· Designer: Austin Harrison, Max Anderson
· Publishers: IV Games
· Player count: 1 - 5
· Age range: 14+
· Time range: 60 - 120 minutes
Moonrakers is a deck building game of potential accords, contract missions, and keen negotiation. Extremely engaging with significant interaction and new mechanics.
When you play, you are in the boots of Moonrakers.
Generations before the leaders had started a cleanse. Those cast out were sent to space. The Moon became their foothold that let these Moonrakers spread across the galaxy. Now you live as mercenaries or sorts, masters of your own destiny, united in name and testing shaky alliances. Completing your quests, to become the Leader of the Moonrakers.
Alliances are tested. Stay alive by upgrading your space ship with nifty parts and crew, leading the way to gain Prestige with each Mission. These tools allow you to do more damage, block hazards, gain more Reactors and expand your actions. The goal of the game is to reach 10 Prestige points. This is achieved by completing contracts or secret objectives.
Players grab a Command Terminal and place it in front of them. Create a starting hand including two Damage, three Reactor, two Shields, two Thrusters, and one Miss card. Shuffle them and place them face-down next to the command Terminal board. This is your deck.
Assemble the Armory board in the middle of the playing area. Place Credits in the Vault, Crew cards in the Manifest, and Ship Parts in the Supply area. Three Crew cards are placed face-up, and six Ship Parts face up below the crew.
Next to the Armory is the Dispatch which denotes the Prestige track. Place all Ship tokens at Zero. Contracts placed on the board with four over four faces up. Personal objectives face down on the board.
Players grab two Credits and two Objective cards. Roll the Hazard dice, and Moonrakers with the lowest Hazards flies first.
The game is played in turns and referred to as the Mission Leader on your turn. Objective cards can be played at any time during the turn; however, they must be claimed when the conditions are met, or they will have to reach the needs again. Rewards are claimed once compete and card discarded. New objectives can be gained in turns.
Planning | Phase One
The player can stay at base and earn a Credit. (useful in the first few rounds) You can research the Contracts and start deck building. Draw two new Objectives and keep one. Discard all those cards in their hand, drawing a new hand of five cards. Additionally, you can discard one Contract in the row and replace it with a new Contract.
The second option is to set out on a Mission. The player selects one face-up Contract card to attempt a mission. There are risky rescues, standard delivery service, eliminating other space pirates, and exploration. Each Contract card has the number of Prestige points that can be won, the credits to be achieved, and the bonus cards to be collected if the Contract is successfully completed. Also shown are the Hazard levels.
If the Mission Leader can attempt to make a temporary alliance to fulfill the Contract. The players discuss how much Hazard dice each player will be responsible for and how the loot will be divided.
Contracts | Phase Two
Once the Contract has been selected and new alliances formed, it is time to fly. Time to roll the dice and see how dangerous the Mission will be. Shields are required to block the hazards; otherwise, it will be paid in Prestige points.
Completing the selected Contract by playing the correlating cards from the player's hand. Having Crew cards and Ship upgrades have beneficial action to assist in completing the task. Players start the Mission with one action, and that is to play a card. However, each card in the player's hand can provide the player with a bonus.
The Mission Leader goes first, and each player plays as many cards as possible to contribute to the Contract completion requirements. All cards played to contribute to the Contract, are played to match or block action. After all the Alliance's players have placed their cards the determine if the Contract was successfully completed. If completed successfully, the players divide up the loot per their agreement—time to deal with Hazards. Any hazards not blocked by a Shield cause the player to lose a Prestige.
All players who were in the temporary Alliance discard their cards played and draw five new cards. The completed Contract card successful or not and is discarded.
Purchases | Phase Three
Players can purchase upgrades to their ship by spending Credits to collect available Ship Part cards and hire on essential Crew cards. The cost of each is displayed on the card and paid back to the Vault. Only four Ship Parts can be attached to a player's ship at a time, but the players can discard a part to make room for a new shiny one.
The first Mission Leader to achieve ten Prestige points is the Leader of the Moonrakers and wins the game.
At first glance, one would think that ten victory points lead to a swift game light game. However, it can that is not the case. It took us two hours one game to get to ten points. This game is riddled with complexity, but delightfully captivating.
The rules suggest that making Allies on the first few rounds for Missions is a strategy to build Prestige and Credits. We tried that the first plays then pivoted to our own mechanics once familiar with the cards.
We all went to build up our ship and crew before heading to Missions. This gave our ships the ability to run the initials Missions solo.
We engaged in Alliance towards the end of the game to mainly negotiate Prestige Points to win.
After building a good engine in our decks, we sacrificed a few cards to get the deck down to a manageable size.
Bits and Bobs
The production value of the components is high. The box was more significant than expected and once opened, reveals an Origin Story Comic that lends the through-line throughout the rest of the components.
The art is offbeat yet familiar. The player boards and cards are sturdy and high quality.
The coins are metal and heavy to hold, always a plus for us.
The ships are winsome, and I saw that there are already upgrades for the ships.
The impressive components and depth backstory lend to a more entertaining experience.
1 Amory Board
1 Dispatch Board
5 Command Terminals
5 Ship Tokens
15 Three Credits
25 One Credits
42 Ship Parts cards
24 Crew Cards
% Player References
4 Hazard Dice
23 Objective Cards
45 Contract Cards
Graphic Novel (LoveLoveLove)
130 Player Deck Action Cards
The bright side of this last year was the time to get more diverse games to the table. We have scarcely had time to share our thoughts on the games. Moonrakers arrived when we had a lull in games on the playlist, which is fortunate because we fell right in and could not stop playing. We were completely absorbed.
The variety of Mission and Crew cards lends to a variety of play, and we found that we had to do an about-face on strategy for some games.
They did find the sweet spot of story, sabotage, and player alliance.
Moonrakers is an engaging, refined game.
Player count: 1 - 5
Age range: 14+
Time range: 60 - 120 minutes
Mechanism(s): Action Points, Deck, Bag, and Pool Building, Hand Management, Team-Based Game, Trading
Let’s be honest; there is still a bit of drama when we play.
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