Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blue Moon - Great Game but Too Blue?

Blue Moon was released years ago. At the time it seemed like a small scale card game and in the days prior to marriage and babies I was looking for epic games that required hours to finish and involved lots of small sharp lead figures. Now I look for games that can be played quickly and don't have components that are messy or dangerous. The new world order, combined with a big sale at Fantasy Flight Games, promoted me to try Blue Moon.

I'm happy to say that this is a very fun game with a lot of depth and strategy to it. The gist of play is pretty simple. Each player has a deck of cards specific to a particular alien race. The basic box gives you two decks and you can buy addition decks separately. Through the game you draw cards from your deck into you hand and then play them on the table. The cards have a points value and if one player can't match or beat the points that the other player puts down they lose that round. One analogy might be the game of "War" if you had a hand of cards to choose from rather than just picking a card from the top of the deck.

Now given that I've disliked the game of War for forty years, why is Blue Moon any fun at all? The Blue Moon decks include a good number of cards with special abilities or effects. Further, each deck has some high value cards and some mediocre ones. Finally, each deck has cards with special abilities that can be played alongside your regular cards. Each deck has different special abilities so your game is going to change based on the alien race you're playing. The result is that a player has to decide when to use better cards, when to retreat before a stronger opponent's hand, and when to use the various boosters and support cards. Further, your game will vary based on which alien race you're playing.

We have played Blue Moon a number of times now and we've been struck by several good qualities. The simplicity of the rules is a real bonus. In addition the entire game may last only thirty minutes. The alien races are all very interesting and colorful and I like the idea that each one is going to play a little differently. I'm looking forward to seeing which is my favorite and developing some tricks and strategies specific to that race.

Simplicity, speed of play, and colorful components are all good things. Sadly, Blue Moon has two drawbacks. For one it may be difficult to find and you may have to order it from Fantasy Flight Games or Funagain. The second issue is a bit trickier. The artwork on the cards seems to feature very fit people wearing scraps of cloth or feathers. I'm not sure it's any more revealing than the outfits worn for beach volleyball, but do you necessarily want to buy your kids a game featuring scantily clad beach volleyball players, space aliens, or a mix of the two? The art has been a source of dismay for many parents and prospective owners of the Blue Moon game would be well advised to think about the issue before buying.

I think Blue Moon combines simplicity of play with room for strategic depth. If the game art doesn't offend then this is a great addition to the game library of older players and adults.

Pros: simple, strategic, fast, colorful art

Cons: Blue Moon has blue art

Beyond the Basics: lots of room to improve, master the various races and decks

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