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Moon

Haakon Gaarder's Moon has landed. It's a game from Sinister Fish that completes his (so far) trilogy of titles that took us from the Medieval setting of Villagers through the contemporary setting of Streets to a futuristic setting where the 1-5 players are building habitats on the moon. The formats of the boxes of the three games are similar, and all involve tableau buildings, but the three games are all very different, with different core mechanics. It is mostly Haakon Gaarder's distinctive artwork that unifies his three very distinct designs.



On the box, Moon is described as a 'pick & pass' game, and that pretty much describes the card drafting process that is at the heart of the game. You'll have a hand of cards from which you'll play one card before passing the hand on to another player. You'll also get to take the bonus action on your 'expedition' card, but that card returns to the hand and so gets passed on for use by the next player. You're adding cards to your individual tableau (your moon habitat) in order to make it the most appealing on offer. Throughout the game your cards will be generating and you'll be utilising resources (energy, biomass, water and metal) but your ultimate prize is the heart icons you amass, as those represent the popularity of your moonbase. In the competitive game, the win goes to the player who has amassed the most heart tokens (ie: victory points).


When you draft a card, it'll be added to your tableau either on its blue left-hand side for the resources it produces or on the yellow right-hand side for its flag icon. At the end of each of the three 'eras' (hands of cards), hearts are awarded to the players who have the most of each type of flag. Many cards can be built for free (especially in the first era) but some require certain specific flags in order to be built. If you already have a pre-required flag in your tableau then you're covered but, if not, you can send a rover to another player's tableau to make the single use of one of their flags or production. They then tho' get to keep the rover for use in the next era. Rovers are also used to settle ties.



As an alternative to building a resource or flag card to your tableau, you can choose to 'assimilate' a card. This means discarding it for its scrappage value. This isn't then contributing to your tableau but it could still give you a worthwhile return. There are also cards that can be played adjacent to your tableau that give you a special action and/or which score you points at the end of the game. In addition, there will be a selection of goal cards that you can claim when you meet their particular requirements.


Tho' you're competing against other players (or the 'bot' in solo play), Moon is a game where players can mostly focus on optimising their own moonbase without worrying overly about rival players. You can expect to see your starting hand return to you during an era, so there's the possibility of planning ahead and of having your plans scuppered by another player taking or even scrapping the card you were hoping to nab but this isn't a game where the engine you are building is at risk from opponents throwing spanners in the works.


Tho' we liked Haakon Gaarder's previous games, Moon has become our favourite. It's easy to teach and learn and it's pleasing to play because players almost always have appealing choices open to them. The ability to make use of opponents' flags or production opens up options but you need to weigh them up against the downside of adding to opponents' stocks of rovers - particularly in settling ties for point-scoring flag majorities. There are lots of different viable routes to victory and, through its three eras, Moon has a discernible arc: you'll initially be focused primarily on adding yellow and blue cards to increase your production and flags but as the game progresses you're likely to want to build the pink cards that give you special actions and the grey cards that will boost your end-game score.


Sinister Fish have done a great job with the production of Moon. We especially liked the screenprinted wooden rovers and we appreciated the use of wooden tokens for the resources and hearts. Our only dislike was that the wooden tokens are almost all double-sided with a different value on the reverse (the resource tokens are all worth 1 resource on one side but 3 on the other). We never like that in games as it's all too easy for a player to accidentally flip tokens, and you're completely screwed if someone's tokens get jogged off the table. It means that tho' Moon is 'pick & pass', players need to take extra care when they pick up their tokens so as not to ruin the game. That gripe notwithstanding, Moon earns a lot of hearts from the Board's Eye View team.



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