Welcome to the Moon

Cover Art - Welcome to the Moon
Welcome to the Moon uses the same flip-and-write game mechanisms as the earlier title Welcome To..., but now you can play in a campaign across eight adventure sheets. On a turn, you flip cards from three stacks to create three different combinations of a starship number and a corresponding action, then all players choose one of these three combinations. You use the number to fill a space in a zone on your adventure sheet in numerical order, and everyone is racing to be the first to complete common missions.

The eight adventure sheets feature very different mechanisms from the classic Welcome To... concept, and when you play in campaign mode, you'll make choices that change the next adventure, which means that each campaign will differ from the previous one.
BGG Link https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/339789/welcome-moon
Designer(s) Alexis Allard, Benoit Turpin
Publisher Blue Cocker Gamers
Player Count 1 - 6
Estimated Playtime 30 min per adventure
HomePage http://bluecocker.com/en/landing-page/#post-987

Game Review

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Journal Entries

August 29th, 2022

It’s been a few weeks, but I finally got the third in the Welcome To trilogy to the table – Welcome to the Moon! I have been interested in the follow-ups for a while, and I finally get the chance to try one.

First off, the second in the trilogy – Welcome to New Las Vegas – I am not interested in it. Not because it’s a bad game or anything like that. From everything I have seen, it’s one way to play and from all accounts overly complicated.

Compare this to Welcome to The Moon. The new game has 8 adventures which are stand-alone games of varying complexity. There is a campaign mode and a solo mode included. In comparison, Welcome to the Moon is the value choice.

20220829 - Welcome to the Moon - Components
Components – image from Blue Cocker Games

I love the component design of Welcome to the Moon. Each board is dry-erase, and so are the AI cards. Tuck boxes are included to separate the cards, and everything packs away neatly.

I will say using the tuck boxes can be a little annoying. Especially if you plan on playing multiple adventures in one sitting. If you do this, keep the mission and ASTRA cards out in separate piles!

The art is gorgeous, and the amount of little pop-culture easter eggs are fun to hunt for. Each adventure looks unique, but you know basically what you are looking at each time.

20220829 - Welcome to the Moon - Easter Eggd
Little nods are everywhere. Here we have Alien, Star Trek, and if I am not mistaken Red Dwarf!

Welcome to the Moon starts with a very simple twist to the ‘Welcome To’ formula. You still place numbers in ascending orders on rows, but there are no ‘powers’ to use.

Instead, the powers determine which row you can place values in. For Welcome To veterans, this is probably too simple. For an introduction though, it’s a good lead-in to get people used to the basics.

20220829 - Welcome to the Moon - You have to catch up to AI pretty quick
The placement rules may be too simple for veterans, but I still enjoy Adventure 1

Adventure 2 instantly changes this up. Powers are back, and you have one large section to work in. It’s up to players as they go to subdivide the path to the moon to place numbers.

The divisions are explained game-wise as ‘course corrections’. Most parts of Welcome to the Moon are like this. It’s easy to see why because most rules make narrative sense.

Adventure 2 is different enough to feel like a second game, and there are 8 adventures like this in the box!

20220829 - Welcome to the Moon - Setting up Adventure 2
Adventure 2 feels completely different to every other Welcome To, while having that familiar base experience

I am going to talk a lot more about Welcome to the Moon in the future. Next weekend I plan to finish the last 3 adventures and get a feel for the rules.

I am planning on spending part of the start of my holidays making How To Play videos for each adventure. Welcome to the Moon does a pretty good job of teaching the rules. I still had some things to clarify though.

The idea is following each How To, I am going to play a solo adventure that people can follow along with. Some multiplayer solo Welcome to the Moon anyone?

After all that, I am also considering streaming the campaign Adventures, or at least the first few. This is to give people a feel for the campaign and let you see if you might enjoy it.

20220829 - Welcome to the Moon - AI Wins
Adventure 1 may be simple, but the AI still whooped me when I wasn’t paying attention!

So prepare for a lot more Welcome to the Moon Content between October and January!

September 5th, 2022

I have been enjoying Welcome to the Moon adventures so far. Adventures 1 to 5 were all different and a little quirky. Then I hit Adventure 6.

On the surface, it looked like it would be a heap of fun. It looked like Welcome to the Moon had mixed in Pandemic Outbreak rules. This made adventure 6 the most complicated so far.

