuses.
      • (Servants that entered play or left your familiar zone this turn can’t attack unless they are eager.)
      • If your opponent’s lab size has already been reduced to 0, assign attackers to each room that player controls as though that room were a separate laboratory. 1 damage is sufficient to scrap a room. You can't attack rooms unless your opponent's lab size is 0 at the beginning of your attack step.
    2. Once all attacking servants have been assigned, the defending player may activate traps. Traps are activated by expending reagents still occupying the defending player's rooms and then turning one of those rooms face-up and assembling it for its trap cost. (Reagents expended this way must provide appropriate ingredients for the cost of the trap; defending players may not expend reagents just to expend them.)
      • If a trap removes a servant from battle, servants that were being attacked by that servant are now considered unattacked.
      • If a trap puts a servant into your entourage, this servant is considered unattacked. This does not force the attacking player to reassign servants that are assigned to attack a laboratory or nexus, but the unattacked servant(s) may block (see below).
    3. The defending player may have any number of unattacked servants in their entourage "block"—that is, enter battle with an attacking servant. (Multiple defending servants may block the same attacking servant.) Any attacking servant may be blocked in this manner, including those that were assigned to attack the defender's laboratory or nexus. Such servants are no longer attacking those laboratories or nexuses—they have become entangled in servant battle and can't reach the defending player's base.
    4. Combat damage occurs—each servant engaged in battle with another servant or servants deals damage equal to its COMBAT statistic, divided as its controller desires amongst the servants it is facing. A servant's ARMOR statistic prevents that much combat damage each turn: subtract each servant's ARMOR from total combat damage assigned to that servant. Any damage a servant sustains is permanent, remaining on that servant from turn to turn. Represent damage with counters or dice. Damage happens simultaneously. Any effects triggered by combat damage resolve after all damage is dealt.
    5. Servants that are attacking a laboratory deal damage equal to their VANDALISM statistic. For each damage dealt to the defending player's lab in excess of their fortification, scrap one card from the top of that lab (put it in its owner's scrapheap). Damage to fortification still counts as damage to laboratories for the purposes of effects that care about damaging laboratories.
    6. Nexuses take damage in the same way as labs, from their attackers' VANDALISM statistic. Like labs, they are protected by fortification, and fortification must be reduced to 0 before nexuses can take damage. Nexuses that would be scrapped by damage are turned face down. (They become rooms.)
  5. Cleanup
    1. You may send your familiar to your entourage.
    2. You may dispatch any number of servants from your entourage to represent sending them away from your base. Place them in your dispatch zone. This leaves your laboratory more vulnerable, but protects any servants you may not wish to lose in combat.
    3. Lose all ingredients produced this turn. (Reagents still in your rooms remain there.)
    4. Check for “end of turn” triggered abilities.

Winning and Endgame

To win, you must first reduce your opponent’s laboratory (their deck) to 0 cards, typically by damaging the lab with servants and spellbombs. Whenever a source deals damage to a lab, it scraps a number of cards from the top of that lab equal to the damage dealt.

Then if that player has any rooms laid out on the table, you must destroy those rooms as well, either by using spellbombs or abilities that damage laboratories, or attacking them with servants who have a positive VANDALISM statistic. (If your opponent’s lab size has already been reduced to 0, you may assign attackers to rooms that player controls as though those rooms were separate laboratories. 1 damage is sufficient to scrap a room. You can't attack rooms unless your opponent's lab size is 0 at the beginning of your attack step.)

You win when your opponent has zero cards in their laboratory and no rooms in play.

Servant Statistics

The amount of damage a servant deals to laboratories and nexuses. If an opponent has no more cards left in their lab, an attacking servant with a positive vandalism score destroys a single room during battle.
The amount of damage a servant deals to servants it fights, before reduction due to ARMOR.
Servants with armor reduce damage they would receive in combat. Armor applies once per turn; once it has prevented damage equal to the indicated number, it becomes inactive until the next turn. (Armor does not apply to damage received from spellbombs, transmutations, or nexuses, or from servant abilities outside of combat.)
The amount of damage a servant can take before dying. A servant dies the instant it has taken damage equal to its life.

Order of Stat Modifications

  1. The servant’s stats are as written on the card.
  2. If appropriate, apply any changes from the servant's rules text (text written on the servant itself).
  3. Apply any outside effects that replace one or more of the servant’s stats.
  4. Apply any outside effects that add to or subtract from one or more of the servant’s stats.
  5. If multiple effects with similar priority would contradict each other, the most recent takes effect.


One servant may occupy your familiar zone at a time. If you have a familiar, during the explore step (after drawing a card), Rummage(Draw a card. If you do, discard a card.) Servants in the familiar zone don’t participate in battle and can’t be targeted.

Some servants have familiar abilities, indicated in the card's rules text with "Familiar —". These abilities only function when a servant is your familiar and do not replace the normal rummaging effect (unless otherwise stated).

Because familiars are in your laboratory with you, they cannot target or be targeted unless their familiar ability specifies so.

Only servants in your entourage may be moved to the familiar zone—dispatched servants can't be made into familiars. A familiar you choose to move back into your entourage cannot attack or use activated abilities until your next turn.

Starter Familiars

Some servants are "starter familiars," as indicated in their rules text. When you begin the game, you should remove one starter familiar from your deck and place it in your familiar zone. If you have multiple eligible starter familiars in your deck, you may choose any one of them at the beginning of each game you play.

Laboratory Statistics

Beyond just the number of cards in your deck, a laboratory can have other attributes.

