Blue Moon is a fantasy world developed by Reiner Knizia and at the same time the first game set in that world. A board game is on the way, so it won’t remain the only Blue Moon game for a long time.
Gotta get them all
Blue Moon is about eight different peoples, all mixed up in a war against each other. The game is a semi-collectable card game (extendable card game might be the term): the basic set (which is sold in a Kosmos two-player game box) has the first two peoples, the rest can be bought as expansion sets.
There’s no collecting as such, all cards are of equal rarity so it’s not a black hole for money like CCGs tend to be. However, it isn’t cheap, either: if one buys all the sets, that’s about 100 euros, at least in Finland. The game can be played with just the basic set, but lot of its replayability comes from having the different decks.
So, it’s a fairly big investment. However, I think it’s worth it, if you like the game and the basic set is enough to find out if that’s the case.
The game’s basically about fighting. Players pit their characters against each other. One starts and declares an attack. The other player must match or exceed the power played by the first player, then the first player must play a new character and so on. This continues until one of the players either can’t or doesn’t want to play. The winner claims a dragon; three dragons wins the match.
Of course, the power tends to ramp up slowly, making playing new cards harder. The characters have different strengths and there are cards to boost them up. Boosters increase the power of the current character, supports power up all the characters during the whole battle.
That’s all fairly simple and straightforward. There are finer touches, however. For example, when a player has six cards in front of him or her (played characters, boosters, supports), the battle is worth two dragons. If you’re losing, you might want to back out before your opponent plays six cards.
Some cards have special abilities. Do not think of CCGs here; there are plenty of cards that only increase power with no special text and those that have text are usually fairly subtle. There are some combinations that work well together, but the game is not as centered on powerful combos as most CCGs are.
I think a good balance has been achieved. The special powers give each people a different flavour (people are likely to have favourite decks) and spice up the game, but at the same time the preconstructed decks are fairly easy to pick up and play. You don’t have to know the power combos to succeed. Sure, knowing your strenghts and opponent’s weaknesses is good, but Blue Moon is fairly easy to play without that information.
With CCGs I’ve always found finding new opponents the hardest part. Blue Moon should be easier to introduce to people. That increases the opportunities to play the game, which is very important from my perspective.
What’s best, Blue Moon looks pretty nifty. The game website has all the card art, it’s worth checking out. Each people has a different artist, which helps to separate them. Some are great, some are good, the Flit are horrible…
The oversized cards prevent use of plastic sleeves, which is a shame, but hey, at least the cards look great. The basic set has a board, which is kind of useless but still nice to have and some plastic dragons for score-keeping. The dragons look nice.
Blue Moon has preconstructed and balanced decks (from my experience the balance seems pretty good), but also an option for deckbuilding. The system is simple. You can use as many cards as you want from one people and up to ten moons from other peoples. Each card has zero to four moons, depending on its strength.
Two of the expansion decks, the Emissaries & Inquisitors decks, are targeted to deckbuilders (if you don’t plan to do deckbuilding, skipping these two is possible) and add more options to the game.
I haven’t tried deckbuilding yet, but it seems like an interesting idea and a way to develop the themes of the preconstructed decks further.
I really like Blue Moon. I’m an ex-CCG player and this game scratches the same itch, while being easier for newbies. I’m glad I have the full set. However, I don’t think the game will please everyone. Trying before buying is probably the best course of action with Blue Moon, at least play the basic set before buying every expansion.