base set: Hoax/Vulca
List Price: $24.95
Your Price: $19.95
(Worth 1,995 Funagain Points!)
from 5 customer reviews
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The god Blue Moon has deserted the world and plunged it into chaos. Blue Moon City is in ruins and its people have fallen into open war. Multiple factions seek to appease Blue Moon and hasten his return by currying the favor of the three dragons of elemental power. In the ruins of the great city, the ingenious Hoax seek to dominate through their mechanical inventions, while deep below ground, the fiery Vulca wield the molten force of the heart of the world. On the craggy mountaintops, the birdlike Flit watch the struggle unblinkingly, waiting for the right moment to make their move. And in the secret heart of the forest, the beautiful but wild Mimix sharpen their spears.
This is Blue Moon, the new non-collectible card game from Reiner Knizia.
Blue Moon is fast-paced and easy to learn. Each player plays with a 30-card deck, representing one of the factions vying for control of the three elemental dragons. Each card is oversized, allowing more space to show off the artistic detail. Each turn, the players battle for control of the dragons, playing characters or other helpful cards from their deck, and imbuing their characters with greater and greater power, in order to overwhelm their opponent and force a retreat. In the advanced game, players have the option of building their own deck, constructing a powerful multi-faction alliance.
The basic set provides all the materials needed to play Blue Moon, including the races of the fiery Vulca and the clever Hoax, as well as a gorgeous game board, full-color rules, and three plastic dragon figures.
Blue Moon is a game where there is never a dull moment. Each turn the player is faced with interesting decisions to make, even though the player turns are short and not subject to “analysis paralysis”. Standoff or stalemate situations never occur, unlike some other duel-oriented card games. Also, unlike most card games, there are no cards that are “junk”. Each card is valuable and has a place (which can make a forced discard painful).
The card decks, each representing a race of beings in the fantasy world of Blue Moon, are amazingly well-balanced. Playtesting appears to have been very thorough, because there is no race that is stronger than any other, even though each race is very unique.
In their first few games, new players often think that one race is unbeatable, but that opinion always changes after a few more games. The basic idea is very simple, but the permutations afforded by the various types of cards, special powers, and interactions with the other races seem endless, and provide continually interesting game situations.
The quality of the components is first rate. The rules are simple enough, and not lengthy, but the player does need to know them well. In forty years of gaming, I don’t think I’ve come across a game where precise understanding of word definitions and phraseology used (both in the rules and on the cards) is more important than in Blue Moon. To this end, it might be a good idea to peruse the Frequently Asked Questions at the publisher’s website.
Unlike many duel-oriented games which often appeal primarily to males, Blue Moon seems to be enjoyed (and is often played very well) by the ladies also. My wife regularly wins Blue Moon games we play together. All in all, Blue Moon is an excellent system, and I highly recommend it.
This seems to be one of the more under-rated, under-reviewed games of the summer. For people who love many of Knizia's better card games, (Lost Cities, Battleline, etc.), Blue Moon should be a must-have. The previous reviewer did an excellent job of describing the game so I don't need to go into much detail there. It takes a few playings to appreciate the incredible depth and balance of what first appears to be a simple game. A player can play a reactionary game, simply responding to his opponent's plays and hoping for a good draw. However, this will not help him win consistently at Blue Moon. Success at this game requires a strong familiarity of all the decks, learning where your deck's strengths lie (i.e. fire vs. earth, how many support/booster cards are available, odds of drawing critical leadership cards, etc.) and especially knowing when to retreat. If the phrase 'know when to hold 'em - know when to fold 'em' ever applied to a game, it's this one.
I have not yet experimented with the advanced version for two reasons. One, I feel that for this version to be thoroughly enjoyable it's necessary to have the full collection of decks (eight all together, two of which will not be out until late August and the other two in October). Secondly, to be truely competitive and unrestricted with the advanced game it would require two people to each have their own set of all eight decks. A bit of a cost but well worth it IMHO.
My only gripe with the game is the same as the previous reviewer's. Why did FFG feel the need to create a nude race for Blue Moon? When you want to pull out a family card game for the evening you don't want to have to expose your 12-year old son to a bevy of Playboy pin-ups. Two cards even depict nude or nearly nude pregnant girls. My wife did a nice job of creating clothes for this deck (The Mimix) with a black felt tip but it is annoying having to mark up what is an otherwise beautiful game. They could also have done without the inane quotes at the bottom of most cards (which in no way effect the game) that supposedly are there to tell you the relatively shallow storyline of Blue Moon. If you're going to include storyline quotes on card games at least make them humorous, cryptic or informative.
I found myself drooling over the prospect of this game. 'Could it be another Kosmos 2-player gem?' I wondered. With wonderful illustrations and a fairly straightforward ruleset, it seemed to have a solid core. With the promise of future expansions (representing different races vying for dragon-attraction supremacy) I was hooked on the concept. And Blue Moon for the most part did not disappoint.
