16th Oct2017

‘Catch the Moon’ Board Game Review

by Phil Wheat

catch-moon-box

Essentially a skill game of stacking ladders – think Kerplunk or Jenga in reverse, adding pieces rather than taking them away – Catch the Moon sees players stack ladders on top of each other in order to build the ladders into the sky and literally… catch the moon. Only these ladders aren’t as sturdy as you think, and the rickety wooden objects sometimes just don’t want to play the way you intend; and the tower of ladders can topple over at any time.

Of course it doesn’t help that how you stack those ladders is not only determined by skill and dexterity but also the roll of a dice, which determines how ladders are placed: touching another ladder, touching TWO ladders or, and this was surprisingly the most difficult, reaching the highest point possible above the rest of the construction. All of which sounds easy. But its not. The more ladders are added to the construction the more unstable and the more precarious everything becomes…

The game starts with two straight-edged ladders placed in the base “cloud” and from there players take turn rolling the die and placing ladders until there are no ladders left. Or there are no moon tears left. You see for every mistake, be it fallen or misplaced ladder, players must collect one of the tears of the moon – the moon essentially crying because you can’t reach it because you’re building skills are inept. The winner of the game is the one with the least tears at the end of the game. Or – in a strange, almost nasty twist – the player who takes the LAST tear instantly loses!

And then there’s the tie breaker mode: where EVERY ladder has to be the highest point on the build… Which, to be fair, is the trickiest thing to do in Catch the Moon and a sure fire way to make a mistake that will see you losing the game.

Now that made sound somewhat simplistic and it is. This is a stacking game after all. But it’s a game that has one hell of a story, which makes up for the shortfall in gameplay – especially given the fantastic dreamlike quality of the artwork on the box and instructions, which combine to give the game a similar appeal to say, a Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki film.

But it’s that simplicity that is the real bonus here. This is a true family-friendly game and one that can be explained to all players, no matter the age, within minutes: “Roll the dice, stack the ladders.” Simple. It’s actually a refreshing change from the expansive rule-explaining that can turn the more casual gamer off from board games – its easy to get the hang off and more importantly easier to get straight to playing and actually have fun.

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