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Alexandre Correia
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RPG Designer
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Day 1897. March 12, 2022. Lagos...

For tonight's visit to the black hole, the destroyer of the space-time continuum, I decided to let time slip and concentrate only on space. Nothing in the rules suggests that you should play Lux Aeterna without a timer. But after many sessions in the past week, the real-time element in Lux - curiously, the thing that first made me curious to play it - is starting to lose integrity in my thematic hungry brain.

I was already out of time when I fell into the hole and out of time when the ship went kaput, so what's the reason for losing by timeout?

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Lost in time, but not in space.

Is it here only to create the feeling of pressure and emergency in the situation? Because losing by running out of time, has been very frustrating in the past sessions. Something just didn't click. So tonight, I entered the cockpit of a dying ship, still heading to black hole NGC 1277 and still on the cusp of system-wide failure. But without a de facto third death timer pulling me away from the game's theme.

I still used a soundtrack. This one-hour loop of Gy├Ârgy Ligeti: Lux Aeterna, provided me the same eery sci-fi ambiance as I played.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The odyssey of timeless loops.

But it didn't take long to see that the real-time is irreproachably attached to the game's systems. A quick glance at the COM system and its five-card per turn in case of a successful repair suddenly lost most of its meaning. One of the two ways to finish the game is by depleting the main deck before the time runs out. Sans time, five speedy cards per turn just didn't cut it when choosing which systems to save and which to abandon.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Improvising a house rule matrix.

I "won" in both sessions without much surprise, scoring in the rookie twenties. One after depleting the deck, and the other by assigning a permanent fate to all six systems. Repaired or collapsed. I guess I could increase the difficulty using many of the suggestions in the rules, like starting closer to the black hole, playing with more glitches, or with the system cards face down as I've done before.


What I got from tonight's session was that Lux Aeterna's shares the same difficulty conundrum of Spirit Island. There are plenty of ways to adjust the challenge to meet the player's needs. Still, to find your preferred adjustments, you'll need to play Nth sessions while risking getting disheartened with the game due to a too harsh defeat or a meaningless space cakewalk.

One year ago: ...mushy roswell...
One year later: of stones...

Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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