A prototype of this expansion was provided by the publisher; however, my opinions are my own.
This copy is a pre-production prototype — content, quality, and components may change.
Nomad is one of several upcoming modular expansions for the deck-building negotiation game, Moonrakers. I have written a full review of the base game if you’re interested in learning more. This expansion introduces global events, overhauls the Contract system, and adds new Prototype Ship Parts to the game.
Every turn, a new event card is revealed and resolved. These cards provide challenges, offer rewards, or even allow players to vote on policies that can change the game’s rules.
One of the most significant changes affects the contract system. Rather than shuffling all contracts into one large deck, they are separated by color. Each color is associated with a sector on the new Navigation Board. Players move their ships amongst the sectors for contracts that best fit their strengths. Instead of looking at eight randomly-drawn contracts, players may choose between three sector-specific contracts.
Additionally, a new type of Ship Part is available. These prototype weapons are harder to acquire but are powerful.
Moonrakers: Nomad comes with a Navigation board, a new Prestige Tracker, four new objective cards, extra ship tokens, 20 new contracts, ten prototype ship parts, and 35 event cards.
Similar to the other expansions, Nomad adds mechanics yet does not change the core Moonrakers experience. Negotiation and deck/ship-building are still integral to the game, but this expansion incorporates new ways to achieve goals and work with your opponents.
Event decks are not new to tabletop games, but I enjoy the variety in this one. An event might force you to travel to a different sector – which may be a benefit or setback. Hazard Events are a gamble – you can roll the dice for an advantage, but it could potentially backfire. My favorites are the Policy Events, where players vote on whether to adopt rule changes. When enacted, these policies stay in effect until a new one is accepted. The injection of democracy works thematically with the game and adds additional interaction.
Moonrakers is already a highly interactive game, but there can be downtime between turns for players not participating in missions. Nomad alleviates that somewhat through the addition of events. The cards affect all players, thus boosting engagement each turn.
The contract system overhaul gives players more agency over contract selection. Mission Leaders move to an adjacent sector on the Navigation Board, then draw three contracts from that sector’s deck. Although Mission Leaders will have fewer contracts to look at than before, they now can hone in on a contract type. That is incredibly useful when your deck and/or ship favors a card type, or when you are working towards a sector-specific objective. The new system cuts down on some of the luck-of-the-draw present in the base game.
Although Mission Leaders get a bit more agency over their contracts, they should position themselves carefully when choosing their sector as players may only partner with an adjacent Mission Leader. There are orthogonal adjacency rules to movement and teamwork, and unless you are at the Base or the Sorelia Sector, one sector will always be out of your reach. If you are not careful with your movement, you might find yourself stranded in space with no potential allies. Mission Leaders move before contract selection, and everybody involved in a contract moves into the relevant sector for the mission. This can incentivize or de-incentivize partnerships, depending on players’ positions on the Navigation Board and future plans.
The Sorelia Sector is unique – it must be unlocked by completing the Anomaly contract, after which all players can access its contract deck. This is how prototype ship parts can be acquired. Opening up access to the Sorelia Sector is not easy, but it’s a worthwhile cooperative endeavor. It is also unique in its adjacency rules – similar to the Base, Sorelia is adjacent to all other sectors allowing different movement opportunities.
These changes may sound like a lot, but I felt that Moonrakers: Nomad smoothly integrated with the base game and its sister expansions. The new rules were straightforward, and this is not difficult to learn or teach. The rulebook is intuitive and other than having to sort contracts by color it does not add significant time to the game’s setup. Players familiar with Moonrakers should have no problem incorporating this expansion.
Whether it be through voting on policies or deciding to hover near my competitors on the navigation board, Nomad did a good job of making me feel like an independent agent in a loosely-connected band of space mercenaries. The theme came through most strongly during my time with this expansion than with any of the previous content – and to me that leads to a lot of fun moments.
Nomad‘s mechanics tie in well with the thematic elements. The Navigation Board makes sense for a spacefaring game, but it also infuses the game with meaningful decisions surrounding movement and contracts – this gives players more agency in their strategic direction. Global Events adds variety and memorable table moments, and also boost player engagement. And the optional Sorelia sector is a worthy cooperative endeavor that could yield huge payouts.
Nomad is, in my opinion, the strongest of the three Moonrakers expansions. It draws out the theme and ties all previous content together nicely. From the Global Events to the Navigation Board, the mechanics are solid and integrate well with the base game and the other expansions, while at the same time injecting some sci-fi flavor into the experience. Fans of Moonrakers will find a lot to love in the Nomad expansion.