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Author: Reiner Knizia

Publisher: Kosmos 2004

Awards: none



Once again a title has been added to the successful KOSMOS-series of 2-player games, and this time "star author" Reiner Knizia did throw his skill onto the scales...

Unlike many other titles of the 2-player-games series, Blue Moon is not a stand-alone game in its true sense but instead is has been designed from the beginning to feature a number of expansion sets with additional cards. However, unlike many other producers, KOSMOS did not release a collectible cardgame with cards of different rarity, but instead the game simply features 6 small extension packs with new tribes (= sets of cards).

The background story of the game can be quickly summarised: There once was a world called Blue Moon which fell into anarchy upon the death of the beloved King and the great Golden Dragon. The King's heirs (the players) are warring to overcome their enemies and to unite the Kingdom once more by trying to convince the three remaining Dragons of the righteousness of their cause, and to pursue this goal they enlist the help of one of the 8 different tribes of inhabitants of Blue Moon. The members of these tribes oppose each other in a number of duels, and the outcome of each duel determines which player will be favoured by the Dragons...

The game is set up in a way that the gameboard is set up between the players with the 3 Great Dragons placed upon the middle of the board. However, the board does not serve a traditional playing purpose since it is not used for any movement. Instead, it features some reminders which give the players some assistance in how to place the cards they play. The players then each chose one of the 8 available decks of cards (a tribe) for play. Each of these sets consists of a leader and 30 additional cards. The leader is placed next to the gameboard, whereas the rest of the cards are mixed by each player separately. Then each players draws 6 random cards from his deck as his starting hand. Apart from the leader, each deck of cards features four different types of cards: Leader-actions, Characters, Assistance-cards and Reinforcement-cards.

As said above, the game consists of a number of duels, each of which is split down into several player turns. A randomly selected player will start the first duel with his first turn, and in his turn a player will need to play at least one Character-card. Furthermore, a player may play one Leader-action plus one Assistance-card or one Reinforcement-card.

Each of the Characters has a strength-value and possibly a special attribute. However, the strength value may be influenced by the Assistance-cards or Reinforcement-cards played by the player. These cards differ in so far as that a Reinforcement-card will last on the player's side for the whole duel, whereas an Assistance-card only will last for a player's current turn.

In his turn, a player must add up the value of his character plus any Reinforcements and / or Assistance-cards, and he may only stay in the duel if he come to a total which is at least as high as the value which the opposing player has reached on his previous turn. If a player fails to do so, he loses the current duel, allowing the other player to move some of the three Dragons. These Dragons have started the game in the center of the gameboard, but if a player wins a duel he may move one or two Dragons to his side of the board (the number of Dragons to be moved depends on whether a player has six or more Reinforcement cards on his side). The game will be over if this player succeeds in getting all three Dragons to his side after the end of one of the following duels, but if the next duel is won by the opposing player then the new winner may move one or two Dragons back to the center of the board. The game continues this way until one player has used up his deck of cards or until a player has succeeded in getting all three Dragons to his side.

The game actually offers a set of rules which is a bit more detailed, but it would be difficult to explain all nuances in this review. However, a fact which I consider rather to be welcome is that the rules are not nearly as complicated as in any collectible cardgame. The rules take care of a total of seven special abilities, of retreats and of a number of smaller features, but they still remain easy enough to handle to allow quick and enjoyable playing. Also, some advanced rules are included, allowing players to compose their own deck of cards from the cards available in the game.

KOSMOS actually has succeeded in creating a well-designed cardgame which features all the advantages of a collectible cardgame without making the acquisition of the game expensive or difficult. However, this by no means should express that Blue Moon has to step back concerning ingenuity or design. Reiner Knizia has created a very captivating set of rules which offers a high spirit of competition for the players, and the artwork is simply outstanding. Each of the different tribes has been designed by a different artist, and the artwork displayed if of highest quality...

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany