Ranking: Five stars


At first, a bit maddening, but rapidly addictive. Solarquest is an enjoyable, more challenging version of Monopoly, because you have to spend money on fuel in order to move, rather than just spend money buying properties.

We prefer the Apollo 13 version to the original, mainly because you aren't yanked around the board as often by red shift cards (which lets you strategize more), you get more money (even though the properties also cost more money), there are more properties to buy, and rent on Venus is more in-balance with the rest of the rents in the game. One of us also prefers that Neptune is no longer a two-moon monopoly.



Variant for Two Players:
Probe Ships

Each player has two ships; one is the regular ship, and one is the probe ship. Each player's turn consists of two phases. In phase one, the player rolls both of the dice and moves as usual, but instead of moving just one ship, move both ships in tandem, expending whatever fuel would be expended by a single ship in the normal game. After moving, the player does whatever would be done in the regular game, and then proceeds to phase two.

In phase two, the player has a choice to move the probe ship by itself. If the player chooses to move the probe ship, roll one die and move only the probe ship, without expending any fuel at all. The probe ship encounters a space (blue dot, moon, Federation Station, etc.) and does whatever the regular ship would or could do on that space (e.g., nothing on a blue dot, pay rent on someone else's property, buy a moon and place or not place a fuel station, fill up on fuel at a property that sells fuel, etc.). Then the probe returns to the space where the regular ship is.

This variant increases a player's chances of landing on Federation Stations and currently unowned property, so it prevents early death of one player and ratchets up the rents more quickly than in the regular game. (Theoretically, you could make the probe ship expend fuel--say, one fuel in total, no matter what the one die reads--but the person who monitors fuel usage deserves a break, so we just pretend that the probe ship is so small that it's fuel usage is insignificant. We also don't allow the probe ship to carry or use lasers--although, if you want to play an Armageddon game, we suppose you could allow it to do so the usual cost in fuel. You could also play this variant with three or more players, but the more players there are, the more difficult it is for the last player during everyone's first turn off Earth, because the properties get bought up quickly.)

Variant for Two Players:
Retro Long Game

To play a long game that increases the red shifts, start with six fuel stations each and an extra $500 each. Then follow the red shift rule from the original Solarquest game (the non-Apollo 13 version): every time a double is rolled, draw a red shift card and follow the card's instructions. Do not collect $100 for rolling doubles and do not roll again unless instructed to do so on the red shift card. (Note that you also can't bypass a property, because you won't be rolling again.) If the card doesn't tell you to move and doesn't tell you to roll again, then you re-enounter the space you are on.

Variants for Three or More Players:

Reshuffling the Red Shift Deck

Whenever someone lands on Earth, collect all the played and unplayed red shift cards and reshuffle the deck.

Cathryn's Laser Rule

Instead of a double-six laser roll completely destroying an opponent and putting that opponent out of the game, the double-six allows the rolling player to take one of the damaged player's properties. The rule prolongs the game, allows the damaged player to keep playing instead of sit around until the game ends, and gives the shooter an advantage that's not so overwhelming to the rest of the players. It's sort of like adding more "take one of your opponent's properties" red shift cards to the deck--which can be crazy-making.

Additional Red Shift Cards

Sometimes, we add additional red shift cards to the deck. These additional cards are all designed to help the player who draws them. The ones we call "save until used" are just that: when you draw a "save until used" card, you save that card to use whenever you want, then you discard it. In most cases, after drawing a "save until used" card, you roll again so that you don't re-encounter the location you're at when you draw.

Advance cards:

Save until used cards:

Miscellaneous cards:

We like all of these additional cards, but our favorites are the ones that let you to advance to any location orbiting a planet, the one that lets you trade one of your properties for a property in the bank, and the one that turns a blue dot into a Federation Station.

A "save until used" card that we tried and really hated let the player move backward around the board (for one roll only) after rolling the dice, rather than moving along the normal flight path. The player who held that card had to think about each roll and dither about whether to use the card, which slowed down the game.

Additional Fuel Stations

If we don't want the bank to run out of fuel stations or don't want players to hoard them and thereby prevent other players from purchasing them, we add more to the bank's stash before we start the game. We've found that 3/4-inch flat head machine screws are a good facsimile. We've also seen rivets that look approximately like fuel stations.

Limiting Fuel Stations

We sometimes limit the number of fuel stations that players can buy when landing on a Federation Station. This prevents hoarding and tends to prolong the game.

For Bill: Download PDF instructions for Solarquest (70 MB)