Haba do make great kids games, I have kids, although they are a little older now, they still like a bit of Rhino hero now and again. Moonlight Castle is a resource management game with a massive toy factor and a charming art style. Does it do enough to stick in the collection though and what age range would I aim it at? Read on to find out.
The first thing you have to do once you have all the bits out of the box is build a quaint little cardboard castle. This castle is the centre-piece of the game and really does make the whole presentation of Moonlight Castle shine. It's a 3d castle that is used to store the games tiles and dispence them down the gameboard whenever required. You then fill a bag with crystal tokens, chuck a few fountains on the board depending on player count and your ready to rock.
Being a kids game, Moonlight Castles turns are lightning quick. Firstly you place your very cute animal pawn on a space of your choice. You can place on a white space for free, otherwise you have to pay the colour of the space you take with one of the games crystal tokens. You get these crystal tokens by drawing them out of the bag, how many you draw is decided by which space you take and how many little circles are on it. So place your piece, pay costs if required then draw new tokens. Easy as peas.
The second part of your turn, which is where the meat of the game is, has you trying to pay for the crystal tiles that are being dispensed from the games Moonlight Castle. The spaces you can occupy can border a track of crystal tiles that are being pushed down the board by the games castle and wizard (more on that shortly) and if you have enough crystal tokens to pay for it, you can take it. These tiles represent your score so you want to be taking as many as you can, planning turns accordingly.
The Wizard And The Castle
On the back of the crystal tiles you take there are various things that can affect the constant stream of tiles. Sometimes you have to dispense a number of new tiles, sometimes you have to completely fill it again and on rare occasions you get another turn. How you push these new tiles out of the castle though is the games focal point. The castle that holds the tiles has a little plastic pusher behind it that has a wizard standing on it. When required, normally after taking a crystal token, you will slide the wizard forward then back, pushing a new tile from the castle onto the board, like a cardboard Pez dispenser. It's very quaint and my kids, including my 21 year old daughter loved it.
As with all Haba games I have played the presentation of Moonlight Castle is great for younger players. It's bright, it's bold and the game pieces are beautiful. Your screens and screen-printed player pieces are adorned with cute animals, the castle is chunky and well-made and the game board is dual-layered. Everything feels durable and attractive. From a presentation and component standpoint, I have zero issues. Everything works and is very well designed.
If you have smaller children, or small children trapped in older bodies like mine then Moonlight Castle is entertaining. It is great for teaching mechanics to new gamers and is beautiful to boot. There are a few slightly advanced variants to try and all-in-all, for what it is, is a great intro to the hobby we all love. You know what you are getting with Haba games and Moonlight Castle is no different.