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Subject: Single Play review of Synod rss

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Reed Dawley
United States
Delmar
New York
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I wish I could play more games.
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I was looking for a short game to play with my girlfriend, we were both tired and playing a long deep game was out of our mental reach. Luckily for us Synod game in today with GearSeed and we had our game. I read the rules a couple of times and tried to puzzle it out and then realized this is just one of those games where you just need the basics to get going.

Setup: You shuffle the 15 card noble deck and deal out 3 to each person which they can look at but should keep secret. Next you "shuffle" the 3 Faction cards and draw 2 and flip them to the Faction side, leave the 3rd face down and place all 3 of them in the center of the play space. You can set the Noble (draw) deck on the side of the starting player to keep track of who was the first player. Setup is quick and easy.

Playing the game: The game is played by drawing a card and playing a card. Yup, that simple. Each card has a faction, a number of influence symbols, a power and a scheme at the bottom. You can play your card face up or face down from your hand. If you play it face down you don't get to use its ability but at the end of the game you get to score its scheme at the bottom if you fit the requirements(2 examples: 1 point if you have more than three of a certain faction or 1 point if you have only one lady in your tableau). You can only have 2 face down cards in your tableau. If you play it face up you earn the favour of that faction and take the Faction card (if it isn't the Synod card), then you get to use the card you played ability and then the faction ability. Then you discard down to 2 cards in hand and play goes to the next player. A note about discarding, when cards are discarded they are put on the bottom of the Noble deck. Play goes back and forth until the draw deck runs out then the second player gets 1 more turn, although they can't draw obviously if there are no cards left, but they can still play 1 last card. Then you flip over your face down cards and check to see if your schemes score (up to 2 points), add a point for every Faction card they have (1 per card) then add up the faction icons in each players tableau and the highest score takes the Synod card (2 points). Then total up points and see who wins.

Like I said, both of us were tired so the rules appeared to be gibberish as I was reading them (they are actually pretty straightforward when I went over them after a cup of coffee or three) so we do as we always do, just jump into the game and roll with it. We started getting used to stealing cards and drawing and discarding and how the powers worked and it just kind of flowed. The thing is there are 15 cards in 3 factions, so really there are only 5 unique cards in the game but playing them to grab the faction power from the opponent and getting to use it is a good thing. Deciding what schemes you can pull off and playing cards face down becomes an interesting decision. I had a Thorned Lord face down because I had a hand of thorns and I reckoned I could score it. I had a Bishop face up and I used a Gremlin Emissary to steal a Bishop from my opponent and then another Emissary to steal another Bishop(See "Things we messed up" section). I was able to score 1 scheme, we each had 1 Faction card (Thorned for me and Coalkin for her) and I had the most influence points so I snagged the Synod card for another 2 points.

My Thoughts: This is still a light game and I think it is actually smaller than Love Letter physically if you add in the Love Letter Bits but it felt like more of a game. I dig a game of Love Letter, it is quick and fun and good to take on the go because it fits so easily in a bag and takes up a small amount of table space. This game pretty much kills Love Letter for me. It is portable with a small footprint but feels like more of a game. I felt that I had more agency in it. Do I want to play this Thorned card now even though I already have the favour of the Thorned or do I want to hold off and play a Coalkin to take that favour away from them. I can hope they play a Thorned and then I can take it back next round and fire off it's power. The choices are fun, if I can see I wont be able to take all the Bishops and I have my Bishop face down I can try to get a Page out and change my scheme to another card(plus the bonus of firing the Bishops power and maybe being able to take a card from the opponent or maybe it is better to grab up 1 of my cards and be able to use it again on a future turn). I enjoyed the game a lot and it will make it's way into my bag for when I need a quick game with a little meat to it. I am also looking forward to digging into it a bit more and seeing how the strategies evolve.

Things we messed up: We scored all schemes face up or down, totaled the influence points and added them up then took the Synod card and added that in. Like I said, we were a bit tired (I work third shift and she works first shift so when I am getting up she is getting ready to go to sleep) and we didn't fully understand how the scoring worked going into it. I would have played my Bishop or Lady face down to score that scheme but that will be for next game.


Quick Card Reference for those interested (it makes way more sense with the cards in front of you):

Card Powers (when played face up)
Bishop: You may move another card of influence of two or less from the faction you played to your hand(from your tableau or your opponents) then discard a card.
Emissary: Exchange this card for an opponents card that is not the same faction as the Emissary you played
Lady: You may search the deck for a card of the faction played, reveal it and add it to your hand, shuffle the Noble deck
Lord: You may draw two cards. If you do, discard two cards or 1 card from that faction from your hand
Page: You may reveal one of your face down cards of the same faction played, if you do use it's ability and play 1 card from your hand face down.

Card Schemes (when played face down, scored at end of game, max of 2 cards)
Bishop: Score 1 point if you have the most Bishop cards
Emissary: Score 1 point if the opposing player has 2 or more cards of that faction
Lady: Score 1 point if this is the only LADY card you have
Lord: Score 1 point if you have 3 or more cards of that faction
Page: Score 1 point if this is the only card of its faction in your tableau

Favor cards (when you play a card of this faction, if you do not already have the faction card, take the faction card and use the power)
Coalkin: When you gain the favour of the Coalkin play the top card of the deck, ignore its ability and discard 1 of your cards from play
Gremlins: When you gain the favour of the Gremlins shuffle the deck and draw 1 card
Throned: When you gain the favour of the Thorned the opposing player discards a card and draws a card
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Reed Dawley
United States
Delmar
New York
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I wish I could play more games.
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Collecting games is not playing games.
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I want to add that all my plays of Love Letter up to this were two player games. I played Love Letter Batman yesterday with 3 and 4, still enjoyed it, but I kept thinking of SYNOD while I was playing it. I cheated on LLB with SYNOD in my mind.
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Christian K
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Thanks for the review
 
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