It’s 1977 and we have finally colonised the moon! It is now your task to build the perfect capital city. Compete against rival companies to make sure that your settlement is the greatest.
Luna Capital is one of those games that is definitely best to just learn as you go. The rulebook goes through all the different types of Project Tiles in detail, which looks quite overwhelming at first. For your first game, you will do a lot of checking, but after that, it is very simple. Best to launch straight in!
The first thing you will notice is that this game has thought of everything! There is a little rocket that stores Project Tiles, a card dispenser for the Construction Cards and an organiser for the box itself. Stonemaier games always have very well-designed boxes and I haven’t seen anything as thought through from another game designer until now.
Devir has done a great job. My husband made a little squealing noise when he saw the organiser. It is a good sign when a designer has put thought into the experience rather than just the game itself!
Starting Luna Capital
The best way to start Luna Capital is to follow the set-up instructions first and then look at gameplay. The instructions make so much more sense when everything is in front of you. The short-term and long-term concession cards are additional missions that you can complete to gain extra Victory Points. Construction cards are used to build your settlement.
Each one has sections you can place Project Tiles on. The Project Tiles are where it can get a bit intimidating; they are all scored differently based on what type they are and there are 10 different options. Like I said before, don’t get hung up on what each one means! Quickly look at how each one is scored and get stuck in. By the second game, you will know what is going on. It is easier than it looks.
The 3 Phases
Luna Capital has 3 phases that are broken down into 4 rounds. On your turn, you take a Construction Card of your choice and all the Project Tiles placed below it. When it is the first round, there is only one Project Tile available, but this increases each round. You play a Construction Card of your choice and then must place all your Project Tiles.
As the settlement in front of you grows, you will have more options of spaces for your Project Tiles, but also more tiles to place. Again, very simple in theory. The difficulty comes with placing the Construction Cards themselves. Each card has a number on it from 1 – 10. You can place any number you want, but your Cards must be in contact with each other along at least one edge, must be in the same orientation and their numbers must increase from left to right.
You are allowed a total of three rows. This means it is vital to manage your hand of Construction Cards carefully. If you don’t have a good range of numbers, you might not be able to place anything or your next turn. Or you might be forced to place a 2 next to a 9 and that is 6 potential spaces you have lost!
Once all the Phases have been played, you count up all the Victory Points scored by your Project Tiles and Concessions. The person with the most Victory Point has managed to construct the greatest settlement. They have the honour of becoming the Moon’s Capital city.
The moment we finished our first game of Luna Capital, we set up to play a second round. Because there is a lot to get our heads around initially, the victory wasn’t as sweet as it could have been. We had to play again. Though this wasn’t out of frustration, but “friendly” competition. We both wanted to prove our worth and the game is quick enough to make that possible.
Luna Capital lends itself well to friendly competition. As there are so many different ways to accumulate Victory Points, you could be playing a very different game from your opponents. There aren’t too many ways to actively antagonise the people you are playing with. You could take the Project Tiles they are clearly aiming for or leave them with Construction Cards whose numbers can’t go anywhere in their settlement, but then you are stuck with those Tiles yourself!
It tends to be best to focus on your own strategy rather than disrupting other people’s. The one thing you do have to keep an eye on is the Concession Cards. These mini missions can be claimed at the end of a Phase. Once it has been achieved, it is closed and you cannot get it in the next Phase. However, it can be won simultaneously. So, if it looks like your opponent is about to complete one, best to start trying to finish it too. Make sure you get those sweet, sweet Victory Points!
As I have said before, at first the rules may look complicated, but in reality, they are just detailed. The rulebook goes through each Project Tile and each Concession Card to make sure you know what they mean. This is really useful to refer to during the game, but you definitely don’t need to have read it all before.
It is very like Space Base, where you can spend an hour reading instructions in a lot of detail, but you get the exact same experience if you just get stuck in. Accept that your first victory will be beginner’s luck and get tactical from there.
The Game Is Wonderfully Varied Too
There are so many combinations of Project Tiles, Construction Cards and Concessions that you are going to have to go for a different strategy each time you play. This means it is a great game for beginners and the more experienced among you. You might always try to get as many greenhouses as possible, but if they just aren’t appearing, you are going to have to reassess.
Even then, you won’t know what the right strategy was until the end. I have a soft spot for games where you don’t do any scoring until the end. I find with games like Terraforming Mars you can often see the winner after the first couple of rounds. However, with Luna Capital, because everyone has their own strategy, you don’t know how it is going to work out until the very end. It is much more dramatic when you realise your little sister has more meteorites than you at the last second!
Overall, Luna Capital is a very engaging and amusing game. It is complex enough that you won’t get bored, but simple enough to understand it pretty quickly. The whole thing looks fab too. Like the dice tower in Wingspan, the rocket is a lovely extra detail that pulls the whole game together. A lot of thought has clearly gone into Luna Capital to make it cohesive. It is one small step for man, one giant leap for gamekind...