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Moonshot - The Next Giant Leap

Game Shuttle Labs developed Moonshot to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. By pre-ordering our board game on Kickstarter in July, you can relive one of the most complex and epic feats of humankind on your own table. Try the game out live at limited events with pre-registration.

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
John F. Kennedy

Moonshot - The Next Giant Leap

Game overview video

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Provisional game rules


Players are competing in teams taking on roles in two Space Programs (NASA, RosCosmos) in the space race of the Cold War to first deploy their nations' (USA, CCCP) astronauts to the Moon. The teams of both Space Programs consist of a Politician and an Engineer who need to cooperate to win.

Goal of the Game

The team achieving the Moon landing first wins the game. The game also ends if the budget or popularity for a team falls below the level indicated on the board, resulting in a win for the other team.

Game Overview

You can play the base game with 2 or 4 players (a separate rulebook will be provided for games with 2-6 players). When playing with 4 players, they play in teams of 2, one team member selecting the Politician role, the other one selecting Engineer. With 2 players, Moonshot is a 1 vs 1 experience where a player takes on both roles.The game is played in rounds until one of the end game conditions is met (successful Moon landing mission, critical budget or popularity loss). A game round has 4 consecutive phases (A,B,C,D).The first phase (A), strategic discussion is only used with 4 players, wherein teams have 2 minutes to discuss their strategy for the current round - use any timer.In the second phase (B), the two roles act at the same time, i.e. the roles play actions simultaneously. Engineers spend money to develop their rocket blueprints or do testing on possible risks during launch. Meanwhile, Politicians are using their influence in trying to support their Space Program and to prevent the opponent achieving their goals.In the third phase (C), we follow the rocket launches and the results of the missions.In the fourth phase (D), players do end of round administration: Politicians evaluate their actions and players determine the resources available for the next round.


Place the Main Board table between Politicians and Engineers. Put the two level zero Missions in the appropriate places. Place two randomly chosen level zero Risk Cards next to them.
Start tracking the budget and popularity for each Space Program. [image]The Space Program Budget has no limits, and it starts at 30 , while Popularity is moving on a scale of 1 to 12, starting from 10.
If any team’s popularity decreases to zero, they lose the game. If the difference of the two team’s budget is at least 15, the team with the bigger budget wins the game.
Place different tokens - Testing, Spies, etc. - within reach on the table. Prepare the Mission and Risk Decks by shuffling them and placing the decks at their designated space.
Politician players are facing each other on the opposite sides of the politics section, at setup they shuffle their Maneuver decks, draw 4 cards, then collect their own Influence and Bluff tokens.
Give 30 money each to the Engineers.

The two Engineers are also facing each other on the opposite sides of the table, with the Research Center between them in the center: this part of the board shows how much their Technology Tiles cost and how they can be acquired. On one side of the Research Center, form a deck from the shuffled Module Tiles and place 4 of them face-up in the designated places. Add two more Modules randomly to the last position of the two Engineer Suppliers line. Shuffle the Technology Tiles by type (Structure, Electronics, Code) and form three decks on the other side of the Research Center. Put one Tile from each Technology deck into the Engineer's Development line. [image] The two Engineers examine the Rocket Blueprint and the Rocket Parameters sections on the board. Set the values of the Rocket Parameters to zero.

Give the First Player Marker to the CCCP Politician.


A game round consists of 4 consecutive phases (A,B,C,D)

A) Strategic discussion

Teams have two minutes to discuss their strategy for the current round openly. Topics can include which maneuver cards the Politician shall use and where, what mission is achievable, etc. Communication is NOT restricted in later phases.

B) Simultaneous Actions

(in 2 player games, start with the Politician Actions, and proceed to the Engineers after deciding about the launches)

For the Politicians

1) Preparations subphase
Both Politicians receive 4 Influence and 4 Bluff Tokens. The player with the First Player Marker gets +1 Bluff token and starts the round.The Politicians place Maneuver cards one player after the other on one position on the Politics section beginning with the First Player, or they pass. If both players pass consecutively, this subphase ends.

