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Subject: Tactical, not strategic rss

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Blue Moon is an expandable card game published by Fantasy Flight Games. The game was designed by Reiner Knizia and is part of the Kosmos 2-player series. The basic idea of the game is to attract more dragons than your opponent by winning individual battles. The idea is based loosely on the concept of the "war" card game in which a higher value wins the battle. Blue Moon allows each player to successively trump the current value through a combination of cards. Play continues until one player has no more cards to play or until one player has 3 dragons and attracts more.

Rules

The rules of this game are fairly easy to understand. Each players turn is broken up into a series of phases in which only certain cards can be played. Everything fits into a nicely detailed 10 page rulebook complete with sample games to help you understand the rules.


Components

Blue Moon comes in the standard Kosmos box. The play area is made up of a nicely detailed tri-fold board. This board shows you where to play each type of card and also has a turn phase chart to help beginners. There are also 3 dragons, 1 red, 1 blue, and 1 aqua, which are basically used to keep score during the course of a game. The board and dragons are by no means necessary to play, but do give a nice aesthetic touch.

Most importantly are the cards. The cards are much larger than your standard size playing cards. I'm not sure why every Kosmos game I own uses non-standard cards but in this game, I find it to be actually helpful. The larger size allows game text to be written in a decent size and allows the art to be shown off.

The artwork is what really sets Blue Moon apart from other games. The large size cards allow a much larger full-bleed style artwork to leap off the cards. Even the board has a nice graphic design. For whatever reason, some people find the art on these cards to be "explicit." The figures in question have been described as scantily clad females. While these creatures are loosely based on the female figure, they hardly resemble anything human. These cards depict alien being, not people.


Gameplay

Blue Moon plays very quickly. Once some of the rules are ironed out, play should flow smoothly from turn to turn, with only an occassional pause for deliberation. Each the premade decks are allegedly made to be balanced against all of the others. I'm not sure if this is totally accurate based on some of my experience, but I believe this was their intention. Player skill may accentuate some of the subtle imbalances inherent in certain matchups, but overall, the game appears to offer parity and balance.


Overall

Blue Moon is a wonderful game for 2 players. But there is a key point about this game which I feel is misrepresented. This is not a strategy game but a tactical one. Strategy refers to planning out an objective and the way in which you will achieve said objective in advance. Every person who plays Blue Moon has the same strategy: Attract the most dragons and win the game. Blue Moons depth and high replayability comes from the tactical decisions which are made every single turn of the game. The random nature of a card game does not allow for much strategy, but does present each player with tough choices each turn.

There are better games to be played if you're looking for something strategic. But for a 2-player tactical battle, there are few better games than Blue Moon.
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Christopher Dearlove
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stormseeker75 wrote:
Strategy refers to planning out an objective and the way in which you will achieve said objective in advance. Every person who plays Blue Moon has the same strategy: Attract the most dragons and win the game. Blue Moons depth and high replayability comes from the tactical decisions which are made every single turn of the game. The random nature of a card game does not allow for much strategy, but does present each player with tough choices each turn.


What's strategy and what's tactics can be a vague line. But I wouldn't say that attracting the most dragons is a strategy, it's an objective. You do get at least semi-strategic decisions in Blue Moon - for example "burn cards as fast as you can and then play Administer Water of Immortality". You also need to make tactical plays with an eye not just to this turn, or even not just to this fight. If you are making decisions like "if I stay in this fight I'm going to lose, but it will cost him more good cards than it will cost me, which will help me later, so I'll hang in there for a bit" is that a purely tactical decision or not?
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Colin Hunter
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um, I don't know if I agree that there is no strategy and it ia purely tactical game. Most CCGs are like this, but seriously blue moon has many more strategic decisions than almost CCG. For example, you have to decide if your will play aggressively trying to win dragons or more conservatively. I don't think one is optimal, but I think you have to know your deck and how you guess your opponent will play. So yes I think there is coherent strategy, maybe not in the same way that say puerto rico has strategy, but it still definitely part of the game. Good review though
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M D
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I've only played this game for the first time this weekend, but from this brief intro I'd say that any decisions made to win an individual fight are tactical, while any decisions made to influence future fights or decisions based on past fights are strategic. I think any "tactical" retreat in this game is really strategic. If you save a card in your hand so that you can use it in combo with another one when you draw it, I'd say that was also a strategic decision.
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Brian Thompson
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ibn_ul_khattab wrote:
I think you have to know your deck and how you guess your opponent will play. So yes I think there is coherent strategy, maybe not in the same way that say puerto rico has strategy, but it still definitely part of the game.


Colin is correct. Blue Moon definitely has strategy. Each of the different player decks (Khind, Vulca, Hoax, Aqua ..) have unique aspects and powers, strengths and weaknesses, which means that one should understand these qualities and play appropriately.

For instance, with the Vulca, I like to play very aggressively and pile on lots of fire attacks to win fights quickly. I want to overpower my opponent and I don't want the fight to drag on.

With the Aqua, my deck is very fluid. There is a card that allows my discard pile to get shuffled back into my draw pile so I can take my time and wear my opponents down slowly.

Lots of thematic strategy here, Dude. I don't think you have thought about this enough.
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Matthew M
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And to take what has been said a step further, your strategy for using any given deck may be shifted somewhat depending on the deck you are playing against. For example, when I play the Khind I typically prefer long, slow developing battles because I feel they are a strength of the deck - however the Hoax are also good at that kind of game and the Buka are arguably better at it than the Khind, so against those decks I want to play considerably differently.

-MMM
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Thank you everyone. Your insight is appreciated. I don't get to play Blue Moon at a high playing level because my girlfriend plays much more friendly than I would like. But thats just her nature, so there isn't much I can do about it. I suppose that this has led me to my above stated opinion about a lack of strategy. Perhaps its not the game, but how it is currently being played in my house which creates more tactical decisions for me.
 
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Matthew M
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stormseeker75 wrote:
Perhaps its not the game, but how it is currently being played in my house which creates more tactical decisions for me.


I can definitely see that. As with any strategy game, if you haven't gotten enough experience to see where the strategic decisions are all you are left with are the in-the-moment tactical plays. Learning how each deck operates on its own and then how it interacts with each of the other decks takes some time to get a handle on.

Thankfully it plays wonderfully as a purely tactical game. Once you start delving into some of the bigger-picture issues it gives you extra layers of enjoyment. At least in my experience that has been the case. Strategy takes yet another step once you get into constructing your own decks. There's quite a lot to Blue Moon - and I particularly appreciate how you can enjoy it at whichever level you are most comfortable with.

-MMM
 
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I would love to play it at a higher level, but that won't happen with my girlfriend. If I hook up a gaming group, maybe I'll get the opportunity.
 
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What about the deck building component of BM?
Granted it is optional but, if used, isnt this purely strategic?
Even if you dont choose to deck build fully, under emmisaries and you choose which dude will be your ally. Strategy, no?
 
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Demo_Boy wrote:
What about the deck building component of BM?
Granted it is optional but, if used, isnt this purely strategic?
Even if you dont choose to deck build fully, under emmisaries and you choose which dude will be your ally. Strategy, no?


Aye...and you can even contstruct your deck in such a way as to dictate where it falls on the tactics/strategy continuum during play - Lucas made a deck I played against that very clearly had a grand strategy behind it and at one point he even reminded himself "I told myself this is how I'd play this" when what might otherwise be a tactical decision point came up.

Lucas crushed me.

-MMM
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