Review – Luna Llena (Full Moon) from Gen X Games, designed by Servando Carballar
note – a review copy of this game was provided by Gen X Games
When I was growing up, I remember shying away from horror films. Always thought that they were pretty grim and rather silly. Films about werewolves were amongst these and every film in the genre that I’d heard or read about, or seen against my better judgment had pretty much the same formula. Some poor slob and his girlfriend get lost in the woods, one or both get bitten by werewolves and surprise (not!) they transform into hairy wolves themselves with an appetite for young people. Funny that. Werewolves never seem to go for granny’s or ugly people… Stuff and nonsense as far as I’m concerned but there you go.
Here we have a game which may be of interest to those of you who enjoy Horror films. Luna Llena (Full Moon) for 2-7 players age 14+, from Spanish company Gen X Games, is a game which puts you into the world of Werewolves in a Hollywood sort of way. The object of the game is for the Campers to rescue their friends who have been captured by a group of werewolves and then escape before being attacked and turned into werewolves themselves. One player controls the werewolves and the others control the campers so this is one of those 1 against the others cooperative games.
The goal for the humans is for at least one to leave the forest. They must track their missing companions, discover the lair of the pack and find the exit of the forest. The werewolf player needs to turn at least one human into a werewolf and leave no other survivors to tell about it.
Luna Llena comes with a bunch of components with good thematic comic-style artwork by Juan Garcia and Adrian Lopez. The game board playing area is made up of Hexagons making up different locations in Aguirre Forest. Locations include:
– Starting and Exit Hexagons
– the Werewolf Lair
– Forest locations with different types of terrain
The Forest tiles are put into a cloth bag and randomly chosen as the game progresses. there are lots of items, action cards, combat cards and wolf pack cards. Character sheets helps the players keep track of the status of the werewolves and humans and their health and abilities. All of these leads to an RPG feel to the game as the story of the humans’ journey unfolds.
The components and cards are of a reasonable quality although one huge complaint is that the TINY and I do mean TINY, tokens used to track Life points, Calmness, Planning, Determination and Bloodthirsty Frenzy are a real pain to use. They are far too small. The character cards should be considerably larger and these tokens should have been a lot larger. The rules translation is pretty reasonable although it isn’t a very clean system due to the sheer amount of bits to take in.
The game turn process takes some time to get your head around. Not so much that it is hard to understand but that there a lot of elements which make up the greater whole. I found myself having to refer back to the rulebook regularly to check and make sure nothing was missed or understood. Not a sign of a straightforward game to play for me. The truth is that there is an amount of work to understand how it all plays out. You will need to persevere.
The set up is interesting in that you don’t have a clue as to how the forest map will play out until you reveal the forest tiles. The game comes with a pad and pencil which is very useful as you will need to track your path as you discover the trail to the Werewolves’ Lair. Another issue is that this game could have been much better served with a game board to regulate the placement of the map tiles. As it stands, you need to be that much more careful as you wil knock the hexagons together and jostle their position.
After choosing randomly 2 friends who have been captured by the werewolves, the Human players kit out their characters with Action cards and the requisite tokens to indicate their starting status. The Werewolf player secretly draws a secret trail of 10 hexagons from the starting campsite to the Lair. He also chooses his pack of followers. Its a family affair after all! As the Humans move through the forest, they will be seeking to discover this path so they can get to their friends as soon as possible.
Once all of the set-up is complete the players do the following –
Choose and Resolve Action cards which can be discussed but not shown to each other
Actions include –
Explore to try and find the trail. If they are close they may get a hint.
Search and see if helpful items can be found in their locations
Move forward or Run (which makes the Humans more nervous and liable to Panic)
Go on Alert to watch for the werewolves
Have a second opportunity to Search
Change and Discard cards to refresh their hand
Spend determination Points to enhance their ability to take specific actions
The Werewolf phase includes Gain Planning Points, use the Planning Points to Move and take Actions such as –
Sniff/Attack – Werewolves try to harass and attack the Humans
Make a Bloodthirsty Frenzy Attack
Call of the Blood – determine whether a Human character has been infected after being bitten
Heal from injuries (a lot easier at night)
Summon Father Tree and Mother Moon – which means nature can be used to make things more difficult for the humans.
The biggest problem the Human players have is the decreasing daylight as the werewolf characters are in human form during the day and transform at night which makes things even tougher as the werewolves’ sense of smell becomes more acute and they are more dangerous. Also, the characters that have been bitten and infected will change and attack their friends. Nasty!
Combat is probably the most straightforward part of the game as it basically boils down to comparing combat values from combat cards to basic strengths of the characters involved to see who has the highest. Kind of like a game of Blackjack, players can take more cards but this increases the risk of pulling a “Trip” card which means they lose the fight or a Ravine card which force the player to stop receiving cards. Ravines can be avoided with planning points for the Werewolf and a Rope for the Humans. Other cards include Silver bullet and Full Moon can also effect Combat.
The game ends when all humans have escaped the forest, are Transformed into Werewolves or are dead. Also, if all Werewolf characters die.
Did it work for me?
For me, Luna Lena is an OK game. It is very strong on theme which is a good thing. It feels like you are involved in a Horror B-Movie. Trouble is that I am not fond of the theme. That is a personal thing though so talking about the game play itself, it works pretty well but it is hard work. There is just a lot to take in and you just can’t help but keep referring back to the rules for detail and clarification which slows things up for me. It needs to be slicker and more streamlined to be more playable. If you are a fan of the theme, you probably should give it a shot.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 5 out of 10
I would be hard pressed to think this would be played in families.
For more information about Gen X games go to – http://www.genxgames.es/