Overview of the Synergy City game
Are you interested in urban planning? Do you look at the city around you and think to yourself: "I know how to better it"? Or, maybe, you even dream of the smart-o-poils of the future? But you don't know what to grab first, or where to get resources for development? Now imagine instead that resources are being regenerated and this quest is not distracting you from following your ideal. Here you are, gathering with your colleagues in the comfort of a coffee shop or a creative hub, holding cards from a deck of projects — feeling the support with which you would have built them all at once»
This is the essence of the game: the creation of a model of a renewed city in team interaction by discussing the compatibility of projects. Togetherness is the keyword in game mechanics. On the other hand, although the strategy of "becoming a winner at the expense of others" is not inherent to this game, there is a score for the efficiency of each participant. Growing personally in close cooperation with others, and mutuality helping them to do the same — this is the feeling that arises during the game.
This is so unlike the usual board games (such as Machi Koro, Dune, Ticket to Ride, and Thurn und Taxis), where resources or commissions must be obtained and fulfilled in a competitive battle for the most profitable solutions.
Synergy means that four players form six network connections, and six players pump this number up to fifteen. These connections mean that while investing leadership in their projects, everyone also supports the projects of others, engaging resources for their own; together they should form an effective and resilient ecosystem of the city.
Although the game is built on the classic foundations: cards of projects, events and characters — all of these defined by parameters — also resource chips, and a tablet for calculation, this is not "Monopoly", where randomness rules everything.
The most important mechanism, the drive of the game is the ability to communicate. Present your project as an Entrepreneurial leader, listen to the presentations of others; defend projects that fit into the ecosystem in the discussion; create a picture of the city that goes beyond the descriptions on the cards. It is also the ability to assess one's strengths: to move without undue caution, but also to stop in time, not to recruit many "favorites". By engaging various capital from other people, bring everything desired to fruition without wasting resources.
In short, this is a game about leadership. Enthusiasm which is the living force within the person who is a member of the synergistic city team. And precisely, leadership is shown to be the most limited of renewable resources, because the focus of attention and time to implement one's brilliant ideas are like that in real life. Therefore, the goal of the game is to teach people how to manage this most valuable resource, under the conditions of a steady influx of others. Some will mention here that in economic games with territories and routes, you can also rush things and fail to build what was claimed — this is the only similarity.
What exactly is in the box?
60 Project cards, 30 Event cards, and 6 Individual Strategies. Also, Capitals tokens, which should be enough for all the player's tablets, there are seven of these per turn, except for Leadership — two of those.
The five Capitals symbolically reflect each project's need for involvement:
human (green) — means a thirst for knowledge and growth;
cultural (red) — meanings, values, and creative practices of the city;
social (purple) — flexibility of communication networks, trust in connections;
infrastructural (blue) — the state of the urban environment, the nervous system of the circulation of the other capitals;
financial (orange) — funds for investment in projects.
Four of these capitals (except the last one) define the areas of the city's development, preserving the color of capital and its essence. The colour indicates that much more social investment in this particular capital will be needed. Considering the fact that this is a game about the ecosystem, horizontally the projects are not connected by parameters. Creating all the additional connections is a meta-task for the imagination and eloquence of the team players.
Financial capital does not have its own similar set of cards, it is rather like an ocean connecting islands of projects.
The six orange Individual Strategies correspond to the six main principles of the Spilnokosht, a crowdfunding mechanism on the Big Idea engagement platform. Four of them strengthen projects according to the colors of the capitals of creativity and receive points for the largest number of implemented projects in the industry. The "Trendsetter" strategy is focused on strengthening a direction that develops spontaneously during the game. The "Multidisciplinary expert", on the other hand, has an interest in collecting sets of four capitals. I wonder how they will come to agree.
Finally, Events were designed to reduce the linearity and predictability of the game. They affect the number and regeneration of capital tokens, allow their exchange, and suddenly speed up or slow down the implementation of projects.
The Course of the Game
To begin, players assign roles in the team - Individual Strategies. That is, each participant indicates his confidence to perform in a specific capital theme. For example, they better understand infrastructure projects. Strategies help to feel the balance between individual development and contribution to the teamwork. Afterwards the players should agree among themselves on how they will celebrate the successful completion of each of the five (or more) rounds. You can "celebrate" the end of the round with a simple handshake in a circle, or you can raise your glasses, as you like. It creates an appreciation of small steps towards a big achievement.
Before each round, an Event, upon which the team has no effect, occurs, and in its realities, players declare their intentions to lead the chosen projects.
So, what is a Project? The title and photo should set you up for the pitch — a true innovation at stake that you understand and empathize with. It encourages you to think about something close to your heart in reality. And when you, as an entrepreneurial leader, describe the importance and urgency of implementing this project in a smart city, it is already a kind of rehearsal for future performances. The "cost" of the implementation of the project is reflected in numbers, namely how many chips of each of the five capitals must be placed by the other players of the team. But as we go, there are fewer and fewer similarities with entertainment games.
As the "city" grows, proposals must take into account the construction of a functional ecosystem. Some cards have characteristics that affect them. The Individual Strategies of each member of the team can lead to attempts to persuade others to develop profitable directions. It is impossible to build everything on your own - and it is not necessary. Convince others of the vitality of your vision, and do not forget to listen to them, for the sake of a common balanced result.
After a round of pitches and discussions, team members take on the role of Social Investors. Projects are evaluated according to the extent to which they become part of the ecosystem, and their managers - according to the ability to manage the five capitals and bring the project to completion by personal leadership. An important factor in decision-making is the complexity of the project, which looks like a clock on the card because it is a symbol of giving ideas time and attention. Did you declare "long-term" and then take a side "pet" project? And the Leadership chips were well calculated so that the investment for three or more rounds did not burn? A little mechanics, so as not to get carried away with eloquence. Implementation of the project brings the player points indicated on the map. Calculating the benefit of points relative to leadership and investment is not easy because investment is affected by a non-numerical aspect of the game — team communication.
Definition of the Winner
Even though "Synergy" is a cooperative game, there is an incentive for the top leader of the team. Each of the participants collects points according to the cost of completed projects, for random events, and additionally for the implementation of the character's strategy (for observing one theme or a set of four capitals). This is how the table of efficiency of contributions to the common cause is formed. By scoring more than others, as in most entertainment games, you will get extra applause. But the most important thing, when everything is calculated and all the discussions are over, look at the table: does the city of your common dream, smart and ecosystem-like, appear from the maps?
To conclude the game, the team describes together the city they have created and developed during the game. And this is the main source of well-being in the Synergy City game
Reviewed by YASKR