April 28th 2018. International Tabletop Day.
A wide-eyed yours truly slung his backpack across one one shoulder and walked into the local gathering hole for what would amount to several hours of beer, boardgaming, and banter.
Front and center benefit of that endeavour? Getting to play this piece of cardboard beauty for the first time:
Advertised as a “not-so-cooperative mashup of town-building, 4X, and just a tad of dice combat for 2-4 players”, I’d say that’s a fairly accurate description of this boardgame from 2Fat2Fly Games that’s going to hit Kickstarter on July 24th.
Read on, partner!
The title may have tipped you off as to the setting this whole thing takes places in: it’s a post-apoc story where players must struggle to survive, so you could say there’s nothing new to be seen there. But you’d be wrong.
First of all, thanks to the Apocalypse coming in the form of a microbe that killed off most of the edible material in the 1920s-era North American continent.
Second, because a hundred years pass and the still-alive-and-well people to the North and South of this particular event have erected walls to try and keep out (or in, depending on your perspective) not only the disease, but the survivors of it, too.
And third, because while we’ve seen zombies, dieselpunk, alien invasions, and all manner of other fantasy or sci-fi takes on what the post-apoc landscape looks like, this time humanity’s resorted to its favourite pastime to not only survive, but get themselves out of the valley on a hot air balloon that promises the highest bidder a ticket to freedom and the hope at a new beginning. I’m talkin’ ‘bout the booze!
Yes, just in case the “moonshine” bit wasn’t clear enough, this game’s all about the alcohol with players (a minimum of two, and a maximum and sweet-spot at four ) playing bootleggers trying to amass as much moonshine as possible in order to sell it and buy their way to sweet, sweet freedom.
Players do this by exploring the area of Shanty-Town, discovering various types of abandoned buildings within it, fighting off drunkards (and thus gaining workers to aid their cause), scavenging for supplies, and rebuilding abandoned buildings using scraps so that they start producing resources (scraps, corn, moonshine, gold).
Players have four actions per turn, and they take two before play passes to the next player and then comes back around the table for the other set of two. This makes for quick play with little downtime and actions like trading and building can be performed on other players’ turns so most of the times play switches back around to you before you even know it.
The game is a puzzle, especially when you first get a taste for it.
The idea is that every type of resource you can find can, eventually, be turned into moonshine, and then gold. Some forms of doing so are more efficient than others, so the game focuses heavily on building an engine.
A full engine, for example, would have you harvest corn from your cornfield, run it through the still to turn it into moonshine, and then take it to the saloon to sell it off for 1 gold per. In order to reach peak efficiency with this, you’d need a minimum of six workers, and a fair amount of rebuilding so that your output is high and you’re not wasting your actions.
I’d liken to this to my first taste of Euphoria (and other people’s, in my experience): it takes a few actions to get just what you need and how to get it, but once everything clicks you know exactly what you need and what the options for getting it are.
Aside from engine generation, every resource can be traded in for any other kind of resource, based on a scale, so even if your only output is scraps, you can mosey on over to the trading post and sell it off for that much-needed gold. Or moonshine. Or anything in between, including special items to help you battle off those pesky drunkards.
Speaking of moseying, movement is very free-flowing and limited only in the first few turns of the game when the map is still unexplored, so you can do away with having to remember movement points and all that malarkey, which is another plus in our book.
Combat is one of the areas dice-play comes in, with the other being looking for scraps.
There’s a fair bit of luck involved, but it can be mitigated with the abovementioned special items, which represent crates of booze and hangover medicine to snap you out of inebriation and prevent you from passing out (which would have you lose half a turn). Why would you be inebriated, you ask?
Because combat amounts to you challenging the roaming drunkards to a drinking contest, of course! Whoever drinks the other one under the table wins!
I’m of course talking about the game and the characters here, but far be it from me to prevent you determining the winner of a game via drink off.
The artwork the game splashes on every last piece of map, card, and player board is astounding, and has already gone through several iterations (some of which we’ve seen) of which the final one ended up looking nothing short of spectacular.
Further than that, most of the mechanisms presented herein make sense on a thematic level, which you should know by now we’re sticklers for.
The best example of this is combat and its results, where if you beat a drunkard you end up being seen as a great leader and followers (workers) flock to your cause. The fact that you’ll be the only person actually leaving at the end of 7 rounds is lost on them, but you can just blame the booze for that… And almost everything else that goes on in this game.
We’ve playtested Moonshiners of the Apocalypse in several iterations and been marginally involved with various aspects of it going to market as well, so you could say we take a small amount of personal pride in seeing this puppy launch and swing for the fences come July 24th.
A unique theme, solid and sensical mechanisms coupled with plenty of replayability make this a sure-fire hit in our book. And we hear the Stretch Goals will only make it more amazing...
From us to the spunky, focused team behind it, all the best in their maiden Kickstarter voyage! And from us to you, even with this busy crowdfunding season, you can’t go wrong with Moonshiners of the Apocalypse!
Thanks for reading, and have as nice a day as you deserve!
P.S. There’s a giveaway going on currently, and there’s plenty of time to get in on it (here’s a quick way to get there), so why not try your luck at getting a free copy of the game?