Review: Moonshine Empire

Down in the swamp, I mean really deep in the swamp there is a place where Pappy runs his Moonshine Empire. Word has it he is a bout to retire. Pappy is going to leave his Moonshine Empire to the best moonshiner in the swamp. One to Four players compete to become the successor to Pappy in Moonshine Empire. Build stills and transport the shine to your customers with ATVs, trucks, airboats, and even rowboats all while avoiding the police and the gators that haunt the swamp.


Moonshine Empire is set in the deep swamp and every aspect of this game supports that theme. The shiners ride in specially crafted vehicles that they snap into and even the shiner meeples are slotted to hold the moonshine tokens. The gators that circle Pappys can even hold a bottle of shine. The rich theming really immerses you in the game and gets you ready to take on Pappy's empire.

There are three major aspects to this game. Make moonshine, deliver moonshine and upgrade your supply chain. Making shine is easy you just need a still. Each unique character starts with a different assortment of stills, vehicles and moonlighting options. Each turn consists of adding a shiner and distilling, taking new orders, bidding at Pappys auction, and finally moving and delivering that moonshine to your customers.


This is first a worker placement game. You need to have a shiner on your stills to make the shine. There are three different kinds you can make but you cannot make two different kinds at the same time in your stills so you will have to manage production with your orders. The stills come in 3 sizes that make between one and three bottle of moonshine per turn that you have a shiner stationed at them. One other thing you can have your shiners do is moonlight and do some odd jobs around the swamp. This lets you earn more money.


Another way to earn money and victory points is to take orders and fulfill them. The next part of the turn has each player taking a new order if they would like. Each player may only have 3 active orders at a time and you cannot replace them with new ones. The only way to get rid of them is to complete the order by taking the required shine to Pappy's in the center of the board.

These upgrades are for the most part hilarious. They can upgrade your ATVs by duct taping a cooler to them to carry more shine.

Pappy likes to action off things every turn, he has a lot of stuff. There are two rounds of the auction every turn players bid on upgrades, new stills, new vehicles and other random goodies to help you out. These upgrades are for the most part hilarious. They can upgrade your ATVs by duct taping a cooler to them to carry more shine.

Also watch out for the police and gators that circle Pappy's. If you have to you can slip the cops some cash and give those gators some shine...

The last part of the game is when you move your shiners and use those vehicles to deliver the shine to Pappy's. You can engineer your turns very skillfully to take advantage of vehicles that are placed around the board to drop your shine off in a hurry. However since everyone is in such a hurry to deliver the shine the keys are all left in the vehicles and you can take any vehicle on the board for a spin. The strategy comes in when you have to decide where you leave vehicles and if you leave a shiner in them to keep them under your control. Also watch out for the police and gators that circle Pappy's. If you have to you can slip the cops some cash and give those gators some shine and they will leave you and the rest of the players alone the rest of the turn.


The game happens over 8 turns after turn four you are supplied 3 new challenge cards you have to keep at least one of them. These are hidden goals with point values. In the beginning of the game you started with 2 of them. The auction deck now gets cards with penalties and bonuses added into it at this time. This makes the auctions a little more interesting as you play the second half of the game.


This game is good with 1-3 players but I really believe that the more the merrier with Moonshine Empire. Play with the full four players for an exciting game of making and delivering shine. This is a good game to bring your friends from entry level into a more complicated game. This game has very unique pieces that I haven't seen before and add to the game play a lot. Its fun to put the meeple into the truck and drive them around the board while they are holding on to some shine.


Designed by: Jason Mack, Caleb Zwar

Players: 1-4

Published by: Barrel Aged Games

Year Published: 2021

Recommended Ages: 10+

Time to Play: 45-90 minutes



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