WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 1-4
Published by: Sinister Fish Games
Designed by: Haakon Gaarder
This is a free review copy. See our review policy here.
Moon Board Game Review - Buy the game here - Sponsored link
Moon is a new standalone game from Sinister Fish, designed by Haakon Gaarder. It completes what has become an unofficial trilogy of successful Kickstarters from this design and publishing pair following Villagers and Streets. All of which come in this funky shaped box. Although, no one is saying this will be the last! Each game works on its own, and has its own lore, design, ruleset, and theme. But they do share one thing. Bundles of card based fun in a small but long box that will hate your current shelf layout. Let's get this one to the table and see how it plays.
How To Set-Up Moon
Place the Rovers, Water, Biomass and Energy into a central general supply, accessible by all players along with the Flag Reward board. The resources come in some very handy boxes, so this is pretty simple. Add three Hearts face up under the five flag spaces on the Flag Reward board and also three face down Hearts onto the X space. The X in referenced on a number of cards. The current value of X will be represented by however many Hearts are on this space at that time in the game. Then stack the four and five value Hearts next to this board ready for the later rounds.
Next, add the three levels of Reputation cards, one card per player of each. For a two player game, set up as you would a three player game with three cards for each level. Next to this, place the three Era Structure cards into three separately shuffled face down decks. Take the top card from the Era 1 stack and place it face up next to the Flag Reward board to start the discard pile. Then take the three Era Expedition decks, shuffle these and place them into three separate face down stacks by the general supply.
Now, give each player a Base card, Player Aid, and two Rovers. The Base cards are all a little different adding a small bit of asymmetry to the start up and each game. One player takes the First Player Expedition card. Ensure you use the right one for your current player count, there are two in the box. The game suggests you decide who goes first by seeing who has the loudest voice. Depending on the environment you are in and who is around you, you can decide yourself if this is suitable! You are now, subject to any disturbance just caused and any remaining issues that still need to be resolved from this, ready to play.
How To Play Moon
Players will battle it out over three rounds known in the game as Era's, to try and make the best Moon City, earning the most popularity as they go.
You will start with a Production phase, where players will produce any Resource shown on their Yellow cards. This includes their starting Base card, so they will produce one thing in round one. Each person will produce a different thing based on the base card they were dealt during set up. In subsequent rounds, players will produce a lot more in this phase, as they will have added extra Yellow production cards to their base.
Players then move onto the main action phase, the Construction phase. Here, players will be dealt cards from the current Era Structure deck. Eight each for a two player, seven cards for a three of four player, and six cards for a five player game. The first player will add the first player card to their deck, and the other players will add one card from the current Era Expedition deck to their hand. Players will then draft one card from their hand and play that card.
Cards can either be played to Build or Assimilate. Build means adding to your Base area by paying the cost shown on the top of the card and taking the shown benefit. You also need to ensure you currently satisfy that cards Flag requirements. As you add cards to your base, you will increase the Flags you have shown on the bottom of the card. You need to develop your control of each of these to add higher power cards to your base and for end of rounds bonuses, more on that later. The cards are mainly made up of four types. Blue cards that produce resources. Grey cards that produce points. Yellow cards that produce Flags. And Pink cards that have a Flip ability that will offer a chance to score additional resources or points.
Assimilate means discarding the card. Each card will offer a discard bonus, shown on the bottom left of the card next to a trash symbol. If you Assimilate, you simply take this reward for free. It is a good option if you are low of resources and or flags, but some of the Reputation cards reward this action too.
Either before or after you have played your card you can also take one of four bonus actions. The first is to use the action shown on your Expedition card. The first player card always allows players to swap a card from their hand with one from the current Era deck. Other Expedition cards offer more interesting opportunities, such as to increase the value of the Flags. Again, more on that soon.
The second option is to Park a Rover This means moving one of your Rovers from your Base to another players base, and placing it on the parking space shown on the bottom of the blue and grey cards. You can then take the action shown next to that space. This will be to gain additional Resources or Flags. The Flag you gain this way can only be used to add to your Flag requirements for this current turn. It is not a permanent Flag for the round.
