LunaTix November 2018 newsletter

  LunaTix November 2018 newsletter

We are almost ready!

Soon live on Kickstarter!

It’s almost time! We will soon start our Kickstarter campaign. First we will compare the best prices and possibilities for an attractive campaign. We are also working on images and videos to better portray the game’s atmosphere and intentions. The Kickstarter phenomenon isn’t known to everyone we want to reach. Although to board game geeks the concept is well known and appreciated, to the majority of (grand) parents and teachers who want to support us this might not be the case. With the following newsletters we want to explain to them what it all encompasses and why our board game project is so interesting.
Why would you support us?

Astronomy and space travel appeals to the imagination while invoking awe and wonder. Both kids and adults sometimes remain with unanswered questions about something like space travel which shaped our modern society, and with confusing thoughts about astronomy which lay at the foundation of our coordinate system on Earth and our time keeping.

The employees of the public observatory Armand Pien at the University of Ghent are all specialized in space history and in the celestial mechanics, and they pay extra attention to the scientific background in this board game’s theme. For us it is important that we can spread more knowledge about the Earth and other planets, the Moon, the Sun and the other stars. We even use a real star map! So if you’re looking for an interesting way to better understand the starry sky, then you’ve come to the right place.

Next year on the 20th of July 2019 it will be the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. This unique opportunity is ideal to relive the Apollo adventure through our board game. Furthermore, we will also provide an info book with a look into the future, such as the plans to build a space station around and a base on the Moon. For many, the Moon is an intermediate step towards Mars.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU), founded in 1919, is an organization for the promotion of international cooperation and coordination in the field of astronomy. It is involved in the naming of astronomical objects. In addition to scientific cooperation, it also provides outreach and educational development. Its 100th birthday falls together with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

International Astronomical Union (IAU) 100th anniversary logo.

Our project comes with two important anniversaries in both astronomy and space travel. The board game theme covers just these  two backgrounds and our intentions also fall under IAU’s outreach and educational development. LunaTix: Star Trackers was therefore also mentioned in the GA of the IAU in the context of the SSVI charity.

Stars shine for everyone, is a phrase that applies to our philosophy, but is also the name of the charity that our observatory is involved with. The basic idea is to provide educational environments for children who have little to no chance to enjoy the starry sky due to their situation. We provide them with local guidance, documentation and a telescope. More on this can be found on where explanations are given about the objectives. The board game that we want to produce will also be available for this project. Furthermore, we want to use gamification for our own schools, so that some difficult concepts can be simulated in a more comprehensive way for both pupils and teachers while playing a game. An educational package is specially developed for this.

As a public observatory, we have a mission to popularize astronomy and spaceflight, and we also have to reach different target groups. This time we want to involve the gamers, including many students and board game geeks. We have done our best to provide the game with various board game components, so that a board games enthusiast can also enjoy the game, including its mechanics and options within the theme.

Who makes this game?

A team from the UGent Public Observatory Armand Pien is working on the scientific content of the game. One of them, Vincent Verhoeven (that’s me! ;-)), provides the design and game mechanics, but there is also a group of artists, André De Coster, Marian Pontier and Nancy Scherlynck, who voluntarily work on this project as SSVI-artists. My colleague An Van der Eecken contributes to the accounting and production part of the project, together with our production and distribution partners. My other colleague, Pieter Mestdagh, works on icons and educational drawings for our info-booklet. As a science educator, but also with experience as a teacher, Maaike Dubois works on the educational package with lessons and mini games in which separate concepts are discussed such as: continents, moon phases, time, planets, rockets, constellations etc.

During our development adventure, we also have met interesting partners for the production, distribution, and also for the design of some game board components. One of the most important designers we have discovered for our expansions is Jeff McDowall. If someone is looking for miniatures for spaceflight in 3D, you should check out his page on Shapeways. Thanks to him, we manage to acquire beautiful planet and cool Apollo miniatures for our board game expansions.

What have we done so far to draw some attention?

Since our first playable prototypes and after registration for intellectual property, we started to share our project with the world.

·         ‘Zomerspel 2018′ at Ghent was our first kickoff trial in public with the base game.

·         In August we went to Orion Streekbos to demo for families and teachers.

