Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blue Moon

Sitting here in the Denver airport waiting for my final flight back to Seattle, my Nebraska trip has come to an end. It will be good to sleep in my own bed once again. I'm taking tomorrow off to recuperate from the trip, and then I'll have a nice short two-day week starting Thursday.

Every time I head to Nebraska I take a new game to introduce to my parents. This time it was Blue Moon, an out-of-print dueling card game by Reiner Knizia, one of the most prolific game designers around. It's a neat little game that's probably best described as "Magic Lite," but to call it a derivative of Magic is not really fair. Only the basic theme of two powerful leaders battling each other with creatures is the same; the other mechanics are quite different. There's the same sense of back-and-forth escalating power—and suspense at whether your opponent is going to play something powerful, or whether you're going to pull this one off—as Magic. But each duel is over in a couple minutes. Everything's simpler and more streamlined, and while it doesn't have quite the same strategic depth as Magic, it does have a lot of the same concepts and fun in a much smaller game. You don't track creature hit points or life points or mana or other resources; at the end of each turn your current strength is summed up in two words that you say to your opponent, such as "3 fire" or "7 earth." There's no card collecting, other than the additional expansion decks of cards you can buy to freshen things up—the expansions each contain a full set of cards with no need to buy more than one.

Knizia's quite an expert at producing moderately strategic games for two players, and Blue Moon seems like a great game for people who like Magic but feel like something shorter and cheaper, or people who would otherwise probably enjoy Magic but would prefer something less complicated. My mom is the latter, and she enjoyed the game so much that I left my brand-new copy there for my parents to play. I was able to order a new one, but it's getting harder to find, and as far as I can tell it's no longer being produced. At only seven or eight years now I don't really have much in the way of hard-to-find out-of-print games yet, but hopefully someday in the future I'll be very glad that I was able to pick up a copy before it was too late.

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