The third option is to claim a Reputation card. The Reputation card dealt during set up show various challenges that need to be met. If you ever fulfil a cards specific requirements, you can then take that card into your play area. It will reward you with end game points, but also an instant or ongoing reward as well. This will be clearly shown on the card.
The last option you have is to flip over one of your pink cards to gain that cards flip benefit. This card will stay flipped for the rest of the Era but will comeback to you at the end of the Era. If the card produces Hearts, place them onto the card itself. This is important when it comes to end of round and game scoring.
When the first player has played a card and taken the additional action if they chose, the next player in turn will do the same. When all players have done this, players pass the deck clockwise, and now take a card from the next hand passed to them. This continues until only the Expedition cards remains. Players then move all Rovers played on their cards that round into their supply for the next round, you don't get the ones you played back, just the ones played onto your cards. Tidy up the cards discarded that round, shuffling them back into that rounds Era deck, and pass the first player card to the next player.
In the Scoring phase, players will now score the five Flag bonuses. Based on the player who has the most of each of the different flags on cards in their base, players will take the Hearts underneath each Flag on the Flag Reward board. Each round this reward grows, and some cards allow players to increase certain Flag rewards if they choose. Any ties are broken by the most amount of Rovers. Any ties after that mean the Hearts carry over for the next round, meaning the battle for supremacy in that particular flag increases.
Players will then score for any Hearts on their cards. Do not remove the Hearts from the cards, they stay there all game. Add the equivalent amount into your soring area. This means the Hearts on the cards will score again in the later rounds.
Now ready the game area for the next round. Remove one Heart from the X space on the Flag reward board. X is now worth one less Heart. Refill the Hearts on the Flag reward board with either four Hearts for Era two, or the five Heart tokens for the final Era. Once you have completed the third Era players will total all Heart points. Hearts will be scored from those earnt during the game, anything printed on the grey cards in each players base, and the Hearts printed on the Reputation cards acquired. Most Hearts wins.
Is It Fun? Moon Board Game Review
Moon is by far my favourite game out of the three. Villagers and Streets are good, but Moon offers something a little more. The small engine building, and development of your resources ramps up so quickly. Although, with only three Era's, that is essential! But that makes the game incredibly satisfying and fun to play. You see your development instantly. All players will build something cool in this game. Win or lose, you will have a sense of achievement playing Moon.
Everything fits just right too. The boxes are all the right size for the bits, and fit nicely into the box, and come out nicely onto the table. The cards are all high quality and slide nicely into place, shuffle well, and looks great on the table. These are small things, but make set up, tear down, and playing so much smoother. With the expansion in, the box is a little snug, but it does all fit, but more on that here. However, the box shape won't be for everyone. But they do look cool lined up next to each other if you have all three! Probably part of the thinking here.
I love the way the game scores. There are multiple ways to build up your Hearts throughout the game, which is similar to 7 Wonders. As is the drafting mechanic of course. And in a way, Moon feels a little bit like 7 Wonders in space. It's a great game, and I like 7 Wonders as well. They feel similar in mechanic, but very different in theme. And perhaps this leaves the main question for anyone who has 7 Wonders already. Do you need Moon as well? I would argue yes. I have both, and am keeping both. But why? Well, I can easily see myself playing both in the same night with the same people. Maybe Moon is the unofficial sequel, set years later in a later era? For this reasons, like the idea of both games hitting my table back to back. And if I can only play one? Well, 7 Wonders is here for when I have larger player counts. Moon is here for when I want a little less admin or have a two player requirement and don't fancy Duel.
I would recommend Moon to anyone who enjoyed any of the previous games from the same designer. It has a similar look, feel, weight and style. Although of course, each game is quite unique in theme. If you enjoy space related games, this may appeal, but it does not scream space travel or exploration as you play. It is more of a solid resource management engine builder with a solid draft mechanic. Mechanisms that are universally used because they are fun to play when deployed well, such as the case here with Moon. Villages became Streets, and then we developed Moon travel. What's next? I cannot wait to find out.