Perpetuity: Grave Descent is a 1-4 players worker placement and resource management game which can be played either competitively or cooperatively. In the game, you play as astronauts discovering the artificial star of Perpetuity. Only the star is failing, and the neighboring planets are on the verge of annihilation. It is up to you to rescue all the alien villages from these planets before they shatter into oblivion. The campaign for the game will launch on Kickstarter on October 12.
Solo rules are not provided in the rulebook, so we will assume that the solo game is identical to a 2-player cooperative game, played two-handed. The game comes with a central board featuring the Perpetuity star and the four planets orbiting around it. Each planet is guarded by three Protectors: ancient alien weapons that get progressively destroyed, all the while shattering the planet into pieces. These planets host the alien villages you must rescue, and can only be accessed with ships. Beyond this solar system are three peripheral locations, the Nebula, the Colonies, and the Asteroids. To access these, you must take a shuttle. Each of these peripheral locations features four “Work Tiles” where you may send your workers to collect resources. Furthermore, each of them has a special tile: the Nebula features a Research station where you can buy Research cards, the Colonies an Abandoned Planet in which you can try to find powerful artifacts from an ancient alien civilization, and the Asteroids a Communications Array to make contact with the planets orbiting Perpetuity. Finally, you also have a Space Station protected from the Perpetuity star by a shield. In the space station, you also have four “Work Tiles”, a recruitment center to get more workers, a training center to upgrade them, a space shipyard, and another communications array.
The game is played in a series of rounds until you lose or win (with a maximum of 16 rounds). You first assign workers one by one (alternating between players) to either a Work Tile, an outpost you may have built on one of the four planets, or to a shuttle so they can access the Work Tiles of the peripheral locations later on during the round. If on a Work Tile or an outpost, they will immediately take the corresponding action. If the Work Tile is damaged, you may still carry out the corresponding action, but you must roll a skill die, with the success of the roll depending on your Worker’s level. Then, you may move your ships and take actions with them. Finally, workers on shuttles go on the peripheral Work Tiles and perform actions there. All workers return to your personal board at the end of the round. Then, you collect income according to the resource track of your personal board. This resource track may be upgraded throughout the game. Finally, you must feed your workers with food, otherwise you must lay them down and they will skip the next round.
At the end of the round, several things occur in the solar system of Perpetuity. First, the planets orbit around the sun and move clockwise. Different planets may now be in the range of your Communication Arrays. Then, you lower your shield capacity by a number of gems (the health points of the shield) equal to the instability level of the Perpetuity star (it begins at 1). If the shield ever fails, the work tiles of your space station will start getting damage. Next, all work tiles that were already damaged due to a Perpetuity flare (see below) suffer additional damage. They may get destroyed, in which case they are removed from the game. After that, you must roll the Protector die, which will show one of the four Protector colors. You must then remove a matching Protector from a planet. Depending on your choice, it may strike down your shield, activate a “Forces” card on the adjacent Peripheral system (this will have negative effects on everything you try to undertake in that location), or cancel a previously activating Protector on the adjacent Forces card, if their colors match. If this was the last of the planets’ Protectors, the planet gets destroyed, and everything on it as well. If there was any alien village remaining, or any of your workers, the game is over and you have lost. Finally, you add one damage to the Perpetuity track. If the track is full, you increase the instability level of the Perpetuity star by 1, which will increase the magnitude of most negative effects in the end. You also randomly damage two of the Work Tiles on the board.
When you build an outpost on a planet, you may then start to explore it, rolling dice to see if you find valuable artifacts, or discover the location of the alien villages. Only then, not all aliens are ready to trust you. You randomly draw alien meeples to see the affiliation of the aliens you meet. Some are believers and they will follow you, some are skeptics and need a resource offering and some good negotiation skills to be convinced, some are zealots and must also be given an artifact before negotiations can start. You then roll as many dice as the resources you offer, and if you get at least one success symbol, you have convinced the aliens to follow you and may proceed to the evacuation. Now all you need to do is send a ship! Only the ship must survive the Protectors orbiting the planet and successfully pass a skill test.
You win the game if you save all alien villages, and lose if any alien village or one of your workers gets destroyed when a planet explodes due to the destruction of its last Protector.