#117 – Millennium Blades

Box

Base price: $80.
2 – 4 players.
Play time: ~ 2 hours. Setup takes a while, too.
BGG Link
Buy on Amazon! (via What’s Eric Playing?)

It’s finally time. I’ve been waiting to review this game for pretty much a year or something, and I finally have played it enough that I think I have cohesive points I can make. Get hyped. Even better, it’s my Bloggiversary on July 11th, so I’m also going to be doing a giveaway of some other games I’ve enjoyed. Check it out here!

Note: Some photos may contain parts of the game from the expansion. Who even knows.

Millennium Blades is a “CCG simulator”, or a game about the act of buying, collecting, and playing a collectible card game like Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic: The Gathering, or the Pokemon Trading Card Game. In it, you play as a character who dreams of becoming the Millennium Blades World Champion, but starts out with just a starter deck and a few booster packs. Along the way, you’ll build a deck, trade with friends, fuse cards, compete in tournaments, score promos, buy cards, sell cards, construct a collection, and much more. In fact, you’ll probably do all of that more than once. Is your Millennium Blades star on the rise?

Contents

Setup

So, uh, bear with me. This will take you a long time.

If it’s your first time playing, you’ll notice that there are a bunch of Millennium Dollars:

Millennium Dollars

And a bunch of stickers. This is for you to wrap the money like the bank teller you always dreamed you’d be. You’ll want to use 10 Millennium Dollars in each stack.

I’ll give you some time to do that. In fact, I’d recommend doing that long before you play the game, because it took me a few hours.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to give each player a double-sided player board, preferably on the Deck Area side:

Player Boards

Generally, unless it’s your first game, you’ll start with the Deckbuilding Phase / Side.

Next, put the Store and Aftermarket Boards in the center of the table:

Market Boards

This is where you’ll buy and sell cards, and more! Now, for the fun parts. You’ll notice that there are a nearly-uncountable number of cards:

Cards 1 Small

You’ll want to get them into a somewhat playable state. First, take the Core Set:

Core Cards

Then, pick five Expansion Sets:

Expansion Sets

Four Premium Sets:

Premium Sets

Three Master Sets:

Master Sets

Two Bronze Promos:

Bronze Promos

Two Silver Promos:

Silver Promos

And one Gold Promo Set:

Gold Promos

Set the promos aside, for now, and shuffle the Core, Expansion, Premium, and Master sets into one massive deck. Now, shuffle the Type and Element Metagame card sets:

Metagame Cards.jpg

Set those on the Aftermarket Board. Also, put a set of Bronze, Silver, and Gold Promos on the Aftermarket Board. You’ll keep an extra set of Bronze and Silver Promos as prizes for the Tournaments.

Now, give each player a Starter Deck (or let them choose):

Starter Decks

Also give them a Character card and the six Friendship cards corresponding to them:

Characters + Friendship

If you’re playing with two players, you won’t use any Friendship cards. Sad! Maybe the real friends were nobody, all along.

Give each player Sell Markers:

Sell Markers

  • 2 Players: 6 Sell Markers (two sets)
  • 3 Players: 4 Sell Markers
  • 4+ Players: 3 Sell Markers

Give each player three cards off the top of the Store Deck, and you should be about ready to begin!

Setup

Well that’s almost everything. If you wanna make things weird, you can also throw in a Venue card, which adds in extra rules for the game:

Venue Cards

Maybe don’t do that in your first game?

Gameplay

So, the game’s broken down into multiple phases: usually three Deckbuilding Phases and three Tournament Phases. There are some nuances to each of these, so I’ll cover them as we get through them.

Essentially, Millennium Blades is a game of collecting Victory Points in four ways:

  • Friendship Cards
  • Collections
  • Money
  • Tournament Victories

Whoever can collect the most, wins! In a two-player game, this is a bit different — the winner is just whichever player wins two tournaments first. I’ll cover the minor differences this causes as we cover them.

