Lunar Command

Lunar Command is one of the LEGO Games released in 2009. At the moment of writing, these games are available only(?) through shop.lego.com in a few European countries (UK, Ireland, Austria, Germany and Switzerland).

Lunar Command is a strategy board game for two players. The goal of the game is to build space stations that encircle the units on the map: astronauts (microfigs) and robots (little cones). Players take turn to roll the dice and choose one of the actions it offers. The most common action is to build a segment of wall; these come in two shapes that must be alternated. The other basic action is to build a coloured piece. These help players claim ownership over the wall, particularly important when the players' walls meet. Any closed loop becomes a space station, and the player with majority ownership gains points from the encircled units. There are three types of coloured pieces, including airlocks through which units can move during spacewalk, the third action. Finally, there are UFOs which may be moved in order to block movement and building in small areas of the map.

Some aspects of Lunar Command are vaguely reminiscent of The Settlers (the board game), and there are probably other games even closer in concept. The game is for two players only, so you don't have to suffer rules that barely work with just two players. Instead, the rules make for a varied game with a good balance between luck and skill, where a better player has an advantage but never a guaranteed win. I have not played the game with anyone under the age of 30, and I can't say much about whether the 7+ rating is reasonable, but the rules are reasonably simple. I can imagine that a 7-year-old would actually stand a chance against an older player, and if not it's easy enough to e.g. modify the starting position. One minor complaint (which, to be fair, I've had with most games I've ever played) is that the rules do not cover all possible situations that may arise. I have made a little list of ambiguities and proposed solutions (see below). I should also note that in my limited experience (two games played so far), the 15–30 minutes stated on the box are a bit too optimistic, and upwards of 45-60 minutes can be expected for a long game unless both players are quick thinkers.

Suggested rule clarifications:

The rules do not explicitly state that you can build long stretches of walls (alternating 1x4 and 2x2) without coloured pieces, but it is implied by the rules for building coloured pieces (which cannot be connected [only] through uncoloured 2x2s).

What squares, if any, are blocked by the UFOs in the starting position? It cannot be the pattern described in the rules, as the UFOs start between studs. Suggestion: they do not block any squares, so you should remove unmoved UFOs from the map if you need to build/move near them.

In the description of how to close a space station, "outer wall" should be inner wall (as in: the minimum set of pieces that encircle the area).

When should a moved piece be considered to have entered a space station? It must be when it moves into an airlock, not when it emerges on the other side, as there is not room to park an astronaut (or even a robot) under the arch.

It is difficult to build an airlock on top of a robot or astronaut. Suggestion: this is not allowed, not even when the airlock is the piece closing a space station.

Can a unit move through an airlock when it is not part of a finished space station, and then what about the problem of the unit stopping under the arch? Suggestion: This is forbidden because "the airlock is not operational yet".

When points are divided because the players have the same number of coloured pieces surrounding a space station, what happens when the robots and astronauts cannot be divided equally? For example, what if there is only a single astronaut? Or an astronaut and two robots? A few solutions are possible:

  1. divide the points and forget about keeping the right number robots/astronauts in the score sections,
  2. divide points evenly as far as possible, having one player trade in a robot from the score section in exchange for an astronaut if needed (odd number of astronauts and less than two robots to be divided) and possible (at least one robot already in a score section), but forfeit points if there is no solution that allows score sections to be accurate,
  3. divide points evenly as far as possible but do not touch the score sections (so with an odd number of astronauts and less than two robots to be divided, an astronaut would be lost), or
  4. round the numbers of astronauts and robots down separately before dividing.

Suggested solution: 3. (which in practice very rarely differs from 1. or 2.).

Can an astronaut/robot be moved into a space station with joint ownership, and if so what happens? Suggestion: points are divided according to 3. above, which would mean that any astronaut or robot moved into the airlock of a jointly owned space station would be lost.

When a space station is closed but not all of its 2x2 walls are coloured, what happens if the non-owner manages to colour some of the remaining 2x2s so that the apparent ownership changes? Suggestion: ownership changes (to joint when the numbers of coloured pieces are equal, then to the player with majority). Astronauts or robots that have already been gained from the space station have been moved to the score section and are completely unaffected – only newly entered units are affected, and as always you can only move them in through your own airlocks.