Board Game Review: Catch the Moon

We cover a fair few tabletop games nowadays, and have seen a lot of games which took a long time to get the hang of because of their complex rules, tricky to understand mechanics and number of games needed before you feel fully comfortable with what’s going on. it doesn’t make them bad games, but it certainly makes then less approachable and less family friendly if you’re after a game which ticks boxes for anyone who wants to join in.

Catch the Moon is the exact opposite of these kinds of game: easy to learn, a tiny set of rules easy enough for anyone to understand but addictive and enjoyable for a whole family of gamers to enjoy. The main idea is to stack ladders on top of each other according to the outcome of a dice roll. Depending on what you roll you’ll need to add a ladder which only touches one other, two others or forms the highest point in the structure so far – something considerably harder than it sounds. Mess your turn up by failing to fulfil the criteria set by the dice, or by making one or more ladders fall off the ever climbing structure, and you’ll pick up a moon tear as a result of upsetting the moon with your slightly rubbish building skills. When the tears are gone, or the ladders are all used (which is pretty unlikely to happen before all 7 tears are dished out) the winner is whoever has the least tears… or at least, that’s the short version.

There’s a twist in this game ending rule though. Whoever earns the final tear is instantly eliminated from the game before a winner is determined, so even if you go the whole game with no mistakes then screw up right at the end, you won’t be winning anything. Harsh, but it certainly adds an extra layer of tension as the game reaches its climax. If one or two players have hogged all the mistakes and a couple of you don’t have any tears then there’s a sudden death mode, where every player goes with the “moon” result from the dice – that is, making every single ladder the highest point. That’s a sure fire way to eliminate most players pretty quickly.

And that’s all there is to it. You roll a dice, you try to add a ladder to the existing pile, and hope to hell it doesn’t all fall apart. It’s simple, it’s addictive, and it’s one of the few games I can play with my 4 year old without needing to simplify the rules – it’s a genuine all rounder which hardcore gamers might hate on the grounds of its “fun” nature, but anyone looking for a game they can get out, explain within a minute and play for a couple of hours will love it. This will live on the “easy access shelf” in our house and will, I suspect, see a lot of action in the coming months.

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