Dale Yu: First Impression of SOL

 

SOL

  • Designer: Pierre Buty
  • Publisher: Catch Up Games
  • Players: 2-8
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: ~45 minutes
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Catch Up Games

sol-box

In SOL, players split up into 2 teams, the Adventurers and the Conquistadors, and fight to find the statue of the God of the Sun from the forgotten island of SOL.   The players in the game split up as evenly as possible into two different teams.  The islands are placed on the board, the temples and search tiles are shuffled and placed face down on their respective places on the board.  There is also a Treasure board placed near the main board.

The multi-level board - courtesy of BGG user Eric Kouris (styren)

The multi-level board – courtesy of BGG user Eric Kouris (styren)

Each team is then is dealt (or chooses) 3-4  characters for their team.  Each player gets one character dedicated to themselves, any extra characters will be controlled by the team jointly. Each team places their ship on one of the three Ship starting places on the board.  Each team gets two clue cards and then the game begins.

The game is played in a series of rounds – with all the characters from one team taking a turn followed by all the characters on the other team.  Each of the characters finishes their turn before the next teammate goes.  On a given turn, a character has both movement points and search points – these amounts are specified on their character card.

img_20161119_202528

To move – you can jump off the ship onto the island, you can move from one adjacent space to the next (though climbing up costs an extra movement point), going from one pontoon boat to another, or you can even spend movement points to pull a teammate into your space.

To fight – if you move onto a space with an opponent on it, then you fight immediately.  Each player starts with a fight value on their character card.  The attacker first discards sword tokens to increase strength then the defender does.  Each team then throws their die to try to get more sword icons.  The player with the highest total wins.  If there is a tie, re-roll dice until there is a difference.  Whichever character loses becomes injured – his pawn is flipped over.  The losing character can also be pushed into any adjacent space.  An injured character cannot use his special ability, cannot start another Fight nor participate in a fight if an opponent enters his space, and he must always flee a space occupied by another opponent.  He will return to his normal state at the end of his next turn.

To search – if there is Search token on a square, you can use one of your search points to pick up the token and see what is on the other side.  In many cases, it is an inventory token, and it is simply placed on your character card face down (these might be feet which can be discarded for extra movement or swords which can add to battle strength).  If it is an instant token, it is revealed and the instant ability happens immediately (it could be a flag which is then put on a pontoon boat space or a clue which forces that team to play a clue card).

Courtesy of Henk Rolleman

Courtesy of Henk Rolleman

As the game starts, you do not know where the Statue of the God of the Sun is.  However, along the way, you (and your opponents) will find clue tokens; each of these cause your team to play a clue card to the board.  There are three different columns here, each with two possibilities (Square/Circle, Gold/Jade,  1 or 4 staircases).  When a card is played, it is either a face down card from your team’s hand or it is a faceup card from the deck.  Once seven cards have  been played; they are all revealed and the attribute with the most cards in a column is the winner.  If there is a tie, the card played latest is the tiebreaker.

Once the specific temple is identified, the statue token is placed on that temple space on the board. At this point, any player who enters that space takes control of the token.  Once someone has the token, they then head to any pontoon space with their team’s flag on it to escape the island (and therefore win the game).  The statue can be handed from teammate to teammate.  Also, if you are holding the statue and you lose a fight, you drop the statue and the victor of the fight picks it up.

My thoughts on the game

SOL is an interesting team game – it is somewhat co-op as the teammates can discuss strategy together, but oftentimes players are free to explore the areas where they want to go on their own.  At the beginning of the game, it seems best to explore as many areas as possible, trying to get as many search tokens as possible.  Yet, it is also quite competitive as you are not playing against the game system – you are fighting against the other team!

However, as the game progresses, and your team has a chance to play some clue cards (and you start to be able to possible home in on the likely locations of the statue) – then your team needs to start setting up a plan to retrieve the statue and then quickly get it to a team’s pontoon.  Due to the team turn order of the game, you can set up a nice chain of movement to get the statue from one side of the board to another with some well placed/timed handoffs.  You may also want to station your own teammates near your opponents pontoon boats to provide a last ditch defensive option – if you are able to defeat them in a fight on that final space, you can take the statue from them!

If you have strong characters, it makes sense to get into fights as you essentially neuter an injured opponent for at least an entire turn.  As they lose their special ability and cannot enter a space with an opponent, it becomes difficult to accomplish much on your turn until you are un-injured.

There are two versions of the game that can be played; you can choose to play the basic form of the characters (no special abilities) or the advanced form (where each character has a special rule-breaking ability).  The version given to me in Essen is a French-language copy – I believe that there is not another language version available.  All text and rules are in French.  An English translation of the rules and a cheat sheet for the character cards was provided.  It is a little cumbersome to have to refer to a sheet to find out what your special ability is – but since it doesn’t change for the course of the game, you should only have to refer to the sheet once or twice in the game.

img_20161119_202459

For accomplished gamers, there doesn’t seem to be quite enough with just the basic game.  The actions are all clear, but there isn’t a lot to provoke team discussion or make interesting plays.  Adding in the special abilities really does give you more to think about and really increases your strategic options.   However, even with these special abilities, I have still found the game to be entertaining but not enthralling.  I’d be happy to play again if asked, but this isn’t one that I would request.

 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it.
  • Neutral. Dale Y
  • Not for me…
Advertisements

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2016, First Impressions. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s