'The designer will never answer any rules questions': Upcoming solitaire board game requires you to codebreak its rulebook, which is written in a language that does not exist

Several alien symbols make up the cover of City of Six Moons.
(Image credit: Amabel Holland)

I've been running a Pathfinder 2e game recently, and it's been a challenge for my little brain—but its dense, rules-heavy tomes have got nothing on the upcoming solitaire game City of Six Moons, which is written in a language that does not exist except in the mind of its creator.

It's a similar gambit to games like Heaven's Vault, where you need to unlock and digest a language in order to progress—except there's no mechanical helping hands to guide you. Instead, according to its entry on Boardgamegeek (thanks, Dicebreaker), its rulebook will be "written entirely in symbols and icons. You will need to decipher the game's rules yourself. You will never know whether you've gotten it right or not. No mechanisms are listed on this page. The designer will never answer any rules questions".

This, essentially, creates a game in two parts. There's the core game that City of Six Moons actually is, and the game of learning how to play it: "an alien civilization game in both senses: a solitaire game in which the player guides the destiny of an alien civilization, and a game from an alien civilization."

This would usually be the part of the article where I talk a little about the game's ruleset, what it's trying to achieve, and so on—but, you know. "No mechanisms are listed" on its page—City of Six Moons is a mystery by design. All we know is it's alien solitaire—which might as well be anything.

It's all obviously on purpose, though. In a Bluesky post last week, designer Ambael Holland writes: "The question I get the most about City of Six Moons is if it's a functional, replayable game once you've figured out how to play it, and, yes. Obviously it's a different experience once that puzzle is solved, perhaps a lesser one. But that loss is a thing I want you to feel; I want it to linger."

Honestly? I think this thing rules conceptually. Even if you think it's just some gimmick, gimmicks can be fun sometimes. Besides, I can think of plenty of games where discovering the mechanics themselves is part of the joy—I mean, heck, deciphering symbols is basically the meat and potatoes of any good puzzle videogame, though you typically don't have to spend time uncovering the mystery of which keys on your keyboard move your legs.

In case you want to put your codebreaking brain on it yourself, City of Six Moons will be revealed via the hand of an astronaut brushing alien sand off a giant monolith in a distant world (in other words, released) in June, as per the designer's website.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.