What is this game about?
Aerion is a dice game set in Shadi Torbey's Oniverse series. In this game, you are racing against the clock to build six airships before you run out of cards to build them with. Each ship requires a blueprint, a material, and a crew member to be completed—and each of these components can be found in one of the six decks of cards that act as both your timer and your resources. At the start of your turn, you'll roll six dice and see what combinations you get to work with. Each deck requires a different combination of dice in order for a card to be acquired from it, such as two of a kind, a full house, or a straight. However, the dice aren't always with you, so you'll often have to reroll them. Sometimes, you might adjust your roll using one of your limited pixie tokens or a book card that allows extra rerolls. But much of the time you'll have to gain a reroll by discarding a resource card from your market row. And if you run out of cards entirely before all six ships are built, you lose the game!
Like its siblings in the Oniverse series, Aerion comes with a number of expansions right in the box, which allows you to vary gameplay by adding different challenges and special abilities. Once you are comfortable with the base game, I recommend always playing with at least one expansion.
How does it play solo?
Aerion is technically a game for 1–2 players, but really, it's a solo game. Yay!
I am happy to report that Aerion, like other games in the Oniverse, is quick, challenging, and a lot of fun. Although it is a dice game and much of what happens will come down to luck, there are also a lot of interesting decisions to make. Which cards can be sacrificed for a reroll? Which dice will you keep and which will you roll again in search of that winning combination? Is it time to use a pixie or a book card to try to influence that roll, or is it smarter to save it for later? Trying to plan as well as you can in the face of uncertainty is highly enjoyable, and it becomes even moreso when you add in the game's expansions.
Also, this might be a weird thing to note, but because the cards are divided into a few separate decks and then stay that way the whole time, Aerion is super easy to set up and take down. While an annoying set up is not a dealbreaker for me, it is amazing how refreshing I found the ease of setup and takedown in Aerion.
My concerns about Aerion are minor. The first is that it's a dice game—sometimes you will just have terrible luck. This is such a short game, however, that it's no big deal for me. The other concern I have is that Aerion's symbology can be a little frustrating. Although in most cases the symbols make sense and tell you useful information (like what types of cards are in a given deck, so you know where to hunt), a few of the cards contain too much info. So much so that I occasionally confused myself and had to think back through what combinations of cards I was actually going for. This isn't a game-crippling problem, but it is an irritant, especially during the first few plays (or if you are a little distracted while playing).
Do I recommend it?
Yes. Aerion is fun, engaging, is easy to learn, teach, and set up, and generally makes for a very enjoyable solo gaming break.
Overall rating: 4 stars
5 stars - I love it!
4 stars - I really like it.
3 stars - I like it.
2 stars - It's okay.
1 star - Meh.