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Subject: My first session report...and of course it's for an OOP game rss

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Mike DiLisio
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I have a semi-regular gaming group that I play with (not as often as I'd like unfortunately), but increasingly, my most frequent gaming partner is my 10-year-old son. This isn't a complaint by any means, indeed, one of the reasons that I got back into boardgaming was to play with my kids. He's actually a pretty darn good player, and has legitimately beaten me at games like Seasons and Nefarious. The only game I've tried with him that was too much of a brain burner was Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, but even that he said he'd try again.

I've been a Knizia fan primarily through iOS adaptations of his games, so I'm certainly aware of his skill and reputation. One of the criticisms of his games are lack of theme. I actually agree with this, although it doesn't really bother me too much. When I play with my son though, I tend to look for games that have a stronger theme. This brought me to research the card game Blue Moon, a Knizia game with a very strong thematic element. Unfortunately, this game is out of print and being offered at highly inflated prices on the web. However, this being the amazing community that it is, I was able to find someone to sell it to me for a reasonable price along with one of the expansion races. Long story still relatively long, he loved it. Also, I loved it. This led me to look into whether Blue Moon City might be a good choice. All of the research I found led me to believe that this would indeed be a good choice for my son and I. Like the card game, this is also out of print. The same person that I bought Blue Moon from had this listed for trade, but when I approached him about it, he said that upon further reflection, he actually quite liked the game and took it off of his trade list! No hard feelings, obviously, but he didn't just leave it at that. He told me that one of his friends might be willing to sell me a copy, and gave me his contact info here on the Geek. This person sold me a copy in good condition for what basically the original retail price was. Again, I'm constantly amazed by how great of a community this is.

Today, I got a chance to put this on the table. Spoiler alert, we freaking loved it. I read over the rules once, watched a short video (there are very few that I could find), and felt relatively confident that I could explain it to my son. After laying out the board and getting things set up we chose our colors (and how awesome that these colors aren't the typical primary colors- my son chose purple, I chose sky blue), and dealt out the cards.

The cards are really the crux of this game, and while the basic rules are relatively simple, the fact that most of the cards have multiple uses add a lot of depth. I didn't realize until about half way through the game how many options you have available to you on a typical turn. You can manipulate the cards to do a lot of different things, and I found that often when I thought I couldn't do what I wanted to do, by utilizing the different abilities of the cards, I actually could. One of the things that I increasingly became aware of was how important efficient movement of the dragons is. Those dragon scales can make a big difference.

One of the aspects of this game that I think are so great are the neighborhood rewards. As the game progressed, the distribution of the crystals and cards grew a whole lot. At the beginning, my son and I were wondering how we were going to be able to make 11 or 12 point sacrifices to the obelisk. I soon saw that it was really going to be feasible since the crystals come much more readily as the game goes on.

The first 4 contributions to the obelisk alternated between my son and I. He made the first and third contribution, while I made the second and fourth. By being able to exclusively claim a couple of tiles with rich neighborhood bonuses, I was able to get contributions four and five while he was stuck at two. However, I now needed 11 crystals to make a contribution. My son was able to load up on some crystals through clever plays and dominating dragon scales. We were now tied at five contributions a piece. I already had a pretty good head start on crystals at this point though, and was able to pull out a victory.

I cannot overstate how much fun this game is. It really seems unlike any other Knizia game I've played. It really isn't like ANY other game I've played. The theme comes through, the art is spectacular, and the card powers and neighborhood bonuses are what put it over the top. There isn't much connection with the card game other than some art and use of the races, but both games have a lot to recommend. I like the board game a bit more, but that's not because the card game isn't very strong. It is. It's just that the board game is so good. It's not complicated to learn and explain, but it has a lot of depth. This is a hallmark of Knizia designs. It really is a terrible shame that this game is out of print. I honestly feel like it is a game like Catan or Ticket To Ride that has wide appeal and should always be in print and easily available. If you have any interest whatsoever, I'd say hunt this down. It's worth the effort.
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Miguel
France
Caen
(from Valencia, Spain)
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My best-rated game: Tetrarchia, about the tetrarchy that saved Rome
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Thanks for this session/almost-a-review report!

A game I would like to play more than I do, after reading this I'll try to play it again soon...
 
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Mike DiLisio
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franchi wrote:
Thanks for this session/almost-a-review report!

A game I would like to play more than I do, after reading this I'll try to play it again soon...


You're right. I was definitely straddling the line between review and session report. I was just so impressed with it that I had to throw in my opinions as well.
 
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Will Plante
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Thanks for the great write up.
I am very excited to play this with my kids, I was just able to trade for a copy.

Cheers,
Will
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Mike DiLisio
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Papa Ninja wrote:
Thanks for the great write up.
I am very excited to play this with my kids, I was just able to trade for a copy.

Cheers,
Will


I hope your experience is as good as mine has been!
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