21Moon – questions and story from the game designer

We decided to do a small promo of all AAG games before the Kickstarter starts. We allowed all designers to prepare some stories about their games and publish them with new graphic designs. We hope this way you will know the games a little better and you will know what to buy for sure.

The first one is 21Moon by Jonas Jones.

Our questions list:

What is the length of the gameplay?

2,5-3,5 hours should be manageable for experienced players who are planning ahead. As the game follows a deadline instead of waiting for the bank to break or certain trains to be bought, the tail is shorter. There is little time for turns where players just do nothing and just collect cash as you only have 11 ORs in total.

What is the best number of players?

I would personally say 4 or 5 as I like the player interaction part a lot and the board becomes quite busy. Scott talked me into that it works well with even two players so that is an option as well. I have also played good 3-player games so it works from 2-5 quite well.

Is it working with 2 players?

I would say yes even if I personally find 2-player 18XX games much different than 4+ games as you have much more control. Scott convinced me it works well and he is right. I guess it depends on how much control you prefer.

Are there other titles similar to the game?

Apart from it borrows excellent rules from 1830, I would say this is a little bit different. However, it’s better to ask that questions to more experienced 18XX players that have played much more titles than I have.

The train rush – how fast is the train race? Is it always the trains we buy are running at least once, have there been games in which they did not manage to run even once!

Most transports are one less than normal so yellow for instance are only five. They last longer in this game as they rust on 5 Transports, 3T on 6T, and 4T on 10T so the train rush gets quite severe in the brown phase and onwards.

Private companies – how much this part of the game is interesting for the players?

Classic 1830 with 6 privates. Some are updated to the AAG version of Moon with the ambition that every private adds something more of strategic interest than just generating cash or looting corporations.

Stock exchange – how extensive is the stock exchange, how often do we sell/buy shares, and how much does the sale of shares affect their price?

Stock action is quite frequent in Moon as you both have SR for players and corporations and there are some synergies to explore between the two. The president can sell shares from the initial offering to the market to increase money into a corporation and the stock price only goes down one step every time somebody sells, regardless of how many shares.

Operational game type – is the game the opposite of the stock exchange one?

Even if you can play around with stocks as also corporations can buy or sell, I would still say this game is more operational focused as you during a limited deadline need to setup valuable routes, and achieving E-W offboard runs are much more lucrative than running a small suitcase line in a corner somewhere. Tiles are limited so it can be a puzzle to get where you want.

The risk of bankruptcy – how often the game ends with the bankruptcy?

That has never happened as the game follows a limited fixed set of SRs and ORs and are quite short anyway. Bankruptcy is not an end game condition in this game but players can of course agree to quit early.

The complexity of the rules – how big part of the rules are taken from 1830? Will it be possible to play the game after a short one-two page summary by advanced 18xx players?

Most experienced 18XX players will grasp Moon rules fairly quickly as they are quite similar to 1830 and 1846. There are some differences you need to pay attention to as two bases where one always withholds and one always pays out. There is a “supply contract” bonus for connecting E-W offboards between moon colonies which can change things around when the long transports arrive. When playing live with somebody who knows and can explain the rules, this is no problem. On 18xx.games I see some players struggle with these special rules and play the game as vanilla 1830. They get quite severely beaten by players who have read. The player interaction is also high as all corporations start from the same hex with one of their starting bases. This allows players the option of either collaborate or compete from OR1.

The complexity of the tracks – are they more like 18GB or 1860, or simple ones like 1817/1822?

It’s the trickier one with curves and fewer options to shift roads on open tiles.


Story from Jonas:

The key features of the game:

° First 18xx on the Moon
° New mechanics: Local and Space Port Bases
° Cross-company share ownership
° New graphic design style (NASA Style)
° Limited tiles with new tile designs
° Fixed short game length with predefined round sequence
° Random setup–Each game is different

I think it’s about 3 years ago I sent you a very early prototype of the game. Much has happened since then. In short; I wanted to design an 18XX game as playing 18XX games flipped my board gaming lige around. I ended up selling almost my whole game collection and today 75% of my collection are train games. Instead of making another game about the past, I wanted to make a future prediction about how corporations will explore the Moon in the year 2117. A year was chosen because my daughter is then 100 years old. What will she have seen and experienced during her life? Apart from classic 18XX rules, there were a few things that I felt were interesting to explore based on what I personally missed when playing a few otherwise excellent 18XX games. A variable setup of the map so the hotspots shifts between games. A shorter game with lots of player interaction without the tail when players just run down the bank, and a basic theme/story behind the game with a start, middle, and end.

Well, that became version 1 and 2 of 21Moon and then everything stalled for a year or so during the pandemic and I started working on two other designs instead.

I owe a “Thank you!” to a guy that recommended Moon to the alternative list when Scott announced a poll for the next AAG games (wave 5). The interest for a futuristic 18XX game after 2038 was clearly there and it got Scott’s attention after a while. Scott’s input after testing the game was great and the thing I appreciate the most is that he really took the time to understand the story behind the game and the improvement ideas we discussed were improving some of my weaker solutions that did not really make sense. The fact that all corporations now have two starts “stations” where one is the same hex for all makes player interaction even more immediate already from OR1. Even with only two players which I like.

Thanks to another game I designed during 2022, 18Svea, I got contacted by Christopher who turned out to be a brilliant graphics designer which has taken the game to yet another level. Thanks to his interest in space-themed games and NASA design Chricke has not only been able to bring rough ideas of transport design, detailed 3D offboard bases, and new charter design to life but also add his own thing and evolved the board design, much more realistic corporations and brought a logical depth to the graphics design that has been missing. It feels a little bit like an 18XX game somebody two generations from now has made about the early days when corporations exploited the moon.

Hopefully, my daughter will see how far from the truth this prediction ends up in 2117…


Latest update: you can preorder the game on the AAG website (it will only be available during June 1-7): all-aboardgames.com

Leave a Reply