That said, if it’s your first game, as previously stated, you might want to do the Pre-Release Tournament instead. This skips the first Deckbuilding Phase and launches straight into a tournament with lower stakes. During the Pre-Release:

  • No Metagame cards are revealed.
  • Points awarded are much lower.
  • Players may only use their Starter Decks. No other fancy cards allowed!

If you do this, skip the final deckbuilding and tournament rounds at the end of the game.

If not, let’s start with Deckbuilding.

Deckbuilding

So, if you’re going to go to the tournament, you need the right deck to win. Thankfully, your local store carries a lot of great cards that you can buy, and they’ll happily buy cards from you as well. You can also turn cards into promotional cards via the Millennium Blades Rewards Program or something. There’s even more options, so let’s just get right to it. Before we do, I should note that there are three types of cards, generally:

Card Types

Those are Singles, Accessories, and Deck Boxes. These are important to keep in mind for the entire game. Generally, they have a title, and then from top to bottom they have:

  • Star Rating
  • Element (optional)
  • Type (optional)
  • Rarity

All Singles will have Elements and Types (generally), but not all Deck Boxes or Accessories will. These will be important to keep in mind as you build your deck.

When the Deckbuilding Phases begin, you will always do the following:

  1. Make sure your player board is on the Deckbuilding side, and put all your cards into a stack on the “Binder” section.
  2. Give each player 30 Millennium Dollars as income.
  3. Each player draws 6 cards from the top of the Store deck. Do not look at these until time starts.
  4. Fill the empty Market with 9 cards from the top of the Store deck, face-down. These are booster packs that are available to buy.
    • You might be wondering why there is only one card in each booster pack. That’s because in Millennium Blades, common and uncommon cards are abstracted out into the deck box cards, and booster packs are the single rare (or better) card that’s left.
  5. Make sure all players have the correct number of sell markers. See Setup for the counts.
  6. Discard any Metagame cards that are face-up and reveal a new Elemental Metagame card.

The deckbuilding phase is going to take place over 20 real-time minutes. But before you set those timers, it’ll be split into three rounds. During each of those rounds, you can usually do the following actions as often as you are able:

  • Build your deck.
  • Make a collection.
  • Buy a booster pack from the Store.
  • Sell a card to the Aftermarket.
  • Buy a card from the Aftermarket.
  • Fuse cards from your binder to obtain a Promo.
  • Trade with other players.

Let’s cover each in turn. Before we do, there is one extremely important rule that I should mention:

Don’t be a jerk about the timer.

This just means that you should give people a bit of a grace period at the end of each phase, and you should feel free to pause the timer if people need some rules explained. That said, if a player has, for instance, forgotten to use their player power during the Deckbuilding Phase, that’s just an error. It happens, but you might need to move on.

Build Your Deck

Alright, so, you have certain rules for the tournament: your deck must be (unless otherwise stated), 8 Singles, 1 Deck Box, and 2 Accessories. If you’re over in any of those categories, you must randomly discard until you get to the right number in that category. Don’t do that.

You can only have one copy of a card in your deck. Again, unless otherwise stated.

You’ll usually only play 6 cards, so keep the other 2 in case something bad happens. You can, at any point in the Deckbuilding Phase, add or trade or remove cards to/from your deck. Just make sure your deck is ready when time runs out.

Make a Collection

Collections are a set of 2-8 cards that have a matching symbol, either of a specific Type or a specific Element. In order to be part of a collection, though, they must all have a different Star Rating. You can put cards in a stack on your collection area, and they’ll score points at the end of the Deckbuilding Phase. Keep in mind, though, that any cards added to your collection will be removed from the game when the Deckbuilding Phase ends. You can’t play with these cards, they need to be kept in mint condition!

Generally, you score Victory Points for cards in your collection:

  • 1 Card: 0 points. Don’t do this.
  • 2 Cards: 2 points
  • 3 Cards: 4 points 
  • 4 Cards: 7 points
  • 5 Cards: 9 points
  • 6 Cards: 12 points
  • 7 Cards: 16 points
  • 8 Cards: 21 points

You can only make one collection per Deckbuilding Phase. If you are playing a two-player game, you may make two collections: one Type (same type, different Star Ratings) and one Element (same element, different Star Ratings) collection. Instead of points, you earn 10 RP per card in your collection at the next Tournament.

