Moon Base: A Bigger Leap for Mankind [Review]

That White Round Thing on the Dark Sky

Have you seen how beautiful the moon is tonight and on every other night? This figure hides many mysteries behind its beauty 384.400 kilometers away from our planet. But thanks to NASA’s Apollo program in 1972, man was able to step foot on the moon. It didn’t stop there though; itten predicts that in another few decades, countries from all over the world will launch a project called “Moon Base”. The moon’s surface will be covered by resource bases, ring modules will be scattered everywhere, and on top of it lay settlements. Hop on board the next space shuttle and you will be on your way to join this six-year grand development scheme!


“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”
– Neil Armstrong (1969) –

In this two-player game you will need to use all three-colored ring modules effectively to help your color take the lead. All the components of your color on the board will be accounted to your scoring after your six years rounds have ended. As simple as the components are, you might want to rack your brain for your every move. Take into consideration how to make every move benefit your opponent the least, because you will need your opponents’ other color to help build your settlements. Don’t forget that mobile research tower which is literally the cherry on top.

Provisions Are Vital

Before starting to lay stuff around, decide who’ll be the first player. Maybe do a quick rock-paper-scissors. FUN FACT: The Japanese calls it “じゃんけんぽん” (Jankenpon). While you usually shuffle cards before starting a game, this time you’ll be shuffling the ring modules into four piles of large rings and another four piles of small rings (It really gives an interesting experience to shuffle these slender rings). Second player now decides who will take which color (gold or silver) as theirs (The blue rings belong to no one, so think of it as a stepping stone to later help you). That person also gets the privilege to place the purple research tower in any large crater on the game board. That spot will be prohibited from being put any rings until the tower is moved as the game goes on. Each player then take their six settlement pieces (large hexagons) and six resource bases (small hexagons) of their own color.


T – 3… 2… 1… Liftoff!

It’s time for action, space cadets! You will go through three phases for each round and take turns in each phases. Before we start, give the Earth token (A very, very, very pretty blue marble) to the first player which will be passed on to the other player after every round. The first phase will be the selection of ring modules. First player takes two large rings followed by the second player, then first player takes two small rings followed by the second again. Keep in mind that you may only take the top two rings of a single stack, but it may be from any stack, even one that was picked by your opponent before. Then proceed to place the chosen rings on your side of the board.


Next will be the placement of ring modules. Pick one ring (large or small) out of the four in your hands and place it on a vacant crater on the game moon board. (Genius, right!?) The large ring goes on the large crater; the small ring goes on the small crater. You may also use the craters that are at the edge of the board, but don’t overlap a crater that already has a ring on it. As the game goes and the craters are starting to be filled with rings, you may start stacking on top of two rings. It HAS to be exactly on top of two rings, so three is a no go, and one is just impossible. It won’t be that easy too since there are rules for stacking. You may stack a ring on top of two rings if one or both of the same color matches the ones underneath. The rings below may be of any sizes as long as the gap between it allows your size of ring to be put on.

There’s an exception for when you make a three-color stack of large rings though. You will automatically trigger a “collabo ring” which transfers the research tower inside that last ring you stacked (I’m not kidding when I said it’s literally the cherry on top!). The research tower will be passed around each time a new collabo ring is formed. You cannot stack any rings on top of a research tower, so might as well plan how to block your opponent’s next move with that purple pointy figure.


Last phase is building settlements or a resource base. After all four rings from both players have been laid down on the moon you will now place either a settlement (large hexagon) or a resource base (small hexagon). A settlement can only be placed on an empty large ring of your color on the second level or higher that are clear of any rings above it. When you meet the requirements, but it seems the rings below don’t seem sturdy enough to settle your settlement, you may use a construction support that comes in small black circular tokens.

The resource base is like plan B when there is no vacant large ring of your color.  These smaller hexagons are put on an empty crater (large or small), these craters will be unavailable to be placed any rings till the end of the game. Of course from the size itself you can tell that a settlement will score bigger than a resource base, but during this phase it’s a must to place any hexagons, so it’s still better to establish a resource base than not scoring at all. 


Houston, We Have Landed

After all the stacking and building for six years rounds, it is time to examine the moon board and count each player’s points. Don’t forget there are also bonus points according to the end game situation for the ring at the highest level, longest streak, and carrying the research tower. Try not to let any rings go to waste since each will add one minus to the score. I highly suggest that throughout the game you refer to the hand guide to see illustrations about the scoring conditions, do’s and don’ts, and other floating questions. Do be careful during the counting, you won’t want your hard work come tumbling down and float in zero gravity (Can’t get enough of these space puns).


Sign Me Up for the Next Trip to the Moon

I just can’t stop raving about how beautiful this abstract game is. The signature minimalist design never fails to capture the public’s heart (that includes me). I’ve always been a sucker for itten’s abstract games, and this one really just blows my mind. The components are really well thought and perfectly put together especially when you see the final result at the end of the game. The color they used for the components works really well on top of the dark space background, giving it a nice contrast (an absolute beaut). The gameplay has enough complexity to get you thinking, but also simplicity to be a filler game. This game reminds us is that we, humans, have really come a long way since the day we first stepped on the moon. Surely technology will only keep on growing so that this game might actually be the real thing we’re going to do in year 20XX. But till that day, might as well enjoy a session of Moon Base.


Love ya’ll to the moon and back

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