Our Syndicate review, what we have to say about the interplanetary conquest board game. This is a very intense 4x game in a Terraforming Mars wrapper, which if it is not clear, is a wonderful thing. There is a massive solar system to settle and it is a land grab to get the best bases at first and then it shifts to control and a balance of how much weigh science, military might and completion of side objectives.

You have resources and limited actions each turn and you need to choose wisely on how to use these. The trading and real estate mechanics apply a great mix of Catan and Monopoly that kicks player interaction and smooth-talking strategy up huge levels. This is all set against a well thought out crime in space theme that was clearly developed by the sci-fi writers that these game designers are.

We took a look across fun, replayability, player interaction, quality and art & style to come up with the overall score for our Syndicate review. See the breakdown by category below.

FOR MORE: Interview with Syndicate Creators | Syndicate Kickstarter


Fun (7 out of 10)

For the Fun section of the Syndicate review, we award a very good 7 out of 10. The game is an absolute blast, the only thing that holds you back is the complexity. This is not uncommon of the game type but there are so many things you need to keep track of. A triggers B if C is present but not if X is present type of stuff. It does a pretty good job to streamline everything given what it is but it is still a lot.

There is much more good than bad though. These games all come down to balance. You have about 4 different directions you could go in this one, and if one was more dominant than any other it would destroy everything, but it is all balanced. The game gives you so much great stuff you can take off the bat. If there was any one base that titlted the game it would be a disaster, but that is not the case here.

Replayability (7 out of 10)

For the replayability section of the Syndicate review, we give a very good 7 out of 10. Games say all the time that they have great replayability because a few of the components change every game. This is only true around a 33% of the time but Syndicate is on the good side. The balance previously mentioned is a big part of this.

Your “Syndicate” changes every game and they all have dramatic pros and cons. Not only do all the board bonuses and major events change every game, but you and all the other players strategies need to change. All this contributes to people not falling into patterns which makes for a truly replayable game.

Player Interaction (9 out of 10)

For the player interaction section of the Syndicate review, we award a nearly impossible to beat 9 out of 10. The high score is very simple, trading with nearly no restrictions. Whenever you can work this into a game and it can comfortably fit, you have accomplished something great. You can trade anything – bases, resources, science achievement, missions, and even less tangible things like alliances.

Another thing that helps the player interaction is that so many of the game mechanics put you head to head with another player, and also you with another player. You could split the award from a mission to make it a little easier for example or you could also choose to attack and steal the bases. There is a very full spectrum of options to both align with and destroy your opponents.

Quality (7 out of 10)

For the quality section of the Syndicate review, we give a very good 7 out of 10. When it comes to quality we always try to think about how well the game deals with challenges of its genre. The 4x genre can often be too complex and turn people off. While it is complex, they do a good job of streamlining everything and leaving smart notations and reminders to help you keep it all together.

The other important thing to note is that this is the first game from new company and that is scary, not knowing if they are going to be able to put out a good product. That is not the case with Syndicate, all the components, construction and more are all well done and can hold their own with any other game out there.

Art & Style (8 out of 10)

For the art & style section of the Syndicate review, we give a great 8 out of 10. The creators of this game are sci-fi writers and it shows. This could be a 100 episode epic TV show tomorrow, there is great character, story and overall, detail. The different syndicates have personality and everything has a very unique and cohesive feel.

The art is very well done, it is high end and looks like a combination of an educational space demonstration and a Dune meets Mad Max illustrative style. There is so much information to convey in the graphics and symbols which is all done at a very high level of competency.


Syndicate Review | Board Game Halv

We give a thumbs up to checking this one out. Syndicate is a wonderful and innovative explore, expand, exploit and exterminate (4x) game. It can get very intense but the designers do a great job of streamlining everything to keep things under control. It is very balanced, something so key for a game like this, and it is accentuated but the great thematics. This has been our Syndicate review.

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Editor's Rating:

See the full explanation of the judging criteria here.

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