I had questions about mechanics before I started playing. Not the end of the world – it’s why I am playing all of the adventures before jumping into the campaign. Yes, I know, this is the opposite of what they suggest. But I have had enough experience with translated rules that I am wary. I would rather spoil the mechanics than sour the campaign with ‘learns the rules’ attempts.

20220905 - Welcoem to the Moon - Up close the detail is fine
Up close, the board looks beautiful. At a distance, it’s easy to get lost.

It was here I found my first obstacle. The adventure board is so busy it was hard for me to see what was happening. The board is by no means unplayable, but while trying to identify the layout I lifted it up close more than I am used to.

Then there is a bit of a ‘me’ problem. The rules tell you to activate a coloured virus at specific points. This is fine, but I am red/green colourblind. I would have appreciated the icon for the virus to activate instead of the words ‘red virus’ in the rulebook.

This is a small quibble though. Welcome to as a series has been amazing at supporting colourblind players. Welcome to the Moon takes this even further on the whole. This small oversight stands out only because of how out of place it is compared to the care everywhere else.

20220905 - Welcome to the Moon - How I see the world
The same image, but closer to how I see the world. See how everything blends in more?

I had Friday off again, my second long weekend until later this year. I thought I would finish off playing Welcome to the Moon this week. Instead, I spent most of Friday afternoon wrestling with rules.

It took three goes playing Adventure 6 until I was mostly sure I have it right, and even now I am not 100% confident. Not the best position to be in.

I even tried watching videos of Welcome to the Moon adventure 6. The only thing it confirmed to me is there are players that have misunderstood basic rules to start with.

There is no point naming and shaming these videos. They were enjoying the game, and each one said they weren’t sure about the rules.

20220905 - Welcome to the Moon - When you think its right because you lost
That feeling when you think you did it right because you got beaten

It was frustrating watching people play, hoping for clarification. Then you find yourself yelling rule corrections at the screen instead of learning.

Blue Cocker has video rules for Welcome to the Moon on YouTube. I wish they would do a video with their propagation rules from the FAQ this way though.

The thing is, I think adventure 6 has the potential to be my favourite mission. Welcome to the Moon has shown many different play styles for many players, and on paper, this one clicks with me the most so far.

If there was a first-time experience that soured the overall experience though, adventure 6 has been it.

October 17th, 2022

I finally got to swing my attention back to Welcome to the Moon last week. I still want to sit and do the entire campaign, but I am learning the individual adventures first. Sure, the rulebook suggests you jump straight into the campaign. Almost every adventure has confused me rules-wise in some way. So my approach to Welcome to the Moon is working for me – your mileage may vary.

Adventure 7 has the highest risk and reward mechanic yet in Welcome to the Moon. Slight story spoiler (this is why the game suggests you play the campaign first). You have to board escape ships orbiting your Moon base. The gameplay tweak means you need to form routes in the ships before you can place people.

20221017 - Welcome to the Moon - Adventure 7
Welcome to Adventure 7

This sounds fairly simple. You can’t place values in a module until you have traced a path to that module. This puts a higher emphasis on robot actions this round, as robots are how you complete paths. Welcome to the Moon generally has a higher emphasis on one action in each adventure. For me though, in this game robots were a two edge sword.

You see, the robot action gave the AI player (ASTRA) the least points. But I needed to keep and use robots to have somewhere to put numbers in to complete my ships. So what was once an easy throwaway became vital for me to complete my goal. It also gave ASTRA more points as I threw them higher-value cards.

20221017 - Welcome to the Moon - Just lost the Objective Race
I was hoping to do this objective first. Curse you card draw!

The thing that took me a while to work out is when modules were connected and what constituted a ‘path’. After much looking around, I believe I have it correct. I played a path as if you connect each end of a ship and then one path connects to the middle, you can use the centre module.

This is where the rules of Welcome to the Moon work against the game. I can see the designers and publishers not wanting to lay out pages of rules for each adventure. But written rules that make immediate sense after you know the rules easily confuse new players. It’s as if new players weren’t used for proofreading the rules.

This isn’t a huge complaint. Welcome to the Moon is an ambitious design that offers multiple games in one box. There are even some translation issues in play from the designer’s native French. You need to be aware that there are some learning hurdles to overcome before you can jump straight in.

20221017 - Welcome to the Moon - Close Call
When you have a super close game with the medium AI, you can be fairly safe you have rules down pat

But I have enjoyed Adventure 7, but honestly gave up this week on learning Adventure 8. I also need to get my camera setup working properly again in my office. That way, we can play along and you can see what I mean!