The Moonrakers are descendants of the UFP exiles, forced to the stars where they work as interstellar mercenaries. A power struggle has erupted in their ranks and they are seeking a leader to captain the fleet. Friendly competition and short-term alliances must necessarily yield to victory, as only one ship’s captain will rise to lead the Moonrakers.
The physical copy of Moonrakers that I played will not reflect the quality in the final retail release. Among stated changes will be an organizational storage insert, solid-cast plastic counters, sturdier linen cardstock, and more custom metal coins.
The quality of the included metal coins is fantastic. Player boards and the two central boards are quite sturdy. I look forward to seeing what the plastic insert in the final retail version will be like.
As a longtime Dominion fanboy, I tend to compare deckbuilding games to my first love for better or worse. Some deck builders feel so similar to Dominion they might as well be ripoffs (and no, I won’t mention which ones; I’ll leave that for you to judge yourself). “Moonrakers” stands on its own as just different enough.
Each player starts out with a collection of “reactor,” “thruster,” and “shield” cards, as well as a “miss” which serves no purpose other than to take up a spot in your deck uselessly. Of these starting 10 cards shuffled together, each player starts with a hand of 5.
Playing cards allows more cards to be played, shielding from hazards, or drawing from the deck. After playing cards, a player will discard all the cards in play and in hand, and then draw a new hand of five cards. This will seem very familiar to anyone who plays deck builders such as “Dominion” or “Legendary.”
Where Moonrakers sets itself apart is in the “Contract” mechanic. At setup, eight contract cards are placed face up that the active player (mission leader) can choose from. They vary widely in difficulty, and some can not realistically be completed alone. The mission leader can form ad hoc alliances, splitting the risk and reward between himself and any number of other players. Completing a contract requires certain cards to be played as depicted on the contract, which might be thrusters, shields, damage, or even crew members. Completing a contract can reward a combination of money (credits), victory points (prestige), and bonus cards (randomly drawn ship parts or crew). But a promise of help from a would-be ally doesn’t mean they’ll be looking out for your best interests.
At the end of every round, the mission leader uses credits to draft crew members. Crew members function as special actions to enhance a ship’s abilities.
The first player to achieve 10 points of prestige will become the Moonrakers Fleet Captain and win the game.
Moonrakers is showing incredible promise. You can join the active discussion on the game’s future in the official Discord. For fans of deck building, Moonrakers is a definite must-try.
Live on Kickstarter now! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ivstudios/moonrakers