Fractal: Beyond the Void is a 1-4 players 4X game in which you try to establish the domination of your faction in the galaxy. The Kickstarter campaign will launch on October 5. The Automaton components required for solo play will come in a separate expansion, also available during the campaign.
In the solo mode, you are pitted against an AI player whose behavior and actions are specified by a Protocol card that you draw each turn. The game is played on a modular board of hex tiles that is randomly generated every time you play (although some parts of it are fixed). Before starting the game, you must choose a faction for you and the AI player. Out of the 12 factions you can pick, 7 have an automated version you can play against. You also choose a government matching the affinity of your faction and receive a Mystery card that will take effect later on.
The game is played over two ages, with each age being divided into two cycles. Between the two ages, the Mystery card gets revealed. The triggered effect depends on the number of Mystery symbols under your control. An objective card is revealed at the beginning of each age (they stack up), listing a series of achievements you must complete to score points. Every cycle starts with the Income phase, which the AI will ignore. During the Income phase, you may use your government program by spending Influence for it, and you will earn money depending on your empire development, and from the exploitation areas you control on the board. Then, the Action phase begins. In this phase, you alternate turns with the AI, playing two actions on your turn and revealing a Protocol card on the AI’s. You can take actions from a list (Recruit, Colonize, Advance, Research, Adopt a government policy) - but these require you to spend credits or influence and cannot be repeated during the same turn - or play an action card. You can play a number of action cards on your turn up to the limit set by your empire development. When you reach this limit, you pass and can’t play anymore during this Cycle. Similarly, if the AI runs out of Protocol cards, they also pass.
With the Recruit action, you can get one of the four types of units: Infantry, Lightship, Mech, or Warship. The amount and type of units you can recruit depends on the military development of your empire. Advance allows you to move these units across the board. Here again, the number of units you can move and the range of their movement is set by your empire development tracks. The Colonize action lets you place a token on a world occupied by your units (and not contested by another player army). This token comes from your empire development tracks and will uncover an additional space of these tracks (Imperial, Productive, Scientific, Military) so that your other actions become more powerful. With the Research action, you gather a number of Science points set by your Scientific development track and may spend them to purchase a Technology card on display. Finally, by spending Influence, you may adopt a government policy which will trigger a special ability.
If, at the end of the Action phase, some worlds are contested, a Conflict phase occurs. You start with six Tactic cards in hand, one being specific to your Faction, and may add additional Tactic cards if you have the units that support them. The AI has its own deck of tactic cards. Then, you play a card and reveal one for the AI. The Tactic cards specify the damage you inflict, conditioned on the units you have. They also come with an Initiative level so that they resolve in initiative order. Once played, you do not get the card back until the end of the fight. If you have played all of your cards and your opponent hasn’t, you are forced to retreat, and vice-versa. Sieges occur when Infantry units occupy a Colony world of another player after a successful fight. In this case, that player decides whether to raze the colony, earning specific medals and awards for doing so, or to invade it, putting one of their tokens on the colony. In both cases, the player under siege returns their token to the corresponding track of their own empire board.
At the end of the game, you get points for the objectives you fulfilled, for your advancement on each of the four development tracks, and for your contribution to the exploration of the Galaxy. If you get more points than the AI, you win the game! Note that the multiplayer game comes with a campaign that is not available solo. However, alternative scenarios or set-ups should be revealed to add variability to the solo mode.