·         Our project also had some media attention in the Netherlands.

·         Dr. Katrien Kolenberg helped us with flyers for the IAU General Assembly in Vienna.

·         We tested the game on two Space Camps with kids of ages 10-12.

·         We got the approval to be listed on Board Game Geek.

·         We started our international English website at:

·         End of September we participated with ‘Spellenfestival 2018′ at Genk.

·         Official launch on the TableTopia platform in October, a week before Spiel.

·         At Spiel 2018 in Essen the world opened up for us and we met interesting project partners.

·         We end in November with ‘Spellenspektakel 2018′ at Eindhoven.

What do we still have to do before our Kickstarter launch?

We are comparing all quotes and are making sure that all information that is put on the Kickstarter page is clear and well-organized. The delivery time and shipping costs must be transparent to everyone worldwide.
Because we also have to convince people who haven’t yet seen or tried the game, we are working on a nice trailer for our board game.
If everything goes well, we will launch the Kickstarter at the end of the month. At the very least, anyone who is registered for our newsletter will see a prototype of our Kickstarter page first, if the launch would be planned for early December.


You support our project in any way you like. The easiest option is by preordering the Ultimate Moon Walker copy of the board game.


With your support we can realize the project and bring to live a unique scientific game with all the stretch goals you’ve unlocked!


Once the production is ready, you will be the first to have your exclusive Kickstarter copy delivered.

What is Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a kind of crowdfunding that makes the investment of a project possible, given there’s enough interest. You can become a ‘backer’ (people who support the project) by donating money, or by preordering a copy, making this project possible together with many more backers worldwide. If not successful, the backers will be reimbursed (in essence nothing will be deducted from your VISA account) and the money will not be released for the project. The concept works with financial objectives. A target amount must be achieved to make the project possible and subsequent stretch goals give the backers a kind of reward when a certain amount has been reached, beyond the main goal. Usually these are better quality or better representations of the components. Extra items such as bonus cards, expansion parts, which are only available through Kickstarter, can also be part of such stretch goals. This part of our project will be discussed in the next newsletter.

Is it possible to support us differently, without Kickstarter?

Board game geeks are usually familiar with Kickstarter, because this form of crowdfunding has become immensely popular among board game publishers and designers. Even big publishers are eager to use this platform to produce epic games with many miniatures. But for people like teachers, grandparents and people who don’t want to trust their money with the internet environment, they can also contact the observatory directly for information on how they can place a preorder without Kickstarter.

Last but not least, I would like to mention which types of support are available in addition to a regular money donation. The KS support is called a ‘pledge’ and the prices per pledge are still to be checked, but for the Astronomy pledge we do not want to exceed € 39. As things look very positive like they are at the moment, the price may even decrease a little.

Greetings from Ghent and do not forget:
Always look up!

Vincent Verhoeven

Astronomy pledge

You get the basic game

LunaTix: Star Trackers

for a low price with all the stretch goals

Planetary pledge

You get the basic game

LunaTix: Star Trackers

and the first expansion
LunaTix: Solar System

for a low price with all the stretch goals

50thAnniversary pledge

 You get the basic game

LunaTix: Star Trackers 

and the first expansion
LunaTix: LunarLander

for a low price with all the stretch goals







Ultimate Moon Walker pledge

You get the basic game

LunaTix: Star Trackers 

and the first expansion
LunaTix: Solar System

and the second expansion LunaTix: Lunar Lander

for a low price with all the stretch goals

Until the next newsletter!

Extra info:

Thank you SPIEL visitors!

We had a busy, but awesome four days of SPIEL. Although we are not a publication house with a lot of marketing power, we noticed that the scientific theme of space is growing in popularity. Since we showed our astronomy-based game to be innovative and our game design appealing, people are even more attracted by the stricking scientific logic and educational potential it carries. Even for flat-earthers, this will be one of the most twisted fantasy game they’ll have ever played.

True, a lot of like-minded people approached us, like those working for observatories and space agencies, space-lovers, sailors, teachers, parents who wants to mold smart kids ;-), but also hard-core gamers looking for new mechanisms inside a real theme, a theme that has shaped modern society. The knowledge about the seasonal shifts due to the ecliptic, the precession, lunar phases, latitudes, Milky Way positioning, cosmography based on different cultures, traveling around the world with different kind of vehicles, you name it. And as the cherry on the cake, a trip to the Moon, learning all the stages and difficulties to achieve this endeavor.