Buy a Booster Pack

For this one, pick any card in the Store (or the top card of the Store Deck) and pay the cost (the number in the top-right corner) to take the card. You may now flip it over and see what you got!

You refill that spot immediately, and if the Store Deck runs out of cards, shuffle the discard pile to create a new Store Deck.

Sell a Card to the Aftermarket

For this one, you can sell cards to the aftermarket, where they might get bought by other players. To do this, place a card you want to sell and a Sell Marker into the Aftermarket, and immediately take X Millennium Dollars, where X is the card’s Star Rating. You don’t have to wait for the card to sell to get your money, but you do use a Sell Marker. If you have no more Sell Markers, you cannot sell more cards. 

Note that there is no limit to the size of the Aftermarket during the Deckbuilding Phase.

Note also that in the third round of the Deckbuilding Phase, the Aftermarket stops accepting cards for sale. Focus on building your deck, instead.

Buy a Card from the Aftermarket

Just pick a card from the Aftermarket and pay X Millennium Dollars to the bank, where X is the card’s Star Rating. The Sell Marker on the card goes back to its owner, which is also nice for them.

Fuse Cards

If you have a lot of trash cards, you can trade them in for powerful promotional cards. Do this by choosing a type of Fusion, and then removing the required number of cards from the game. No getting them back, kiddos.

  • Bronze Fusion: 5 cards
  • Silver Fusion: 7 cards
  • Gold Fusion: 9 cards

Note two things:

  • You must discard a Sell Marker to fuse cards. That’s just how that works.
  • You may not perform more than one Card Fusion of a specific type per Deckbuilding Phase. That’s a commonly missed rule.

Trade Cards

Time to make some friends! You can trade with other players at any time by bypassing the Aftermarket. The thing is, though, you’re too interested in friendship to take advantage of anyone, so all trades must be equal value trades. This solves so many problems I have with trading, as well.

You can trade the following:

  • Cards (value is their Star Rating)
  • Millennium Dollars (value is its denomination)

So, for instance, if I want to trade a 6-Star card, the other player can give me a 4-Star card and 2 Millennium Dollars.

Sometimes a trade is clearly more beneficial for one side than another. When this is the case, you can give the other player one of those Friendship Cards you got at the start of the game:

Characters + Friendship

These are worth points at the end of the game. You can only score up to 6 points via any single player’s Friendship cards. Friendship cards have no explicit value, so they can be included in trades at no additional cost.

The Deckbuilding Phase: Rounds

Alright, you know what you can do, so here’s how the Phase works:

  • Get new cards + income.
  • Reveal Element Meta
  • 7-Minute Timer (Round 1)
  • Get more cards. Every player gets another 6 cards from the top of the Store Deck.
  • Reveal Type Meta
  • 7-Minute Timer (Round 2)
  • Aftermarket Closes for Selling Cards. You may still buy cards from the Aftermarket.
  • 6-Minute Timer (Round 3)
  • End of Deckbuilding
    • Score Collections
    • Discard all cards in the Market and Aftermarket

Once you’ve done that, move on to the Tournament!

Tournament

So, you’re here. It’s time to d-d-d-d-d-definitely start playing some cards. Unlike the Deckbuilding Phase, which is real-time, the Tournament is turn-based, so you can get that heart rate down. Everything is gonna be okay.

Start by having every player flip their Player Board to the Tournament Side. They should put their Deck Box and Accessories in the specified areas and make sure they have the correct numbers of all other cards: 8 Singles, 2 Accessories, 1 Deck Box. Again, you must randomly discard down to the right value in a category if you’re over.

Add your player tokens to the 000, 00, and 0 spaces on your RP counter track.

If you won the previous tournament, you go first. Otherwise, choose randomly.

