Welcome to the Moon Review
Stats at a glance
The roll & write and flip & write genres are quite saturated with dozens of different games competing for player attention.
Despite the challenge, Welcome to the Moon joins the uphill battle and climbs up to the top as one of the best flip & write games! It offers a ton of content through the campaign and its eight adventures that can be played separately.
Whether it’s your first game of the genre or you’re looking for a new and exciting experience, Welcome to the Moon is a solid choice!
Brief Overview of Welcome to the Moon
Welcome to the Moon is the final chapter in the “Welcome to…” trilogy of games, and the best title of the three.
The gist of the flip & write games is that you draw a set of random cards and take strategic actions based on the draw. The objectives are usually randomized as well, giving these games a lot of replay value.
Most are contained to a 30-minute experience and are fairly simple mechanics-wise, but offer enough depth and strategy to be engaging. They’re popular as family, vacation, or a pub game as a perfect way to pass the time and have some fun.
Welcome to the Moon takes the standard flip & write formula and elevates it to the next level. The scenarios and choose your own adventure style campaign provide a lot more content, and with a larger box and game boards, it’s clear that the designers were aiming for a full-fledged game rather than a casual pastime.
Compared to other games in the genre, Welcome to the Moon is more expensive, but the content it delivers more than justifies the cost. In this review, I’ll give you a more detailed look into the game and why it left a very positive impression on me.
Unboxing Welcome to the Moon
The game is fairly light on components and comes with the following:
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Campaign Book
- 24 Double Sided Play Boards
- 63 Starship Cards
- 48 Mission Cards
- 97 Campaign Cards
- 6 Dry-Erase Markers
- 11 Solo Mode Cards
- 1 Dry-Erase Captain Card
I don’t like starting any section with the negatives, as I prefer to highlight the great before getting into criticism and nitpicking. Here, I want to get the bad out of the way, because I feel it’s the only problematic part of the game.
If you’ve read through the component list carefully, you may have noticed the lack of marker erasers. Sure, a couple of erasers cost next to nothing but going out to buy the game or getting it delivered only to realize you can’t effectively play it is downright frustrating.
Along with erasers, I recommend getting a new set of dry-erase markers, as the ones provided are serviceable and could be a bit better. That’s all of the negatives I have for the components, so now let’s get to the good stuff!
The rulebook has 30 or so pages which is more than you’d expect, but it’s long because of all the illustrations, examples, and setup instructions for the adventures. The rules are very clear and you can easily figure out how to play the game just by reading through the rulebook once.
The game boards are excellent, with theme packed in the background and all the gameplay-related content well organized in the forefront. They’re double-sided and you’re supposed to write on them with a marker, which works quite well.
The cards are designed with the function-over-form philosophy, which is greatly appreciated. When you consider that up to six players should see and easily read the cards from all directions, having big, high-contrast numbers and icons is a big plus.
How to Play Welcome to the Moon
The mechanics of Welcome to the Moon are very straightforward — I was able to pick up on all of the rules by reading the rulebook twice, and I’m sure it won’t take you any longer either.
The game can be played in the evolving campaign mode or the adventure mode. I’ll explain how both work, but I’ll keep the campaign and adventures spoiler free, apart from the first which I may use as a reference.
To better understand how the game is played, I should mention how the setup works. Every player takes a marker and a matching adventure sheet, and the decks are prepared.
You’d take the mission cards designated for the adventure you’re playing, and select three to put face-up on the table. These will designate your objectives for the adventure. Shuffle the starship deck, split it into 3 stacks, and place it in the center of the table.
The Game Flow
A session of Welcome to the Moon is contained to a single adventure that lasts about 30 minutes, making the campaign playable in a course of one evening.
During the game, you’ll take turns which are divided into six phases:
- Flip a starship card from each pile.
- Select a card to use.
- Write the number from the card on your board.
- Use the action (optional).
- Resolve incidents.
- Complete a mission (optional).
