“Nova Luna” is an abstract tile-laying game in astral form. The objective: place square tiles to complete the highest number of goals depicted on them as efficiently as possible. For instance, a tile could require that two turquoise and two red tiles are placed adjacent to it. To tick off multiple goals at once, you’re going to try and get both tiles to meet the demands of the other. With more complicated goals, a chain of colours helps. At the base of the game is a clever buying mechanic: players pay the price of new tiles with steps along a moon wheel. The next turn – and the choice of tiles – is always taken by the player who was the most frugal in the previous round.
A game of “Nova Luna” seems to be an almost spiritual experience. From deep within a meditative trance, players contemplate their display of tiles. But behind this is a highly attractive intellectual challenge. “Nova Luna” arrives without any bells and whistles, it brings the game back to basics, just as how an unadulterated view of the night sky can bring more joy than the showiest firework.