Last year at GenCon I got a chance to play a board game being demoed. The game was Sol: Last Days of a Star and I enjoyed my time playing it enough that I made sure to get the demoers card so I could stay on the mailing list. Nearly a year later, Sol is making it's bid to go from being a prototype to being a real game in the hands of people all over. As there is a large overlap between board game players and RPG enthusiasts, I figured I'd share the news of the kickstarter with you all in case you were interested.
That said, unlike some other things I've shared because they seemed interesting, I've actually played Sol and can give some words about the product. Mostly: it's a fun game. The play style is an interesting mix of PvE and PvP at the same time.
It is PvE in the sense that you are playing with the other players and can freely use their infrastructure. In fact, not only can you use it, you kind of have to use it. After all, only one sungate can be put on a particular block - and it is the same with all the other buildings - and even if you could duplicate, resources are vital.
It is PvP because you are racing the other players to get your Arc the furthest away from the star before it explodes. Succeed and you win, you get your people to safety. Fail and you're just another victim.
In play this works with an interesting and natural ratcheting up of tension. Everyone is pretty friendly and buddy buddy at the beginning. You work together building a line of sun gates here, transmission towers there. You don't really care that everytime you use your buddy's sungate that he gets energy for his arc. Nor do you care that when you buy Sun Divers that he can buy divers of his own.
And then, one player moves his arc. It may not even be a big move, just a move. Enough to say "hey, if the sun explodes next turn my people are safe." Then someone else moves their arc. Then another person. Suddenly it's becoming a race. Who can get the furthest away? How do you get the most energy? Can you really afford to give energy away to other players that they can use to out distance you in the race that matters?
The tension goes up. The game moves that little bit faster because of it. It's a real blast - pardon the pun.
So if you like board games, and prefer them to be not as cut throat as some out there, maybe give Sol a chance. If nothing else, it has some unique features.