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City of Six Moons is a board game written in an alien language you’ll need to translate to play - and you’ll never know if you’ve got it quite right

The designer will refuse to answer any rules questions, too.

Image credit: Hollandspiele

Upcoming board game City of Six Moons is taking difficulty-to-decipher rulebooks to a whole new level by writing all of its rules in an alien language that you’ll have to translate in order to play. The kicker? You’ll never know if you’ve done so correctly.

The single-player title is described by designer Amabel Holland as being both a game about guiding the fortunes of an alien civilisation, and a game designed as if it actually were made by an alien civilisation in real life.

As such, Holland has written the entire rulebook in a language composed of icons, glyphs and symbols, setting a challenge to the player to decipher the language before they can read the rules for the game itself. To work out its secrets, you’ll apparently need to draw on both your own existing cultural assumptions and the acceptance that the culture of the alien civilisation who made it is very different to humanity.

Cheekily, Holland proposes that players will never quite know if they’ve perfectly cracked the code, and she will refuse to answer any questions about the game’s rules. (Well spotted, BoardGameGeek.)

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Given all that, we obviously don’t quite know how the game will play, or even how long it'll take to finish, only that it’ll be a solitaire experience with a set of components needed to play the game in the box alongside the rulebook. Presumably those components will either be devoid of language or marked in the same code as the rules, though we also don’t know what game pieces will be included just yet. We have seen the cover artwork at least, which presumably might offer a first clue to decoding the iconographic language.

Holland did confirm over on Bluesky that City of Six Moons will be a “functional, replayable game” for those who do successfully figure out its rules (or enough to play, that is), though deciphering the code is considered a key part of the package - meaning that players might find it a “lesser” experience after they know its secrets. Yet even that permanent change in understanding is part of the overall journey, Holland believes: “That loss is a thing I want you to feel; I want it to linger.”

City of Six Moons is due for release next month from Holland’s own (alongside co-owner Mary Holland) publishing label Hollandspiele. Good luck to anyone preparing to tackle the cryptic puzzle.

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