Review – Solar Storm

Storm 'gonna give it to ya

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Designer Ayden Lowther

Artist Vladimir Ishelin, Elias Stern

Publisher Dranda Games

Category Cooperative, Sci-fi

Length 30-60 minutes

Release Date 2020

Player Count 1-4

Solar Storm pits 1 to 4 players against the deadliness of space and the sun itself as the crew tries to move around quickly and repair the ship, hoping to divert enough power to the core in order to escape the Solar storm. Only with teamwork and cooperation will players be able to come out alive – do you have what it takes? 

Review

After some time with Solar Storm, it really feels like a compact version of Pandemic, and I mean that in the best way. Players will start with a few rooms damaged, and after every player’s turn another room or rooms will be damaged, so you’ll constantly feel like you’re putting out fires. Oh, and the cards are arranged randomly in a 3 by 3 grid with the core always at the center. 

Each round has 3 Phases: Take Actions, Take Resources, and Damage the Ship. In Take Actions, a player gets to take 3 actions from Repair a Room, Activate a Room, Divert Room Power, Scavenge, Share Resources, and Save Action. Repairing a room costs a player one card that has to match one of the uncovered spots where a repair cube is missing from. Activate a room is only available when a room is fully repaired, but can help the players with special abilities like being able to remotely repair rooms or see what cards are coming next, and reorder them. When a room is fully repaired, players can also Divert the power to the Energy Core, which needs to be done in each room in order to win. The 3-card cost for each room is shown in the top left corner and is different for each room. Scavenge lets players try to get more cards by rolling the d6; on a 3-5 they get one card, and on a 6 they get 2 cards. Rolling 1 or 2 gets you nothing (good day!). Sharing resources is like trading, but costs 1 action for every card traded. Save action is my favorite, and I wish more games had this mechanic available. If you ever feel like you don’t have any good actions left, instead of “wasting” an action you can simply take one of the “+1” tokens and use it on any future turn. You can also get 2 of those tokens by starting on the Medical Bay if it’s fully repaired. 

After a player has taken their actions, they have to take a resource card or 2. Players can take either one of the face-up resource cards, or 2 off the top of the draw pile. However, they’ll want to make sure not only to not hit the hand limit of 6, but also to not go through the resource deck too fast: when it’s empty, you lose the game. Players can also lose if a room has no repair cubes on it and it gets damaged again. 

The best way to keep on top of repairs is to divert the power from the undamaged rooms as soon as possible because once that’s happened you only need any 1 of the 3 types required to fix the room to replace all 3 damage cubes, instead of the usual repair method of one matching card per missing repair cube. This mechanic reminded me of how much easier in Pandemic it is to get rid of disease cubes after their cure has been found. There isn’t an equivalent in Solar Storm for when you have to shuffle the deck and put it back on top, however. Instead, when the Damage deck is depleted, players will have to start rolling to see how many resource cards they discard during Phase 3. On the plus side, you no longer have to worry about more ship damage… but you will lose quickly unless you finish diverting power and activating the core. 

Solar Storm feels streamlined but not in a bad way, and the easy-to-explain nature belies a difficult game even on the easiest setting. The difficulty setting can be ratcheted up as high as your masochistic heart desires by slowly removing the universal resources, but having lost badly on the easiest setting I can’t see why you’d want to. Solar Storm is a game that’s easy to get to the table but not always easy to win, and would make a great addition to any sci-fi game enthusiast’s shelf. 

A review copy was provided by the publisher. 

The Bottom Line

Solar Storm is a game that’s easy to get to the table but not always easy to win, and would make a great addition to any sci-fi game enthusiast’s shelf.

 

7.5

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Author: Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.