Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Published by Surprised Stare and Frosted Games, Lux Aeterna is a 2019 release from Tony Boydell, best known as the designer of Snowdonia (the board game, not the mountain!) It's a quick playing solo game where you have to rescue your meteor-damaged ship before it is sucked into a black hole.
Players get 15 minutes (or 10 on a harder setting) to play through a deck of cards with the goal of fixing the six ship systems. Each turn, you draw four cards and decide how to allocate each one: as Damage, an Action, Movement or to a card cache. There are also some glitch cards in the deck which have varying negative effects, and these are resolved when drawn.
Damage reduces the die value allocated to a system; and as all systems start with a die value of just 2, there is very little wiggle room. The Action helps the player in a number of ways, from changing die values to moving away from the black hole, to removing glitches from the deck. Movement drags the ship slowly closer to the black hole, and the game ends in a loss if the ship ends up in the black hole or if four or more systems are broken, or if the timer runs out. The player wins if they can get through the full deck of cards, or if three or more systems are repaired.
Lux Aeterna is designed to be played with a timer to add an element of stress and to reinforce the theme. There is no timer in the box but it shouldn’t be hard to find one; as most of us carry mobile phones which incorporate timers, it's generally a waste and an unnecessary expense these days to include a timer with a game. The components in this small box game are excellent: the cards are large format and everything is clear and easy to read, which is important when working with time constraints.
Lux Aeterna is quick to learn and fun to play and provides a quick gaming fix when you are limited for time. The game isn’t overly challenging, and the variants in the rules should be incorporated quickly into the game to step up the difficulty. The real challenge is in beating your own score, either by starting closer to the black hole or by fixing more systems by game end. The game comes with a variety of different system cards so there is some variety to be had.
If you enjoy time-pressured solitaire games that require quick thinking and fast action, then Lux Aeterna may just be the game for you.
(Review by Steve Berger)