Any fans of Knizia’s Blue Moon here? I just bought it recently, and have been playing a lot of games with the pre-constructed decks. I’m almost ready to proclaim this the best card game ever, although it might just be the honeymoon that’s speaking. I’ve always found Magic the Gathering fascinating, but quit playing when I realized what a huge money sink it was, and how badly balanced some of the cards were. While Blue Moon is simpler in many ways, it has enough strategies, clever cards and possibilities for deck building that I’m completely hooked. The deciding factor is that it’s non-collectible. There is a pre-constructed deck for every “race” that has to be bought separately, but after that you’ll own every card ever printed (and there’s no overlap between the different decks, so you won’t get unnecessary extra copies of cards). Just the pre-constructed decks by themselves are a lot of fun to play, and with two or three you’ll already have lots of material for custom decks too.
The theme of the game is a civil war between the different people of Blue Moon. It’s strictly a two player game, where you play a series of “fights”, each which can net the winner the favor of one or more of the dragons. There are several conditions that can end the game, but ultimately the one who has more dragons at the end of the game wins.
The basic idea of fights is that there are two elements: Earth and Fire. Each fight is battled in a single element, which is chosen by the player that initiates the fight. Each turn, both players must play a character, all which have varying strengths in both elements and some have special abilities. In addition, there are Leadership Cards that have a multitude of one-time effects (force opponent to discard cards, draw more cards etc.) and booster/support cards which are mainly used to increase the strength of the character cards. A fight is over when one of the players decideds to retreat, which you must do if you can’t match the power level of your opponent. Since you have to either match or exceed the power of your opponent every turn, as the fight goes on both players use more and more powerful cards, until one of them decides to cut his losses and retreat.
There are eight pre-constructed decks, and they all seem quite balanced while having wildly different playing styles. Some decks are based on a large selection of strong character cards, while others force the opponent to dicard cards or prevent him from playing the cards he wants. The playing styles, while abstract, fit the stories of the different people very well. For example the Khind are small, childlike creatures (think faeriefolk), whose characters are very weak individually, but can band together using a mechanic that is unique to the Khind-deck.
If you are a fan of card games, I really urge you to give Blue Moon a try. It can also be played online using program called CardTable, but the UI is quite unwieldy and the software is still a bit unstable.