While players are travelling around planet Earth, they need to collect enough stellar navigation knowledge (Ticket points called ‘Tix’) to face a trip to the Moon (Luna). Tix can be earned by travelling to different continents, using different vehicles and by observing the Moon, the planets (expansion) and the constellations of stars. In the endgame the Tix are essential to overcome the obstacles to the Moon. The first player reaching the Moon with sufficient Tix covering those difficulties during the trip wins the game. When playing solo, a time restriction is added to win the game depending on the difficulty level.
The game board shows in the top left corner that each round, called a month, consists of three phases:
1. Ecliptic phase: when the new first player shifts the Sun on the star map, lays out new observation cards in the observation area and initiates the first choice of the planning phase.
2. Planning phase: each player in counter clockwise order, starting with the first player, chooses a vacant lunar phase (1 of the 4 weeks in a month) to plan an action by placing his meeple accordingly.
3. Activation phase: Beginning with the first week (new moon), the planned actions are being executed. In a game with more than 4 players the direct observation takes precedent of travelling, then saving an observation card, ending with observing a saved observation card.
The star map shows the Sun with new background stars, forming a zodiac constellation, each month of the year. A day light card will cover the constellations present during the day. This dynamic alters the visibility in horizontal fashion, according what astronomers call Right Ascension (RA). The sunset and sunrise drawn on the daylight card forms the observer’s western and eastern horizon.
A map of planet Earth shows the continents you can travel to and can result in a visibility change as an observer according to the latitude change after each movement. The latitude correlates with the highest passing of the stars overhead; called zenith. The visibility in vertical fashion is expressed in what astronomers call Declination (DEC). Blocks underneath an armillary sphere will indicate your northern and southern horizon.
The observation area contains a freshly laid out combination of observation cards that can be scored when visible according to the time of the year and the place the player is on Earth. The lunar phases are scored according to the right week of the month that they appear in.
The end game unfolds once a player reaches the launch pad for a voyage to the Moon. Once launched the player must tackle certain difficulties (Diff) by keeping the Diff values under their acquired knowledge and observation points (Tix). Special abilities, hidden agendas and lunar phase abilities can mitigate the values to be absorbed by your knowledge as a navigator.
The game invokes an elegant choice between efficient observation, puzzling travel routes, playing out opportunities with abilities and some courage to risk a rocket launch as soon as possible.
LunaTix: Star Trackers offers a highly educational chance to get in touch with a real star map and to learn its link with our location on Earth. The knowledge of our planet’s position and movement around the Sun, forming our seasons in time and climate regions in latitude, will provide you with a deeper insight on how people came to divide time and space as we know it.