2) Actions subphase
Starting with the First Player, Politicians alternate turns by taking 1 Action selected from below:

  • Supporting Maneuvers: The Politician puts Influence or Bluff tokens face down on their own or on the opponent's Maneuver Cards. At least two tokens must be placed at the same time, on the same or different Maneuver Cards.
  • Announcing a new Mission: The Politician selects a random Mission from one of the Mission Decks (the last deck has only one Mission, the Moon landing), placing the Mission Card on the board. There cannot be more than three active Missions on the board at any given time.
  • Increasing Influence: The Politician may decide once in a round to reduce Popularity by X. In this case, they get the +X Influence token for that round.
  • Decision to Launch: The Politician must decide, as their last action in this phase, to place their Rocket on an active Mission, thus initiating a Launch in the next phase, OR aborting rocket launch for this round by toppling their Rocket.

For the Engineers

Engineers take as many Actions from below simultaneously as they want, but they must always be able to pay their respective Action Cost first and finish an Action before starting another.

  • Technology from Research (10 money): Pick two Technology Tiles from one of the Tech Tile decks (or two different ones), then install one Tile onto your Rocket Blueprint, and place the other on top of the discard pile in the Research Area.
  • Technology Tile installment from the Research Area (10 money) : install the topmost Tech Tile from the Research Area.
  • Installing Technology Tiles from the Development Line (7 money): install one of the Tech Tiles discovered in your own Development Line to your Rocket Blueprint.
  • Technology Tile Placement on the Suppliers line: If there are no items in the upmost space of the Suppliers line, the Engineer may place one of the Tech Tiles in its Development line free of charge there.
  • Ordering a Module: One of the discovered Modules can be placed for 8, 13, or 20 money in the first, second or third place of the Suppliers line.
  • Testing (4 money): Place your own test token on a Risk Card.
  • Anti-Sabotage (10+X money): remove X Sabotage Markers from your Rocket Blueprint.
  • Preparing payload: pay the appropriate price and place a payload marker on a mission card for the next rocket launch there.

AstroDog ($2)
Satellite ($5)
Astronaut ($7)

To utilize Political Opportunities, yell ‘STOP’, let the other Engineer finish their current Action, then execute one of the following Actions:

  • Stealing Test Results: by spending a Test Steal token, as an Action, an Engineer can replace one of the opponent's Test tokens with their own.
  • Stealing Technology: by spending a Tech Steal token, as an Action, you can install a Tech Tile from your opponent’s Development Line for free.
  • When an Engineer does not want to or is unable to take further Actions in the round, they yell ‘PASS’.

    Game concepts for the B) phase

    Constructing a Rocket Blueprint with Tech Tiles

    Each team develops their own Rocket Blueprint on their designated board space. The Technology Tiles are installed on the Rocket Blueprint (rotating them freely), marked with Tech Icons in the middle and along the edges. Icons on the tiles include Structure, Electronics, or Code. The full icons in the middle will immediately contribute to the values of the Rocket Parameters. Icons on the edges only add value to the rocket if the Tech Tile's edge to the next also displays the same icon.
    Different icons can also be put next to each other, but they don't add values to the rocket parameters. When the Engineer installs a Technology Tile, they must immediately place it on their Rocket Blueprint, next to an already installed Tech Tile and register the new values for the Rocket Parameters. The Technology Tile can be placed on the top of an installed Tile, but the replaced Tile will be lost, and the change of the parameters must be immediately registered on the Rocket Parameters.


    The Rocket Blueprint also has places to install Modules. Modules give you conditions for one or two rows (or a column containing 3 spaces), which when fulfilled, give you different bonuses that should be registered by changing the values of the Rocket Parameters. When a new Module is acquired, it must be placed in an empty space or on an existing Module, but in this case the existing Module must be discarded. Modules can give a Rocket Blueprint Adaptivity: this gives the Engineer extra “joker” values that they can divide between icons freely before each launch.

    Testing the System

    Engineers can run tests on hazards (shown on the Risk cards) that can occur during Missions to ensure that there is no element in the rocket system that is causing a malfunction.
    When testing Risks, place one or more Test tokens on them. Each Test token on that particular Risk means an extra 2 value added to the result of a roll with the Risk Die.
    Example: The Risk level must be defined by rolling the 8-sided Risk Die. The higher the number we roll, the requirements will be lower, so we will improve our chances if we even test once. Since there is a Test Token on the Risk Card, if we roll a 6, then the Parameter Check Value is 8.

