Synergy and Degeneracy

Synergy is important in game design. The pieces nned to fit together and interact well. Taking an action in one section of the game should make it easier to progress in another.

Synergy between the parts of the game allows this improvement to occur, it lets you plan your strategy and have control over what you are doing, and what you want to do.

Degeneracy is the evil twin of synergy, it’s synergy dialled to 11. Things work together so well that they can’t be beaten by other methods, and there’s no reason to not play the degenerate strategy, as it so superior it will win.

You can design in synergy, but it’s almost impossible to exclude degeneracy, especially as a game becomes more complex, or involves more pieces.

Your playtesters are the people that will find the degeneracy. Get someone who likes poking and pushing until they break things, and they will find the bad. They’ll take the “Protection from Paper” and twin it with a rock.

Pick your playtesters well and the degeneracy will be found, so people get to play all of the fun strategies you’ve designed in, not just the one that wins.

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