During the Tournament, you have two options on your turn:

  • Do an Action (optional): This allows you to use an effect on a card, provided the effect is preceded by “Action:“. Once you’ve resolved the effect of the action, flip the card face-down. You’ll generally see these on Accessories, but some Singles have them, too.
  • Play a Single (mandatory): Play a card to the left-most slot on your Tableau. Many cards will have a “Play” effect that causes something to happen when played. Unless otherwise stated, play cards face-up, as well. Most cards will either mess with your opponent or give you Ranking Points, or RP. These simulate your performance in a multi-round tournament, and the player with the most wins the tournament at its conclusion. If you cannot play a Single, you must pass (either because you’re out of cards or you’ve hit the limit on the number of Singles you can play). If all players pass in succession, the Tournament Phase ends.

While on that subject, let me explain the common words that appear on cards. There are other, set-specific ones, but that might be a you-thing to figure out.

  • Play: This is a mandatory effect that occurs when the card is played. Even while its effect is resolving, it’s considered to be “in play”.
  • Next: This effect resolves when you play another card, no matter whose turn it is or where in your tableau the card gets played.
  • Flip: This effect occurs only when this card is flipped face-down by another effect. You cannot choose to flip cards unless you’re using an Action of that card or it’s targeted by another card’s effect.
  • Ongoing: This effect is continuously occurring as long as the card is face-up in your tableau.
  • Top: As long as this card is the Top card (the right-most face-up card in your tableau), this effect will continue to occur. Note that if you play a card to the right of this and it gets flipped face-down, this card is still the Top card. That could be handy.
  • Score: This effect only occurs at the end of the tournament. Usually it will affect your RP in some way.
  • Reaction: This card can be activated when another effect is activated. If an Action triggers this Reaction, the card with the Action that triggered the Reaction is flipped face-down. We’ve asserted that the Action still happens to everyone else, even if your Reaction negates the Action for you, unless otherwise stated. Reactions are the only optional effect I’ve listed.
  • Clash: Some cards allow you to clash with another player or players. For this, you reveal the top card of the Store deck and add its Star Rating to your Top card’s Star Rating. Every player you’re clashing with in turn order after you does the same. The person with the highest total wins. There are a few caveats:
    • If there is a tie for winner, nobody wins. 
    • To clash with a player, they must have a Top card. If they only have face-down cards or they haven’t played anything, then they cannot clash and neither win nor lose.
    • If you clashed with no player, the clash did not occur. You didn’t win; no clash happened.
    • Put all cards flipped from the Store deck in the clash into the Aftermarket. Who knows what’ll happen with those. However, you can only have 12 cards in the Aftermarket in the Tournament Phase. If adding the clash cards would overfill the Aftermarket, discard all the cards in the Aftermarket before adding any cards.

There are also some general terms that are useful to know, here.

  • Discard a card: Generally you discard cards to your Binder. They’re removed from the tournament, but not the game.
  • Reveal a card: You show a card in your hand to other players. It goes back to your hand.
  • Reveal a face-down card: You show a card that’s currently face-down to other players. It goes back to being face-down afterwards.
  • Flip a card: You flip a face-up card face-down, according to the rules on the card. Some cards cannot be flipped, though. Face-down cards cannot be flipped face-up with any of these effects — they must be specifically targeted by a card that flips face-down cards face-up.
  • Cannot be flipped: These cards cannot be flipped under normal circumstances. However, they’re not foolproof. For instance, if the card says “Your opponent must flip the card with the highest Star Rating in their tableau”, then you ignore that effect if that card has “Cannot be flipped”. However, if it says “your opponent chooses a card in their tableau and flips it” then you must pick a card that can be flipped.
  • Star Symbols: Certain cards will give you +1 or +3 Star Tokens. These increase the Star Rating of the cards they’re placed on for all intents and purposes, including clashes. Fun!
  • Infinite loop: It is apparently theoretically possible to create a chain of causal effects that cannot be stopped. If you have done so, you have managed to break the game and should be both rewarded and promptly banned.
    1. Your entire tournament setup (Deck Box, Accessories, and all cards in your deck) is removed from the game. You get Millennium Dollars equal to the combined Star Rating of every card in your deck. If it’s the last round, you do not gain Millennium Dollars. 
    2. You are removed from the Tournament. You get Victory Points as if you got first place, though. This doesn’t mean that someone can’t get first place, just that you got those points, too.
    3. Everyone should be at least a bit impressed. If this has ever happened to you, please let me know in the comments. I want to live vicariously through you.

