Blue Moon Legends is a two-player, turn-based, strategy card game in which both players take on the roles of Royal Heirs fighting for the crown and throne of Blue Moon City. Players try and gain the favor of the three remaining dragons by using factions to take part in a series of fights to decide who is the most powerful. There are many factions to choose from in this all-in-one box set that also includes multiple ways of playing, including drafting and custom deckbuilding. Excited yet? You certainly should be!
There is artwork from many different leading fantasy artists from around the world contributing to create a visually unique world here, populated with many peoples and races that are very atypical for a fantasy world, bucking the fantasy trend of including forms of elves, dwarfs and orcs.
The once proud and powerful Blue Moon City is in ruins after The Night of Doom. Before sun broke upon a new day, that fateful night saw the fall of the Golden Dragon, the old King’s death, the Holy Crystal of Psi shattered into many pieces, and the disappearance of the creator of all things, ‘Blue Moon’. It is a night that the people of Blue Moon City will not forget for a very long time.
The game is a complete re-release of the game and all of its various expansion sets into a single box set. Is Blue Moon Legends as good as it sounds? Read on to find out…
The first thing I noticed when I unboxed this game was just how many cards there were in Blue Moon Legends. It can seem rather daunting at first, but the manual takes you through a step-by-step process for set-up and I quickly realized that many of the cards included are intended to be added into the game later or for alternate gameplay modes. The cards are made from high quality linen-reinforced cards, albeit at a slightly smaller size than the regular poker card standard, but the artwork is absolutely astounding and I cannot overstate how great the art is here as well as the high quality of the components.
Players take on a People deck that consists of 31 cards, including a Leader card. The Leader card is set to the side of the board and has more significance in other game modes that we’ll cover later. The decks are shuffled and each player then starts with 6 cards and begins play after deciding who goes first. Gameplay takes play over a number of easy to follow phases that are even printed on the board for reference. Areas are also marked on the board for the draw deck, combat, support, and discard zones.
During a turn the active player may play each of the following card types once within the normal rules of the game: a Leadership, Character, and a Booster or Support card. However, some cards and Peoples allow exceptions to this rule which makes the game a lot more interesting than the two recommended starter People decks used to learn the game. Fights take place each turn using these cards with each player trying to gain more power than the other and forcing their opponent to retreat in order to win the favor of one or more Dragons.
The game ends when you would win a fight already having the favor of all three Dragons, if a player has opted to not start a fight whilst having no cards in their draw deck, or if a player no longer has any cards in their hand to play or cards in their deck to draw. Simply put, you can win by controlling Dragons or the opponent “decking out”.
What I loved most about the gameplay was just how simple it was to follow. The fight initiator will say which of the two elements (Fire or Earth) the fight is taking place with, and then turns are taken playing cards in a to-and-fro manner until one player retreats from the fight. The phases are simple and straightforward with no complicated sub-phases to worry about. The cards have clear effects that take on a ‘You’ and ‘I’ type of wording and are designed to be read aloud.
For example, if a card reads “You cannot play Support cards” and I was the one to play it, it would mean my opponent cannot play Support cards. I liked this because it made it seem more personally relevant to me than reading “target player does X” like in most card games.
All of the People decks have completely different play styles and ways of winning a fight. You are introduced to all of their new mechanics if you play through them one by one, as suggested in the appropriate order in the instruction manual. They are also completely different from your conventional fantasy race types. There are no dwarves, wizards, elves, or even orcs.
Instead we get races that are more suited to particular environments, such as a race of Birds called the Flit, Mimix who are a shamanistic amazon tribe, and many more unique creations that I really love playing with. There is going to be something for everyone here and I quickly found my favorite in the Pillar People deck, who are desert nomads that grow giant butterflies to fight with.
Because fights in Blue Moon Legends can hang on a single point of power, some very careful planning is required. It is perfectly acceptable to retreat from a fight if you think it will consume too many resources in order to win. You have to remember that your deck is also a resource and if you run out of cards then you will lose very quickly, even if you do control more Dragons than the opponent.
