Federation of Sol
The series technically got its start about 8 maybe 9 years ago. Before I worked at VPG I worked at a small iPhone app company. So small in fact that even though I didn't own the company, my apartment had basically become the office. Whenever we were waiting for someone to show up for a meeting about one of our contracts, or during a lunch break or what not we would often discuss project ideas. Often some rather large, pie in the sky ideas. Such is the case for the Sol universe. It all started as a hypothetical multiplayer computer RPG. Think Serenity, but limited to our solar system, and after a nuclear holocaust of earth. That lead to me wanting to test a lot of ideas out about the universe and I ended up creating a tabletop role-playing system and got a group together to play it once a week for about 3 years. Fantastic campaign.
Leading up to the campaign I came up with a ton of backstory about just how we got from our world to that particular version of our future. That is what eventually became the bulk of the games in the Sol series. Federation of Sol, however, represents where the story of the campaign was leading up to. If I had actually made the computer RPG I originally envisioned, this game would have been the setting of the sequel. First contact, and the wars that followed.
The game is solitaire (one player) and will be part of the States of Siege line from Victory Point Games. It is an unusual entry to the line for a few reasons, though:
- It is not historical (I know there have been a couple non-historical ones but the bulk are definitely historical)
- It doesn't use cards as the primary driving mechanism, and therefore you don't win by just surviving long enough.
- You have a measure of control of your economy, and therefore the number and type of actions that are available to you.
- It has a dynamic political system which affects the choices of the various Alien factions.
I mentioned earlier that this was part of a series of games. They are linked thematically, but not necessarily mechanically. In loose timeline order the series plays out as follows:
- Trader of Sol
- Trade Port of Sol
- Europan Wars
- Most Equal
- Calistan Training Command
- Dark Age of Sol
- Unification of Sol
- Federation of Sol
Trader of Sol
Trader of Sol takes place before the events that lead to the downfall of Earth. It is a pickup and deliver game centered around Trade within the Sol system. In this game, you represent a single ship captain with a cargo ship trying to make your fortune. Core to the experience is the movement of the planets. To be the most profitable, you need to time your trade routes.
About 2 hours
Trade Port of Sol
Similar in Theme to Trader of Sol, Trade Port of Sol in that you are carrying out trade in the Sol system. Unlike Trader of Sol, however, Trade Port of Sol puts you in the shoes of a corporation shipping goods in and out of a single port.
Mechanically speaking, it is an area control card game. Each round, a set of ships are revealed and players take turns placing goods, playing events, or buying ships. At the end of the game, the player with the most money wins.
45-60 minutes (target)
This is essentially a lite politics game with a corporate setting. It is a card game with public (i.e. shared) and personal Tableaus. You start the game as a low-level manager at one of the major corporations of Mars. At the end of the game, whoever has reached the highest position wins the game. If through your actions the company goes bankrupt, everyone loses.
In the story of the Sol universe, Europa is a refugee world made up primarily of individuals who fled harsh treatment on Mars. Some of whom may or may not have had access to information Martian Authorities would consider sensitive. Mars considers these individuals to still be citizens of Mars and eventually they launch a military operation to bring their people back into the fold. This game is about the War that resulted.
This is a diceless wargame. It is my attempt at mimicking the feel of an RTS (real time strategy) game. Each round consists of 5 phases.
- The 1st phase allows players to bring new units into the game. Units from Mars have to travel for two rounds before they may be placed. This is to represent the distance they have to travel.
- The 2nd through the 4th phase are each movement phases. During these phases players first give 2 new orders, then they may cancel up to 2 currently active orders. Then any remaining active orders are carried out. Different units move at different speeds and this is represented by having some units move only during specific phases. Air units move during all the movement phases, while armor only moves on the 3rd and 4th phase, and infantry only moves on the 4th phase. If a unit moves into an enemy unit, it initiates combat (see below).
- The 5th phase is a cleanup phase. Certain orders when given can't be given again until they are recollected during this phase.
Each unit has 6 strength values, one for each direction relative to the direction they are facing. These values indicate how much pressure/influence they apply to the spaces around them for purposes of combat resolution. When a unit moves into another unit you add up all the numbers for each side of all the units which apply pressure in the space being moved into. If the attacking side has a higher number, the defender is removed and the attacker moves into the space. If the defender has the higher number the Attacker is forced to stop short.
45-60 minutes (target)
The core premise of this game is that you are a worker in a factory on IO, which in the Sol universe is a stronghold of communist ideas. In this game, it takes on a kind of a cartoonishly over the top version of communism. You don't want to stand out. People who stand out disappear. So, in this game, you don't want to have the best score. But you also don't want the worst score. You want to be most equal.
Various actions/card play will affect your evaluation points or the evaluation points of you fellow factory workers. This is how you are seen by the government. Your actual score is the difference between your evaluation and the evaluations of the players ahead and behind you. With ties going to the player with the highest evaluation. What this means is the player in first and last can't possibly win, because they only have one evaluation to compare to, while the person they are comparing to has at least one other person to compare against (and thus at least 1 more point).
Calistan Training Command
About 2-3 hours
In short, this is a first person shooter. Unlike some other FPS board games, however, it does not use dice for conflict resolution. Instead, it uses various cups (cones of fire) and cubes which are overturned onto a target/ silhouette to see if/ where you hit your target.
It will have various play modes, including; deathmatch, capture the flag, and campaign (vs AI) which can be played multiplayer or solo. And it will feature a modular board setup to allow players to design their own environments/ levels.
This one is sort of stagnated a bit with the campaign mode. I'm struggling with making a good feeling AI for the NPCs in the game.
Dark Age of Sol
2-4 hours / session
This is the RPG (role playing game) that started it all. It uses a system I've taken to calling the VIP system. Which stands for Variable Initiative Point system. It is named for how the dynamic initiative works. The short version of which is you spend initiative points to carry out actions and whoever has the highest initiative is the current player.
Unification of Sol
2, 4, 6, or 8 players
About 4 hours??
Honestly, this is a bit of a pie in the sky idea at this point so I can't go into to much actual detail. But basically, I want to use the Europan Wars engine along with planetary movement mechanic from Trader of Sol, and throw in a tile placement mechanic to create a HUGE MONSTER of a game. It will have 12 maps; Mercury, Venus, Earth, Lunar, Mars, Deimos, Phobos, Europa, Io, Calisto, and Ganymede, and the Sol system. Players will play out a war between the corporate entities of Mars and the moons of the Jupiter Confederation.