Catch the Moon Critical Analysis


Catch the moon. 

I’ll go over gameplay, story, possible metaphors, development, mechanics, theory and conclude

This is a game I call learn as you go. The gameplay is very straight forward and is obvious noting how simple the rulebook is written. Every element to the rules is describing a single round of gameplay in turn order from rolling die to placement, how to incorporate the tear drops and what is considered end game. The story told in the rulebook is a representation of the game itself. in fact the extra pages of artwork literally speak volumes stating it’s simplicity is nothing but artistic in this way. Each foundation straight ladder can represent new players, strong and eager. each new ladder added is the difficulty gradually progressing reaching the literal moon. In the dream, catch the moon, you see the distant nightmare of failure closing in. Every almost fallen swinging ladder or already fallen ladder is the reality of the effort and demand the game asks for. Go into every piece as if it’s your first.  Commanding respect. as soon as you start playing from a mechanical side of things, you see the push and pull of the difficulty come into play as the game progresses. Each move gets slightly more difficult and each player slightly more seasoned. I bring this up because after the page of artwork, it literally gives the key to success. A script of different arguments per each objection. The rulebook prepares you for a simple game that takes time to master. Let’s take the story for example. 

Dreamers reaching for the impatient moon who tears up at failure. The sensitivity of the moon, the impatience, I would say are metaphors for the actual gameplay. Players will take turns out of lack of patience that will in turn obviously conclude in failure. The game is sensitive, delicate placement of ladders IS what will keep you winning or alive. So with that said, losing is failure, failure is technically not surviving the height of these ladders. 

Emanuel Malin, the artist, themes his artwork with fantasy or thing a bit darker than usual. Which I think can be easily noticed with catch the moon. It’s not a game of dreams and hopes. It’s a portrayal of demise. And the publisher, bombyx, while a stretch, published the builders middle ages and Egypt. Another awesome game about building. Failure to hire and failure to build leading to losing. Theme consistency. 

the game in my opinion is survival. This isn’t a game about reaching the moon as there is no literal moon in the analog non metaphorical version of this game. It’s about not failing. The multiple ladders, the tear drops, the physics. It’s representating the in-game characters effort. Picking up a random ladder translates to the carelessness of the in-game character. Humans are careless in nature when pushed under pressure. The tear drops are from the moon in story but could represent the sweat work and fear by the people reaching for an idea, or a dream. 

Let’s take a look at the controls. Grab a ladder and place the ladder depending on die roll. Catch the moon incorporates two levels of effort and 1 level of challenge. 1 ladder, 2 ladders, or having the higher ground respectively. Ladder play is very mechanical. Can you complete a turn correctly is all it asks. It tells you what to do without holding your hand through the turn. the moon symbol is about skill not necessarily placement. The game gives you the tools and resources and allows you to fiddle around with the mechanics early game. Only testing your abilities mid to late game. 

 The skill is having the highest point and pulling that edge off without failing. The ladder rolls are the foundation for that. So let’s break this down. Roll a die, place a ladder according to the die, and allow the other player roll the die before any failure happens. Sounds a bit cooperative don’t you think? So is it balanced? 

I would say the slight press of luck for ladder selection does a great job creating that seasoning needed to reflect the abstract dexterity of the game as a whole. Each move can probably be pretty calculated. Pick and place, let go when ready. But the different shapes and bends make for the difficulty in the game. The broken ladders begs to be used in a way not possible as the unbroken ladders. The moon roll is skill and the ladders are mechanical. 

But let’s talk about gameplay and in this context, experience. What does this all mean and how does it tie into each other. The game is about forming foundations to reach higher points. It’s not about winnings it’s about not losing. realistically you are more worried about your own failures then that of other players. Could we assume this is a cooperative game facing real life challenges of human error? Catch the moon is extremely interactive with gameplay and with a heavy influence on nonverbal cooperation to win. The loser is the player who did not interpret that correctly. Fabien roffauld is actually not a stranger to cooperative games. While also a stretch, his first game the grizzled, is a cooperative game. a win or lose for everyone based off individual decisions. 

To conclude. I will summarize, connect, and state. 

This is a game of true human error and betrayal. A game that asks us to work together but ignore others failures for our own gain. It starts off simple but begs for careful consideration of each move. 

Maybe this is influenced by historical moments? Possibly Theodore hall building as a team leading to the eventual betrayal revealing he’s a Russian spy and sharing our Manhattan secrets. 

Or maybe. It’s just a game, and I dug way too deep. What do you think? 

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Joseph Nicholas

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Indietabletop. Communication major. Favorite mechanics include: Bluffing and Deduction, modular boards, and action point allowance. Favorite video game genres are Rpgs, Puzzles games, and Sim/Tycoons.