Stefan Feld

Hall Games

No. of Players:
1 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Luna - this is the name under which the Moon Priestess is known far and near and the time has come to determine her successor. Staying true to ancient and sacred traditions, it will be Luna herself who designates the Order which will then elect the new Moon Priestess from amongst its ranks. Thus, each one of the Orders sends novices to the holy islands where they try to impress the Priestess and prove their promotability. In the game, one or up to four players figure as the heads of these Orders and send their novices to the islands. It is quite remarkable that Luna also holds rules for a solo play ready - but we will get to that later…

Each game starts with assembling the board. The main island - Temple Island - is composed of four frame parts and as many temple parts in the middle of that frame as there are players participating in the game. On the tiles which make up the frame we can see a path leading towards the inner temple and we 'pave' this way with the temple tiles, which correspond to the temple parts, following an ascending order. This means, the temple tiles with the highest value are put directly adjacent to the temple gate. Between every third temple tile a guard tile is placed. Finally, seven smaller islands which serve different functions are arranged around the main island. Players are free to choose their preferred composition of these islands or may arrange the islands randomly. However, the arrangement of the islands plays a rather prominent role since the Master Builder, the Moon Priestess and the Apostate (who will be important during the scoring phase) all move clockwise from one island to the next at the close of each round. Once all the tiles are laid out upon the table, the game really impresses with an outstanding design and rich game material.


During his or her turn, each player may choose amongst two actions - either placing Novices or using Favour Tokens. The Novices are located on the seven islands which are arranged around the main island. They are allowed to take but one action per turn on the respective island. The Favour Tokens on the other hand only may be used once, and so the players return the Favour Tokens to the bank after use. As already mentioned, each of the islands features certain specifics: For one, Novices may gain Favour Tokens on the islands. For this purpose, a player has to activate two of his or her Novices sited on the island - provided there is at least one Favour Token available. Two Novices may also be employed in order to recruit an additional Novice from the supply to the respective island. Finally, the Novices may - with the help of the Master Builder if he is present - erect a Shrine on an island. A Shrine helps with recruiting Novices or collecting Favour Tokens: If there is a Shrine on the island, only one Novice is necessary for recruiting new Novices or for taking Favour Tokens. This means, Shrines offer considerable advantages but players should carefully consider where to erect a Shrine since the number of Shrines is limited and a Shrine erected on a certain island may not be moved to another island.

The Novices may only exploit the benefits of the specific island they are placed on, and since players have not enough Novices available to place one on each of the islands, it is necessary to rotate the Novices from island to island. During the regular movement, players may move any one of his or her Novices from one island to another. Only those Novices which are still active may be moved; afterwards, players have to inactivate the Novices they have actually moved. Two specific Favour Tokens - Tide and Sail Boat - to be gained on the respective islands facilitate the movement of the Novices insofar as the Novices may remain active even after the movement.

But what is to be gained by moving the Novices and by collecting Favour Tokens with a view to impressing the Moon Priestess? In fact - nothing! Indeed, only those Novices who set over to the main island and enter the inner temple will be able to attract Luna's attention. However, collecting useful Favour Tokens before entering the inner temple is essential, since the Favor Tokens may grant a considerable leverage when it comes to winning the game.

On their voyage around the islands, the Novices can travel from the surrounding islands to the main island and the temple by four different routes. Firstly, two Novices at a time may take up those temple tiles on their way to the temple which feature the same symbol as the Novices' island of origin. In the following step, one of these Novices is the sent to the temple tile, whereas the other is set inactive and remains next to the island he came from. At the beginning of the game only the temple tiles with the lowest values can be taken, and this is indicated by a guard between the landing stage and the temple gate. Every round this guard is moved one guard tile forward, so that more valuable temple tiles become available as the game progresses.

In a second step the players can spend an action to move their Novices on the temple tiles into the inner temple (onto the corresponding temple parts). This gives the player as many influence points as indicated on the temple tile. In addition, the newly placed Novice displaces opponent novices on adjacent temple parts with a smaller number, and this also brings the player one more influence point. However, the most important Novices in the inner temple give the players influence points at the end of every round, and so is quite essential to get Novices into the temple at an early point during the game. To prevent displacement, a clever tactic of choosing the right temple parts and protection in form of the favour token Book of Wisdom can be used. Inexperienced players often underestimate the importance of novices who remain in the temple, but the prevention of a displacement is an important key to success.

If a player cannot perform another action or wants to pass, he turns one of the time markers. If the last time marker (3 or 4, depending on the number of players) is turned over, the current round ends and a scoring takes place.

In this scoring phase the players first count their active Novices and shrines on the island of the Moon Priestess. The winner of this count gains the highest number of influence points on the figure of the Priestess (also depending on the number of players). The second gets the second highest number of influence points and the third the last. On the island of the Apostate however, each player must give up one influence point for every Novice, regardless of whether these are active or inactive. Last but not least, the influence points for Novices in the inner temple are given to the players. Then all inactive Novices are set active again and the Priestess, the Master builder and the Apostate are moved to a different island. The game ends after the sixth round with a final scoring.

Luna is a tactical game with a lot of interactive elements. One of the most interesting details of the game is the displacement which may take place when a Novice enters the inner temple. This faces the players with some important tactical decisions and you can often see your opponents look angry when their Novices in the temple are sent away by your Novices again. Of course, Luna has a solution for these annoying displacements: the Bribery favour token from the corresponding island makes it possible to take possession of temple tiles behind the Guard of the temple. This provides access to the temple tiles with higher values, which are safer from displacement. On the other hand it is an "expensive" way to hold the temple tiles, so perhaps the Book of Wisdom token is the better help because it can counter a displacement. However, like the other tiles the number of books is limited, and so it must be transferred to more threatened novices in the temple from time to time. But there is also a third, cheaper way: with a clever choice of the temple tiles, a player can protect his novices by the placement of his own novices. For only novices on adjacent temple parts are displaced, but if these parts are already occupied by your own novices a certain degree of protection can be effected.

Reading the rules for the first time left me a little bit puzzled. They are not badly written, but you must read them very thoroughly and be aware of some intricate specials. Besides, a lot of terms are used, and you will have to remember these in order to understand the game. Quite surprisingly, it's somewhat easier to explain the rules than it might seem, and the game starts to progress rather smoothly after the first two rounds have been played. So, it may be advisable to restart the game at this point, since a lot of decisions made in the first rounds will have an effect later in the game, and so a newby player should be given the chance to restart with his own strategy after he has gotten a feeling for the game.

All in all Luna is nearly a perfect game. All details are well balanced, so that luck only plays a very small role. Even the solo-play, though not as good as the multiplayer game, works fine (At least it is very useful to learn the rules). I am quite sure that, back in the day, let's say 10 years ago, Luna would have been one of the hot candidates for the gaming awards. But today. with several hundreds of new publications in one year, it is a hard time for a game like Luna to be singled out from the masses, because it does not stand out with new surprising elements or a completely new story from the rest of the games. However, this is quite a pity since Luna convinces with well-weighted rules and an attractive design. To be honest, I have not seen the game at the SPIEL'10 convention, but it would have been a pity if I would not have had the chance of testing it later.

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2011 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany