Important note: review copies of these expansions were provided by the publisher; however, my opinions are my own. The pre-production copies featured are prototypes. Content, quality, and components may change.
IV Studio is launching the Titan campaign for their deck-building and negotiation game, Moonrakers. Backers will be able to acquire the base game, three modular expansions, a big box to fit all the content, and plenty of surprises that I am not aware of yet. In addition, a digital expansion has been offered free of charge for those who already own the base game.
If you have read this far, I am going to assume you have some interest in or experience with the base Moonrakers game. For those of you without experience, please refer to my original review.
Without further ado, here is a recap of my thoughts on each upcoming expansion:
Skip to: Overload Nomad Luminor Final Thoughts
Binding Ties adds an economy to the game that encourages cooperation. By completing contracts with opponents, players gain Faction Reputation (or “Faction Rep”) with those allies. Faction Rep is a form of currency that can be spent on many benefits, such as increasing Credits, adding an action or card draw, blocking a Hazard Die, and bumping up the Prestige track.
Players can boost their Faction Rep economy by participating in a lot of contracts. Players are incentivized to accept partnerships for fewer rewards and to build decks and ships that are helpful to allies. The more appealing you are as an ally, the easier it is to earn Faction Rep.
In my experience, Moonrakers can drag at the end as players stop cooperating and dig for solo-able contracts. Binding Ties has fixed this issue. It speeds up the end game by allowing people to use Faction Rep creatively to earn Prestige, sometimes facilitating big, surprising game-enders. It also adds more opportunities for deck-culling and finds a way to increase interaction in an already highly-interactive game.
The Binding Ties expansion incentivizes cooperation and solves the problem of a slow end-game. This expansion feels essential – I will never play Moonrakers without it.
Skip to: Binding Ties Nomad Luminor Final Thoughts
The Overload expansion lives up to its name by stuffing the draw deck with seemingly unlimited deck-building potential, massively upping the replay potential of the game. Advanced Action cards allow for more actions and/or draws and are incredibly powerful. In addition to powerful action cards, new Crew Cards and Ship Parts added to the game often utilize the IOSphere token resource that provides bonuses such as drawing cards and blocking hazards. In addition, two new types of Contracts alter the bidding dynamics.
While Binding Ties encourages cooperation, Overload allows for independence. The new cards and IOSphere resource permits players to craft a powerful deck and ship suited for solo missions. The new Head to Head contracts are competitive ventures, as well.
Of the three expansions, it feels like Overload is the least essential, but it adds a lot of fun and variety to the deck-building mechanic. This expansion adds a ton of new cards plus a new resource type – all of which enhance the deck-building experience. Overload truly lives up to its name.
Skip to: Binding Ties Overload Luminor Final Thoughts
The Nomad expansion introduces global events, overhauls the Contract system, and adds new Prototype Ship Parts to the game. Players now have the agency to choose their preferred contract type by traveling to sectors of the galaxy on the new navigation board.
Nomad also adds Global Events to the game. An event might force you to travel to a different sector, or offer you a benefit based on a dice roll. My favorite events are the Policies that allow players to vote on new rules. The injection of democracy works thematically with the game and adds additional interaction.
Nomad‘s mechanics tie in well with the thematic elements. The Navigation Board makes sense for a spacefaring game, but it also infuses the Moonrakers with meaningful decisions surrounding movement and contracts. Global Events adds variety and memorable table moments and also boosts player engagement.
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 other expansions, while at the same time injecting some sci-fi flavor into the experience.
Skip to: Binding Ties Overload Nomad Final Thoughts
Luminor is a free digital expansion compatible with the Moonrakers base game. It is also compatible with the upcoming expansion content.
This new way of playing offers a fully-cooperative experience. There is no negotiation in Luminor. Instead, players work together to travel through a procedurally-generated map and complete contracts. In your travels, you will interact with characters, face off against enemies, purchase new ship parts, recruit new crew members, and eventually face off against a final boss of sorts.
I have only had a chance to try Luminor once, but it left a great first impression. As much as I love Moonrakers, a lot of the magic of the game is lost at the two-player count. The cooperative version allows my husband and I to enjoy the game as a two-player experience and I am very grateful for that. Additionally, I applaud the choice to make the digital expansion free.
Luminor transforms Moonrakers from a cutthroat competition into an engaging cooperative experience. It also makes the game very fun for 2 players!
I approach board game expansions cautiously. If I like a game, I tend to be wary of altering the experience. I am not always all-in the moment a board game expansion is announced. When IV Games told me that they would be launching not one, but three physical expansions to Moonrakers simultaneously, I was intrigued but admittedly a little concerned about throwing so much new content at a game I already found to be pretty dang good.
Fortunately, this huge, multi-layered project has exceeded my expectations. It is obvious to me that a lot of thought and care went into ensuring that each addition had a specific purpose. This is not content for content’s sake – the expansions have specific missions. Binding Ties fixes the problem of end-game stagnation and encourages cooperation, Overload enhances the deck-building experience, and Nomad adds more player agency and injects plenty of sci-fi theme into the mechanics.
Not all games have the structural integrity to support this much expansion content. All the new content I tried integrated smoothly into the base game. Even after adding all the physical expansion content together, the game still plays like Moonrakers. Its core DNA is not lost in all the added mechanics. To me, this speaks volumes about the game’s design. It has “good bones” that can support many different ways to play. I can only think of a few other games that truly do this well, one of which is the highly-regarded Orléans.
Moonrakers is a clever semi-cooperative deck-builder, and each expansion builds upon that foundation beautifully. The new content has quickly elevated it to a top 5 game for my group. Each expansion adds something new to Moonrakers without altering its core identity. In nearly every case I cannot imagine playing the base game without this content. And for that reason, I am backing the Titan campaign.