Stations are the heart of the game. This is where the magic happens. This is where you celebrate your victories. And heal your wounds. Each station has its own story and its own place in the history of Lunar colonization.
You begin the game with a Terran Outpost in the beginning of the game. It is flippable. One may always take a look at the other side. The other side of the Station card has abilities that increase proclivity to win by means of a particular strategy or strategies.
A Terran Station represents a base that is under the supremacy of administration on the homeworld, Earth, while the flipped station represents a station with mostly local rule that allows more liberty and actions more in line with the station’s “hidden agenda”.
Terran Outpost allows three basic functionalities. If one has a good starting card in hand, one can Build a module right away; sometimes one can even play an Agent prior to building (an Oligarch allows to flip one’s base, for example). If one has an excellent high-power card congruent with expected mid-game or late-game strategy on the Board, it may be a good idea to draft it right away. Building or Drafting a card that can be associated with a particular strategy reveals your strategy to opponents that may use a particular aggressive card against you in the future. It is almost always useful to draft a Space Elevator because it is a very powerful Module that is useful for any strategy (Colonists, Scientific Achievements, Credits and Influence).
Drafting an aggressive card may also alert other players, they may be less willing to build Rovers early if you draft a Hacker, for example. Finally, more often than not one might not have suitable cards neither in hand nor on the Board — then it is most useful to use the Main Action that allows to Reject two cards from the Board and to Draw an unknown card from the deck. The usefulness of the two credits one can gain with the Main Action of a Terran Outpost is circumstantial. In the beginning of the game, two extra credits allows one to pay the cost of more expensive cards and provides some buffer against stealing.
The ability of Terran Outpost is always at least decent for players aiming for credit victory.
In 2049, the United Nations initiated its own space programme whose aim was to establish a sustainable colony on the Moon. The plan was to integrate as many nations as possible and unite mankind in peaceful cooperation.
Shackleton crater was chosen as the site for colonization because of access to water ice. Without water, there is no life. Importing water from the Earth in large quantities would be prohibitively costly. Importing water from asteroids would require infrastructure of its own — while already being implemented by some companies such as Taikotech, Beruang and SpaceZ, it was decided that a secure access to water is paramount for lunar agriculture.
While the UN is an organization of Earth, foremost, the possibility that Shackleton becomes an independent state in the future has already been taken into consideration. But the issue is somewhat divisive. Some proponents of the project think that Shackleton should be ruled collectively from the Earth while others are more than open about the possibility that Shackleton should become not only self-sufficient but also independent once the time is ripe.
Shackleton, once flipped, has unparalleled ability to Build modules as its Main Action has two instances of Build. During Playtesting, the ability to Build twice was very powerful under ideal conditions but very fragile due to poor ability to draw cards and gain credits. Hence, in the late stage of playtesting we added Draw to the Main Action of Shackleton. This does not change the inclination of Shackleton to win by housing ten colonists, as it provides two blue orbs that gives good access to Beruang Engineers, Lunar Capital and Indigo Egregore.
Nevertheless, the card-drawing ability may still be the bottleneck. Hence, an Experimental Borehole in the starting hand is usually a blessing, and building a Fusion Reactor in the midgame can be quite helpful also.
Selene Labs is a Station with a scientific focus on physics, astronomy and artificial intelligence. Selene labs is supported mainly by the superpower of the Earth that is the technological leader.
For some time, there have been some discussions whether this base should focus almost exclusively on basic research and rely on state-based funding or also dabble in private enterprise such as industrial research, science tourism, multimedia and communication.
While visions how to become a powerful scientific institution may vary, almost everyone in Selene Labs agrees that it should become a key scientific institution of the Solar System, either by way of fulfilling the key scientific tasks prompted by Earth, becoming a technology giant or even becoming a hegemon of Solar System with its now-equal allies.
Selene Labs, when flipped has two red Orbs and it provides an ability to Draw three cards from the deck. Two Orbs of Selene Labs seem more favorable for scientific Achievement victory than the Orbs of the Oasis while the Action that it provides seems somewhat weaker because it lacks the Build component.
Selene Labs has a slightly better ability to build the most expensive modules with red connectors, but it must choose between Drawing and Building while the Oasis can do the same quite often each turn. However, Selene Labs is more versatile than just a scientific base. It can build a Rover, Satellite, Lang Huang Concrete or even Laika Memorial (in case of bad hand) in the early game and gain some Credits. And, once flipped, start gathering cards for Influence victory or a Space Entrepreneur that can make some almost unfair amount credit from cards in a players’ hand.
Taikotech is an asteroid mining company originating from East Asia who has built an eponymous station orbiting the Moon.
It is likely that their building plans involve primarily asteroids while the Moon plays a secondary role. However, it is possible that these pragmatic opportunists may contribute to the colonization programme, especially if the Moon becomes a tax haven. When they succeed, it is virtually guaranteed that humanity will expand to space. Taikotech believes that the promise of profit will drive the expansion of otherwise lazy mankind into space. Inevitably, like dark energy drives the expansion of the universe.
