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SYNC Discovery

In this game designed from Proton Games, designer Alexandr Ushan, best known for Spyfall (Hobby World), has concocted a science fiction premise about sending phantom avatars from history and literature to make contact with distant worlds. We didn't feel the need to trouble ourselves overly with this, so we didn't try to figure out why we this bizarre means of interstellar contact was predicated on the human operatives being unable to speak to each other or use gestures to communicate. Suffice to say, SYNC Discovery is a cooperative deduction game where the 2-5 players are trying to get on the same wavelength as each other so that they try to discern connections between the 'key cards' that are before them with the historical or literary figure 'phantom' from the options on the table.

If you play on 'auto' mode, you'll have key cards dealt entirely at random. In 'manual' mode, players have a hand of key cards from which they choose one. There's never any 'correct' answer; you just need all the players to make the same association so that they all pick the same 'phantom'. The gimmick for the game is that players each have a 'Synchronizer' device for indicating the number of the 'phantom' they associate with the key cards on display. The Synchronizer also indicates how confident players are in their selection... If you choose the green indicator, you are telling the other players that you reckon the key cards point clearly to one obvious choice. Amber signals that you're not as sure - maybe you've discounted one possibility but you're maybe 50/50 between two possible options. If you signal red, you're indicating you haven't a clue and can't narrow a connection down even to a 50/50 choice. The conceit of the game tho' is that players aren't allowed to sigh or huff or comment or editorialise in any way: communication can only be via their Synchronizer...

There's a bit more agency for players in responding to their traffic light indicators. The team does have a certain number of 'block' tokens, so if a player is signalling red the lead player for the round can play a token to that uncertain player's Synchronizer to exclude them from the round so it doesn't matter which phantom they choose. Likewise, block tokens can be played to exclude a phantom from being selected (useful for resolving those 50/50s) or for discounting a key card.

You play until the 2-5 players have achieved five successes (a win!) or they fail five times. As in the not dissimilar Ensemble (Ares Games), the game increases the difficulty as you play; in this case by adding extra 'phantom' avatars to choose between every time you succeed. However, as with similar deduction, association and communication games - for example, Wavelength (CMYK) and Secret Identity (Funnyfox/Hachette) - the more you play the more players appreciate and adjust to each others' thought processes. And of course it helps that you're allowed an inquest after any fail.

SYNC Discovery comes with a hefty deck of >180 key cards along with 42 historical phantoms and 42 fictional characters. The phantoms are large format cards, all attractively illustrated by M81 Studio. The historical figures include the usual suspects - Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, Napoleon - but there are also some in the mix that might not expect, including Diogenes, HP Lovecraft and Antonio Gaudi. The fictional characters are almost all denizens of fairy tales and popular classics - from Alice to Zorro. Suffice to say, there's enough variety and variation in the box for ample replayabilty.

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