The stars are far away. We all know this. But the moon, that’s something else. It is almost within our reach. Just stretch your hand and you can almost touch its surface, feel the chill of rocky subsoil in his funny shaped craters. There is no life. Yet. Until people transform our planet in their own image and will be forced to leave for someplace else.
But now it is the year 1963 and this all is just a fantasy. Closest to you is a trip into space. Look into orbit for yourself and see Earth from up there! That would be something. And then, move even one step further. But we will not anticipate. We will let you return to your scientific work, and when you try enough, maybe you will be standing on the moon once and you’ll be able to say: “Its one small step for man, but one giant leap for mankind.”
We can dream of it. At least in board game called 1969. It works a little bit like a time machine and really moves us to sixties of the last century, when all our modern technology was only and only in its infancy. Authors of the game are four: Andrea Crespi, Lorenzo Silva, Lorenzo Tucci Sorrentino and Aureliano Buonfino. Graphics for final version was prepared by Giulia Ghigini. Although only Andrea Crespi is shown on the box as its main author, we like to credit them all.
The game was created in 1969, wait! No, it was surely 2012, 53 years later. And it flew into the whole world on wings made by Cranio Creations, its publishing house. Thanks to it, we could live in the sixties also in our country in our little newsroom.
If you just now discovered the game, you will be pleased to see surface of the moon covered with human feet on the cover. And in the background is Earth with rising sun behind. Simply beautiful look, that pleases not only the eye of each astronaut, but also makes a temptation for each longing adventurer.
What helps you to create feeling, you are in a spacesuit somewhere out there in weightlessness? So in the main line is game board, that takes you to the beginning with its utterly original processing. The upper two thirds are covered by a number of routes, which are grouped into four main missions – reaching orbit, unmanned flight to the Moon and then main mission – human on the Moon.
Its lower part is not dedicated only to cards and marker of the current year (game takes place in years 1960 to 1969), but also recruitment area for a scientist with a desire to work for NASA. You were once one of them too, but now you are doing all the research and success or failure of the mission lies on your back and decisions.
These scientists inside the box are four colored cubes. There are basic white, blue greenhorns, famous green and ten red geniuses. So together with a dozen black spies, these eighty workers get your racket everywhere you please. I mean, if everything goes well..
In addition you will find also a pair of boards for each of the five nations included. Game features not only U.S. and Russia, but also Canada, France and Germany makes them companionship. Neither China nor India is present. Who would want to play for them? Only two billion players..
Then there are bills representing cash in the game. They have a value of one and five millions. It does not matter, what currency it is, you can pay with it here. Along with flag tokens, there are also ten bonus tokens in cardboard sheet, one token of the Moon (starting player), but also five rockets! They have a notch at the bottom, where you can fasten second part and thus get regular standing piece, which will indicate your mission progress.
But we still miss 39 cards of intelligence. They help you in the way of the game and support your individual projects in progress. And there are still five white dice, which have colored dots drawn on themselves – blue, green and orange, each of them twice. Their meaning will be explained later, now is the time to prepare for the match.
Each player chooses a country, he would like to represent. He takes eight tokens with a flag of this color, also spaceship and of course a pair of player boards. On one image, a rocket with potential improvements is shown. Second depicts a base, which can be also upgraded to improve their mission chances and support their success.
At the beginning, players do not get any cash yet. Instead, only one flag is placed on a route running around the board. This is used to track victory points gained during the game. The second flag starts its journey on main mission to the Moon, which is your biggest challenge. Each player puts his flag to the starting box there. But his chance is still a few year away.
All scientists (cubes) begin their work on the board in stock. You divide them by shirts color on engineer pictures drawn on the board. You lay time indicator on year 1963, when all your effort begin and will take place for next seven years. Cards will also help you and they are all shuffled in a pile in the bottom left corner of the board.
Players receive a fixed amount of cash at the beginning of each turn. Its amount is written on a board for a specific turn. In the first round, you get exactly 12,000,000 and it is only your decision, how would you spend them. Next stage is playing turns. For millions, you can hire scientists or buy a card. Card rate is fixed (2,000,000), while scholars differ according to their expertise and you can find their value written directly on the board.
