Update: Empyreal: Spells and Steam is live on Kickstarter and the campaign will run for 22 days. You may back the base game only, or also get it with the soloable As Above So Below expansion. You may also add the Far Corners mini expansion to your pledge, deluxe component upgrades, and Empyreal posters and artbook.
Our preview post below was published on April 3.
Empyreal: Spells and Steam is a 2-6 players route building and pick-up-deliver game in which you build railroads in a fantasy steampunk world. It can be played solo against an AI with the As Above So Below expansion. Level 99 will launch a reprint campaign on Kickstarter on April 6.
In the solo mode, you will set up the game following the 2 players setup instructions. You will then choose a company to play against, and take its 5 company cards as the AI's starting deck. The AI will place their Headquarters on the board first, and two train cars. On its turn, it will draw a card from its deck and resolve it. When there is only one card left in the deck, it will gain a card from the upgrade deck and shuffle it into the pile of discarded cards to form a new draw deck.
The game is played over a series of rounds until a company has collected all the required Demand tiles (6 for 2 players), or run out of train cars. On each turn, you will first Activate Specialists: you only have your Captain available at first but, as the game progresses, you may gain engineers, surveyors and station masters. Then, you must take one action: either Administrate or Move & Activate.
The Administrate action allows you to Reclaim mana (take the mana you have spent back), Refresh your Captain and engineer (flip your Captain and engineer face-up), and Gain a spellcar (take a spellcar from the market and place it in your railyard). The Move & Activate actions let you move your Conductor pawn and activate your spellcars. The Conductor can move up to four spaces towards the end of the line. When he reaches the end, he goes back to the start. If he moves more than one space, you have to pay the cost in mana. Activating more than one spellcar costs mana too. Most spellcars allow you to build tracks, others have different effects like transporting goods.
When the Conductor reaches the end of the line, you have the option of delivering goods to a city, and choose an upgrade for your company. Delivering goods will earn you Demand tiles, and the more goods your deliver, the more valuable tiles you will earn. You can adjust the difficulty of the AI you are playing against, and the rulebook gives you a difficulty rating for the available opponents.