Synergy of Serra: The Free-to-Play Deck-building Trading Card Game

Julian Sakowski
Aug 2 · 10 min read
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Synergy of Serra shapes a new game genre, merging classic Strategy Card Games with the infinite game experience possibilities of Deck-building Card Games. Join the six factions of biological and mechanical creatures in the defense of the planet Serra from an alien threat. Become the leading commander of Serra! It’s a free-to-play game without annoying pay walls.

The World of Serra

In a distant solar system caught between two stars, there is a planet overflowing with life and a prospering society. The society overcame their differences and created the perfect economy overseen by a just and rational council. This planet is called Serra.

The planet is inhabited by an advanced and diverse society that found ways to sustain the planet’s ecosystem. This society is divided into six factions, that live together in harmony. At least most of the time.

This peace was one day disturbed by findings during one of the deep space explorations to chart the unknown galaxy around Serra. The findings indicated a distant threat, devouring one planet system after another. Simulations demonstrated that sooner or later Serra would be one of the planets falling prey to this ancient threat.

Read more about the World of Serra.

Deck-building

Inspired by Deck-building games like Dominion, Synergy of Serra uses construction of a deck as the main element of gameplay. It is similar to collectible card games (CCGs) in that each player has their own deck. However, unlike CCGs, the majority of the deck is built during the game, instead of before the game. Typically, the cards provide a type of game currency that allows players to buy more cards to add to their decks. We wrote a full article about Constructed, Roguelike and Deckbuilder Card Games.

Gameplay

Disclaimer: The game is in a pre-alpha stage. At this stage, it is hard to find the sweet spot between publishing information about the gameplay and still be open-minded / flexible about strategy drawbacks that may occur while onboarding more players into the game. Meaning, all game mechanics are still subject for change.

Game Flow

Before a game starts, players are able to create a Suitcase full of 100 cards. When an opponent is matched, both suitcases are poured onto the table creating the Card Pool. Each player starts the game with only 10 cards (Starter Deck), taking 5 cards to their hand each turn. Whenever a turn is finished, the remaining hand cards are discarded and 5 new cards are drawn. So after 2 turns, the deck is empty. Thus, the Discard Pile is shuffled and becomes the Draw Pile again. The deck is played over and over again.
To create a stronger and deeply strategic deck, each turn a player is able to buy new cards from the River putting them into their Discard Pile. The River shows 5~6 semi-random cards (an algorithm decides only for cards that you are able to buy) from the Card Pool and offers them to the player.

There are two resource systems in Synergy of Serra, mana points to play cards from your hand into the battlefield. And there are gold coins to buy cards from the river. Each turn the mana points and gold coins are increased/replenished.
The goal of the game is to reduce your opponent’s hero to 0 life points.

Card Types

There are three types of cards: Power, Attachment, and unit cards:

Power cards like Hallucination from Incense can be thought of as a spell card. However, we are living in a sci-fi world without magic. ;)
This card’s power for example is time traveling, enabling complex strategies for sure. Further, power cards are used to heal, damage or buff units.

Attachment cards can be attached to slots on unit cards. The key word will become the unit’s effect. E.g. Shield generator provides a unit permanently with “Force Field”, which absorbs full damage once. The color of the attachment and the color of a used slot decides how many faction points are awarded. (More on faction points and boni in another article.)

Unit cards are.. well.. they are units to fight your opponent! They have attack/defense similar to other CCG games and when their defense drops to 0 the unit goes into the Discard Pile. Each unit has a specific number of slots that can be filled with attachments to enhance the unit. An attachment can be replaced, moving the previous attachment to the discard pile.

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Attaching SHIELD GENERATOR to BAGNI granting the “Force Field” effect

When a unit with an attachment goes to the discard pile, the attachment goes with the unit and is still there when played to the battlefield the next time.

Ressource System

Each card shows multiple numbers. The “mana costs” (green) used to play a card into the battle field. The “gold costs” (gold)to actually buy the card from the river into your deck. The attack (red rockets) and the defense (blue shield).


Collectible Cards

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Synergy of Serra Cards

Card Sets

At the moment, there are 159 different cards available in Synergy of Serra, divided into 4 different Sets: Promo Set, Starter Set, Base Set, and Transcendent Set. Cards without Edition Symbol are free cards that can’t be traded and thus are no NFTs!

Starter Set [Free cards]

These are 6 different cards, which are your start deck. A seed from which you will build your deck during the game (deck-building).

Base Set [Free cards]

The Base Set contains 90 different cards, which every player gets for free. With these you are ready to play. All Base Set cards are of Common Rarity.

Promo Set [Early Adopters; Promotions]

One of three limited Tech-Pioneer cards is rewarded to each early adopter of Synergy of Serra by signing up before the alpha starts. [NFT]

Base Set [Cosmetics]

All free Base Set cards can be received through crates or trading as a higher Quality (see below) cosmetic version. [NFT]

Transcendent Set [First expansion]

The Transcendent Set contains 60 distinct Expansion Cards, including the new Transcendent faction, in different Qualities and Rarities. [NFT]

Card Rarity

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Scarcity = Quality X Rarity

Scarcity has two dimensions on Serra. There is the Rarity dimension (Common 70%, Rare 24%, Epic 5%, Legendary 1%) and the Quality dimension (Painted Metal 84%, Bronze 10%, Silver 5%, Gold 1%). Multiplying both values gives you the overall scarcity of a card (chance to receive from a crate / $$$ value).