Thank you all for your support, suggestions, compliments and kind words. Suggestions on the game are considered to be the most invaluable feedback during the development of the game, because we make this game for you, guys!

Don’t forget to like us on facebook, or subscribe for the newsletter via

We are doing our best with our ini mini tiny team at the observatory to deliver you the best and most realistic astronomical boardgame experience we can make with our scientific background and our playful sense of popularizing astronomy and spaceflight.

See you soon on Kickstarter!

V.S.R.U.G.-team of the UGent Armand Pien Observatory

LunaTix launched on TableTopia

Hi LunaTix fan,

We are preparing our run towards the Kickstarter Campaign. But first we need to get things done to let people know we are busy.

First we made sure that we have a finished presentable version on-line to try the game with a rulebook that covers all the basics, but is constantly enhanced if we notice missing details or clarifications.

Next week we will be present at SPIEL 2018 at booth GA45 from Thursday until Sunday. If you planned to go to Essen, you might want to visit us for a demo and some information regarding our expansion plans.

After SPIEL, we need to wrap up all the quotes to make a strong Kickstarter Campaign. In the meantime some prototype boxes will be produced for reviewers around the world. We do make a maximum of 10 boxes, so reviewers need to be fast and mail at, if they are interested.

We are planning some English  how-to-play videos and a promo video for Kickstarter, and if all goes according to plan from now on, you can expect our Campaign launch at the end of November.

Enjoy TableTopia on-line and on your mobile phone. And maybe we’ll see you guys in Essen.

Clair de Lune

NASA Goddard:

This visualization attempts to capture the mood of Claude Debussy’s best-known composition, Clair de Lune (moonlight in French). The piece was published in 1905 as the third of four movements in the composer’s Suite Bergamasque, and unlike the other parts of this work, Clair is quiet, contemplative, and slightly melancholy, evoking the feeling of a solitary walk through a moonlit garden. The visuals were composed like a nature documentary, with clean cuts and a mostly stationary virtual camera. The viewer follows the Sun throughout a lunar day, seeing sunrises and then sunsets over prominent features on the Moon. The sprawling ray system surrounding Copernicus crater, for example, is revealed beneath receding shadows at sunrise and later slips back into darkness as night encroaches. The visualization was created to accompany a performance of Clair de Lune by the National Symphony Orchestra Pops, led by conductor Emil de Cou, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, on June 1 and 2, 2018, as part of a celebration of NASA’s 60th anniversary. The visualization uses a digital 3D model of the Moon built from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter global elevation maps and image mosaics. The lighting is derived from actual Sun angles during lunar days in 2018.

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at:… If you liked this video, subscribe to the

Visualization Credits Ernie Wright (USRA): Lead Visualizer Editor Laurence Schuler (ADNET Systems Inc.): Technical Support Ian Jones (ADNET Systems Inc.): Technical Support Wade Sisler (NASA/GSFC): Producer Noah Petro (NASA/GSFC): Scientist

Sextant on the LM

If you would be asking yourselves how to navigate a spaceship lander on the Moon, this video might enlighten you with some stunning facts.

In order to leave the Earth to the Moon and back, you need to know exactly where you are at any given time. Since you can’t rely on a GPS, the old-fashion way with a sextant, like sailors used to solely depend on, needed to be considered. All space probes (especially unmanned ones) use ‘star trackers’, just like the title of the LunaTix base game indicates, to control their position on their trajectory.

During the Apollo missions they did just that. Where the command module had a separate sextant and telescope, the dual device was integrated into one singel scope. Mainly due to weight conserving quanderies, rather than fine tuning, the result tends to have a rather ingenius outcome, as explained by the engineerguy.

The Alignment Optical Telescope in fact used any one star instead of mapping the horizon of a globe like a planet or moon, since there is none in open space. By using a turning lens, instead of a swinging mirror, with an alternative to concentric circles that otherwise would clutter the view, engineers came with a spectacular solution: they decided to use an Archimedes’ spiral!