Once all players have passed, the Tournament Phase ends.

End of Tournament

  1. Activate all Score effects. There’s an ordering to this:
    1. Singles
    2. Deck Boxes
    3. Accessories
    4. Metagame Cards (note that these only apply to face-up cards in your tableau)
  2. Award VP. Check Ranking Points and see who placed where, then use this helpful table to award the appropriate number of VP:
    Round 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Prize Support
    Pre-Release 7 VP 5 VP 4 VP 3 VP 2 VP None
    1 21 VP 15 VP 12 VP 9 VP 6 VP Bronze
    2 28 VP 20 VP 16 VP 12 VP 8 VP Silver
    Final 42 VP 30 VP 24 VP 18 VP 12 VP None (Game Ends)

    If there’s a tie, add the points for all the tied places and split them evenly. (If there’s a 5-way tie for 1st in the Pre-release, everyone gets (7 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2) = 20 / 5 = 4 points.

  3. Prize Support. Each player gets a random promo from the two promo sets you left out at the start of the game, like, 3000+ words ago. We were different people then.
  4. (Variant) Pro Player Cards. If you’d like to play with this variant, also give each player a copy of the tournament winner’s Pro Player card:Pro Player CardsIt’s a card themed around their ability that you can use in your deck! Wow. If the same player wins the first and second tournaments, give out a copy of the second place player’s Pro Card.
  5. Check for Game End. If this is not the final round, go back to Deckbuilding for more of that. Give everyone back their Sell Markers. If this is the Final Round, do final scoring.

Game End

As mentioned previously, the game ending scoring works like this:

  1. Tournament Victories
  2. Collection Points
  3. Remaining Money / 4
  4. Friendship Cards

Total your points from that, and the player with the most points wins!

Player Count Differences

I mean, there’s the entire separate two-player variant, but other than that it kinda seems to play similarly at any player count. I’d probably focus on two and three because it gets kind of hectic past that point and it’s hard to process everything that’s going on already, to say nothing of adding in additional players. I do like the two-player version a lot, though.

Strategy

Woo boy.

