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Subject: 'Sugar & Spice & D-20 Dice' Review Chatter: Millennium Blades rss

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Hai Kulture
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‘HEY CHARLIE! ROLL THAT STAR WARSY SCROLLING INTRODUCTION !!!’







I wanted to start things off – well- EPIC! The hype train is pulling into the station and it’s : MILLENNIUM BLADES!

Wait? What’s that? YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF MILLENNIUM BLADES?!!? Seriously???? Where have you been for the past one thousand years? How did the Shamans of the Midwest survive without your hard earned money! Have you been living under a rock? Trapped under a flipped table and an avalanche of the Compleat BattleCON? Have you wasted decades trying to get the Bottom of the 9th Kickstarter to fit back into the box? And yes – I know Bot9 is not a Level 99 product – but I needed a joke about something tedious you were doing while not playing Millennium Blades. There it was on my game shelf as I looked over while typing this– all lopsided lid and mocking me. Mocking, mocking…although that’s not the point...

The point is: MILLENNIUM BLADES!

And don’t worry about missing the boat (even if it was a cruise longer than Odysseus returning to Ithaca)

Level 99 has a ‘best of’ Millennium Blades in one big box. No commons. No fillers. No swamps. It’s brimming with professional tournament heavy hitters. It’s a board game that’s a card game that simulates a collectible card game. In fact- it simulates CCG Life.

Read on True Be-Bladers…





Between a Clock and a Card Place



Millennium Blades
simulates the CCG world from booster buying and deck tinkering through tournament play with gratifying sweeps and agonizing defeats. The game plays in about two hours through 3 repetitions of two distinct phases: The Deck Building Phase (A real time – dare I say it – ‘Card Gathering’ round) and The Tournament Phase (A mechanically simple yet deep and puzzley tableau card play round).

Before getting into the gist and gel of the phases, let’s talk about The BLADES DECK.

Not a deck. Not your deck.

THE BLADES DECK.

All caps.

Respect and gravitas.






Millennium Blades is a card game about cards. A lot of cards. A capital D-E-C-K deck.


The true centerpiece of Millennium Blades is the BLADES DECK.


This main deck is composed of a foundation of 118 Core cards (solid anchor cards, tournament advantage accessories, and the rare gem of a find) shuffled with 12 swappable mini decks of 12 cards representing boosters and expansions (decks focusing on various mechanics and themes).


That’s the BLADES DECK.


A monolith of 250+ cards sitting smack dab in the center of the table.


And it is glorious!






How does one purchase, ponder, and paw through all that card stock?

DECK BUILDING

The deck building phase is a real-time phase of 20 minutes broken into shifts of 7, 7, and 6 minutes where players can take any action they want, as much or as little as they see fit, until time runs out. You have oodles of options in those 20 minutes which paradoxically seems like plenty of time and feels like not enough. There’s plenty of chaos as time ticks down and you’re trying to cobble together some order in constructing a tournament ready deck.

Looking for that perfect world beating card? Purchase a face down card blind from the Store with stacks of fat cash. Sure you only know the general set, but tearing open that metaphorical booster might just let you sweep the coming tourney. You might find an Accessory to give your faltering deck a jolt against the Cards of War. A Deck Box could give you mad points, if you fill your hand and tournament tableau with just the right cards. You know, you just know in your Heart of Cardness that when you flip it over that this is the Grail Card you have been cash questing for...

Or not…

Hit the Aftermarket and sell that useless bit of cardage for some quick cashola. While you are there, make sure to peruse the face up throwaways from other players. You know what you are getting here and they may have foolishly put up for sale exactly what you need. Or perhaps they are holding a card most useful and with a smile, a little coercion, and coinage you can make a trade. Tuck away those ‘maybe usefuls’ in your Binder card pool for later. Have you been accumulating a little too much starchy cardboard fat? Burn away your excess by building a Set Collection for some spare endgame VP or fuse a wad of cards into a draw from those tempting promos decks.

The clock’s ticking - but there’s time to buy one more card, right?

Hold on – I might want to swap something in from the binder that might be just a little better now that I think about it…

Wait! Why am I standing here typing at you?!!

I need to get ready for the tourna…

*BUZZ*

Time to make the best of what you’ve got.




TOURNAMENT TIME


We’ve all heard of the calm before the storm. There is none in Millennium Blades. The deck building phase is a real time physical storm of card grabbing and deck building. It is a mental storm of trying to figure out what you want to do later in the tournament while doing a bunch of sifting and organizing in the now.

Deck building is the Chaotic Storm. The tournament is the calmer storm after the storm.

The Storm of Order.

Players take 8 card ‘singles’ (6 to normally play – 2 for just-in-case back up plans), a Deck Box, and two Accessories and sit down to a calm and orderly turn by turn game of Tournament Simulation. All the rules you need are there on the cards.

Play a Card, and if you so choose, Take an Action.

That’s it.

All very civilized.

*snicker*

If the deck building phase is about grabbing cards, the tournament is about grabbing Ranking Points. Massive amounts of Ranking Points gained through combos, chains, and slick card play. Those sweet, sweet rankings are what being a Blader is all about. Sure those Ranking Points win you the tourney and then pare down to a few dozen Victory Points to sock away on the scorecard for end game, but it is much more fun and flaunty to sweep those Rankies up along the way. Did I mention MASSIVE amounts? Oh and occasionally beat down your opponents as you go – that’s bunches of fun also.

