The landing on the moon was successfully done in 1961 and now the next big feat, bringing up the new moon (Latin: Nova Luna) on the table was a huge project in 2019 by Uwe Rosenberg and Corné van Moorsel. However, this game is not entirely a new game. It is, in fact, a reimplementation from Habitats; the game was published three years prior by Corné.
I haven’t tried Habitats before so I really cannot compare it with Nova Luna. Hence, I’d like to clarify in advance that this review is solely about the reimplementation. If you guys have tried it, please let me know the differences between the two games!
Disclaimer: I am an avid euro gamer and a hardcore Legend of the Five Rings LCG player. I am not a fan of solo game/variant. This will give you an overview of what kind of bias I might have while writing. However, I promise I will write as objective as possible.
A titbit on Nova Luna
Most of the intel is mentioned above already but nothing beats an appreciation for the artist at-work. Lukas Siegmon was responsible for the illustration.
In addition, Nova Luna is designed for 2-4 players with an extra variant for solo players, too. There are several publishers who distribute this game but mine came from Pegasus Spiele’s and Edition Spielweise’s collaboration. As German as it sounds, it comes with English rulebook, too! We expected a playing time roughly 30-60 minutes.
How to play
In Nova Luna, your main objective is to be the first player to place all of your 20 tokens. Tokens are placed on the completed tasks; the tasks are printed on the tiles you choose. Setting up the game, you will find the big Moon Wheel in the middle of the table. The tiles are shuffled and placed on each of the spaces here.
Taking the tile is pretty straightforward, too. On the Moon Wheel, you will find the Moon stand (the rulebook mentioned it as ‘Meeple’). You can only take one from the next three tiles in clockwise order. Each tile has the cost printed on the top left. Move your marker forward as many steps as the cost indicates.
Nova Luna has no fixed turn. The next turn is always for the player whose marker is the furthest back. If it’s a draw, the turn belongs to the player whose marker is on the top. The game ends when someone places his/her last token and then he/she wins the game. Pretty easy, right?
Personal view for Nova Luna
As I said before, I haven’t tried Habitats at all; but that doesn’t mean I do not get any familiarity sense with Nova Luna. Despite the feeling that I’ve played other games with a similar mechanic or parts of its gameplay, the game itself is pretty original for me. In addition, Nova Luna is language-independent due to its nature as an abstract game.
Mechanic and gameplay
Indeed the core mechanic implemented in this game is the tile placement. I feel like I am trying to solve multi-layer puzzles; I solve the puzzle by using the solutions which contain the next puzzle I need to solve. The positioning of your tiles really decides your fate. Sometimes, to complete multiple tasks on the tiles, you have to make sure you don’t block the free side with the incorrect tile colour. Meanwhile, you cannot always get what you want here. It feels like you need to manage the empty tile’s sides in case you don’t get your desired tile.
But please do not forget that Nova Luna is all about racing as well. You’ll not share your win at all, whoever the first to finish wins the game. The way we pick the tile is rather familiar. If you have tried Patchwork, you will find the same vibe here: You take a tile, you move your marker forward. If you are clever (and lucky enough), you may even take multiple turns!
It’s not complete when we don’t address the rulebook during the gameplay discussion. The print I purchased comes with a rulebook in English and German. It is rather short and concise; all rules are explained in a good flow. They even gave extra examples regarding how to complete the tasks. Really love it.
Thematically unrelated with moon at all…
When I took this one from the shelf in my FLGS, I was like expecting that this game would be related to astronomy thingy and kinds of stuff. Despite my love for abstract and euro game, it would be nice to have some connections between the theme and the gameplay (considering that the line between the game segments is getting thinner each day). However, Nova Luna’s gameplay has nothing to do with the theme at all. Thus, the moon/new moon topic is pretty much cosmetic in this one.
Components and design
The components are a-okay; common wooden disc and standard board from thick paper. It neither hinders nor distorts the gameplay and experience you’ll have. The moon meeple is in an appropriate size; it’s not tediously huge to do its job as one simple marker. Lukas Siegmon aced the artwork on the box and the wheel.
Nova Luna’s main target audience
Overall, I am impressed with this piece. The game will be welcomed by many gamers.
It is not that complicated and still can be digested by novices, yet the more versed need to have the good sense to win the game as well. Nova Luna shines for both more serious gaming group and family.
If you are looking for a new lot for your family game armament, Nova Luna will be great for you. It’s an easy-to-learn abstract game with simple rules to understand. The puzzle-like attribute will be a good exercise for the brain, too. The game is enjoyable with all of its player counts; it will only affect the duration. This excludes the solo option because I haven’t tried it yet (not a fan of solo gaming). I’d recommend you to have this on your shelf.