Summer alphabet challenge – Week 1 session report

This week was the first week of the ‘Solo board game summer alphabet challenge’ and I would love to share my thoughts with you on the games that I played. But first a small introduction into this challenge.

The Dutch solo boardgamers Facebookgroup is organising this summer challenge. The rules are easy, in short you play a game with a first letter matching one of the letters of the current week and share a photo with the hashtag #summerxyz or #zomerxyz.
You get three points for every unique letter you play and one point per played game (with a max of three plays per game). Every second weekend is a ‘free choice’ weekend, meaning you can pick any letter (or number) to play that weekend.

This week we started off with a free choice weekend and then moved into the A and B during the week. So here are the games I played, the points I scored and what I think of the games.

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is my current favourite flip-and-write game, so it was an easy choice for the free choice weekend to pick the H. In Hadrian’s Wall you take on the role of a Roman General who’s in charge of the construction of one such a milecastle and the bordering wall. Over six years you will have to defend yourself from the warring Picts while you construct your fort and wall, man the defences, and attracts civilians by building buildings and providing entertainment. The player who can collect the most renown, piety, valour and discipline and can avoid the most disdain, will prove to be the best Roman General and win the game.

I played three games in total and scored a few points more every game. I am noticing that I’m always picking a similar strategy or path so I might want to try a few new strategies when I pick it up again. Just to see if that might improve my scores. The game remains a lot of fun though and easy to pick up as well. It’s a great game for when you don’t have an insane amount of time to play something but still want a crunchy experience.

You can read my full review on the game HERE.

Ark Nova

My first game for the A was Ark Nova. Ark Nova is a game that combines a lot of mechanisms into one big game. You will use hand management, set collection and tile placement to build and manage you very own zoo. The goal of the game is have the most successful zoo. This includes enclosures (tile placement), animals (set collection), unique buildings and specialist, while also supporting conservation projects and releasing animals into the wild.

I played two games and won both of them. Once with a score of 4 and once with a score of 17. I also participated in the Solo Sunday Challenge hosted on Instagram so my second game had a predetermined setup. It was actually a lot of fun to start with a certain setup and see how well I could do against other solo players. The game is also still a lot of fun even though I’m playing it a ton lately. And the more I play the more I can sort of find a viable strategy for each game based on my starting hand. In my review I talked a lot about the randomness in the game. And although I still think there is a fair amount of randomness. I also recognise that it becomes easier each time I play to mitigate that randomness by making good, strategic choices.

You can read my full review HERE.

Black Angel

I’ve had Black Angel in my collection for a while now but never came around to actually playing it. Until now! Mainly because I had to play a letter ‘B’ game for the summer challenge.

In this game humanity has exhausted the natural resources of Earth. And then created the Black Angel to transport the genetic heritage of humanity to a new world. The crew is composed of several robot AIs, who co-manage the ship. When you finally arrive the AI that has earned the most VP will be the one to reawaken humanity.

In the solo game you will play against one of the robot AIs called ‘Hal’. And it will be your goal to both reach the planet and to score more victory points than Hal. In the game you will allocate dice to perform a sequence of actions each turn. Your actions are performed to discover technologies, repair the Black Angel, destroy Ravagers and to command your ships to explore space.

How do I feel about the game? Well, it took some getting into with all the different symbols and actions. But once you get a feel for the game it actually works very nicely. Everything you need to know about the gameplay is on the boards, so once you know a rule/symbol you won’t need the rulebook again.

It does feel somewhat punishing to play against Hal, who keeps scoring crazy amounts of VP compared to me. But this is probably due to my own inefficiency playing this game. I hope I will get a better feel for the correct choices to make when I play the game more.

All in all this game absolutely fits what I like in a game. There is a lot of decision space, you can build up your engine and become more powerful as the game progresses and there is a challenging opponent to play against. Now that I finally took it off my shelf I will definitely play it again soon.

Oh and did I mention there are cute, little aliens that you get to put into little alien ships?


I’ve owned Sprawlopolis for quite a while now and played it a lot. But I never dived into Agropolis before, so this was a great opportunity to do so. In Agropolis you draw three goal cards from the deck and then attempt to place cards one at a time to create the best scoring tableau. The gameplay is very similar to Sprawlopolis but now you don’t build a city but a rural environment. This includes orchards, wheat fields, livestock pens and vineyards.

I played three games in total and lost all three of them. I did get better though and I’m starting to feel like I might be focusing to much on the goals and too little on making big blocks of colours. It obviously plays very similar to Sprawlopolis and is just as easy to take with you. Like the other Button Shy games the game comes in a wallet so it’s perfect to take with you for a quick game on the go. This is exactly why I like these games, I can play a game on the couch in the garden while the toddler plays on the grass.

Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician

My last game of the week was Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician. In Ada Lovelace you assemble polyomino pieces on a map of a museum with the aim of caturing key pieces of criminal evidence. If you capture these pieces of evidence they might grant you extra abilities for future turns. After five rounds you score points based on how many pieces of evidence you captured, how many rooms were searched and how many abilities were unlocked.

This game is not complex at all. Roll dice, place polyominos based on the dice, roll more dice etc. But for a free to play, printable game it is an excellent filler game. I played this game on the couch while watching the Formula 1 and it was perfect for that. It easily fits on a small surface and all you need, besides the sheets, are some dice and a pen. And even though it isn’t the most complex game my score was only average so I still have some room for improvement as well.

Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician


I can confidently say this first week of the solo summer alphabet challenge was a great success for me. I played a few of my favourite games (Hadrian’s Wall and Ark Nova) and played quite a few new games. I was also pleasantly surprised by these new games. Black Angel was a lot of fun and ticks a lot of boxes for me as to what I like in a game. And this challenge has also challenged me to come back to some games that might be a bit simpler and it has renewed my appreciation for a good filler game. Being a busy mother doesn’t always allow me to grab the big games everyday and playing a smaller, quicker game might scratch that gaming itch just as well without having to sacrifice my entire evening.

I am definitely ready for the new week. We will be playing games with the letters C and D this time and I already have quite a few lined up. I also hope to build and try a few more print and play games.

Want to join the solo summer alphabet challenge? You can find all the instructions on my Instagram page or on the Dutch solo players Facebook group.

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