At first blush, Crescent Moon is easy to compare to Root. While this new asymmetrical board game is large, it is by no means eclipsed, and what appears from behind it is quite noticeable.
Crescent Moon, which resembles Root, has a variety of rules and objectives that they must use to get rid of a board divided into sections. Like Root, multiple plays, each lasting at least a couple of hours, will be required to fully wrap your head around how all of Crescent Moon''s factions interlock and collide, and youll want a full table of players for the intended experience.
Despite its modest attempt to transfer Root''s animal allegory to a 10th-century Middle East would be doing it a big disservice. (The game rulebook cites the input from a cultural and historical consultant and the Muslim background of artist Navid Rahman on its abstracted depiction of real-world history.) Although Crescent Moon demonstrates some similarities to Roots'' fanged aggression and gritted-teeth collaboration, it is also a different game - sometimes better,
The game is based in a region of the Middle East; modular map tiles can create a trough of rivers, quarries, a holy site, and fertile ground around a river crossing. The rulebook consists of suggested configurations, while advanced players may even create the map themselves before playing.
One of the most powerful people in the world is a ruling Caliph, a combative Warlord, a powerful Murshid, a wealthy Sultan, and an opportunistic Nomad. Each is striving to gain control in their own way, with aggressive aggression, subtler subterfuge, or exploiting the needs of the others, which provides the sizzling coal inside Crescent Moon''s busy strategic and social engine.
As many of the greatest board games of all time, designer Steven Mathers has described Dune and Eric Langs'' beloved Warhammer game Chaos in the Old World as key influences. Crescent Moons'' best moments are driven by the necessary interactions between players.
Both money and the military might balance on the precarious links between each faction. Players must be able to rely on each other to gain any gain in their power and control over the land during each round, which represents one year in the games universe, with an additional bonus only available during the first year, smartly pointing players in a specific starting direction. Each factions reference booklet provides clear guidelines on their possible actions and unique abilities.
Crescent Moon excels at in engulfing seemingly simple actions with the potential for enormous stakes, resulting in a captivating narrative in the way that players are forced to benefit from their actions.
Take the example of the Nomad and Crescent Moons weapons dealer who thrives on providing others with their means of conquest. Several of the players must reach a consensus with the roving band of mercs to use any military power, but the Nomad player may choose to switch units with their own hands, resulting in an effort to keep them mute - or at least unaware - or risk losing your army at a later stage. Its fantastically fraught with will they-won they bet
A potentially lower alternative to the fixed cost of cards in the rest of the market, but only if you can keep the Sultan on-side. A difficult task when their towns and cities offer such enormous wealth to be claimed through slaying, especially by the building-averse Warlord, who can only seize others settlements and strongholds for their own and excels in slanting conflict across the map.
In another bizarre detail, Murshid can use the sway of their influence tokens, which can coexist with another players, while protecting the perimeter, signifying the distinct rule by iron fist or hearts and minds - to offer support to another player in a nearby area in exchange for a number of victory points. If the warring player wins, the Murshid may, therefore, gain the points, whether or not they did actually throw in with the side, encouraging them to assist without guaranteeing that they will follow up
Moments like this set the stage for a game that constantly shifts the relationship between players in a way that feels natural rather than forced or jarring, setting up alliances and betrayals that are significant turn to turn but wont leave players feeling isolated or picked-up.
While interactions between players are restricted, they are necessary to support a continuous chastised diplomacy, especially as those same players grapple with valuable points on the map, hoping to hold them accountable for scoring goals and earning income at the turn of each year.
Crescent Moons short turns are surprisingly simple to pick up even on the first try, allowing you to strengthen your army by placing tokens, securing areas, or acquiring power cards, allowing players to respond more quickly to opponents'' actions.
The game player count of four or five is demanding, but in turn, you get the feeling that this is a game designed for exactly five individuals, often stretched to four to try and give its gorgeous box a greater shelf appeal. (On the other hand, the estimated three-hour play time feels somewhat inflated for a standard game, and it moves at a good clip.) Losing the Nomad in a four-player game, - players instead pay the central bank a fixed rate for mercenaries,
The addition of the Nomad by a faceless bank makes a minor change, but it''s in the details that Crescent Moon shines brightest. It''s a game of small specifics that gently orient players towards competition and cooperation via a mix of conflicting and harmonious abilities without limiting the possibility for memorable stories around the table.
Crescent Moon takes the stand alone as a fascinating and enchanting board game with its simplicity. From my fairly short time with it so far, it''s not quite an instant classic in the same way, but it''s certainly worth your time whether you are looking for a Root alternative.
For Root fans, it will give a breath of fresh air and some interesting new ideas. For newcomers, it''s a more personal and supportive introduction to the concept of a board game where everyone is playing their own game but together. Given time, there''s a possibility that the setting, gameplay, and ideas of Crescent Moons may well cast their own long shadow.