Lunar Colony is a turn-based strategy game focused on resource management. As the leader of a company exploiting natural resources on the moon, the player's goal is to make wiser decisions than his or her computer-controlled opponents, in order to make the most money by the end of the game.
Lunar Colony allows players to make only a limited number of decisions per turn. Success in the game depends largely upon the player's ability to read the economic information that the game provides in various charts, and to respond accordingly. Players must adapt to market conditions and the actions of opponents, as well as protect key resource locations on the map.
At the start of each game, the player selects his or her company name, difficulty level, and number of opponents. Different difficulty levels determine the complexity of play: the easiest setting includes a limited set of resource–extracting buildings, while the most difficult expands this set and introduces buildings that alter the game's economic model. Adjusting the number of opponents changes the amount of influence the player has over the marketplace. Each company has certain benefits and handicaps pertaining to technology level, their ability to produce a specific resource, or building costs, which particularly suits them to one strategy or another.
The game takes place on a 9x9 grid. Each turn, teams are allowed to construct a single building on one of these squares. Only one building can occupy a square.
Buildings and Resource Production
Most buildings produce resources to be sold to Earth, or to competing companies (such as food, fuel and solar power), but some have other effects. Buildings must be constructed on a square adjacent to a location already owned by the player. During his or her turn, the player may review information about the current value of resources, as well as the past resource sales or purchases by any company. Each building type both consumes and produces a set number of resources.</p>
Excess resources are sold to Earth automatically at the end of each turn, and any resources that a company requires for its facilities but did not produce in a given turn will be purchased automatically at the same time. Resource prices fluctuate from turn to turn in response to shortages and surpluses. The value of each company's assets, including cash on hand and facilities constructed, determines the order of play, with the richest company moving first each turn.
Buildings produce more resources when placed on their preferred terrain. Flat terrain benefits the production of food and energy, while cratered terrain yields the most water, etc. It is advantageous for the player to plan his moves, and adapt his plans according to the actions of the other teams, in order to limit opponents' access to profitable areas of the map. Solar conditions and weather also influence the production level of certain resources from turn to turn.</p>
Lunar Colony is a simple game, but it does require players to read and interpret a fair amount of economic data in order to make intelligent decisions about what to do next. Gameplay is relatively static from session to session, which lets players experiment with new strategies—at the same time, small changes in geography, weather conditions and opponent attributes make the experience somewhat unpredictable.
Minimal graphics and dry mechanics ensure that Lunar Colony is is not a game that will dazzle students at first glance. However, it has significant value as a sandbox for players to explore some of the principles of free-market economics.
A limited version of Lunar Colony is free to play online (Adobe Shockwave-compatible web browser required). The same demo can be downloaded and played on Windows or Mac OS from developer Left Brain Games' website.