It has been official for a few days that Aleph Null, another solo game for SPIEL, will be released by Frosted Games. A good time to take a closer look at the Lux Aeterna game. The two games are not only linked by the publisher, but also by the same author and illustrator. In Lux Aeterna you play through a deck of cards in real time. The test shows how much fun there is in the approximately 10-minute game.

Solo games are no longer a rarity. Most new board games come with a variant so that you can play the game alone. But even with games designed from the start as a solo game, there is a lot to choose from. One of the fastest games in this category is for sure Eternal Light. In a fight against time, the solo player must prevent their own spaceship from being irreparably damaged and being pulled into a black hole. Near the black hole NGC 1277, the Lux Aeterna spacecraft was severely damaged by a meteorite. The game concept is simple and offers a challenge at the same time. The race against the timer is particularly appealing.

Lux Aeterna - Escape the pull of the black hole

Six dice, two wooden markers and 100 cards: that's all you need for this quick solo game. There are several cards for each of the six different systems. When setting up the game you choose one system of each color and place the matching colored die with the value 2 on it. You place the spaceship and the scoring bonus marker on any space on the course card. The closer you start to the black hole, the more points you get as a bonus at the end.

At the beginning all systems are damaged. Can you fix it in time? Image: Jonas Dahmen

Now you take the deck of cards and remove eight cards that are set aside. Special Incident 404 is also set aside. Both can get into the deck during the course of the game. Then shuffle four of the six normal Incidents into the deck. The first 13 maps are certainly free of glitches. At the end of the game preparation, the console is placed in front of the player. Now only the timer has to be started and the race against time can begin. How much time you take has of course a direct influence on the difficulty.

Simple rules and fast game

The rules are learned very quickly. Nevertheless, it is advisable to play the first game without the timer to internalize everything. At the beginning of each round you draw four cards from the deck and place them face up in front of you. If one of the cards is an incident, you must resolve it immediately. Then you draw more cards until you have drawn a total of four ship cards. In addition to the really appealing artwork, these contain three pieces of information relevant to the gameplay.

The incidents make life difficult and are always inconvenient. Image: Jonas Dahmen

The color of the card in conjunction with the event value shown above indicates which system will be damaged and how much if this card is placed as an event. Below left is the draw value of the card. If the card is placed on the console in the Gravity area, the Lux Aeterna will move that many steps towards the event horizon of the black hole. The third important piece of information is the action of the card. If you place the card in the action area of ​​the console, you can carry out this action. The final area of ​​the console is the buffer. The card placed here can be taken into the next round. Exactly one card must be placed in each area of ​​the console in a turn. The areas are then resolved in the order of event, action, and gravity.

One card must be assigned to each of the four sectors per round. Image: Jonas Dahmen

If the value of a system falls below 1, it has collapsed. This immediately triggers the negative effect of the corresponding system card. If you manage to increase the value of a system above 6, this system is fully functional and the non-negative effect of the system card occurs. In addition to dice manipulation, the actions of the ship cards also allow, for example, the Lux Aeterna to move steps away from the event horizon or to search the stack for a glitch and remove it.

At the end of the round, all placed cards including remaining hand cards are discarded. Only the buffer remains. Before the new round begins, it is checked whether one of the victory or defeat conditions has been met. You lose if the spaceship reaches the event horizon, four or more systems have collapsed, or the set timer has expired. If you draw the last ship card or have at least three fully functional systems while all other systems have collapsed, you win the game and can proceed to the final scoring. Here, one point is awarded for each non-collapsed system, seven for each fully operational system, and the scoring bonus of the scoring bonus marker. Some systems and the 404 error may affect scoring. You can compare this rating with your other games and continue to hunt for high scores.

Infobox

Number of players: 1 
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: up to 15 minutes
Difficulty: moderate
Long-term motivation: moderate
Genre: Kennerspiel
Core Mechanisms: Hand Management

Author: Tony Boydell
Illustrations: Alex Lee
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2019
Language: German
Cost: 18 Euro 

Summary

You can learn quickly with Eternal Light spend many entertaining games. For hours of gaming fun at a time you would have to resort to another game. But that's not even the claim Eternal Light. The wheel is not reinvented here. The topic isn't badly chosen either. It's just there. Due to the time pressure, there is unfortunately not enough time during the game to deal more intensively with the topic and the flavor texts on the cards, so that this is not very present during the game either.

With regard to the optics, this point is actually a pity. The artwork is very successful. The artwork, mostly in black, white and brown tones, is enlivened by the six high-contrast colors, all of which can be found on the systems. Playfully, this is also very good. This way you can quickly see which system belongs to the card you have drawn. In general, the maps are very clear. Otherwise, playing against the time would not be so nice if you had to make a great effort to capture all the relevant ones on the cards.

If you order the game directly from Frosted Games, you get five promo cards for free. Image: Jonas Dahmen

The quality of the cards is very good. They are larger than regular playing cards and have a smooth and grippy finish. The cubes could have been a bit bigger. The space for this would be available on the system cards. Otherwise there is nothing wrong with the material. The symbols are easy to understand, so that you have internalized them after the first game.
The gameplay is absolutely fluid. The individual steps of each round are easy to carry out and here, too, you are sure of the process after a few runs. Playing for time is an important element in the game, without which the game would be significantly less appealing. There comes a point when you just don't have the time to carefully consider all the options you have with the four or five cards you have to place. It is important to adapt quickly to the new situation and to make the best of the available cards and your own decisions, even if mistakes were made in previous rounds.

It always depends on personal taste how you feel about a high score hunt. Succeeds through existing victory and defeat conditions Eternal Light but a good balance to the often unsatisfactory comparison of points with your own games from the past. The difficulty of the game can be adjusted almost indefinitely by reducing the time, more glitches in the deck, or starting closer to the event horizon. At a certain point, the luck factor is also decisive for a win. Thanks to the short playing time and partly positively chaotic nature of the game, this is not a negative aspect.

The simplicity of the game also has its limits for replayability at a certain point. Despite the many possible combinations of the systems and the always different composition of the card deck, the core of the game remains the same. Signs of wear and tear can appear here in many games in a short time. For one or two small games in between, however, there is hardly a better choice with a comparably small amount of time. The soundtrack, which can be called up using a QR code, rounds off the game very well. If you generally like listening to music, you can of course use one to four of your favorite songs as a timer.

Overall is Eternal Light a successful game for in between, whose long-term fun suffers somewhat from the simplicity of the rules. If you take your time, you will also learn to appreciate the very successful material. Especially optical Eternal Light a real treat.


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