Moonstone is currently in Beta phase play testing but there is no need to wait for the official release. Everything you need to give a game of Moonstone a try is available right now. Here’s a little beginner’s guide.
Things you need:
- A 3’ by 3’ playing surface – although you can just put some masking tape on your dining table, if your fancy why not get one of these roll-out neoprene gaming mats.
- Some Fantasy Terrain – A few scale model trees, and some buildings here and there will set the scene just right and add some variety to your games. If have the money and time to paint them, we absolutely love these resin buildings, or if you’re on a budget you might want to look into this print-it-your-self option instead.
- A copy of the Moonstone Rulebook – get it from our downloads page, print it out or just keep your laptop or iPad handy to refer to during the game.
- A 21-Card Arcane Deck and an 18-Card Combat Deck – get these from our downloads page. You will need to print these out, and then because printer paper is rather too flimsy to shuffle, we recommend getting some opaque back card sleeves and poking a bit of card inside the sleeve behind the print out for stiffness. Old Magic the Gathering common cards are perfect backing material if you have some in the attic.
- Some Blue Energy Tokens – in Moonstone, you need to keep track of how much energy each of your characters has with blue energy tokens which are placed on their stat card. Energy is discarded to perform actions. On average, each character needs about 3 tokens, in a full size 6v6 (12- model total) game thats about 36 tokens but we recommend getting 50 or more as some troupes can bring characters will a lot more than the 3 energy average. You can get a 100 blue glass beads, or blue plastic tokens off amazon for about £5 inc. delivery.
- 7 Four-Sided Dice – these are very important as they represent the actual Moonstones on the table. You need 7 of them and can get them here on Amazon, although next time you are in your local gaming store look near the counter as they often have nicer ones in two-tone, glow effect or iridescent shimmers which for some reason are hard to find online.
- 1 Six-Sided Dice for each player – If you don’t already own a six sided dice I will be amazed but just in case, go here.
- A Tape Measure or Set of Precision Measuring Instrument – Again, if you don’t a have a tape measure somewhere in your house I’ll be astonished and really thats all you need but if you’re serious about your tabletop gaming we have found acrylic precision measuring instruments make exact movements so much easier.
- Some Moonstone miniatures and/or suitable proxies – If you got in on the Pilot Kickstarter you might have a couple of genuine Moonstone miniatures on their way to use in your games but for the time being you’ll mostly have to make use of the paper standees on our downloads page. Print the sheets, cut out each standee, fold down the middle and glue the two mirrored halves together leaving the two semicircular flaps at the bottom as a base and away you go. Stick card, foam board or acrylic plastic between the two halves and below the base if you want to add some rigidity.
- Stat Cards for your characters. – get these from our downloads page. Just like the Arcane Cards and Combat Cards you will need to print these out, and find some suitable card to add rigidity. The only difference is that because character cards are double sided we recommend transparent backed card sleeves.
- A Drywipe Pen – for marking wounds on characters health charts. You can get them here.
- 1 Opposition Player – we can’t help you here I’m afraid, you’ll have to source your own! 😉
Before Your First Game
Before starting your first game we recommend just experimenting with the two core mechanics of the game in isolation first: Arcane and Melee.
Arcane: Place down on your playing surface a suitable miniature or proxy for Flintlock and Doug the Flatulent about 6″ apart and have each player choose one to control. Make sure you have your rulebook handy, turned to the page titled “Using Arcane Abilities” and read the whole section through. Then the player who is controlling Flintlock should use Flintlocks ‘Shoot Musket’ ability (printed on Flintlock’s stat card) to attack Doug. Make sure your arcane cards are assembled into a deck of 21 cards, shuffle it, and then the Flintlock player should draw 3 cards from the top, while the Doug player should resist by drawing 6 cards. Continue to play out the action as described in the rulebook marking off any damage suffered on Doug’s health chart using a dry wipe marker.
Melee: Now move Doug to within 1″ of Flintlock and turn to the section of the rulebook titled “Making a Melee Attack” and read the whole section through. Make sure your Combat cards are assembled into a deck of 18 cards, shuffle it and then have Doug make a Melee Attack against Flintlock. The Doug player should draw 6 Cards from the top of the Combat deck (his Melee Stat of 4, +2 for being the attacker) while the Flintlock player draws 3 cards (his Melee Stat, without the attacker bonus). For the sake of this walk through, both players should simply choose a card at random from their hand to play – do not worry about choosing the best or right card. Find the title of your opponents card on your own card’s damage table and then to the right of it read off the damage you have dealt (this is the black number under the ‘deal’ column). Both players should mark off the amount of damage they have suffered on their health chart using the dry wipe marker. Keep having Doug make Melee attacks until one character has filled in all of their health boxes and is slain.
The aim of these experiments is just to give a taster of how the mechanics work, so don’t worry whether you made the right decisions or not and feel free to repeat until you feel comfortable.
Your First Game
In a full game of Moonstone, each player chooses 6 characters for their troupe and they fight over 7 Moonstones for 4 turns. Whoever has the most moonstones at the end of turn 4 is the winner. However for your first couple of games we recommend cutting back to these set 3 character troupes and reduced moonstones and turns.
Player 1: Baron Von Fancyhat, Eric The Squire and Flintlock
Player 2: Firespitter, Doug the Flatulent and Beaky Bobby.
This will speed up the game, giving you plenty of time to stop and look up various rules as you encounter them.
We also highly recommend that in your first few games you leave out the ‘Signature Moves’ when fighting in Melee.
Beginner’s Tips and Advice
While many aspects of Moonstone will be familiar to experienced skirmish game players, the conflict resolution mechanics (Arcane and Melee) are likely to feel very different from anything you have encountered before. Moonstone’s Melee system is kind of a mini-game within the larger game with a strong flavour of rock/paper/scissors, and once you get to grips with the basics it becomes a very rich vein for player skill development – you’ll start to get into your opponents head, predicting their intended actions and misleading them as to your own intentions. For many players this social interaction, where you ‘play the player’ rather than the number, is a very rewarding part of the game. But because it is a quite different from other games combat resolution, it is really worth spending some time experimenting with the Melee mechanic in dry runs before you want to use it in anger during a game. And don’t worry if you are not an expert right away, the game will play out just fine even if you have no idea what your doing and choose a card at random every time. 🙂
Another feature of Moonstone that may take some getting used to is the ability to use you character’s energy (or Action Points if you like) outside of their own activation via Reaction Steps. This feature adds an awful a lot of tactical depth which you will uncover over time but for now just be aware that before a character has activated they can use energy to back away should you not want to be engaged by an approaching enemy, which may well keep you alive to fight another turn. However once a character has activated and used up all of its energy it is more vulnerable, no longer having this option.
Help and Support
If you enjoyed your first game (or even if you didn’t!) we would love for you head over to our play testers facebook group and let us know how it went. We have quite an active and friendly group who can help you out if anything didn’t make sense. We are also working on a tactics wiki at the moment so check that out too for some expert tips and tricks!