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Jean-François Gagné
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Blue Moon could be called Budget Magic. Then again, it should not. It is a card game where you have “theme” decks as well as the possibility to construct your own decks, but the similarities end there. If you have one nice friend, who might happen to work in a gaming store, he can buy the whole set and everyone will be able to play (however, if more than one player wants some deck, they can buy them too, but this is not necessary).

The game’s setting is simple and can be found on www.blue-moon-games.com. In short, it is all about the eight races of Blue Moon, fighting to get the crystals and become king of Blue Moon. If you play multiple games, once you have earned five crystals (victories), your race becomes king of Blue Moon. A simple setting, but with a rich history that is told as flavour text on each and every card.

GAME:
The game is simple enough, once the rules have been read thoroughly and a few games have been played. There are five types of cards:
Leadership: Strong powerful effects played at the very beginning of your turn. They can never be reused.
Character: The most important cards, which allow you to continue the fight. They show two values: one for fire, one for earth. They sometimes have special text or icons. You can only play one at the time in your combat area, unless it has a special icon* and it is considered the active character. On a subsequent turn, the character you will play over the last one will become the new active character.
*Shield: Gives you a free turn by not having to match the power.
*Stop: You may not play any more cards.
*Retrieve: At the very beginning of your turn, you may take the card back into your hand and play it now or later.
*Pair: You may play two cards with the same “first name” at the same time.
*Free: Does not count as your “one” card you may play.
*More icons will appear with other sets.
Booster: Similar to characters in that, once covered up, they are no longer counted. They are played with characters in the combat area.
Support: Played in your support area, they remain in effect until the end of the fight.
Mutant: One per deck, these powerful creates allow you to turn the tide (well, change the element of combat). To play them, you have to meet the conditions on their card.

Setting the game is quite easy and short. Each player selects a deck and they decide who begins. Unfold the board, place the three dragons in the neutral region of the board, and place your deck under the draw deck section and your leader card beside the Leader section. Draw six cards and you are now ready to play. The Turn Phases are conveniently shown on the board. The battles are fought by matching or besting the power announced by the other player. The element of the battle (fire or earth) is chosen by the first player in the battle.

1.Beginning of Turn
2.LEADERSHIP: You may play you leadership cards at this point.
3.Retreat from Fight? : This is where you announce whether or not you will continue the fight. Strategic retreats are often a wise move. As the starting player of fight, you may instead of start the fight discard up to three cards, refresh your hand and let the other player start the fight. Once the battle is started though, this option may not be used again.
4.CHARACTER: Play one character (unless you have special icons). On the first player’s first turn, this is the only card he may play with a LEADERSHIP.
5.BOOSTER/SUPPORT: The player has the option of playing either one BOOSTER or one SUPPORT card.
6.Announce Power: This lets the other player know what he has to match.
7.Refresh Hand: Draw back to six, unless you already have six or more, in which you do not do anything.
8.End of Turn: The other player continues the fight.

When a player retreats, the other player wins the fight. The winning player takes a dragon on his side. If the winning player has 6 cards or more, he takes two dragons. Each player may never a dragon at the same time so if you win a dragon when the other player has one, you will move the dragon back in the middle of the board.

The game ends when:
-Someone attracts a dragon when there are none left.
-Someone has no more cards to draw. They, however, finish the battle.

DECKS:
As mentioned in the history of the game, there will be a total of 8 decks. Vulca and Hoax are found in the base set. Mimix and Flit are two expansion set, available now. According to the site, Khind and Pillar should be released in autumn 2004 and Aqua and Terrah in 2005. Usually, each decks contains one mutant and a mix of the other four cards types.

The Vulca and Hoax, being in the base set are similar in their play mechanics. They both use a combination of characters, boosters and support cards. They obviously are the introductory decks.

The Mimix’s strength is with Paired fighters as well as Shamans that allow you to get cards back from your discard pile. There is a certain waiting game in that having pairs is important. Some booster and support cards back the Mimix.

The Flit’s strategy is all about retrieving strong combatants, and even some boosters. I am tempted to say that it is the move strategic of the four released so far. You have to use your forces intelligently and sparingly. No support cards in this deck.

All in all, the four base decks are very interesting. However, once used to the game and tired of the basic decks, you can customize them. Cards have a certain number of blue moons on the bottom left corner. Cards from another race can only total up to 10 blue moons in a customized deck. This leaves room to 3-5 different cards. Customization is therefore fairly limited, but hopefully, the 4 future decks will improve customization (there is an hint to that in the rules). However, I did not see a need to customize the decks, as the basic sets are interesting and I have yet to grasp everything that can be done with them. Thus showing that the decks were well thought out to be as interesting as possible.