    The Politics Board

    Politicians play their cards in the Politics Board. On this board they can place their cards in 4 different places, while in the empty places they get different effects. These effects are categorized into three categories, depending on when they are rewarded:
    Per Round: Bonus in the D) Phase of each round .Successful Mission: Bonus in the D) phase if a successful Mission was achieved that turn.
    Obstruction: takes effect when preventing an opponent's Political Maneuver, meaning the opposing side has more Influence tokens on the card after evaluation.

    Maneuver Cards

    The iconography on the Maneuver Cards explicitly tell you what bonuses you will be given when you evaluate and win the Maneuver on a given level.

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    Game rules

    C) Rocket Launches

    Launches must be resolved in the order of the announcements. Before launch, check if the payload required for the mission is on the rocket. If not, delay the launch (-3 popularity).

    After each launch, the teams will receive their reward for the accomplished Mission or experience popularity loss for the exploded rocket immediately.

    In this phase, we move forward the participating team's rocket miniature on the Risk Cards leading to the Mission.In case of successful completion of the Risk, the Rocket will move to the next Risk, or it will explode in case of an unsuccessful parameter check.

    If both Space Programs announce a Launch on the same Mission and the first missile successfully completes it, the second Space Program must delay the launch (-3 popularity).

    Game concepts for the rocket launches

    Mission Cards

    Mission Cards include Payload Requirements (eg. Satellite, astronaut). If the Rocket has the appropriate payload and meets the Risks marked on the Path, the Space Program will be rewarded. The reward is determined by the Mission card. When announcing  a Mission, place the appropriate level of Risks next to it, face up.

    The Risk Cards

    The Risk Cards are placed next to the announced Mission cards in the amount indicated on the Mission card, face up.On the Risk Card 3 ranges indicate various technical errors, that can be solved or made more unlikely with testing of the Rocket systems, and the minimum parameters that are needed for the Rocket to remain functional.

    Testing on the Risk increases the result of a roll with the Risk Die with a value of 2.

    In the case of sabotage, the value on the die is reduced by X, where X is the number of Sabotage tokens on the Rocket Blueprint. If the value rolled with the die is 0 or less this way (without counting tests), the Rocket explodes immediately.

    The Risk Die

    The game has an 8 sided die, that is referred to as the Risk Die.

    Eliminating Risks

    After the Launch, the Rocket is exposed to various dangers and risks. Risk cards must be eliminated in a row. The Risk Die is rolled and the value is compared to the Risk level table. The Rocket will fulfill the conditions if the values of the Rocket Parameters are greater than or equal to the value for the appropriate level of risk indicated in the table.
    If the Risk is eliminated, continue with the next Risk Card until all Risks are eliminated and the mission is  a success (Spacewalk, Attempt at Docking, Moon landing etc.), or the rocket is destroyed.

    The exploded Rocket does not only cause material damage: if carrying astronauts, the Space Program loses popularity.

    Aborted Launch - minus 1 Popularity
    Successful Launch - No change in popularity
    Explosion - minus 2 Popularity
    Explosion with lives on board (dog or human) - minus 3 Popularity
    Delayed launch* - minus 3 Popularity

    *(because the teams raced for the same mission and the first one succeeded, or because no necessary payload present)

    D) End of round administration

    The Budget of the Nations decreases by 3 at the end of each round.

    The Engineer slides every item on the Supplier lane down by one space. A Module or Tech Tile sliding off from the Supplier lane is installed into the Rocket Blueprint for free.

    The Politicians, starting with the First Player, decide on the fate of their own maneuver cards. They can choose from the following:

    • Evaluation: In this case, the tokens placed on the Maneuver Card are revealed and counted. If the owner of the card has more or the same number ofInfluence tokens on it, they will receive the reward of the card. The level of the card is the lowest visible level. If the opponent nation has more Influence on a card, the card will not take effect and the opponent Politician will receive the values shown on the Politician's table for Obstruction. If the number of Influence Token is equal on each side, the Politician owning the Manouver card decides: either they pay 2 Popularity and win the card, or pay nothing and the opponent has succeeded in an Obstruction.
    • Escalation: If you are not using the highest level of the maneuver card, you can decide to escalate. In this case, the evaluation is postponed to a later round and the Maneuver card is left with the tokens on it in the Politics Board. For the first escalation, the Politician must cover the escalated card with one card still in their hand, for the second escalation, just slide the extra card already on the Maneuver.