  • Read the cards. I think the first problem that a lot of players have is that they read the cards hastily and miss effects or interactions or mandatory keywords. Given the nuance that can be required for some combos, this can completely mess you up.
  • You can go wide or go deep and still probably win, provided you don’t neglect other areas. I’ve seen a bunch of different playstyles. Heck, the last person I played with won because he scored 22 points off of money. That’s … 90 Millennium Dollars, give or take. That said, you’re going to be tough to beat if you win every tournament, but if you get second place in every tournament and you consistently have a 12- or 16-point collection, there’s probably no stopping you, either. Just try to maintain a bit of width and not go purely in one direction.
  • There are a lot of areas where you could potentially lose the game for yourself. Try to cover them, but understand that the same is true for your opponent. There will be a lot of places where you should have done something different or could have played better, and that’s part of the beauty of this game. You don’t need to play a perfect game to win, since your opponents are going to be making mistakes and misplays as well. Try to capitalize on theirs while minimizing yours, obviously, but also don’t get too into your own head if you make a mistake. It happens.
  • You don’t need to win all the tournaments to win. Like I said, second place isn’t a bad place to be. You could have gotten money or Friendship to help the player that ended up winning, and they might have won even if you hadn’t helped them. That can be what swings a game, from time to time.
  • Friendship is good, to a certain extent. Getting other players’ Friendship cards will give you a maximum of 6 extra points, so be smart about it. That can be a lot of points if you’re very, very nice.
  • You generally want to be scoring successively more points in each tournament. I know this seems obvious, but remember that players will have seen a lot of cards by the end of the game, so their final tournament deck will be probably their highest scoring. I’ve seen decks hit 300+, before. They’re not to be trifled with.
  • Don’t forget about money. Like I said, friend won the game via his 22 money points. Spending money is fine, but every 4 Millennium Dollars is 1 endgame point. Just keep that in mind.
  • In the first tournament, it’s not a bad idea to just go with what you started with. If you try to diversify too much, you may end up without a cohesive strategy, which will have you start at a loss. You should always keep your starter deck available as an option.
  • I’d advise playing defensively for the first tournament and maybe the second tournament, but you should go for a megacombo in the final tournament. This, of course, assumes you can’t disrupt another player’s megacombo while still playing yours, sure, but in general all players that I’ve played with start with a bit of take-that and gradually move away from that as they focus on just scoring as much as possible.
  • Avoiding scoring points until the Score phase isn’t bad, but be careful, as it makes you vulnerable. So if you tend to score points via Play effects, you’re vulnerable to cards that cause you to instantly lose points (since you actually have points to lose). If you’re focused on Score effects, that’s not as big of a deal, but it does mean that you could potentially get the wrong card flipped and lose big. If you are going to flip someone’s card, generally try to flip cards with Score effects, rather than Play or Flip effects.
  • Keep an eye on the top card of the Store when you’re considering a clash. You can usually tell what set it’s from from the back, and you’ll get that card if you clash with someone. If it’s a Master set, your odds are good. If it’s not, well, you’re taking a risk.
  • Generally, being flexible is good. Try to have as many options as possible. It’s even better if you can bring in more cards and play more cards to your Tableau, as that gives you more room to be flexible. It’s also a good thing to build up multiple collections so you can see what you can trade for or get on your own.
  • Use your Character Power. They’re there for a reason, and they should somewhat inform your play style. They can also be incredibly useful.
  • Understand where the sets synergize with each other and where they’re strongest on their own. Certain sets have a lot of internal synergy (Rubber Ducky Maid Crusaders is one really good example), but even then you might be able to take aspects of those cards and make them work for you. Element / Type synergies are particularly useful in that regard.
  • Don’t really bother trying to block your opponents too much during deckbuilding. They’ll generally be able to get the card you’re trying to keep from them unless you have the only one from the set. Then you should just tear it up so it can never be used against you, just like a Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Or don’t do that. Your call. Even then, it might be a good idea to give them the card. Maybe they were going to win the tournament anyways and you can get something for your collection or Friendship.
  • Only fuse trash, but don’t fuse all your trash. You need various star ratings for collections, so try not to fuse all your 1-value cards just because you can’t sell them. That makes things difficult.  You can also trade these to other players for some money, which can be useful.
  • Always make a collection. It’s free points for trash cards. Just go for it.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • The theme. It’s essentially a game all about playing Yu-Gi-Oh / Magic: the Gathering, complete with booster packs, friendship, showdowns, and all sorts of other random nonsense. Add in the Character Powers and you’ve got an even more thematic experience. Honestly, it’s the perfect theme for a game for me.
  • The paper money is super fun. Normally I’m a big fan of coins, but there’s something uniquely satisfying about dropping a stack of money on something.
  • The humor of the game resonates with me a lot, as well. It’s just enough tongue-in-cheek / parody to be excellent. I’m frequently laughing as I see certain cards / the flavor text on other cards. I also love all the knockoffs, like Exaltius the Untenable or the Legend of Tanananah: Link to the Ocarina’s Awakening of the Future Past. It’s all delightful.
  • The art. I have no idea how long this took to make and it stresses me out just thinking about it. There have to be hundreds, if not thousands of individual art assets, and they all seem pretty consistent.
  • The individual set themes are amazing. Not just the specific themes like the Firefly-parody or the Looney Tunes-parody or the Final Fantasy-parody, but also the sets themselves have distinctive (and consistent, strangely enough) themes within the cards themselves! For instance, the Super Plumber Bros.  can Thwomp low-value cards for a bonus. They’re pretty distinct, as well, giving you a ton of options each play (and letting you potentially screen out higher take-that elements, if you’d prefer to play with / without them).
  • Playing a megacombo feels incredibleIt’s super fulfilling to lay down an impressive sequence of cards, and honestly I’m excited to see other players do it as well! You can even potentially learn from their tournament-winning deck and buy either their cards or similar cards to buff your own deck.
  • Playtime is pretty consistent with the time on the box. It’s usually taken about two hours each play, on average. My longest was 2.5, but we had three new players, so everything took a bit longer.
  • The pre-release tournament is a great way to get new players ramped up. It’s nice to be able to skip a deckbuilding phase if you’d like to give players a taste of the strategy before dropping them into the game full-force. That said, if you’d prefer not to do that, just give every inexperienced player a Millennium Accessory (one of the Gold Promo sets). It definitely makes the game interesting.
  • The real-time deckbuilding aspect is a satisfying bit of strategic thinking. I like having to balance so many different things like the deckbuilding and collections and trading and buying and selling and fusing — it’s incredibly intense, but if you get in the swing of it it’s a TON of fun.
  • lot of different ways to approach winning. Do you want to focus just on money and let the tournaments just do their own thing? Are you more friendship-oriented where you’ll trade away great cards for friendship and then still pull through in the tournament? Will it be your collections that win the day by cementing yourself as a master Millennium Blades collector? Or are you just good at playing cards?
  • ton of variety (not just the cards!). Like I said, there are a bunch of different ways to win, but also a ton of different sets, so there are always more strategies to unlock. If that’s not enough for you, there are also extra things you can include, like Character Powers, or Venues (cards that change the nature of the tournaments!), or Pro Player Cards (special promo cards that essentially let you use another player’s ability) or so much more. I hear the expansion has a cooperative mode…

