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Solbound - Level 1: Core rules and Command Cards

Level 1 Rules and Gameplay

In this game, you are using a power that manipulates fate, reality, and minds to your will. This power is represented by the 6-sided dice you start with. Each time you are injured, your control over this power grows, gaining a die. However, after having 10 dice, the next time you are injured will be your last, causing you to forfeit.

To understand how these battles play out, first you must understand how dice pools, dice rolls, Power and Initiative function.

Power
You, and each card you control, has a Power that's equal to the number of dice assigned to that card or player. When that card or player must roll dice, they roll all of the dice in their Power, keeping the highest value from the rolled dice and adding +1 for every 1 in that roll. Bonuses or penalties from the card can also be applied to the end result.

Initiative
To determine what acts first in any phase of combat (such as two players, or their cards), refer to Initiative, which is simply the highest Power of sources that can act in that phase.

If a player has a tie between their own cards, they choose which of those cards/pools gets to act first. If opposing players have a tie, they instead roll against each other with one of their eligible pools, with the higher result acting first.

Generally-speaking, facedown cards, and players with 0 Power, are ignored when determining Initiative.

Setup, Upkeep, and the Strategy Phase
Each player will start with a starter deck, containing 10 specific cards, and 5 dice each in their dice pools.
Each round will start with the Strategy Phase, where players will draw and play cards while assigning dice.
Players start the Strategy Phase by returning all facedown cards they control to their hand and any dice assigned to those cards to their dice pools. They then draw cards until either their deck is out of cards to draw, or until they have as many cards in hand as their Power. Any Exhausted cards they control are Readied.
Once Upkeep has been resolved, now determine Initiative among all players.
The player with Initiative can:
• Hurt themselves at the start of their turn (gaining a die) to shuffle their discard pile with their deck, drawing until they have as many cards as their new Power.
• Play a card faceup or facedown
• Assigning unassigned dice to cards.

Cards must have a minimum of 1 die assigned to them or they are immediately discarded (See below). Any cards remaining in a player’s hand are returned to the bottom of their deck in any order. A player must end their turn with no dice in their dice pool.
Otherwise, there is no limit to how many cards you play or how many dice are assigned to one card.
Once the player with Initiative has no remaining dice and has emptied their hand, their turns ends and Initiative is checked again (ignoring any players with 0 Power), until all players have acted and the Strategy Phase ends. This begins the Command Phase.

Cards with 0 dice
Note that a card with 0 dice is considered discarded, and dice will be removed from cards over time, so consider how much investment a card is worth and how many dice you expect to lose.

The Command Phase
During the Command Phase, each card will act based on the Initiative between all faceup and Ready Command cards. Remember that Initiative is determined by the card with the most dice, with players rolling one of those cards’ respective pools in the result of a tie to determine who acts first.

The card that has Initiative may do one the three standard Actions:
• Hide (Flip facedown to disorient the enemy)
• Retreat (Fall back and allow an allied Command Card to flip faceup)
• Engage (Exert themselves to attack a target).

Once Initiative is checked and no Command Cards are able to act, the Command Phase ends and the next phase begins. With the Level 1 rules, this will be the Strategy Phase.

Exert
Often, a card needs to expend energy to Engage a target, or fuel a special power, by being Exerted. This requires the player to either Exhaust that card (Tipping it sideways to become unable to act until the start of the next round) or by removing one of its dice (which returns to its owner’s dice pool). If a card cannot become Exhausted, it must lose a die when Exerted (remember that cards with no dice are discarded!).

Hide
The Hide Action returns the Command Card with Initiative to return to your hand, as well as up to one facedown card you control. Play those cards facedown and assign dice as you choose between them.

Retreat
The Command Card with Initiative returns to the bottom of their deck. Their owner may pick one of their Facedown Command Cards to flip faceup to cover their ally’s retreat.

Engage
Engaging a target Exerts the card with Initiative, who then picks a defender to attack in an Engagement. If the defender is faceup or a player, the defending player can now Exert a card with Protect to become the new defender for the Engagement.

During an Engagement, the aggressor generally will start by making an Attack Roll against their target, who rolls a Defense Roll. Each card may have bonuses or penalties to these rolls, indicated on the card. Unless the Defense Roll was higher than the Attack Roll, the defender is Hit and is generally discarded afterwards. Otherwise, the defender may make their own counterattack against their assailant, making their own Attack Roll with an opposed Defense Roll.

Players who are Engaged by an enemy will use their dice pool for their Defense Roll, but generally cannot make Attack Rolls. If a Player is Hit, they permanently add a die to their pool (moving one step closer to defeat), and the resulting backlash exerts the card engaged with that player.

Command Cards
Each facedown Command card has a special benefit, the Protect trait.
Protect: When you or faceup card you control is targeted to be Engaged, you can Exert one of your cards with Protect to replace the target as the new defender. Facedown cards are then flipped faceup.

Command Cards are very versatile, but come at a cost: Whenever you discard a Command Card, you must also discard the top card of your deck (ignore this if you have no remaining cards in your deck).

Most Command Cards have a bonus or penalty to their Attack and Defense rolls. The maximum you'll see for as a bonus or penalty is 3, with most cards balancing around a bonus total of about 1-2. For instance, one card has +3 Defense and -2 Attack.

For statistical purposes, a +1 to a stat is roughly worth about 2 extra dice on that card for those rolls.

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gamejournal | by Dr. Radut