Designed by Jose Ramón Palacios, with art by Albert Monteys, LUNA Capital is a tableau building game from Devir set in an alternative reality 1970s where the moon is already in the process of being colonised.
Each turn the 1-4 players will be taking a card and the tiles that go with it from the central display. You then place a card (either the one you just drafted or one of those already in your hand) onto your tableau, which represents the lunar settlement you are building. Cards can be placed in up to three rows but, within a row, they must normally be laid in ascending order (ie: if you have a card with a 7 on it, you can ordinarily only a place a card to its right which has a higher number).
In addition to placing a card out on your turn you must also place out all of the tiles you drafted, and therein lies the heart of this optimisation puzzle game. The tiles all represent various types of building. Some of these follow simple set collection rules, scoring wherever they are in your settlement but others score increasing amounts for similar buildings that are orthogonally adjacent. To maximise your score you’ll need to organise the layout of your settlement so that tiles are in the best position in relation to each other.
The game is played over three rounds, each of four turns per player. Optimising your tile placement isn’t likely to challenge you overly on the first turn of a round because you’ll just be picking up one tile. However, the number of tiles increases over the four turns of the round, so you collect and have to place out four tiles. As the number of tiles increases, so you’ll almost certainly have to compromise over where you place them. You’ll be picking up and placing 10 tiles in all per round, so 30 over the course of the game…
In addition to the various set collection and adjacency scoring opportunities, players will have an eye to the ‘concession cards’ set out at the start of the game. These offer additional scoring opportunities to players who meet their specific requirements by the end of a round. There’s something of a race on to score these: tho’ more than one player can satisfy the concession requirements in a single round, if a concession is claimed by any player, other players are locked out from scoring it on any future rounds.
There’s a majority bonus for the player with the most meteorites and there’s bound to be competition between players trying to collect the same tiles, and of course there’s the race to score the concessions, but there’s otherwise no ‘take that’ element to LUNA Capital. Whether you play it with two, three or four players, you’re effectively playing multiplayer solitaire because everyone will be primarily focused on optimising the layout of their own settlement. And the game can also be played as an actual solitaire, competing against an automata that always takes the rightmost card and tiles but which doesn’t have to worry about placement in order to score for the tiles it collects…
The rules for LUNA Capital are clear and largely intuitive, tho’ on a first play you’ll need to keep the rulebook to hand to ensure players know what exactly is required by the concession objectives and how much each building type scores in what combination. With that caveat, LUNA Capital offers a challenging puzzle but it’s a game that can be played by all the family. And Devir have done a good job with the production: the 3D card and space rocket tile tray, and the printed wooden markers, all add to this game’s appeal and table presence, moon-grey colour palette notwithstanding.