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Fun open information Euro. Feld is certainly good at designing games that do not feel at all like each other. This one is probably my favorite of those I've played by this designer.In this one, players are using novices to move around the seven islands collecting bonus chits to assist with the many actions possible to earn VPs. Offers a respectable amount of player interaction through fighting over Temple spots and moving of the Apostate, who deducts VPs.Would like to play this more.Update: Four plays now, all with either 3 or 4 players. Love it. The Meditation mechanic is brilliant, and feels unique. It allows you to pass and see what your opponents are going to do, but there's also a risk in that they will also meditate causing the round to end before you get to finish your actions. In a game that requires a lot of preplanning and setting up for future turns, this could be critical. I love the jockeying for position in the temple as well as the competition for scoring of the Moon Priestess. The Council of Priests track is also enjoyable. Building the 4 point Shrines on islands should not be overlooked, and damn that Apostate! Wonderful game.
GAMEPLAY In Luna, players represent an order of religious novices who following in the teachings of Luna, the Moon Priestess, so that one of their order can become the successor to Luna. Players can take nine different actions on their turn: recruit a new novice, gain an island favor, use an island favor, journey to different islands, move up the Council Track, expel the Apostate, move to the promotion track, be sanctified by moving from the promotion track into the temple, and meditate (i.e., pass). Players score VP by building shrines, sanctifying their novices, kicking out novices from the temple, being the last person to pass in a round, scoring majority for the island where Luna is teaching, having novices in the temple at the end of a round, their position on the Council Track at the end of the game, and exchanging any unused island favors. Players can also lose VP if they have novices on the same island as the Apostate at the end of a round. The game ends after six rounds. THOUGHTS Luna is part Earthsea, part Fraternity Initiation, the board game. Which sounds weird but it works really, really well. The layout is as strange as the theme: instead of a central board, players bounce from plaque to plaque in order to take actions and score VP in a variety of ways. However, the gameplay is certainly familiar if you’ve played a Feld. The council track (see Castles of Burgundy, Trajan, Macao, Rialto, etc.) can earn players big end-game VP but it is costly to move up while the islands represent areas where you can get specific favors or take helpful actions (see Notre Dame and Aquasphere). Also, present in many Feld games is the punisher: here it’s the Apostate (affectionately called “the Molester” by one in my group) who offers a lot of tension in the game as he can be moved to inflict negative VP. The round timer—represented by candle tokens that players take an action to flip—must be one the simplest and most clever mechanics I’ve seen in a game and offers another point of player interaction. Finally, the timing of when to sanctify your novices and how to best kick out opponents from the temple means timing is crucial. The rules teach is a bit on the long side but, once you’re up and going, the turns fly by and I always end a game with the feeling like all the oxygen was sucked out of the room for the last two hours. Best game in the Feld cannon by a long shot! PROS -The ridiculous theme comes through really well in the art and components. I have a soft spot for this game due to the oblique similarities to Le Guinn’s Earthsea series and my experiences during my fraternity initiation. -It’s amazing how there are so many actions a player can take on their turn and yet the majority of turns takes less than 10 seconds. While rules overhead is slightly high, it doesn’t get in the way of gameplay. -The game is filled with tense moments. Of course, there’s the ever-present feeling like you can’t do enough of what you want. But, there’s also the tension from sanctification, the Molester, and the candle—all incredibly simple mechanics that ratchet up the mind games, planning, and positioning to 11. -In the original edition, the bribe and book favors were inferior to the other favors. With the second edition, the they have both been beefed up. The bribe favor now allows players to move a novice from the dock back into the temple. We also house rule it so that you do not need a second bribe favor in order to sanctify a novice who has been promoted past a guard. CONS -Despite the second edition changes, I feel the book favor is still underpowered. The changes include no longer getting VP for stealing books and that a novice who has stolen a book cannot have the book immediately re-stolen. I also can’t tell from the new rules whether you get extra VP for having a book at the end of the round or not. Regardless, in order to bring the book more in line with the other favors, I’m considering a house rule where you can use a book favor to move the Apostate forward an island. It’s not game-breaking by any stretch; it just allows players some more flexibility when they only have exhausted novices on an island. Thematically it makes sense too: The Apostate, a non-believer, shrinks in terror before the knowledge of the Book.