Fortification is a stat representing how well-protected your laboratory is. Whenever a source would damage your laboratory, it damages your fortifications first. Fortification is permanently reduced by damage. When multiple sources damage a fortified laboratory at the same time, if the total damage exceeds the laboratory's fortification, the controller of those sources decides how that damage is distributed between fortification and the laboratory. Labs start with 0 fortification.

Actions, Abilities, and Effects Terminology

Game Terms

To send a servant from its controller’s entourage zone to its controller’s dispatch zone. Servants are dispatched when they attack, use some abilities, or are otherwise removed from their controller’s entourage. Dispatched servants can’t defend their controller’s laboratory. Servants dispatched before the attack step can’t attack—they have already been dispatched.
To return a dispatched servant to its controller’s entourage. Each dispatched servant (except stunned servants) is recalled at the beginning of its controller’s turn.
To put a card from play or from a laboratory into its owner’s scrapheap. This occurs when an effect calls for it (e.g. "scrap target nexus"), when a servant dies from combat damage or otherwise, or when a laboratory takes damage.
To choose and scrap a card you control.
To remove a card from the game, putting it in the vaporized zone. Non-recyclable reagents are vaporized when used.

Abilities and Effects (Keywords)

Cards scrapped by this are vaporized instead.
  • Sometimes a card or laboratory takes damage from multiple sources simultaneously. For the purposes of this ability, as well as any others that trigger when damage is dealt, the controller of those sources decides in which 'order' the sources deal damage, even though the damage does technically occur at the same time. This matters for things like bypassing armor or fortification.
  • Desecrators' replacement effect makes it such that when they deal lethal damage to nexuses, those nexuses are vaporized instead of turned face down.
  • Cards that do something when scrapped won't take effect when vaporized by a card with desecrator.
This servant can attack and use activated abilities the turn it enters play or leaves your familiar zone.
Fortify X
Increase your fortification by X. Damage dealt to your laboratory reduces your fortification first.
Heal [target] X
Remove X damage from [target].
  • If the target had no damage prior to being healed, effects that trigger when a servant is healed won't trigger.
Immune to [trait]
Prevent all damage cards matching [trait] would deal to this servant.
  • Clarification: Immunity does not prevent targeting or any other interactions; it only prevents damage. -1/-1/-1/-1 counters are not damage.
When this servant attacks, recall it to your entourage at the end of battle.
  • Stunned servants recall after attacking if they are mobile.
When you assemble this, reveal the top card of your laboratory. If it shares a discipline with this card, draw it.
  • If you don't draw the top card because it doesn't match, it stays on top of your laboratory.
  • The revealed card only has to match one discipline of the card with precursor, so a multidiscipline card with precursor can make you draw monodiscipline card and vice versa.
Once per turn, this servant may redirect to itself all damage from one source that would be dealt to another servant in its zone.
  • This redirection takes place before armor reduces the damage.
To rummage, draw a card. If you do, discard a card.
  • If you have no more cards in your lab, rummaging does nothing.
Stun [target]
[target] becomes "stunned," meaning it does not recall during its controller's recall step.
  • Other effects that recall it, including any special abilities possessed by the servant, such as mobility, continue to function.
  • "Unstun" removes the stun effect.

Minutiae of Gameplay

Triggered Abilities

Some cards have effects that take place when a given condition is met—for instance, "when a servant is scrapped from play" or "at the beginning of your turn." These abilities are 'triggered' abilities (they are triggered by a condition becoming true). Triggered abilities resolve when they are triggered. If multiple abilities are triggered at the same time, their controller can choose in which order they resolve, but they must all happen 'simultaneously' insofar as no non-triggered actions may take place in between. If both players have triggered abilities that trigger at the same time, the player whose turn it is resolves all of their triggers in any order, then the other player resolves all of their triggers in any order.

Activated Abilities

An activated ability is any ability with a cost for activation. For example, a servant could have the ability "Dispatch: Fortify 1." To activate this ability, you must pay the cost (dispatching the servant). Then you get the effect (fortifying 1). You may only activate abilities during your Alchemy step, even if they don't have an ingredient cost.

Attached and Hidden Cards Leaving Play

If a card is attached to or hidden beneath a card that leaves play, unless specific card rules interfere, the attached/hidden card leaves play in the exact same way. For example, if a servant would be scrapped from play due to receiving lethal damage, and there is a transmutation attached to it, the transmutation is also scrapped from play. If the source of the lethal damage is a desecrator, however, and the servant would be vaporized instead of scrapped, the transmutation is also vaporized.

Dispatching Familiars

Familiars may not dispatch to activate an ability, but may be dispatched as part of the resolution of an ability (activated or triggered). A dispatched familiar is a dismissed familiar: it is no longer your familiar, it is in your dispatch zone, and it will recall as normal to your entourage at the start of your next turn.

Leaving Reagents in a Room

If you have played a reagent into a room, and you don't expend it during your Alchemy step in order to produce ingredients, it remains there until the next time you use it, and that room counts as being occupied. Reagents may only be expended from rooms at two times: during your Alchemy step, and when being attacked (for the purposes of assembling traps). (Don't worry about your rooms becoming occupied forever: you may always expend reagents during your Alchemy step to produce spare ingredients which you don't need to use.) If a room would leave play, any reagent in that room leaves play in the same way, as an attached card would.

Moving Counters and Attachments

  • When a counter is moved, it doesn't count as being placed. It simply moves from one card to another.
  • When an attached card is moved to be attached to a different card, it doesn't count as leaving and reentering play—it remains in play, simply moving from one anchor card to another.