Before I begin I was sent a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid review. If you would rather watch a video of this review you can check it out below. Get your own copy here.
There are sooooo many games coming out every year, and I miss about (hold up lemme do some math here…carry the one…divide by zero…) a metric butt ton of games that are good, and have solid buzz. This is where I stood with Moonrakers. I had heard several people that I respect speak well of it, and it CRUSHED it on Kickstarter. Yet, I never even got around to checking out the page.
Needless to say I was pumped when I got the chance to review this one…then reality settled in. We are in a friggin pandemic. This is a negotiation game that plays best with many people, so I was told. What was I thinking? Luckily it also has one of the swankiest table top simulator modules I have ever seen, so that allowed me to get my crack at some high player count games, while low player count stuff was simple enough.
In Moonrakers all the players are mercenary pilots of space fighters. Each turn a player gets to select a contract to undertake (or if they wanna be lame about it they can stay home and make space hooch, or whatever ya do on a space station). Each job has a specific set of requirements-how many shields, reactors, thrusters etc must be played. Along with that it comes with a set number of “hazard” dice that come along with the contract.
Now the fulfilling of the contract is done through deckbuilding and card play. However, each turn you only have a single action, which means you can play one card…that is not gonna get anything done. However, with careful building of your deck you will be able to play cards that let you play more cards, and other cards that let you draw more cards, which you can then play for yet more cards, until you have all the cards! Well, maybe not that, but until you have accomplished the contract.
Or more likely you will find that you cannot achieve a contract on your own so you will let someone else come along…for a price. Before you attempt the job you decide who gets what spoils (prestige and credits mostly) then you make it happen!
First player to the top of the prestige board wins.
So what do I think?
It is fun to build your ship, and the playing of cards is fun and quick puzzle as well. The way the card play works serves to force players to negotiate almost every single contract. This keeps the discussion going for almost the entirety of the game, which is not overly long.
It is very satisfying to build your ship to make yourself indispensable when it comes time for the next contract.
Solid production, and solid art.
It is easy to mistake this game as a deck builder first and negotiation game second…heck I did. This is not the case. The game is far more about negotiating with your opponents than it is about deck building. Do not get blinded by the cool ships, and spiffy crew members you can hire. Try to do it all on your own…you will lose. It is very hard to cull your deck of cards you do not want…it might be impossible, but there also might be a crew member I have not gotten before. This might not be something you like in your deck builder.
I do not think I have much desire to play this game at 1-2 players. Give me 4 players and I will play any day.
Bringing it all together
Moonrakers is a very good negotiation game. There is a nice side dish of deckbuilding but it you are looking for a quick space themed game, and you enjoy wheeling and dealing then this is your game. The card play is clever and fun, but it is definitely not the focus of the game. While it is possible to play with lower player counts, it is not something that I recommend. The more players the more interaction and the more fun.
I will give you 10 space credits to shut it
* Excellent negotiation, the way the deckbuilding and card play works you simply cannot go it alone
* Good production
* Card play is fun and quick
* Negotiation is the main course here, deckbuilding is the side
* Plays wonderfully with 4+ players, not as strong at lower player count
* Absolutely a game I would play almost any time, with the right people
* If you like wheeling and dealing then you will love this