Gaia Project. Follow up to hit game Terra Mystica. Space terraforming game. Asymmetrical faction powers. Absolutely one of the best solo games I've ever played.
#Gaia Project is a truly amazing game featuring various unique factions spreading their influence, colonizing, and terraforming various planets throughout the galaxy. The game has a significant engine building aspect, along with resource management, technology trees, and a really clever influence/power system.
The game is played over 6 rounds. Rounds themselves last until all players have passed and thus can last an indeterminate amount of time. Each player can pick from a myriad of actions on a turn - spending resources to build a building, researching a technology, taking a special action, terraforming a planet, etc.
Once all players have passed in a round the game advances. A unique twist - the first person to pass in a round is able to pick first from the pool of bonus action tiles. Bonus actions can be really powerful and it's definitely a tough choice if you want to pass first or try to squeeze in a couple more actions.
The goal of the game is to have the most victory points by the end of the game. You earn victory points for completing different actions. Each of the 6 rounds has a random round goal -for example one round you might earn victory points for building mining colonies or for upgrading a building.
There are also two overall game goals that score at the end of the game. These are usually more substantial goals - for example colonizing on each of the different planet types - and are tracked on the round marker board.
That's a super rough outline of the game - my apologies if it was hard to follow. Now to get into the Brian's Battery review:
(++) Component quality is great. The cardboard tiles are hefty and made of a good, strong material. The plastic pieces are really detailed and satisfying to manipulate. The hexagonal game board pieces are really nice and the artwork is clear and functional. I think overall this game looks a lot better in person than it does in pictures. While not objectively beautiful like#Root or#Scythe it's definitely got a charm and style all it's own.
(+) The rulebook is fine. It has great examples and is clearly written. The quality of it is acceptable. The solo rules are particularly well done.
(+++) The solo AI done by the Automa Factory is absolutely amazing in this game. I've played several games that feature their work and this is by far the best job they've done. It's a tremendously clever system that utilizes cards and it really feels like you are playing against a real opponent. It's also a great challenge- after winning the walkthrough scenario I have yet to defeat the AI.
(+++) Faction asymmetry is incredible in this game. There are 14(!) unique factions and they all play differently. From afar the differences may not seem significant but once you are playing they become quite clear. And game changing. I've only tried 3 of the factions and my games have all been incredibly different.
(+++) Variable setup and Game goals. Each map is built randomly (*If preferred by the players you can build a standard map each time*), round and end game goals are selected from a pool and are random each game, bonus actions are selected from a random pool, technologies are randomized, and more. Basically the setup of this game is so variable you are extremely unlikely to ever play the same game twice. And that's absolutely phenomenal.
(++) The depth of strategy in this game is fantastic. So many agonizing (in a good way!) choices. So many different ways to build your engine. Just an incredible experience from top to bottom.
Gaia Project has rocketed to the top (or very near the top) of my favorite solo games of all time. It is an incredible, challenging, and ever varied experience. One of the best games I've ever played.