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Complexity Boardgame
Game Components

All game components have been designed with specific educational objectives in mind. These objectives are described below to enable educators to maximize insight and retention during gameschooling


The game board's design engages the right brain and stimulate the imagination. The machinery that symbolizes structures on the board closely approximates their counterparts' correct anatomical location and scale. A digital full-color anatomy poster displaying the ten body systems is available at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Color conveys function and or physical characteristics of the systems as follows:​

Complexity Gameboard
  • Nervous system: White reflects the white matter of the brain and white appearance of the nerve bundles. The line (nerve) running from the shoulder to the parietal lobe (N3) is orange only to indicate its sensory function.

  • Endocrine system: No obvious color connection here, but perhaps we can imagine that hormones from the endocrine system permeate our bodies like green phytoplankton in pond water.

  • Respiratory system: Blue represents the air we breathe as we associate the atmosphere with blue.

  • Digestive system: The orange and brown reflects the light lining of the gut and the color of the liver.

  • Urinary system: Yellow because of the yellow tint of urine caused by natural pigments. The color range, pale yellow to deep amber, is an indicator of hydration status.

  • Immune system: Purple reflects the purplish hue of the spleen, the largest organ of the immune system. Real lymph nodes appear light brown.

  • Integumentary system: Transparent blue because of the bluish tint people with all skin colors get when they are cold.

  • Circulatory system: The bright red of the circulatory function points to the color of oxygenated blood.

  • Muscular system: Red indicates the color of muscle tissue; this banner is transparent red to separate it from the banners of the circulatory system.

  • Skeletal system: The beige represents the color of bones.

  • The reproductive system is not included in the game, this intricate system is beyond the scope of the game.


The 35 banners represent 33 main structures of the human body and provide visual detail for the 

mental framework of the human body. The banners are color-coded to match the board. They

display images with mnemonic clues to the function/s of the structure they represent. These

associations are explained in blue next to the symbols in the unit guide. Below are a few teaching


  • Challenge students to give detailed descriptions of function when claiming banners. The information provided in the Unit Guide may be used to provide clues or to ask questions in order to guide students.

  • You may also print banner flashcards for students to memorize before playing the game. Adjust the depth of answers you require to your teaching objectives.

  • Many of the banners have different images representing more than one function of the same structure. Encourage students to examine and comment on both sides.


Note that:

  • Two of the banners represent organs that perform functions of two separate systems: the thymus (E3/IL2), and the pancreas (D4E4).

  • Organs and/or structures such as the thalamus, gallbladder, and individual bones, muscles, and nerves are not represented because of game constraints.

Complexity Banners

Similar to the biological engine, the primary energy resource in Complexity is the Calorie. The food on the bills and coins closely resemble their respective calorie content.

The body needs not only calories, but also a bewildering array of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Therefore, the idea is to emphasize nutrient-dense calories from fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and grass-fed meat, instead of nutrient-poor calories from processed food.

Complexity Currency

Note: 1 Calorie (uppercase “C”) = 1 Kcal = 1,000 calories. A Calorie (Cal) is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius.

At the start of the game, each player receives 2,000 Cal as the first day’s ration. In reality, the average daily Calorie needs of an adult (1,800 to 2,400 Cal) varies with age, metabolism, and levels of physical activity.

Complexity Game Cards

Even though a player’s prior knowledge may boost confidence and increase resources, the goal instead is to learn by playing. There is enough strategy built into the game that anyone can win regardless of his or her knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. The colors and visual imagery of all the cards are designed to promote the retention of information.

Play cards

​System cards lower the learning curve and provide game mechanics. The information visually reinforces the names of system parts.

Consequence cards focus on external factors affecting the body. All effort has been made to emphasize the importance of healthy lifestyle choices while being sensitive to physically disabled students.

Questions cards emphasize the internal mechanics of the body and aim to stimulate discussions. The answers include detailed explanations; reading these answers aloud will benefit all students. There are two levels of questions on each card. The first level questions, though challenging, address fundamental concepts. The second level questions are a bit more challenging and often focus on the complex interactions between structures and systems.

Question and Consequence Card examples


The health chips and the health score remind players that our lifestyle choices ultimately

affect our health. No one pours pond water into their car's gas tank, but many have no problem

loading their body's gas tank with junk and or toxic substances. 

One reason, perhaps, is the remarkable ability of our body's machinery to eliminate

toxins and repair itself. This is easily taken for granted. Another reason probably involves humanity's drive for pleasure and comfort. 

Eventually, the lack of nutrients, toxic overload, and chronic inflammatory processes overwhelm the systems, and our health fails. Since our physical health impacts both our ability to function and our spiritual health, we can never overemphasize the importance of fitness and a healthy diet.  

Complexity Healthtoken

Once players become familiar with the game components and rules, the game usually progresses fast to keep players engaged. The gameplay provides educational value in the following ways:

  • The game components stimulate lower order thinking skills such as comprehension and logic, and the gameplay promotes higher order thinking skills such as problem-solving and decision making.

  • The act of placing banners on the board at the beginning of the game reinforces the location of structures. By playing the introductory placement game, Body System Battles, students will quickly master the anatomical outlay of body systems, their primary structures, and functions.

  • Earnings, trade, risk management, and control of resources allow students to plan strategically and to gain insight into tradings at the biological level. 

  • Interactions build character as it fosters responsibility, honesty, respect, and fairness towards co-players.

Systems Guide

The Systems Guide outlines the ten body systems and their primary structures/organs.

  • It explains the mnemonic associations next to the structure's name, and provide a brief list of functions at a basic (1) and more advanced (2) level.

  • The guide includes the nervous, endocrine, respiratory, digestive, urinary, immune and lymphatic, integumentary, circulatory, muscular, and skeletal systems.

  • The reproductive system is excluded.

  • Use it as a teacher's guide; give copies to students at your discretion.

  • Systems Guide page samples

Systems Guide
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