Quick Look: MOONRAKERS
Designers: Zac Dixon, Austin Harrison, Max Anderson
Artist: Lunar Saloon
Publisher: IV Studio
Year Published: 2020
Moonrakers is a game of shipbuilding, temporary alliances, and shrewd negotiation set in a space-faring future. The players form a loose band of mercenaries, but while they are united in name, actual alliances are shaky as players are pitted against each other in the quest to become the new leader of the Moonrakers.
Moonrakers is a deck-building game in which players choose Contracts to attempt alone or with Allies in order to gain Prestige and Credits. After negotiating terms with Allies, players use their decks of Action cards to play Thrusters, Shields, Weapons, Reactors, and Crew to fulfill the requirements on each Contract. Each type of Action card has additional effects such as extra Actions, drawing additional cards, and protecting players from Hazards encountered while attempting Contracts.
Players create powerful decks and gain special abilities by upgrading their ships and hiring Crew Members. This helps them accomplish more difficult and rewarding contracts alone, letting them keep more Prestige and Credits for themselves.
Allies negotiate who will receive the Prestige, Credits, and risk of Hazard from Contracts, but if you don’t make your offers enticing enough players may be tempted to betray you! The first player to 10 Prestige wins, but be careful as hazards encountered on Contracts reduce your Prestige!
Moonrakers is a competitive deck builder set in space, where players form loose alliances to attempt & complete contracts, whilst all vying to be the new leader of the Moonrakers.
The rulebook is not only well laid out and clear, there are plenty of coloured diagrams dottd throughout that show the written explanation being outlined, and the cards and components are all clearly described within the pages of the book itself.
The set up is done in under 10 minutes and the game itself is not that much of a table hog.
For me, this is a game you could teach to a non gamer due to it’s not overly complicated rules, and it’s semi co-op nature.
The game revolves around players attempting to fulfill contracts, either alone or with other players, and gaining rewards including credits, cards and earning prestige points.
However, the rewards don’t come without having to negotiate hazards along the way, which are determined by rolling a number of dice, as shown on the contract you have selected to try and complete, and failing to negotiate these hazards will lose you prestige just as quickly as you earn them, and more so sometimes.
You can also collect, and fulfill objectives, and each one successfully completed will earn you 1 prestige point in your quest to get to 10, which is the game winning total.
During your turn you can either ‘Stay at Base’ which entails collecting 1 credit from the supply, take 2 objective cards, keeping one and discarding one to the bottom of the discard pile. You then move to the buying phase where you can purchase either a crew member or ship upgrade. You can then if you wish replace an available contract with one off the top of the deck, and lastly you discard your hand and draw a complete new one of 5 cards.
The other option you can choose is to try and complete a contract, which you do by selecting one to attempt, and then decide if you are going to attempt completion alone, or ask for other players to help. You then do the buying phase etc., as outlined above, if you wish.
Each player begins with one action, and playing a card from your hand (unless specified) costs you an action, although some cards will give you additional actions after being played, i.e. a REACTOR card instantly gives you 2 more actions which you can spend to play 2 more cards, and as long as the LAST card played is a card to give you more actions, you can continue to play cards to help complete the contract, either as Mission leader, or as an ally.
Once you stop, either voluntarily, or because you run out of actions, it then passes to another player to do their actions if they are helping, or if the contract is either complete, or failed.
Whether the contract is completed or failed, the Mission Leader then moves to the Buying Phase where they (and only they) can buy either crew or upgraded ship parts to help them on future turns, both as the leader and / or as an ally. You spend your available credit to add crew to your discard pile, and ship parts to either an empty space on your board (4 available) or over an already occupied space if 4 parts have already been built.
These give you in game benefits, some just as Mission leader, some each time you are an active player in the contract / are playing cards etc.
The artwork is extremely good, and is very thematic to the game. It is nicely colourful and the cards stand out very nicely on the table.
Maybe the game boards could have had a little bit more colour added, but they too are nicely done.
The 5 small ships are again quite nice, without being overly detailed, as their only purpose is to track your Prestige score.
The metal coins are fantastic, and just look and feel nice when using them in the game, and have that lovely metal clink when they hit each other.
The game whilst being easy to play and pick up, is complex enough in it’s goals and strategies to be engaging and competitive, and being semi co-op in nature it still gives that player interaction element and will for a lot of the rounds, keep each player engaged in what is being attempted etc.
Some people may not like this game, if they are not a fan or semi co-op games where you need to join forces at times with other players, to complete missions and share rewards, but personally I don’t mind that, as you can win without doing this, but it may take longer to get to the 10 point target whilst others are sharing higher points rewards for completing missions together.
For me Moonrakers is a very good game, and one I have enjoyed playing solo.
I am also giving it it’s first multi player outing this week, so hopefully it will impress equally as much as a group game as it has solo, both for myself, and the other players in the group.
This is a deck building game where you are increasing your hand of cards throughout the game, through purchases and rewards and these additional cards, be it action cards, crew or ship upgrades will give you increasing levels of options each turn, and it looks like you need that building to be ongoing to keep you ahead of your opponents / allies and to reach that 10 prestige total before anyone else does.
All in all, I have no qualms in recommending Moonrakers as a game, and is one you can bring out as a filler, as well as a main game to play either solo, or with friends.
I’m looking forward to maybe adding one or more of the available expansions to my copy once I have played a few multi player games, and then see which one(s) to add based on the feedback from the other players.
Prefer to watch Carl’s review instead?
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