After many tweaks and changes, I finally came up with a version of Solstice in which neither player is at a disadvantage, but there is still enough interaction between the two players to make thinking two steps ahead necessary. Below are the finalised rules, along with an overview of the design of the rulebook and board.
L O R E
Sisters who grew apart, the Black and White Witch are equally skilled but polar opposites. They both covet the power of the Silver Star for their spells, but must first win dominion over the twelve zodiac signs.
The Black Witch becomes more and more powerful as the New Moon approaches, welcoming the darkness. Her sister, however, prefers the eerie glow of the Full Moon, and reaches her zenith as soon as it appears. On the longest night of the year – the Winter Solstice, the sisters wage war to claim the constellations of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, and eventually the Silver Star, the jewel of the night.
S E T U P
The Black Witch controls the side of the board after the Full moon until the New Moon. She places one star on the Waxing Gibbous, three on the First Quarter, five on the Waxing Crescent, and seven on the New Moon, where she is strongest. Because she is the elder sister, she goes first.
The White Witch controls the remaining side of the board. Since she goes second, she may place two stars on the Waning Crescent. On the Last Quarter, she places three stars, five on the Waning Gibbous, and seven on the Full Moon, where she is strongest.
The outer circle of the board must be rotated to a position in which none of the constellations are aligned to begin.
A I M
The two sides of the board represent the Northern and Southern hemisphere, and each side has the corresponding zodiac constellations depicted on it. On one side are the constellations of the North: Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and Leo. On the South are Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus and Aquarius. It is up to the sisters which side of the board they wish to battle for.
The sisters’ aim is to conquer the zodiac signs by using their stars to cover each point of the constellation. Each constellation is made up of a different number of points, which means some are worth more than others.
Whichever sister has the most points by the end of the game wins the Silver Star.
G A M E P L A Y
Starting with the Black Witch, each sister has four turns in total, one turn for each phase of the moon on their side. The amount of stars at the sisters’ disposal grows with each turn, and must be spent completely in each turn to move to the next moon phase.
Stars can be used to either rotate the board’s outer circle, or to occupy a point in a constellation. One star equals one rotation of the outer circle, which is complete when the guiding lines match again. When a rotation is bought using a star, the star simply gets discarded. In each turn, the sisters can decide for themselves how many stars they spend on rotating the board, and how many on occupying points in a constellation.
A constellation is complete when all of its points are occupied by stars and when the board is rotated in such a way that the constellation is aligned.
A constellation is won by whichever sister completes it, either by placing the final star or by rotating it into place.
The sister who conquers the constellation may keep every star that the constellation contained, even if some of them were not originally her stars. Each constellation is connected to the others on the board, so stars must be placed strategically to prevent the opposing sister from using them for her own ends.
Once a constellation is complete, the victorious sister receives a card with the zodiac sign depicted on it, and must remove the stars used to create the constellation from the board and place them on her card. These collected stars are counted at the end to determine the winner of the Silver Star.
Each constellation can only be completed once!
E N D
The battle ends as soon as each sister has completed her final turn. Any stars left over on the board which were not used to complete a constellation are discarded. The sisters then count the stars they collected by completing constellations. The sister with the most stars may claim the Silver Star, thus becoming the most powerful witch – that is until the next Solstice arrives.
As mentioned in my Week 1 post, the project was inspired by a necklace and a subsequent Pinterest moodboard where I tried to pinpoint the type of aesthetic design I thought would suit the game. After many paper and cardboard prototypes (which you can find in the Week 1 and 2 posts) I finally decided to test out the amazing workshop at my college. Equipped with everything from laser cutters to 3D printers, I knew the people there would be able to help me figure out how exactly to go about making a rotating board. Although the final design only ended up with two rotating parts, I initially made a wooden prototype with three where the outer circle containing the moon phases rotated as well. This was altered because it was pointed out to me that it would be difficult for players to have to awkwardly reach into the middle to rotate the two central rings. I therefore changed the design so that there was one outer ring and an interior circle, and only the outer ring rotated.
I also switched from wood to acrylic – this made the board look absolutely beautiful, especially with the engraved moons running along the edge of the outer ring. On the downside, however, it was only beautiful as long as no one touched it, as fingerprints were glaringly obvious on the reflective surface, as were even the lightest of scratches (and acrylic scratches easily). I decided to stick with acrylic nevertheless, making it a less durable but more aesthetic product overall. Both parts of the circular board were built to be removable and reversible, so that one side could contain the zodiac signs of the Northern hemisphere, and the other its Southern counterparts.
The stars were also made out of acrylic, but this time I used transparent material rather than the glossy black I used for the board. I then stuck black and white vinyl on the bottom of the pieces to make them discernible for the players. Vinyl was also used to create the constellations themselves on the board, although in retrospect I don’t think the garish colours match the elegant black of the board. When I remake this game, I will probably try engraving the lines and painting them afterwards, which will hopefully make for a more aesthetically cohesive design.
The cards for the different zodiac signs went through a couple of iterations as well – at first they had a white border, but this looked odd after I rounded off their edges. I decided to try printing them once more, this time with a simple black background. This worked perfectly, although I had some trouble cutting everything to the same size. Nevertheless, they match the colours on the board, and add a nice physical confirmation of a successful conquest.