In our previous article, we introduced you to the world and characters that you will see in Solomon Kane. Our Puritan, guided by the four virtues, will do whatever is in his power to overcome the powers of darkness. In this article, we go into the specifics of the gameplay of the Solomon Kane board game! Immerse into the adventure!
A co-operative narrative game
Solomon Kane is a cooperative game for 1-4 players, and can expand up to 5, should you wish to choose the competitive mode, where one player takes the role of Darkness, who is the main antagonist of the game through every adventure. What makes Solomon Kane unique is the fact that players take the role of Virtues, and they control our Hero from the perspective of each of them – Courage, Temperance, Justice, and Prudence. If you are playing in the solo mode, or in the 1v1 competitive mode where you fight Darkness, you can assume the role of all-mighty Providence.
Solomon Kane’s lifelong fight against Darkness is told in a series of Adventures, based on the stories and characters created by Robert E Howard. Adventures are broken down into 1-5 Acts, depending on their length. Each Act is itself broken down into 10 Chapters. A gaming session will typically be a single Act or part of one. Depending on the time you have available, you may play through a whole Act, or be able to complete only a few of its Chapters. If this is the case, you simply use the game’s save function to remember where you have got to, and you can return to complete the rest of the Adventure another day.
When you play through an Act, you naturally start with the first Chapter. One player reads the narrative text aloud (or uses the voice and sound app we are creating especially for this reprint) and follows the instructions. The players then do their best to help Solomon Kane overcome whatever challenges the Chapter throws his way, and then they move on to the next one.
Each Virtue Turn, the controlling player rolls their Fate dice to see what resources they have available to pay for actions. These dice can be donated to other players, or saved for later Turns, as well as buying actions immediately, and deciding how to coordinate these actions and share these resources between the players is a big part of the game. Solomon Kane takes the concept of cooperation very much to heart, and the players need to be discussing and working together throughout the game. Even when it is not your Turn you are involved in vital decisions.
After each player’s Virtue Turn comes to a Darkness Turn. This is where the AI deck acts to thwart the players and destroy Solomon Kane. It can move its minions on the board, trigger unpleasant events, or simply sap the will of the mortals to carry on. The Act continues with the players resolving one Chapter card after another, with their Adventure unfolding as they do. After many trials and obstacles, a final Chapter card will tell the players whether their actions have been enough to achieve victory and whether they have won or lost. Solomon Kane is a pure co-op game, and players either all win together, or all lose together.
History is made with you
Every time you play the game, you choose to play one of Solomon Kane’s Adventures and guide him through this specific story. These Adventures are split up into different chapters; these can either be scenes or stories. Stories are more succinct chapters, where you don’t have gameboard tiles in front of you; instead, you advance the story by describing the world and explaining how Solomon gets from one situation to another. This however doesn’t mean that you don’t play the game: you will always have a narrative description of what the Virtues need to do to win, any special rules for the story, the objectives, and the list of possible outcomes that the story might lead to.
Scenes to live in
The scene chapters on the other hand use tiles and miniatures where you play the dramatic moments of that specific Adventure. This could range from a bloody fight to a vital discussion or investigation. Similarly, as the stories, there is a narrative description of what the Virtues need to do to win, only now you will also find a depiction of all the components you need to play this scene, as well as the setup and special rules you need to follow. Here Darkness also makes its appearance: the Darkness deck acts as a countdown of how many turns you can play. Again, you will have a list of all possible outcomes, and you will always have to consider the situation and the characters present in the scene to work out Solomon’s best course of action.
Let’s talk strategy
One of the key characteristics of the game is that at the beginning of each round, players choose the order in which the Virtues will play. This is extremely important for the course of the game, as the Virtues can help each other in many ways – the most common being donating dice to one another. This way, the activated Virtue will be able to use more dice and make more, and more powerful actions during their turn. Of course, there are other ways of helping each other, including boosting abilities and making dice available for every Virtue, however, there are other factors that should be taken into account when deciding the Virtue order; perhaps a Virtue is already fully set up and needs no help as opposed to others, so they might go first. This layer of strategy can be defined for the outcome of our Puritan’s adventure, you can turn a tight situation into a glorious victory. And this is the first piece of advice that we can give you for how to play Solomon Kane: Take your time to think and strategize ahead. This is a game of long-term strategy rather than a game of tactical moment-to-moment choices (though you will also encounter your fair share of those). But don’t make your strategy too stiff, you need to be flexible because Darkness will try to mess up with you – and trust us it WILL.
Another smaller but of equal importance piece of advice is that players should not forget that each Virtue can use the central action in the dashboard of every other Virtue. This might cost an additional die, which could be costly, but at the same time, it is extremely important and can make the difference between victory and defeat. Each of the Virtues is very different and distinct and they will all have their moment to shine, but in the end, they are all working together as a team, with the same goal: to guide our Puritan through the Darkness; and they all fail or succeed together in this mission.
Material and ethereal worlds
As we said the game is played from the perspective of the Virtues that guide Solomon Kane, so you will find two worlds opposite each other in the game: the material world, with Solomon Kane and everybody on his path, and the ethereal plane/spirit world, containing the Virtues and the Darkness. What shows how these two worlds affect each other are the shadows. These are spirits that the mortals do not understand but have a significant impact on what happens on the material plane: they try to promote evil in the world. It is the negative vibe that you feel when you enter a place, the negative thoughts that you have for no reason and you cannot understand why all the shadows work. At first, you might think that the Shadows will not interfere with your adventure directly, however they can be the reason you lose a mission. It is therefore of great importance that you keep them in check, and you can do that by summoning the Virtues onto the board. When and where you choose to put your Virtue into play is a decision of great value in the game. Even though this is not something that you will often do, it can have a great impact during the adventure. Deciding that you will summon your Virtue on the board is not the only decision you will have to make. You will need to choose whether you will hold your ground against a shadow or create a shockwave and thus remove yourself and all the shadows inside your Virtue’s aura. Apart from the defensive role that the Virtues have, they will also give a helping hand to Solomon by enhancing some of his abilities. And therefore deciding when and where you place your Virtue is of great importance, as it can impact various aspects of the game, including the tests the hero must perform.
Patience is the mother of all virtues
As we wrap up, remember that while playing Solomon Kane, you must be patient. Many times you will feel that you must rush to finish that mission, or talk to that NPC, or go to a specific place, or battle a monster, and this might not lead to the desired result. Take the time to think before each of your endeavors and build up and prepare as much as possible before taking a specific course of action.
These are just some key pieces of advice to get started with the game! There are so many things that we could talk about, but half the joy of playing a board game is discovering what happens. With Solomon Kane this is even more prevalent, so we will let you discover the rest on your own, and hope that you enjoy our Puritan’s Adventures… that you’ll be reexperiencing in a new way.
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