If you want a game that is not too expansive but does not feature the unlimited potential of Magic, Blue Moon is for you. However if you want to play a different deck every game, stick with Magic.

With magnificent art, simple rules and great mechanic, Blue Moon is sure to become a favourite 2-player game for many. You can play a game under 30 minutes. Furthermore, the fact that there will be 8 different decks by 2005 will also give this game an interesting, and needed, variability. Although the board and dragons could have been ignored, the price point of the game is not so bad and having great components (like Starship Catan) is always a plus in my book. If you want a great 2-player game to add to your collection, Blue Moon is a great addition. Like Catan though, the expansions are almost necessary to get the most out of the game. Reiner Knizia has done it again, and this time it’s his world.
 
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Jean-François Gagné
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Re:User Review
I will try to update it (first finding out to update a review) when the following sets will be released. New icons will be more usefull and strategy/rules might change.

 
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David Tolin
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Re:User Review
DjihEf (#33645),

I noticed your review states that the game ends, as one condition, when one player has no more cards to draw. If I'm interpreting the rules properly, it doesn't end until all possible cards in hand have been played as well. Is this correct?

David T.
 
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Matthew M
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Re:User Review
DavidTolin wrote:
I noticed your review states that the game ends, as one condition, when one player has no more cards to draw. If I'm interpreting the rules properly, it doesn't end until all possible cards in hand have been played as well. Is this correct?


You are correct. The game ends when someone earn more dragons than they can possibly receive or when all of one player's cards are in his discard pile.

-MMM
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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Re:User Review

The game ends when someone earn more dragons than they can possibly receive or when all of one player's cards are in his discard pile.

Just to nit-pick the latter condition, or are played Leadership cards on top of his leader rather than in the discard pile.
 
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Jean-François Gagné
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Re:User Review
Really sorry about this misinterpretation, which I've just recently noticed.

So here goes:

-The game ends when someone attracts a fourth dragon.
-When a player has no more cards to play (either because they are all in the discard/leader pile or because he must start a fight without any character cards).

Is it possible to update the actually review?
 
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Jean-François Gagné
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Re:User Review
Update:
Well, I tried to do my best and as my first complete review, I do believe I did a good job. However, one major error is present in my review, concerning the end conditions. Thanks to those who pointed it out in my review.

The game ends when:
-Someone attracts one more dragon than is possible.
-Someone has no more cards to play since they are all in the discard/leader piles. Fights in progress must be concluded.
-Someone is unable to start a fight and discards his last cards.

I also think the game is far richer than I had originally seen it. Each decks truly reacts differently when played against a different one. The future four decks should add an incredible amount of replay value. BTW, any player from Quebec City?
 
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Matthew M
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Re:User Review
DjihEf wrote:
-When a player has no more cards to play (either because they are all in the discard/leader pile or because he must start a fight without any character cards).


Not having any character cards does not end the game. If you are the starting player and have no character cards then you will probably choose to discard three cards. If you still have cards left over it becomes your opponent's turn to start a fight - if he plays a character you will have to retreat and on your subsequent turn to start another fight you would once again discard cards.

-MMM
 
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Jean-François Gagné
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Re:User Review
I think I will not add anything else to agravate my case.

Game ends:
-When a player attracts one more dragon than there are.
-When a player declines to start a fight, discards and is unable to draw again.
-When a player has no more cards to play since they have all been discarded.

However, if a fight is in progress, it must be concluded.
 
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Jim K.
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Re:User Review
DjihEf (#36082),
I know you're tired of rewriting this, but what you had still isn't entirely correct.

Game ends:
-When a player attracts at least one more dragon than there are.
-When a player declines to start a fight, discards all of the cards that were in his/her hand (up to 3 cards) and is unable to draw any new cards.
-After a fight ends in which either player has no more cards in their hand and in their draw deck.
 
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Jean-François Gagné
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Re:User Review
Thanks!
 
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Phil Shepherd
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Re:User Review
DjihEf (#36090),
That'll teach you for writing a review!!
 
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Jean-François Gagné
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Re:User Review
captkayoss (#45214),
Then again, update coming up for the next two sets!

Should I post this as a new review (kind of part 2), game session or simply yet another reply to this one review?
 
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Steve Perriam
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Re:User Review
DjihEf (#49561),

suggest you post it as a new topic / review etc rather than add to this one.
 
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Jean-François Gagné
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Re:User Review
Kheldar (#49697),
Guess it will be review part 2 then...
 
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