A Solitary Review – The Daedalus Sentence

Welcome to another solitary review! For those that missed the last one, my Solitary Reviews are thoughts I share based solely on the solo play of a game if I haven’t been able to play it with any larger group sizes. When possible I like to do multiple group sizes to get a full picture for a regular review, but living alone I play games solo most of the time and I still like to talk about games I’ve played!

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Game: The Daedalus Sentence
Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games
Designers: Tom Bleys, Ian Van Gemeren, Bart Waeterschoot
Main Game Mechanisms: Action management, hand management
Number of Players: 1 to 5 with 2 different modes – 1 to 4 coop; or 2 to 5 semi-competitive (1 vs. the rest)
Game Time: 45-60 minutes (30m for solo play once you get used to the mechanics)

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I don’t have a table currently (hopefully after I move!) so this was my solo setup for a game I played through recently. It actually worked fairly well. The game box is on a stack of other boxes off to the right so I could pull enemy figures out as needed.

Description:

The Daedalus Sentence is a cooperative, or semi-competitive (with one of the included variants), sci-fi exploration game. You and up to 3 other players are prisoners of the Loctae aboard one of their experiment stations. Your goal is simple: escape.

The game consists of turns, shared by all players, taken in sequence until either the players find and unlock the escape pod to make their way to freedom or until one of the defeat conditions is met: all players are simultaneously captured, or the same player is captured twice.

Each turn consists of several phases. First, you refresh the Theseus Board, which shows you information on how the guards will patrol and how the rings of the station will rotate. Next, the players take actions up to their maximum amount (based on player count) such as revealing new rooms of the station, unlocking gates to new rings, or defeating guards. Finally, the station itself works against the players by rotating rings and moving guards around to foil your plans.

The solo mode for this game is actually baked directly into regular gameplay, which I as a solo gamer absolutely love as you don’t have to learn a different way of doing things depending on group size. You are given a slightly higher maximum hand size and maximum action amount, however there is only one defeat condition as if you are captured even once it’s game over. This gives the solo play an extra edge of danger, I feel, as one wrong step or bad card can send you straight back to your cell for good.

Review:

There are 5 player characters out of the box, each with their own special abilities/effects. I have done 3 solo playthroughs now, each with a different character, and I feel like they have all been very unique so far. Each character’s strengths allow you to play the game with a different path in mind.

For example, the purple character lets you keep more cards in hand at the end of your turn allowing you to keep a larger variety of cards to help you unlock gates more reliably. The red character can defeat enemies more easily having more efficiency with his cards (although, oddly enough, the game where I played as him was the only game I lost and it was due to getting overwhelmed by guards, haha). And as I discovered in my recent game (end result shown below), the blue character can explore rooms and even move into new rings via vents which bypasses a lot of the hazards (I explain this in more detail below).

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This was the end result of my recent game, with Jamie (the blue player) swiftly reaching the exit by means of exploiting the station’s vents.

As such, there are plentiful ways to keep you interested and varied in solo play even before getting into the difficulty enhancers included in the latter portion of the rulebook. These enhancers range from turning off some rooms or actions during turns to restricting some of the information you have access to and more. I haven’t tried any of them yet (I wanted to try the regular game with each character first, and I still have 2 left) but I’m looking forward to giving them a shot!

The solo mode itself, which plays the same as the 2 – 4 player mode in terms of game rules and mechanics, is an interesting and fun experience. You get 8 actions each turn, which is quite a lot when you only have 1 person to worry about. Your maximum hand size is 6 cards by default which is the same size as the code for the escape pod so you’ll need to do some hand wrangling at the end if you want to make it out. It can be nerve-wracking playing this solo if the cards aren’t going your way as any misstep can send you back to your cell with the game ended in defeat.

The blue player (mentioned above) makes it incredibly easy to escape in solo play, however, as you can exploit the rotation and guard mechanics. Her special ability lets you explore rooms in, and then move to, new rings via ducts thus bypassing the gates (which are normally how you access new rings). The “threat level,” which controls the number of cards you resolve at the end of each turn, is based on the highest ring you’ve accessed via a gate. By skipping the gates entirely via her special ability, not only does she have incredible efficiency with her hand of cards (only having to use them to defeat guards and later to unlock the escape pod), the threat level stays at 1 the entire time (resolving 2 cards per turn, at threat level 4 you resolve all 8 cards on the Theseus Board every turn).

Aside from this cheap way of skipping most of the game (which, even though I won, felt a bit hollow), the characters feel unique and diverse in their abilities. With each of the characters I’ve tried I found myself needing to adapt my strategy to play to their strengths and each presented its own puzzle to figure out how to get safely to the exit. I anticipate the remaining 2 characters to present equally interesting puzzles.

Conclusion:

I really like this game! The rotating rings are a really cool mechanic that only one other game I own has (and I haven’t had a chance to play it yet) and the science fictionalized labyrinth theme fits really well. The solo play, being the normal game itself at the smallest group size, plays really well and makes me excited to try it with more people.

This review doesn’t include any thoughts on the semi-competitive mode (where 1 person plays as the “Hive Commander” and gives them some control over the workings of the station and guards to foil the escaping prisoners) as that requires at least 2 people. But I like the idea of it (as long as you have a group that can handle it) and I look forward to giving it a go!

The game comes with a lot of variability and replayability.With 5 player characters you have a lot of different combinations you can try (especially since you only use up to 4 of them at one time), there are a few rooms in some of the rings that are randomized each time as to whether they are in the mix or not (and the rooms for each ring are shuffled each time you set up the game) which keep you guessing as to what you’ll find where, and the difficulty enhancers add twists and turns to foil your well-laid plans.

All-in-all, I definitely think this is worth a buy, especially since I was reading on BGG that the price seems to have gone down recently. The solo play is solid because the game itself seems solid and I very much enjoy playing this game. The size of the game box makes it prohibitive to store if your gaming area is small or your shelves are shallow, but as long as you have a stack you can add it to or a shelf you can put it on top of you’re all set to acquire and enjoy a great game!

Game On!
Scott – The Solitary Meeple

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