Crates

Transcendent Set Crates

The Transcendent Set contains 60 distinct Expansion Cards, including the new Transcendent faction, in different Qualities and Rarities. Each Transcendent Set Crate starts from $2 and contains 6 cards with different drop chances, scarcity in two dimensions. There is the Rarity dimension (Common 70%, Rare 24%, Epic 5%, Legendary 1%) and the Quality dimension (Painted Metal 84%, Bronze 10%, Silver 5%, Gold 1%). The most scarce card drawn from this crate is a golden Legendary (0.01% Chance)!

Base Set Crates

The Base Set Contains the 90 free Base Set Cards in higher Qualities. Each Base Set Crate starts from $1 and contains 6 cards with different drop chances regarding Quality (Bronze 75%, Silver 24%, Gold 1%). Since each player gets all 90 cards from the Base Set for free, there is no Rarity — all Base Set cards are valued as Common. Therefore, cards from Base Set Crates are higher quality, cosmetic versions of Base Set cards. These cosmetic cards are also tradable!

Crate Opening Event

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Single card from a Crate opening example

Crates can be traded from day one but remain locked until the Crate Opening Event because of our great demand for perfection. We wish to finish all card illustrations before unlocking the crates.


Blockchain

The goal for Synergy of Serra is to utilize blockchain technology in a way which enables specific features like true ownership and play-to-earn. It should be a bonus to gamers and not a barrier for playing! In Synergy of Serra players don’t even need to know that we are actually using blockchain in the background. There is no need for wallets, plugins, paying transaction fees or owning cryptocurrencies in the first place. All this is possible since we are hiding the technology in the background and use Matic Network as our underlying blockchain infrastructure.

Fungible Tokens (FTs) & Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

An NFT is essentially a unique representation of an asset or good in the form of a virtual token. NFTs are unique and cannot be replaced by another item. Users currently “hold” objects that have real value in the game but remain virtual on the company’s servers. If the company closes its doors, the objects “disappear”. With NFTs, objects will continue to exist on the Ethereum blockchain long after the issuing company is gone.
All cards received from crates are Non-Fungible Tokens (ERC1155 NFTs) while crates are Fungible Tokens itself. Meaning all creates can be traded and sold from day one on. The smart contract for all Synergy of Serra Assets is public and verified for anybody to check.

Matic Network

Matic enables scalable and instant blockchain transactions. It brings massive scale to Ethereum using an adapted version of Plasma with PoS based side chains.

We chose Matic Network since it is very accessible for developers and users at the same time. It’s very similar to Ethereum, building on the EVM developed through Solidity. Also Ethereum addresses can be used as Matic addresses, no need to recreate existing accounts / wallets.

Most gamers playing blockchain games are thrilled by the new possibilities while at the same time not getting used to the slow and expensive experience on Ethereum. Matic is a solution to fix these issues. Because of the fast block time (1–2secs) and the low transactions fees. We as developers are able to hide the blockchain technology in the background and make use of meta transactions. So users don’t have to pay fees but still have full control over their assets.

Economy

Pricing

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Crate Pricing Structure

Crate prices are escalating depending on how many crates of each type are sold already, supporting our early adopters! There won’t be bundles or any other kind of price reductions. The pricing structure is transparent from the beginning and anybody is able to enter when ever they feel comfortable. The project is still in development, thus the pricing starts very low for early believers.

Scrapping

To ensure no “useless” cards are lying around.. players can turn these cards into SCRAP and use it to buy new crates. Depending on the buy price, crates have a payback value of up to ~80% in SCRAP!
As part of the economy, scrapping will lead to less cards in circulating making the remaining cards more valuable over time. At the same time it creates a theoretical bottom limit for each card’s value since people would buy them to scrape and buy crates (conversion rate).

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Average 25% Payback on crates.

Disclaimer: Scrapping is a future feature and subject to change!

Seasonal Ladders (Play-To-Earn)

A specific amount (10~25%) of all revenue is put into a prize pool. That includes buys from crates but also a fee on trades. All players participating in ranked ladder games are able to fight for their share of the prize pool each season (1~4months). In contrast to other game tournaments, not only 1–8 people are earning rewards but hundreds or thousands of players. The payout is weighted depending on the rank reached on the ladder.

Minting Device Keys & Artifacts

Crates also contain super rare NFTs. There are 6 unique Minting Device Keys and 12 Artifacts cards hidden in crates. Each artifact is a tradable, rare card (NFT) found in Transcendent Set Crates. The card’s forgotten power is revealed on discovery.
Each Minting Device Key is a tradable, rare object (NFT) found in Base Set Crates. Each unique key grants the power to refine any copy of a specific card into its highest Quality. Only the owner decides the price for this service. Each key is linked to a specific card from the starter set and can modify the Quality of all existing copies of that card. There is no other way to get a Starter Set card in golden Quality except through these keys. Cards from the Starter Set are no NFTs, so you are not able to sell them (or the golden version of it).


Who are we?

We are Calystral, a team of game developers that set out to unleash the potential of gamers. We are focusing on building games where the time and effort put in, is rewarded with real value. Enhancing the players’ experience and empowering gamers to achieve more. In the process, we strive to overcome the technical limitations of Blockchain Technology and use its benefits to lift games to the next level. We would love to share these solutions with the community and other developers. Towards a better future of Gaming!

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Join our journey:

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