Solar Draft Review

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Solar Draft

  • Designer: Zach Moore
  • Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
  • Players: 2-5
  • Age: 14+ but I can see this being as young as 10+
  • Time to play: 20-30 Minutes

Hey folks, back again with another game review! It’ time the we shine! We’re architects of the solar system. We’re building the solar system up and trying to get the most points by the end of the game. Then we’ll be the brightest and best architect. The game ends when either the deck runs our of cards or someone has reached 8 planets. Hey now, we’re all stars, get your game on, go play!

Components

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Solar Draft comes with 90 solar system cards, 5 player sun mats, and 4 bonus point cards.

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Planet Cards have the following information on the card.

  • Star – Number inside the star is how many points the planet is worth at the end of the game.
  • Rings – This tells how many a planet has around them.
  • Letters – These are the color and size of the planet. B/G/R/T (Red, Green, Blue, or Tan) and S/M/L (Small, Medium, Large).
  • Ability Text – Special abilities or end game scoring this planet achieves.

Set Up

  1. To set up, give each player a sun player board. If this is your first time, it’s suggested you use the side with only solar flare as a power. If you’ve played a couple games already, then use the side where each sun gets a special ability.
  2. Shuffle the solar system cards. Depending on the number of players playing, you’ll out a certain amount back into the box.
    1. If playing with 2 players, you’ll return 40 cards.
    2. If playing with 3 players, you’ll return 30 cards.
    3. If playing with 4 players, you’ll return 20 cards.
    4. If playing with 5 players, you’ll return 10 cards.
  3. Then flip over 5 cards from the deck to form the solar row.
  4. Deal 3 cards to each player.
  5. Put the 4 bonus point cards in reach for end game scoring.

Game Play

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A player can do one out of three available actions on their turn.

  1. Draft a card – You can draft a single card. This can either be form the solar row or the top of the deck. If you drafted from the solar row, fill that slot immediately after drafting.
    1. Your hand limit is 5. If you have 5 cards in your hand, you can’t draft.
  2. Play a card – You play a solar system card from your hand to your solar system. There are different types of cards you can play.
    1. Planet – These go to the right of your player board. Any additional planet or comet cards are played to the right of this.
    2. Moon – These must be played on a planet. There are no restrictions to the number of moons a planet can have orbiting.
    3. Comet – Played to the right of you last played planet card. Can not be played after a previous comet card. There needs to be a planet in between.
  3. Terraform – You can discard a card from your hand to replace a planet in your solar system with another one from your hand. So two cards total from your hand. Any moons orbiting the old planet stay and are placed on the new planet.

At any time you can use your solar flare or special ability. These are one time use abilities.

 

Once a player has completed 8 planets or the deck runs it, the turn is completed and the game is over. Award the bonus points to players with the most planets in those colors. Count your points from your planets and any special abilities. The player with the most points wins.

Final Thoughts

Solar Draft is a simple drafting game. It plays fast, and has a lot of options when building your solar system. I like how easy it is to teach and play. I’m a fan of small box games, and this is another I’m glad to have on my shelf.

Components wise, Solar Draft has cards that are good quality. They have that linen finish feel. What I enjoy is the art on each card. Every card is different. Each planet and moon has it’s own personality. Some of these are cute, some are funny and cute, and some are just adorable. Art is really well done. The comets are all kittens and puppies. They made the game appeal to a wider audience than if they went with just normal looking planets and moons. The art really makes this game.

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Game play, I like that you’re drafting the cards. I like that the decisions you make while drafting can alert the other players to what you’re going for. It makes you second guess taking the planets that give away your strategy. Drafting a planet that scores you more points based on the more tan planets you have in you system might make the other players block you. I like that you have a hand limit, and you’re forced to start your solar system at some point. Eventually you need to play a card, but if you do then you’re not drawing that perfect card in the line. So, do you try and keep your hand lower, or maybe you have a comet you can play that lets you do both. The terraform action seems to help players fix their mistakes later in the game. It costs another card in you hand to do this, but it could be worth it in the end game.

Overall, this is a game that plays fast and has you changing your strategy each game. A lot depends on your opening hand, but if the right cards come out then you might find yourself terraforming some planets. The artwork is inviting for new players. The cards and how they interact with others will have you thinking and planning the whole game. Solar Draft is a fun small box game.

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