In the base set players are given a very nice looking playing board, three nicely sculpted dragons, and two decks of cards, representing two different races: the Vulca, and the Hoax. The board included is about as essential to gameplay as the board from Lost Cities, but least this one has a Turn Summary on it, giving it some practical value. The dragons likewise could have been leftout, but add a nice touch. It's the cards that work the wonders, for this is, in fact, a card game built on a few simple ideas, and the cards have mind-blowing art.
Gameplay is pretty simple too. Each player draws a hand of 6 cards from their deck. The cards come in several different types: characters (the basic move of every turn), boosters, supports, and leaderships. These cards are used to try and gain the upper hand in battles, thereby forcing your opponent to retreat and attracting dragons to the side of the winner. Since a player wins when he attracts a '4th' dragon to his side, one must be careful when retreating. Perhaps the easiest way to descibe the game is to break it down into the parts of a player's turn:
BEGINNING OF TURN: Some cards played on your previous turn give you an action at this moment.
LEADERSHIP: At the beginning of your turn, you may play 1 Leadership card. These cards are few in the deck and act as one-time use special action cards. Some are very powerful.
RETREAT? : This is where a player may consider retreating. When a player retreats, his opponent wins. The winner then gets either 1 or 2 dragons depending on how many cards he had in his play area. If he had 6 or more cards played he gets 2 dragons, if he had less than 6 cards, he only gets 1 dragon. This is key because if you sense you are inevitably going to lose the fight, you want to concede BEFORE your opponent has 6 cards. The flip side is that if you sense you will win, you want your opponent to stay in the fight long enough for you to get 6 cards down. VERY tricky, and well thought out design.
CHARACTER: You MUST play 1 character per turn. The catch is that you may only do so if you can be the attack total of your opponent. The character you play covers (cancels out) your previous character (and booster if it was played). When a fight is begun, the player who begins it chooses which element the battle will be fought in: earth or fire. Each character has a value for both elements, but obviously some are strong, some weak, and some strong in one and weak in the other. So if my opponent plays 3 Earth, I have to come up with at least 3 Earth to respond. But that is not all you must consider: many characters also have special abilities that can affect your opponent, or modify your support units, etc. But suppose the attack total is 7 Earth and you best Earth character is 4 Earth -- are you doomed to defeat! Not at all! You may play either 1 booster -OR- 1 support card...
BOOSTERS: These are player on 'top' of a character, the idea being that they only last for the turn that that character is 'on the board'. These boosters often have numerical values that add you your fight totals and can also add special effects.
SUPPORTS: These are played in your 'Support Area' and act as bonuses for the entirety of the CURRENT battle (unlike a booster that disappears on your next turn). Support act a lot like booster in that they may add a special ability of add fight values in some element.
ANNOUNCE POWER: Once you have played a character (with or without either a booster or support), you announce your total power (which must match or beat the previous total).
REFRESH HAND: Draw back up to 6 cards, unless of course, one of your many possible cards have allowed you special abilities to supplement this rule!
END TURN: Now your opponent responds.
This game just hops once players get the hang of it. The game is nearly purely tactical, but the combination of asymettrical tactics (due to the differences between players decks), great art, and a truly well though out game system, make Blue Moon a real treat. Tough decisions about how best to employ Support units and when to cut your losses, combined with the changing tactics demanded by random card draw, make this game very dynamic.
Does it have it's flaws? For me it does, but not where you would usually expect. Yes, Reiner Knizia designed this game, and No, this game is not abstract and boring. It is gripping and engaging. My problem with the game is also one of my favorite parts of the game: the artwork.
The graphics are lush and increible to look at. Each cards has a little blurb about the race and history of Blue Moon, and each card is titled -- really getting you into the theme. But some of the cards...*sigh* I hope it is not a trend of gaming that lots of half-naked females start appearing in games. Such is the case in Blue Moon (no pun intended...)
ALL the races are carefully and professionally illustrated -- it will blow your mind. And many of the decks, I have no problem with (Terrah, Hoax, Flit are all great.) But the Mimix, and several cards from the base Vulca set, depict half naked women on the cards. Maybe that is a selling point for you (though it does bother me), but what we could both agree on is that some people will be offended, and offending mainstream tastes hurts sales. The game itself is perfectly suited to play with my 10 year old niece or nephew, but the Mimix deck I would not bring out to play with them. I'm sure Jews, Christians, Muslims, and feminists would all be pretty put off by the artwork. I simply don't understand why they just didn't put a little more clothing on the Mimix and Vulca characters thereby increasing mass appeal.
The good news is that you can avoid most of the racy cards by avoiding the expansion Mimix deck. The bad news is that you still get some revealing cards (several Vulca and a Mimix card included in the base set). I personally complained to Fantasy Flight Games about this, and one of the gentlemen there is being kind enough to help alleviate my problem with the game by allowing me to swap out some of the cards I find offensive for replacements.
Since the company HAS responded so well to my only concerns about the game, I can go ahead and recommend it fully. This game is great. replayable, beautiful, and another masterwork of Reiner Knizia. And to know that a company like Fantasy Flight takes their customers tastes into account (even if it is after the fact) adds to my good experience of the game.