Once you hire one of them, you must immediately assign him to work. That means taking one specific colored wooden cube and placing it anywhere on one of your research boards. It is up to you, whether you assign him to rocket or if he remains in the commanding center. Up to two scientists can be assigned to one, but they may not be on the same level.
Now your staff can help you in the third and final phase of the round. These are the mission attempts. Players are always free to decide, if they want to try any of the missions or not. But given the number of only seven rounds throughout the game, we recommend to try one in each round.
At the start, you have to set aside mission funding and pay it to the bank. In addition, you must also have adequate equipment, which is always drawn near missions. At the end of the round you decide, whether you were successful or not, and you put your flag over it. This flag forbids you to attempt the same mission again in future rounds. That does not mean, that you can not develop something else or going to another Earth orbit on one of three different available routes.
Success of your mission is determined by five dice. And coincidence. But you can influence and combine their results with all available capabilities of your engineers. Subtracting from each number of green and red dots and then adding up all the bonuses from your scientists, which concerns the given mission. For each positive point of final outcome, you can move your rocket from the starting box forwards.
But there is even more. You can now play cards from your hand to advance more, but all other players have a chance to play an action card as well. First, all of the players play any number of cards in front of them face down, so nobody knows their value, but them. You can move in numbers between one to three. Finally, it’s your turn to try and push his racket further. But it can also be pulled back, if sum of action cards is negative (rival cards are a minus).
Rocket moves again for this final sum and now it’s really clear, how your mission turned out. You now simply record a number of points corresponding to the position, where you were able to climb with your rocket. Once all players have played one of their mission, year ends and you move time token.
Game ends, when the token to arrives on year 1969. This is the last round. You also get bonus points, if you managed to hire some famous scientist. Player with the highest profit is the winner and an astronaut.
1969 is a board game, that you will enjoy for its theme. Who would not be fascinated by the universe? And what about the chance to bite off a portion of fame for its conquest? And you even get a real rocketships and you will not mind, that in fact you are playing as a scientist, remain on Earth, and only move your pawn on a giant screen, pushing it forward. Mission control is fun too!
In result, game is designed especially towards your ability to manage with limited financial resources. You have to buy very expensive scientists for them, but also think about earning points. And there is not other way, than completing missions. But access to them is worth large sums of cash.And where you get them, when you just bought a genius with it?
Individual scientists naturally have differences among themselves. While freshmen are cheap, at the end of each game, you will become two victory points from the score down for each such greenhorn cube. Conversely red geniuses are counted as two points, when rolling dice. And this is an important feature. Whites are of no interesting value and famous green will support you with points at the end of the game, but their cost is basically twice the base.
With some research positions, you can also get a bonus point and place for third scientist. You will receive this token, when you purchase a spy and place it on the opponent’s board. Moreover, the given opponent loses one point for each secret mole.
Greatest burden of the game lies in missions and their completion. And now coincidence decides for you. You must have a very well-hedged position with scientists and so you do not utterly miss the money invested through untamed dice. Take a good look also, what cards you are holding. Opponents will probably attempt to harm you and take your ship back down the route, if they feel their chance. And that can cost you quite a pile of victory points! These cards are great way to harm others!
Aim of the game is flight to the Moon. You can prepare for it during your turns and move your flag on moon mission a bit forward. Then you must try classic full circle in one go. And that’s not easy. Therefore, you will try such stunts only in the last round.
1969 offers strategy, but also financial management. There is relatively large potential for conflicts hidden in the game, if the players are willing to use it. Game does not force you to do so. Yet in carrying out missions, there is enough chance, that all your strategic plans will crumble. 1969 is not an exceptional game with respect to the mechanisms or experience. But its really interesting in regard of topic. And if you fancy space exploration and thinking games, you can try it.
+ tempting topic
+ rocket miniatures
+ beautiful board
+ each round is one mission
+ dice can be influenced
+ players sabotage each other missions
+ different scientists
- your results are hugely influenced by luck
- mission to Moon is not such golden crown, as it could have been
- matches are all the same