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Review: Moonstone - Why Flatulence is Amazing

April 19, 2019 by jahatch28 Cult of Games Member

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So, I'd seen the mention of Moonstone by Goblin King Games when it first when to Kickstarter a few years ago to produce their first model, the Goblin Flamespitter... and then I'd see the 2nd Kickstarter when they fleshed out the Goblins, Humans, Gnomes, and Faerie factions (plus a Giant and a Troll)... but I held off on pulling the trigger on the game because I had too many ongoing projects... But Moonstone just finished their 3rd Kickstarter to fund a new faction, the Leshavult, who are a mix of spirits, fauns, creatures, and even humans, gnomes, and fairies that follow the Nature Deity in the game.

Moonstone has 3, no 4, no 5, no a TON of the things I love about a new game; 1) free rules & cards, 2) free printable paper-proxy models, and 3) a really animated staff and fan base that are really passionate about their game.  Oh, and it's got amazing artwork, models, plays on a 3x3 table with around 10-12 models total (not just per side), and has some of the most interesting gaming mechanics including two card based systems for spell casting and fighting with a really innovative bluffing mechanics where both players (or more in a multi-player game) are involved in the action at all times.

After watching some videos on youtube, devouring all the podcast content I could find, and printing off the cards, paper standees, and rules I immediately pressed my friends into playing... and they loved it within a turn & a half.  We are currently working on acquiring more of the models and planning out our next set of games with our other gaming projects suddenly on hold as we've been so mesmerized by this Moonstone game.

As for the models - so, originally in the previous KS, there were options for metal or resin figures, but right now I believe all the models are produced in resin.  I just unpacked and assembled the Firespitter model and the material is a very hard, but not brittle, resin.  There was a fair amount of cleaning up of resin channels and tabs, but really only a tiny amount of flash and none of it in hard to reach places.  There were no air bubbles, and nothing was bent or miscast.  In fact, I don't even see mold lines on the pieces I have.  This model comes with one 40mm base, a large goblin with separate left and right arms, a separate fuel tank, then a 2 piece smaller goblin who is working the bellows for the flame spitter, and then one bit of hose/tubing (also in the same resin) that connects the flamethrower to the bellows.   I definitely am keeping the 2 models separate till after painting, but based the big guy on the 40mm base and will add the little guy and connect the hose once they are positioned.

Oh, and the models included have GREAT detail and the sculpts are extremely characterful... the Flamespitter has a ton of great details like candles melting on the top of his helmet and all the armor, clothes, ropes, belts, and tubes to the flamethrower look clean and crisp and I can't wait to paint him up.

I'm still waiting on the rest of the first wave of products to review the rest of the starter set, but I will say the packaging for the Firespitter is just really great.  Great artwork, nice big box, and the miniature was extremely well packaged between to bits of foam and also bagged up in the box, plus came with a stat card that was already sleeved!  The price of the model was $24 USA... I think the price from the webstore is 16 pounds, so I probably could have saved a few $$ on the exchange rate if I'd ordered from Goblin King Games, but then would have had to pay overseas shipping (and wait!) so I went with a US based seller.

That said, needing only 3 or 4 models per side for demo games and 6 models per side for full games, I don't mind spending a bit more on high quality models.  Moonstone typically sells 'troupe boxes' of 3 models from one of the factions in a bit of a themed box for around $31-35 USA or 21-23 pounds I believe.  So 2 boxes will get you enough for 2 players to learn the game, or if those 6 models can work together, then you'll have your own faction to bring to a game.

Speaking of how the factions work, as of right now, there are 2 main factions - the Dominion consisting of faeries, goblins, and the troll model, and the Commonwealth (? I might have that wrong) that consists of the Humans and Gnomes.  Some models, like Gotchgut the Giant, will work for either faction.   But, that means I can mix and match troupe boxes from allied factions.. so I could field 3 humans and 3 gnomes, or 2 faeries, a troll, and 3 goblins, for example.  The most recent Kickstarter is adding a 3rd main faction, the Leshavult, but a lot of the Leshavult models are 'dual' faction and may work for the Commonwealth or the Dominion as well.

As for what makes this game so much fun, is it just has a ton of unique elements to how it plays.  So, first off, the win condition focuses on digging up and holding onto the Moonstone that are dropped onto the tablet to start the game.  Yup.. you take a set # of d4 dice.. and drop them from a foot or so off the table, and where they land is where they land.. then the # showing is how "deep" the Moonstone is.  Models are activated and perform actions using "energy", basically action points, that are generated at the beginning of a turn.. but there are many ways to play around with the energy on a model... also, you can use energy for out of activation 1" 'dodges' basically.. so you don't always want to use up all your energy making attacks or casting special abilities as you can use spare energy to get away from enemy that attack you or dodge behind cover if you think you are going to be targeted.

There are also 2 very unique and fun card decks that are used to resolve 'arcane abilities' as well as melee attacks.  The arcane deck is a set of cards showing #s' 1, 2, and 3, in 3 different colors, and 3 'catastrophe' cards.  When you make an arcane attack, you draw a # of cards based on your arcane skill and then have to put a card facedown and declare what you are saying it is.. you don't have to be truthful... some spells require blue cards.. others cards valued 2.. others have an X that varies the potency of the ability based on the #... then your opponent who can see some, but not all, of the deck, has to decide if you are bluffing.. if you are, they can replace your card with one of their own.. maybe causing a Catastrophe (bad things happen) or just making your attack fail.. if they call you out for bluffing and you AREN'T then you can take the spell action AGAIN using the same cards in your hand.. and could bluff again.. or NOT... it is really fun and diabolical...

Then the fighting deck is even more creative.. when you make an attack, both models involved get a hand of cards based on their melee abilities.. but there are 6 different types of cards they could draw... 2 aggressive, 2 defensive, and 2 middle of the road... but it then becomes a rock-paper-scissor-lizard-spock situation where different attacks or defense do different damage and if you can guess your opponents move, and play the right counter, then the attacking model may do nothing and get stabbed in return!  There are 2 more layers to this system as there are ways to "chain-follow up attacks" if you catch your opponent flat-footed with the right card combo, and then almost every model in the game has a "Signature Move" that replaces one of the 6 combat cards with their own take on it.. so that might be Doug The Flatulent's Pug making an Ankle Biter attack that gets around armor if you don't use a Low-Guard to defend... or it might be a Faerie model just flittering out of your reach no matter what you do if they have the right card in their hand at the right time.

That said, there are ways to heal your models, ways to get extra movement, or extra energy.. and even ways to steal your opponents Moonstone after they've gone through all the trouble of digging it up!  If it sounds whimsical and a bit crazy.. it is.. but in the best way possible.  Okay.. well, I've gone on long enough.. thanks for reading and if you can get the chance to read through the short 16 page rulebook and print off a few proxy models or even better yet, if you can get your hands on the starter box for this game, I can't recommend it enough!

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