A secret Santa from the 1 Player Guild on BGG gifted me Aerion this December. It's the third game in Shadi Torbey's Oniverse series that I own now, after Onirim and Sylvion. And it's a joy to play.
You try to build six flying machines by combining a blueprint, material and worker card. You get these cards from a six-card market where every pile needs its own dice roll to unlock. For example two pairs, or three of a kind or 5 consecutive numbers. If you don't roll a right combination, you can discard cards from the market to get a re-roll. But now there are less cards available. You have to keep rolling though until you can take a card. Or until the market has just one card left. Only at the end of your turn is the market refreshed again.
You have two workshops available to build in and a reserve for cards you can't use right now. But you need a special book-card to put other cards in your reserve. You can also use these book cards to recover other cards from the six discard piles. Like the designer says in a very nice interview in The Solo Saturday Post: "[it] looks like a yahtzee dice game but is actually a deck-management game".
So you roll your dice, buying cards, preparing the decks by discarding cards then putting them back on their draw piles in a better order. It would be a nice game already. But it's just the start.
Like with all Oniverse games, the box has modular expansions included. And adding them in is where the real fun starts.
There’s an extra flying machine, The Flagship. It comes with Factory Cards that give bonuses like dice mitigation, extra re-rolls or easier building in the workshops. There are Cloud tokens that you'll have to get rid of, by spending your die roll and discarding Hammer Bird cards. There’s an expansion that lets you use worker cards for re-rolls. Except these Workers then end up on your Payroll and you'll have to pay them (wasting your dice roll) before the game is over.
And then there's The Hellkite. You have to defeat it by destroying outposts and lairs where it's hiding. While it is still alive, it will block you from buying certain resources. But during the hunt you will get some resources for free.
I'm slowly working my way through these expansions, seeing how they change the game. I will probably end up with some favourite combinations, like I have with Onirim. One for short plays, one for the brain burns. But I will have played it many times by then.