    The Popularity and Budget Changes received as a result of the Maneuvers are immediately recorded and the Engineer receives any extra resources - money, Tech tiles, tokens, etc.

    Discard every evaluated Maneuver cards (together with the cards used for their potential escalation) and unused Bluff or Influence Marker.

    The Politician’s Hand Size is 4 , at the end of each round they draw up  their Maneuver cards from their decks to 4 again. If there are not enough cards in the deck, the discarded cards should be shuffled in.

    The Engineers receive money equal to their current budget.

    The First Player marker shifts to the other team.

    Continue with the next round until an endgame condition is met.


    Continue with the next round until an endgame condition is met.

    • Nation / Space Program: A team of 1 engineer and 1 politician.
    • Engineer: The player who is responsible for rocket design.
    • Politician: The player who is responsible for setting goals and supporting the space program.
    • Popularity: The degree of public support for a space program, from which the politician can (if necessary) gain influence.
    • Budget: The budget for a space program that determines how much money an engineer will get for research and development at the beginning of a round.
    • Technology Tiles: Components defining rocket parameters (Structure, Electronics, Code), that enable the engineer to build a better and more robust rocket.
    • Modules: Certain complex rocket elements have to be procured for a longer period of time (Long Lead Items) and are more complicated to assemble.
    • Maneuver Cards: Cards that allow the politician's actions
    • Missions: Goals for rocket launches that are announced by politicians. Each mission comes with associated risk level, required payload and reward for completion. Moon landing is the ultimate mission.
    • Risk Cards: Cards that represent problems during a rocket launch.
    • Maneuver Cards: Cards that allow the politician's actions

    Round summary

    A) Strategic discussion: Teams have 2 minutes to discuss their strategy for the current turn.

    B) Simultaneous Actions


    • Preparations 1: take 4 influence and 4 bluff tokens (+1 bluff for 1st player)
    • Preparations 2: player turns, play a maneuver on your board or pass (until 2 consecutive passing)
    • Alternate actions between Politicians, starting with the First Player. On your turn, choose 1 from below:
    • announce new mission (3 open missions max, choose random from a deck of B,C, or D missions or Moon landing)
    • only once per round: pay X popularity to gain X influence tokens
    • announcement: rocket launch or abort launch (as your last Action)


    Always choose and execute fully one action at a time (simultaneously with the other Engineer):

    • get a Tech Tile from your Development Row and install it (7$)
    • draw 2 random Tech Tiles, install one on your blueprint, put the other on the Research Area (10 $)
    • install a face-up Tech Tile from the Research Area (10$)
    • buy a module (price on the board) or if upmost module space is free, place a Tech Tile from your Development line there for free
    • testing on individual Risk Cards ($4 per test)
    • announcement: rocket launch or abort launch (as your last Action)
    • get payload for the next launch (dog $2, satellite $5, astronaut $7)
    • get rid of X sabotage markers on your rocket board ($10+x)
    • use technology steal or test steal token (yell STOP and let the other Engineer finish their current action, then execute this action)

    When an Engineer is finished with their actions, they yell PASS.

    C) Launch phase

    Launch rockets in announcement order and follow their path, 1 launch at a time. Politician rolls the Risk Die.

  • no launch -1 popularity
  • explosion -2 popularity (-3 if there was a dog or human on board)
  • delayed launch -3 popularity, if launching for the same mission, and the other side succeeds
  • D) End of round administration

  • Long lead items slide down one space on the Development Line.
  • Each team’s budget declines by 3.
  • Politicians go through each maneuver card and choose: evaluation OR escalation.
  • Teams gain every effect, resource or token indicated on the Politician Board.
  • Politicians draw up to 4 cards from the maneuver deck (shuffle back the discard pile if necessary).
  • Discard all evaluated maneuver cards and remaining influence and bluff tokens.
  • Engineers get money equal to their budget.
  • Pass the First Player Token to the other Team.
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