Taikotech’s abilities are quite straightforward in their dedication to credits victory. The main action of Taikotech is optimized towards rapid traffic of Shuttles, more than any other base. In order for Shuttle strategy to succeed, you might prefer to Build instead of using the main action unless too low on cash until you have sufficient amounts of yellow or gray connectors.
Some playtesters found that four or five credits per Shuttle is sufficient, and from there on, one should use the Main Action of either Taikotech or Terran Outpost, and draft pertinent Visitor cards that help with credits victory.
In general, Taikotech wants to make only yellow or gray connectors. That being said, if an Experimental Borehole or an Underground HQ is in the starting hand, building these Modules might be a good start.
The Oasis is a project with main aim to create a facility that houses as much species of Earth as possible. Especially the ones that are endangered. The project followed the same line of thought that justified the creation of a world seed bank in Spitsbergen, Norway. The Oasis project gained much more popularity than initially expected and gained large support from research groups concerned with sustainability and space habitation.
Several Green parties around the world, and more or less mystical New Age thinkers, are concerned with things ranging from species preservation, pacifist space colonization and a space-oriented analogue of Gaia reverence. Which is, of course, reverence of Luna.
The ability to Build a module and draw two cards on top of that is undeniably very powerful and flexible, too. Shackleton can build twice and draw one card and Selene Labs can get three cards. The Oasis, however, gets the best of the two worlds. Orbs provided by The Oasis also follow the same suit — it provides a blue Orb that facilitates Colonist victory strategy while the red Orb facilitates Scientific Achievements.
The Oasis has less maximal Building power than Shackleton, and it is more resilient against aggressions like Discard and Reject. And while it has less card-drawing power than Selene Labs, it is probably more consistent in its ability to build Scientific Achievement or Colonist modules — at least as far as the cheaper ones are considered.
Imbrium is located on the eponymous lava “sea” of the Moon — Mare Imbrium, which is visible with the naked eye. Mare Imbrium has mineral resources but lacks water.
Founded by a multinational Parasol megacorporation, it is an investment in case space exploration and Moon colonization becomes economically important.
The vision of Parasol’s base is to secure Mare Imbrium, grab best government contracts and start providing heavier construction materials, pizzas, liquor and security services to other stations.
As concerns securing Mare Imbrium, the Parasol Inc has a paramilitary strike team present in the station that could be used as leverage in securing beneficial deals. The nature of offering their security services and pricing policy, paramilitaries and solicitors hailing from Imbrium have already earned the name “Moon Mafia”.
The “Moon Mafia” is poised to take over the leadership of the Station. While it is legally complicated, an independent Imbrium Inc is not a problem for shareholders of Parasol Inc as long as they generate income for the shareholders, providing some opportunities for money laundering and smuggling.
Steal, Steal, Steal and Build — Imbrium Inc is one of the two stations that can directly target one opponent. Let us compare it with other stations that can foil opponent strategies: Dark Side and Taikotech. Taikotech can think what a chosen opponent would like to draft and then remove those options from the table while Dark Side can reduce the number of cards in a players’ hand. For a player with many cards in their hand (a well established Selene Labs or The Oasis) this is a nuisance. But it can be catastrophic for a player that has only a few but crucial cards in their hand (Shackleton, perhaps). Other players must prepare for shock and awe when Imbrium Inc has a particularly good starting hand.
Like Dark Side, Imbrium Inc is foreseeably a quite nasty opponent in a duel game.
The Dark Side is mainly financed by Kawamura-Roemer Incorporated, a high-tech company that develops cutting edge computer-neural interfaces, artificial organs, gene therapy vectors and medical software. The Dark Side base has supporters in the ranks of subcultures such as hackers, cybergoths, transhumanists as well as those suffering from certain medical conditions that can not be effectively dealt with by conservative mainstream medicine.
The flag of Dark Side is a large black circle in the middle of a background divided by an upwards slope between bright orange on the top and dark blue on the top.
There are rumours that the Dark Side has aimed for illegal human augmentation. This is condemned by mainstream Earth-based ethics but supported by various patient self-support groups as well as some youth subcultures characterized by black or colorful robes and MoonStep music.
Dark Side base is a place of pioneers and courageous self-experimenters that see the values of mainstream medicine and software policies as outdated and oppressive.
Build, draft, target discards — the Main Action of Dark Side requires some experience for effective use against threats. Combination of Drafting and Building is suited for both Colonist and Achievement strategies.
One can pick profit-yielding buildings including Helium Factory that provide opportunity to win by means of collecting Credits. The Unique Discard ability of Dark Side probably cannot counteract the card-drawing power of Selene Labs or The Oasis. But it can often ruin the day of Shackleton or Imbrium Inc.