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Choose you warriors. Assign them their powers, from Acrobatic Evasion to Zorch Ball. Then go out and smite your foes, before they smite you.
Strange Synergy is built around 100 different Power Cards... super-powers, mutations, skills, gadgets. Draw nine cards, and divide them between your warriors. You choose the combination! Do you want three strong fighters, or two wimps and one hyper-abusive combat monster? Can you create the unbeatable team? Can your skilled play defeat superior powers?
I suggest playing the first game with only two warriors per team. It takes too long to read all the cards, for a 4 person game that's 36-40 cards.
But, surprisingly, given the sheer number of cards and the extreme changes to the rules that they have, the learning curve isn't really all that steep. After a single game you've seen nearly half the cards and recognize them on sight. And most (but not all) interactions between cards are fairly clear.
In my first game in a four person game the team with the kickass powers ended up losing because of a few tactical errors. The end-game ended up being an almost chess-like end-game using mental barriers to protect the flag and the warriors.
A lot of people complain about the 'balance' since inevitably some teams end up with better skill combinations than others, and some combinations are seemingly unbeatable. But in a 3-4 person game the team with the unbeatable warriors ends up getting beat upon by other players using their secret powers in clever ways. This may be a problem with 2 person games however.
I ran/played this game for an entire weekend at CopperCon 23 (in Phoenix, AZ, USA). It's a fun, face paced, easy to learn game. It inspired much creativity in developing each team, as well as ongoing discussions of 'If I had this power, plus that one and then got something like that other one, I'd be unstoppable!' and then see such ideas come to fruition and then someone finds a sneaky way to stop it anyway. All in all, a very successful game for Steve Jackson Games. The feel of the game has echoes of Wiz-War, and a few elements of FRAG! Hey! Non-collectible super-hero miniatures battles!! Woohooo!!
I had to get this game the other night after reading about the basic concept. I love the idea of a deck of random powers, and having to cobble heroes together out of them. It makes for an interesting idea with the same feel as heroclix, but without the large amounts of movement or the ability to create a team that works well together. This games biggest asset, is also its biggest problem which is the idea of the powers being random. A very fun idea, but in a two player game this makes knowing when to concede a very important skill. Sometimes one member of a team is so important that if lost the game is over, it will just take 50 or 60 turns to make that outcome final. The game can drag on a little, but I would imagine that a game of more than 3 players would be a lot of fun, and I think a lot of the heroclix and crimson skies maps might also work with this game.
The cards are as high a quality as you are going to see in most any game, about the quality of Bicycles or Bees. The pieces are all cardboard, which I think might become a problem after 50 or so games of this. A lot of the cardboard pieces are very small and insert into the cardboard warrior pieces, I think this will cause things to get hurt after a while. Hopefully better playing pieces will be made, like they have for Munchkin.
EASE OF PLAY:
If you are already a heroclix player this game is very easy to pick up and understand. If you arent I imagine this is still not very hard to figure out. The only problem I foresee is with trying to figure out how powers interact, which is just a bit dicey no matter how much you play heroclix. Its good to talk it out, and let everyone figure out how to rule some of the cards. With time I think this game gets easier to figure out, it just takes a little getting used to the powers and how to use them. This is not the easiest game to pick up and play, but with gamers or clixers this will not take more than one game to get used to.
STRATEGY VS LUCK:
Any game with a deck of cards is going to be random, and this game is no exception. The luck of the draw can hold the end of the game, before the first turn starts. If you draw powers that dont work well together, or that void your team ability, you are in a lot of trouble, and there is not much you can do to dig yourself out of the hole, thats just the way it goes. The strategy is in formation, movement and placement of powers. I have seen most games won and lost over putting the right powers together, and in a capture the flag game, the flag with the right member. This is not ALL luck, but more than a lot of board games.
HOUSE RULES OR PERSONAL CHANGES:
In the rule book Steve Jackson games suggests a few different versions of how you can play this game. I think more than most games, SS lends itself to many, many different versions. They suggest capture the flag, and deathmatch, a version with 3 characters per team, and a version with 2, a fragish version with hit points and gadgets on the board. I like all of these, and also think a league version, with the ability to get extra powers, and guaranteed powers for future games might be amusing. As would a tourney game where characters that get killed are lost in the next round of play, making the surrender option one you would actually consider.
In the box are 6 teams, 4 that are preconstucted, and two that just have a base and flag, you need to make the team ability, so my ideas for a few new team abilities:
Wizard team: after every other team gets their power cards, this team starts from the top card of the deck and takes the first 9 power cards with the Magic ability
Robot Team: same as the wizard team, but they get ALL the leftover gadgets, and lose a HP every time they lose a gadget, like the power card robot body you can be effected by magnetism.
Ghost team: this team can always move diagonally for the movement part of their turn.
The beyonders : they can see all hidden power cards from all players, but cant warn one team about anothers abilities.
Just a few thoughts, I have to admit I have yet to try them out, but I think they might be amusing.
I think a lot of people are going to cry about broken cards, and broken combos in this game, but thats just how it works. All the cards break the rules in huge ways OR allow you to have an offensive or defensive bonus. So by nature of the way the game is made the cards will be broken, you just have to hope that your opponent will not have the right cards at the right time, or wont see how to put them together.
The game is a lot of fun, especially for comic book fans, it can get a little tedious if you dont know when you are beaten, but for the most part a great game that is worth the time and money.