Lunar Base Review

01 September 2022
Cut-throat card engines on the moon.

I love the experience of engine-building in a game. You start with painfully limited options, each action feeling frustratingly weak. Slowly, piece-by-piece, you place successive elements which feed off each other, to grant more resources and bonus actions. Finally, it culminates into a dizzying chain reaction of competitive construction. Lunar Base, from Estonia’s Plepic Games, condenses this mechanic down into a lightning fast game of competitive strategy.

The setting of Lunar Base is - to no one’s surprise - the moon. You play rival corporations, greedily expanding your modular empires across the surface, racing to hit goals of wealth, population or scientific endeavour. New modules link together through coloured orbs, each representing a different goal, but also the cost of placing modules. For example, a Telescope requires 4 red Science orbs to place, or else you pay the difference in credits. But once installed, those orbs are here to stay, meaning that next time you can build Scientific modules without paying a penny. This mechanism is simple, neat, and thematic, encouraging you to exponentially lunge towards one goal, sometimes at the painful expense of another.

There’s a lot to love about Lunar Base. It has world-class design which manages to be enticing and efficient throughout, from the Orb colours to the action iconography on each card. There are nods to humour and to general space nerdery; personal favourites being the Laika Memorial, commemorating the first dog in space; and the indispensable Bacon Printer, a culmination of everything humanity and technology have been working towards since the Stone Age. The cards themselves are intentionally exactly twice as tall as they are wide, to allow you to bolt them to each other in multiple arrangements. Building a base is cathartic, challenging and more than a tad cute.

Fans of pure strategy might not enjoy Lunar Base as much as meatier classics like Agricola or Race for the Galaxy; this game gives luck a slightly larger role than its bigger cousins. That said, the charmingly quick play times means you rarely mind losing, since you can get through a two player game in just ten or fifteen minutes. It scales up to higher player counts elegantly too, with quick rounds and more cards leaving little down-time; and unique starter stations allow just the right amount of variety between colonies.

The only blemish in an otherwise strong offering is the included expansion, Influences. It adds an additional win condition, being the first to bring four Influences into play; an abstract representation of the political forces facing the world. However, they add imbalance to the game, often unpredictably favouring one player over the others, without rewarding the strategy that led them to that point. We soon decided the game was better without it. This is no great loss, since the base game manages to be addictive and replayable on its own merits.

Lunar Base may not be perfect, but I also can’t recall any game where we have so consistently finished a round… then played again. This delicious combination of prettiness, play and printable foodstuffs almost guarantees fun for the majority of game groups.



One of the most more-ish games I’ve played this year; you’ll lose by a whisker, and immediately have another go. Plus, there’s as much bacon as you can print.

TRY THIS IF YOU liked Star Realms…

…Both excel at two player strategic card-play in a sci-fi setting. Lunar Base handles additional players better, whilst Star Realms has a huge library of expansions for advanced play.

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Buy a copy here

Designer: Kaido Koort, Martin Paroll, Silver Türk, Joosep Simm

Publisher: Plepic Games

Time: 15-30 minutes

Players: 2-6

Ages: 10+

Price: £25

What’s in the box?

  • 6 credit counters
  • 90 cards, including 6 Stations 50 Modules, 26 Agents, 8 Influences
  • Rules booklet

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