The game goes on until a player completes all three missions, fills in all the spaces of their marking area, or crosses off all the system error boxes.
Playing an Adventure
To give you a better understanding of how the gameplay loop works, let’s talk about it through the first adventure as an example. The goal of the adventure is to load and prepare the rocket, then take off into space.
The left side of the board features a massive cross-section of a rocket with 9 floors. Each floor has an associated action and spaces to fill in with numbers, which need to be written in ascending order.
Starship cards have an action icon and a number. To be able to write the number, the floor, and the card action must match. Then, you write in the number, making sure to leave a window for higher numbers.
There’s a wild action floor at the bottom of the rocket, which you can use when you don’t have room on the other floors. If you can’t write the number at all, then you must circle one of the system error boxes on the right, which will count as negative points at the end of the game.
When you fill a room completely, you get to execute its actions. These are very useful, allowing you to fill in any spot with “X”, cross off the rocket track on the right side of the board and initiate sabotage.
Filling in the rocket track will allow you to cancel out the system errors and loss of points, while sabotage allows you to trigger a system error of an opponent.
This adventure ends when one of the 3 standard end conditions is met or when you fill in the rocket track and the system error track. If you were playing a single adventure, sum up the scores and declare a winner. The campaign scoring is a little different and is based on achievements.
Your First Game of Welcome to the Moon
While I’m sure you won’t have a hard time figuring out how to play Welcome to the Moon, some of your friends may not grasp the concepts as quickly.
I’d suggest that you start the game with the campaign in mind, but if anyone falls behind by a significant margin after the first game, you might want to just restart it. That way, nobody will feel discouraged to continue competing right off the bat.
I would also recommend playing through the campaign before you delve into single adventures. There is a surprising amount of discovery in this game and you’ll appreciate it more if you play through the campaign, rather than jumping between adventures.
Pros & Cons
- Content-Packed Game
- Excellent Solo Mode
The inclusion of the campaign and 8 different game boards is what makes Welcome to the Moon one of the best games in the genre. Most other games have one or two maps at most, and then sell unreasonably expensive expansions to increase the amount of content.
Welcome to the Moon has a higher base cost, but it offers a lot more value than other games, with or without their expansions.
I rarely play solo mode, but I can clearly see the appeal of it in this game. The game works equally well with friends as it does solo, so you don’t need to stress about having a party to play it with.
- Component Quality
- Campaign Downtime
The quality of the dry-erase markers and the lack of erasers is the only real problem I have with this game. It baffles me how or why the designers thought it was a good idea not to include a way to easily and precisely erase the boards. I strongly suggest that if you pick this game up, get a set of proper dry-erase markers to go with it.
The second con is really a minor observation than a critique. If you’re playing the campaign, games take a bit longer to set up and progress than if you were playing individual adventures. I didn’t find it to be particularly inconvenient, but it does introduce extra downtime.
Welcome to the Moon Review (TL;DR)
Welcome to the Moon is a very fun game to play solo or with friends, and goes that extra step above casual flip & write game by offering more substance and variety right out of the box.
Whether you’re a fan of the flip & write genre or you’re looking for an introductory game, Welcome to the Moon is a great option. I highly recommend it!
My experience with flip-roll & write games comes mainly from Cartographers and Railroad Ink. Both of these games are great, but they never felt like more than a casual game to play every now and then, than something I could commit to.
Welcome to the Moon has been the perfect step up from these games — something that doesn’t burden my wife with too many rules and mechanics, yet also provides enough engagement for me.
The per-map complexity seems lower than that of Railroad Ink., but the variety of adventures gives it a bigger sense of discovery and makes it harder to figure out the optimal strategy.
Welcome to the Moon is not a game you’ll play a ton of, but it’s a great addition to your board game library. I’m sure you’ll have situations where you can get a game or two out, be it with friends or family.
We hope you enjoyed our Welcome to the Moon review! Have you tried this fun sci-fi city-building board game? Drop a comment below to let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.