Some decks do manage their draw decks better and can make use of the Discard zone for extra card supply, but most do not. People decks need to be played from their strengths without exposing their weaknesses. I often found that if I didn’t over extend too deep into a fight, my opponent would be the one to go in too deep and commit more cards than was required to secure that fight. This often led to them running out of cards toward the end of the game because each turn they would have to draw up to 6 cards. Playing fewer cards than the opponent will almost guarantee victory in those grind games where both decks tend to come up equal.
You should also look at your Dragons won as an extra resource too. Instead of automatically going to the opponent’s side when they win a fight they return to the center board. As long as you can control more by the end of the game you will win. So letting one go by retreating from a fight you know you can’t win without using too many of your cards is going to be the smarter play sometimes! Not that you really would want to part with these amazingly crafted and designed pieces, but it often can be better to do so.
DRAFTING AND EXTENDED PLAY
Games that offer the player some extended ways to play are always a favorite of mine. Blue Moon Legends has a few different ways to play, including a draft mode, extended rules set, and even additional cards that can be used in conjunction with the existing People decks. There are a number of cards included in the box that do not fit into the standard People decks. There are cards to interrupt your opponent’s plays, cards to aid the draft and deckbuilding modes, and a lot more.
The Deckbuilding mode is the easiest gateway into the extended play in Blue Moon Legends. You start with one of the People decks and then add more cards to the deck that are generic (such as Interrupts) or those that are outside of your Leader card’s affiliation symbol. You can add cards using a resource called Moon Values. These are printed on some of the cards, and the Leader card will let you know the total value that can be added to the deck. Emissaries and Inquisitor cards can extend the deckbuilding options even further by allowing higher Moon Values or additional Character cards outside of the Leader affiliation.
You will also notice through the images provided and the box that there are plastic Crystal pieces. These are used when you add in the Crystal cards for even more victory condition shenanigans! Other card types also include Tutu and Spirit cards, which can also be used in deckbuilding and follow the conventional rules of the game. You can include Mulligans for opening hands if you wish, as this is a feature of tournament play, so why not bring it into your kitchen table games, too? I found that without using a Mulligan, I would draw some terrible opening hands that led to very fast-lost games.
Drafting is going to be the most complex of all the modes you’ll play and thus requires some careful set-up. The number of People decks used is reliant upon the number of participating players. The number of cards per People deck should be 33 and all of the selected People decks are shuffled together to form one pile. Cards are then dealt to each player as per a drafting table rule with the remaining cards set aside. The usual pick-and-pass procedure found in traditional draft style games then follows until each player has the same number of cards with which to form their deck of 30 cards. There are other rules to follow when playing draft and I have to say I had more fun drafting and playing a deck than at any other point of playing the game! The replay value in this single box set is just ridiculous.
Blue Moon Legends is the type of game that looks rather plain and simple, yet delivers one of the richest card gameplay experiences I have come across recently. The diversity on offer with each of the People decks is almost unrivaled, and the thematic uniqueness and differences in the races is utterly refreshing. There is no laziness here in either gameplay mechanics, background lore or visual presentation. The Peoples decks are visually and mechanically unified which is a relief to play, after coming from a background of playing games that have a bunch of random monsters and characters crushed together into a visually disjointed looking deck which can be thematically a bit chaotic.
This is a top notch production from every angle and it is just an achingly beautiful thing to own and behold. Each dragon is a different model with its own color rather than three grey dragons from the same plastic mold. I love looking through the artwork in the entire set with each card being even more pleasing and surprising than the last. I adore it and it has a very special place in my home now, and I can’t wait to say to my friends, “Can I teach you this amazing card game?” Blue Moon Legends is one of those games that will pull at you for just one more go — right after finishing what you said would be the last game for the night!
Blue Moon Legends is a recent addition to the Fantasy Flight catalog of games and a beautiful way to pay tribute to this amazing game by having re-released all of it into a single box set. I really hope they will make even more expansions in the future, because there is so much scope for new People decks, card types, mechanics, and player interactions. We can hope!
I suggest you pick it up as soon as you can if you’re looking for something that plays fast and simple, but elegant and oozing with theme. Get ready for one of the best two-player card game experiences you’re likely to experience in a single box set.
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