Mehs

  • Since it’s a combobuilder, you have a high chance that your carefully-laid-plan is going to get ruined. This can cause some consternation for some players. That’s about all there is to say, here. Take-that isn’t my favorite aspect of a game, but it’s fairly easy to downplay. For one, the game gradually shifts away from that over the course of it because players start wanting to drop egregious combos rather than attack each other. You can also remove flip- / discard-heavy sets from the game and not play with them, if you’d prefer.
  • I still occasionally have nightmares about wrapping up Millennium Dollars. It seriously took three hours. And I was focused.
  • I wish “Flip:” was “When Flipped:”. A lot of players think that they can flip “Flip:” cards as an action, and that’s not the case. Oh well.
  • The rulebook can be a bit tough to parse. There’s a lot going on, it’s not always ordered, and there’s a bit of flavor text, which can get in the way of other, important boxes. I’ve definitely messed up a few rules by not seeing them each time. It helps a bit once you note that the blue boxes tend to be flavor text, while the red boxes are usually important rules things.

Cons

  • It takes a while to set up and put away. Usually about half an hour each way, for me, but thankfully if you play with multiple people they can help stack stuff. There’s also an order to it, but you gotta figure that one out for yourself.

Overall: 10 / 10

In Progress

There it is. My first real 10 / 10 for a game (instead of an expansion, which was already snatched by Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals). Honestly? This is my favorite game in my collection, and I mean that. Every time I play it, win or lose, I want to play it again and fix whatever I messed up last time, but also play it completely differently because maybe a completely crazy play will pay off big. I love the theme, obviously, but I also love the clear effort put into making this game. It’s the feeling you get when you see someone’s like, magnum opus, and it’s an incredible product, from the uncountable number of unique art assets to the literally bajillion cards to the actual stacks of money I spent three hours putting together like some kind of bank teller fever dream. Sure, it’s a long game, and of course, it has some random elements, but that’s part of what makes the game incredible — the random elements are just you ducking and weaving whatever the game throws at you over a long enough sequence for you to go from “what the heck are even these cards” to “I have a super cohesive strategy that I’ve been planning for a while; this tournament’s in the bag” to the obvious “how the heck did I even lose that tournament?”. The game’s an absolute masterpiece of fun, thematic gameplay, and I would overwhelmingly recommend it to pretty much anyone that is willing to listen to me gush about it.

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