‘Factions of Sol’ game developed by NU alum starts to see success after two years of development


Photo Courtesy of Mark IV Games

Kickstarter, Elam Blackwell, Emma Sollenberger, Samara Malik, Mark IV Games, Factions of Sol, The Garage

Davis Giangiulio, Assistant Campus Editor

A new board game, Factions of Sol, created by a startup from The Garage, is blasting off toward success.

Mark IV Games, founded in 2019, produced the game. Founder and CEO Elam Blackwell (Communication and Weinberg ’22) said he always wanted to create a board game, and saw The Garage as a space to do so.

“I started reaching out to my friends and saying, ‘Hey does anybody wanna hop in on this, start making a few board games together and see where it goes,’” Blackwell said.

In early 2020, Blackwell and his newly assembled team tested two games: one that he devised, which eventually became Factions of Sol, and another designed by COO Emma Sollenberger (Weinberg ’22).

But Sollenberger said she believed it was important to select just one, despite love for the game she created. 

“We had been dividing our energy between them, and if we did want to take this seriously, we would have to focus on one game,” she said. “Elam’s idea was just so novel and unique, that was the one we chose to bring into the world.”

In the game, players represent one of eight factions trying to win the fortune of dying ultra-billionaire Mark Megacore. Players move around outer space to gather enough resources and energy to construct a powerful engine. 

The key to success in the game is thinking on your feet, Blackwell said. The board changes as the game progresses, and players need to be prepared to reassess how to get from point A to point B. 

Art and Social Media Director Samara Malik (Communication ’22), a former Daily staffer, said Factions of Sol is an easy game to learn.

“The learning curve you get over really quickly which I don’t see in a lot of games,” Malik said. “So I think it appeals to a wider range of gamers.”

Earlier this month, the team launched a Kickstarter for the game with a goal of hitting $18,000 raised by Oct. 13. It met the goal within eight hours of the launch.

That rapid success wasn’t expected, Blackwell said. The team was preparing for what to do if the Kickstarter failed to hit $8,000 on its first day. Malik said the Kickstarter succeeded because of the work the team did building community among gamers.

“We showed ourselves as these scrappy kids who had this really cool idea and were really excited to join this community and people latched onto that,” Malik said.

The Kickstarter’s success means the company can fulfill all of its manufacturing needs while still having extra games left over to sell, Sollenberger said. Any additional funds will go back into the game, meaning potential added accessories in the future.

Sollenberger said the goal right now is to get the game into as many homes as possible without turning a large profit, a perspective that reflects Blackwell’s intention when starting this venture.

“I play a ridiculous number of board games,” he said. “Giving something back to a community I feel like I’ve been involved in for the past 18 years was really my goal from the beginning.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @GiangiulioDavis

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