The year was 1935. Countries around the world still struggled to escape The Great Depression. People were feeling, you know, actual depression and looking for some glimmer of hope, just a moment’s relief from economic hardship. In swooped Parker Brothers with Monopoly, allowing the poor and downtrodden to assume the role of the rich and powerful any time they wanted. Given today’s current economic and political travails, the world again looks for a tabletop savior. Someone that can save us from rampant capitalism and exploitative politics. Enter Cogito ergo Meeple (Philosiphia, Floating World) and their latest offering Solar 175: a game of rampant capitalism and exploitative politics…in space!
Solar 175 – Kickstarter 2022
Like it’s mustachioed predecessor, Solar 175 allows players to fight their way to the top of the economic ladder in this game of intergalactic mercantilism. You and up to four of your friends will begin the game as CEO’s of newly formed companies looking to exploit the political chaos following the “unspeakable war” for personal gain.
The game revolves around players vying for the most influence, and what Solar 175 does so well is provide players with multiple paths to power. Workers are the backbone of this endeavor, so hiring them for your worker bag is critical. Hire engineers to help you build outposts, bases, and ships, or pilots to patrol your space thereby adding to your presence and influence. Influence how your workers vote to give you political leverage over your opponent. Or ship your workers off to the intergalactic peace keeping forces or to labor on giant megastructures.
But while this menu of worker placement actions would be interesting on its own, the depth of strategy becomes truly dizzying when you consider how commercial, military, and political aspects of the game are all interconnected. The projects you undertake and the political parties you back all influence each other and how you get to score points at the end of the game. On top of this, Solar 175 is also a legacy game, so the ripple effects of your choices will naturally be felt further down the road as you unlock new areas to explore and new ships to build.
Ceres – Kickstarter Jan. 2022
If space is your jam, then you might also want to keep Ceres on your radar as well. Another worker placement game, this time from Artipia Games (Pursuit of Happiness, Kitchen Rush), Ceres has a more localized focus on the game’s namesake, a colossal asteroid that has become a profitable mining outpost.
Over the course of 3 rounds, representing 3 years in your business, players will take turns trading, mining resources, expanding the Ceres colony, or trading tech with the Martian council. And like Solar 175, all of this is once again in pursuit of power, albeit this time on said Martian council. Ceres also seeks to differentiate itself by purportedly including an astrophysicist in the design process to create an experience that is as authentic as possible.
Hacktivity – Kickstarter
The final game today trades deep space for cyber space. I’m talking about Hacktivity, thepremiere offering from Acolyte Cooperative Board Games, a newly minted publisher out of Canada focusing entirely on co-op games.
In Hacktivity, cyberspace is under attack from a mysterious virus that is likely the product of a newly operational “quantum generator” and definitely not that website you “accidentally” visited. That is where you and up to 3 of your friends come in. This co-op card game begins each round with The Virus attacking your Antivirus Interface. In turn, you and your team will retaliate through various character cards to deactivate the virus’ current attack. But everyone knows that the best defense is a strong offense, so players will also have the ability to launch counter attacks against the virus while you simultaneously shore up your firewall.
The game also adds just a dash of legacy format with sealed decks which players can open as they progress through the game, gaining more weapons in their fight against the virus. Which is a lot of work to do just because someone forgot the meeting on cyber security!
by Zane Messina