Catch the Moon review

23 November 2017
MAIN-PIC-catch-the-moon-bits-38942.jpg Catch the Moon
We’ve caught the buzz for this amusing stacking game

Who would’ve thought ladders could be so much fun? After playing Catch the Moon, never again will steps be resigned to memories of fetching Christmas decorations from attics or clearing leaves from gutters. Nope, instead you’ll recall the time you managed to somehow perch a tiny ladder on top of a wobbly rung to become the new highest point in the knitted web of crisscrossing legs. Or perhaps the moment you collapsed, head-in-hands, as your carefully-positioned wooden frame slipped from its seemingly secure place between two upright supports and clattered onto the table, causing the moon to cry – and you to end up a teardrop further from victory.

Catch the Moon is a simple game that nevertheless excels at producing moments of outright jubilation and amusing devastation like these. It has the physical delight of stacking classics like Jenga, without the exhausting need to labouriously reset things after a single mistake or the frustrating feeling of inevitable failure once enough bricks disappear – the random shapes and bendy diversity of the ladders means that there’s almost always an option to come out on top, even it takes an unlikely wedge through a rung or unstable balance along an edge.

While the climax of Jenga’s exciting collapse quickly gives way to a feeling of not wanting to set up the tower again, some of Catch the Moon’s best moments come as a risky or clumsy play suddenly shifts the interwoven net, with the whole group of players gasping as rungs catch falling prongs, uprights become horizontals and swinging feet dangle closer and closer to the table.

The brilliance of using the multifaceted shape of ladders is that there is an almost limitless number of combinations and structures that can be formed by a combination of the players and gravity, multiplied further by the random placement of two straight ladders in the base to begin with, plus the use of a die to dictate whether players must aim for the highest point and how many ladders their addition to the pile can touch.

It adds up to a 20 minutes as light and gentle as one of the shrunken wooden ladders. Amusingly, the manual helpfully offers a selection of named placements players can execute during their turn – as if the majority of turns aren’t completely unpredictable chaos anyway. The fact that these strategic positions sound like a combination of skateboarding tricks and entries in the Karma Sutra – ‘The Foot Hook’, ‘The Sin of Pride’, ‘The Crazy Diagonal’ – only adds to the hilarity.

The artwork and illustrations on the box and manual are wonderfully expressive of the dreamlike framing of the game. Sadly, the components don’t quite match up to that quality. While the wooden ladders, blue moon tears and die feel warm and comfortable to handle, the thin rungs and legs can end up snapping if things become a little too tightly-tangled or lever in an awkward way – especially as players start to cram them in to survive later rounds (parents, watch out). The main disappointment is the base, a lightweight piece of plastic modelled after a layer of clouds that’s overly prone to getting grubby and too often shifts around as players manipulate the stack, with ladders tumbling in this way ruining the fun of cheekily wiggling in a ladder to an unexpected place of safety. For the modest price, it’s hardly a surprise, but a more solid foundation feels like a sore absence from such a relatively basic set of components. 

In the end, though, these minor disappointments can hardly take away from the laugh-a-minute, gasp-a-minute glee of stacking tiny ladders and watching them tumble down. Catch the Moon might not be a perfect game, but it’s undoubtedly a good time.




Although the bits in the box could be better, it’s hard to deny the delight that Catch the Moon inspires. The ladders make for an inventive choice of shape to stack and lead to the game’s best laugh- and gasp-out-loud moments. A simple joy, through and through.

Buy your copy here.

Publisher: Bombyx

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Price: £21.99

Genre: Dexterity

Players: 2-6

Time: 20 minutes

Age: 6+



This review originally appeared in the October/November 2017 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

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