Many years in the future as the human race has broken the bonds of the Earth. The Humans have stretched their wings and explored the galaxy. A turning point in history when the Cleanse happened and sent the people who were undesirable or unwanted by the government were sent away. These people have used the Moon as their gathering point and are now know as The Moonrakers. Now generations latter you will be pitted against the other players to see who will be the new leader of this band of mercenaries in Moonrakers by IV Studios.
At the heart of Moonrakers is a deck-building game. However that is only the start of things. There are negotiations, secret agendas and ship upgrades that will help you along the way. Each player starts off with the same deck of cards consisting of Damage, Reactor, Shield, Thruster and a Miss card. Each player will also get 2 credits to spend at the armory and 2 objective cards.
The game comes with really well designed player boards for each of the players (up to 5). There are also 2 more boards (The Armory and Dispatch) that will guide the setup of the common play area. All the components in this game are top notch including the metal coins that are used for credits. I received the Kickstarter version of the game and there is no difference other than some gold foil highlights on the box and a 15 card expansion. If you are wondering the Kickstarter version is not available any more and will not be in the future. Do not worry the standard version is available. The art and graphic design is really well done and brings the entire experience together while making the game components easy to navigate.
In Moonrakers each player will take turns being the mission leader. The game is over and a new leader of the Moonrakers is determined when a player reaches 10 prestige points. How do you get prestige points? Complete contracts and objectives! As mission leader you have two options on your turn, attempt completing a contract or staying at base. The heart of this game is completing the contracts. When you choose a contract to complete you may negotiate with the other players in the game to assist you. You can offer in trade for help the prestige, credits or who is going to roll the hazard dice. Beware as players may not always be out to help you. There are objectives that have players trying to fail contracts.
Reactors and Crew can be vital to your turn as they can allow you to take more than one action a turn.
To complete a contract you and anyone who has said they would assist have to play cards from their hand to match the requirements of the contract. There are 6 card types in each players deck (5 to start). Each of the cards also have an associated action when played. For example when you play a reactor you may take two more actions (you start with only one). During the game (after you complete contracts on your turn) you can purchase crew cards these get added to your deck. This is the deck building portion of the game. Reactors and some of the crew cards can be vital to your turn as they can allow you to take more than one action a turn. Without the extra actions you would be stuck playing just one card. Once you are done attempting the contracts or completing them you must roll the hazard dice and see how much prestige you lose. The dice rolling can be part of the negotiation. for example you can ask someone to help and give them 5 of the credits but also ask that they will roll 2 of the 3 hazard dice. The dice take away the amount of prestige rolled minus the shields you have played and other ship or crew mitigation that you may have played.
The other option on your turn is to stay at the base and protect it. This will allow you to draw more objective cards, get 1 credit, buy crew and ship upgrades and swap out one contract if you don't like the look of it. We have not touched on ship upgrades. Each ship can hold up to 4 ship upgrade cards. When you purchase a ship upgrade you will usually add an additional action card into your deck and then you will place the upgrade card on your player mat. The ship upgrades give you and sometimes allies bonuses to completing the contracts. .
The strategy in this game is deep enough to keep me interested but not too deep to scare off more casual gamers.
The strategy in this game is deep enough to keep me interested but not too deep to scare off more casual gamers. The deck building is an important part of the game and I think the negotiation is its equal partner in this game. Striking deals to get the higher paying contracts is what this game is all about. Add in a healthy dose of secret objectives and sprinkle of backstabbing(not necessary, you can totally have fun without this aspect) and you have yourself a super fun game.
This game can be the crown jewel of your game night. The components have a lot of wow factor and the game play will have you coming back for more. In fact with an hour to two hours play time if could be played a couple of times in one session. The game plays well with 1-2 players but it really shines with 3-5 players. Word has it that there might be an expansion coming sometime mid year! So definatly check out Moonrakers designed by Austin Harrison, Max Anderson, Zac Dixon with art by Lunar Saloon and published by IV Studio.
Year Published: 2020
Recommended Ages: 14+
Time to Play: 60-120
A copy of the Kickstarter edition of Moonrakers was provided to Bert's Tabletop Games by IV Studios for review purposes .