And all this comes down to playing six cards, turn by turn, in a tableau and utilizing their own card effects in the best possible way.

Some of the main effects to consider are PLAY, FLIP, SCORE, and ACTION. PLAY effects take place as soon as your card hits the tableau. FLIP effects happen if somehow the card turns face down through other effects. Flipped cards are considered textless, attributeless dead placeholders. SCORE effects enter play come the tournament end, so long as that card remains face up, of course. And ACTION – well - we find ourselves at that if-you-choose crossroads I mentioned above. Flipping an ACTION card face down activates the effect while blanking the card out. Have a SCORE card granting RPs for every Dark symbol come tournament end and an ACTION card with said Dark symbol? It’s time to weigh plusses and minuses against RPs.

There are also cards granting ONGOING effects as long as they remain unflipped. TOP cards have power throughout rounds as long as they stay the face up card closest to the front of your tableau parade. Your front cards may CLASH with opponents or you can REACT to stop an opponent’s savvy move dead in its tracks.

From the Storm of Chaos came 6 proud cards, jigsawed together into combos and power plays.

Literally, it’s about playing your cards right.

Oh – and those massive amounts of RPs for doing so, of course.




Final-ishious Thoughts (in a roundabout way)

I really like this game and that should be fairly obvious. Umbrellas up for the positivity shower.

I’ve played the game almost two dozen times over the past few weeks with various gaming groups, CCG loving Magic Users and CCG avoiding Poke-nons alike. Many walked away wanting to play again for various reasons – most still seeking that ‘one last card’. However, these are my final thoughts – so enough of them, back to me.

E-Harmony

Popping over to the main page, Millennium Blades is touted as ‘at its heart a Commodity Trading Game…’ and there’s been some Talking Heads chattering away and tossing about the word ‘Economics’.

If I squint really hard I can see that. Personally, I find all that buying and selling and trading not to be ‘stocky markety ‘ but ‘Ebay in the moment’. Unless you have something someone wants, you are probably going to wind up with less than you paid for.

The buying and selling and burning cards for points and promos, I can’t help but peel away the veneer and see the man behind the curtain: a way of gaining and discarding cards. It isn’t quite deck drawing and it isn’t quite drafting. It’s a hybrid. It is clever, satisfying, downright brilliant fun, and CCG sims to a tee, but I am just not seeing the ‘stock’ in card stock.

Accumulating Cold Card Cash isn’t getting you the bulk of your end game VPs, playing cards are what gets you there.

I see the cards and plenty of them and that’s what I love.

I told you that BLADES DECK was the centerpiece for me.

Feel free to keep your Economics. I’m going to throw a few more E’s into the mix.

Exploration, Experimentation, and Evolution.

All those little 12 card meta-boosters that get mixed into the monolithic deck - they all focus on different mechanics and thematics. Some protect your deck. Some destroy others. Some destroy your own tableau for the gamble on those massive Rankies. Some like to flip. Some challenge you to keep them steadfast to the end. They each favor and flavor some effect or aspect of tournament play.

Figuring most people I was going to play the game with weren’t going to opt for a ‘sit around my kitchen table’ card study session like I had access to, I leveled the playing field. I studied the starter decks and some random cores for purposes of fielding questions, but I’ve been playing the boosters blind. The thrill of exploring the decks and what they can or can’t do for my any-given-night’s play style and the experimentation with different combinations of mechanical twists is a real high point in my book.

And now the Evolution. During my first game, I burned a wad of cards on a promo. Legend of Final Badass. I was flying blind, but it sounds pretty epic, doesn’t it? I scooped up my card and…High Star Rating (ok that is coveted by some, but not for the Tournament deck I was building) …and absolutely no table flip worthy special power I was expecting.

WHAT?!!!?


*cue the Ernie and Bert sad clown oboe*

I threw it down in the Aftermarket in disgust and scooped up my re-coop cash. Joke’s on me. I assumed I just fell victim to a bad draw. I returned to Fusion Central with another stack of cheapos a little later. Same idea, different symbol. Off to the Aftermarket with ye and an attempt at re-coop cash that was flung at someone across the table having a chuckle at my expense.

What’s that Charlie? Oh yeah – the paper money. I know. I know all the other reviews love a discourse on paper money. Let’s just say – it’s there. It is fun to fan in front of your face and throw around the table and that guy on the receiving end of my wrath should be happy Mr. Talton with the Hat doesn’t have a kink for poker chips. ‘nuff said.

But back to those cards and the dulcet tones of sad clown oboe. Three games later I stumbled across another card from another deck and all those giant Star Ratings made sense - made Red Wedding Tournament Coup sense - and Badassery was no longer the promo du jour.

Again – not poker chips – be thankful.

And that's how the Evolution of this game works, like real evolution over time and without realization. Most of those ‘interesting potentials’ I slide into my binder in any given game get peeked at again once or twice, but never really see the light of play because I’m focused on what’s running hot for me at the moment and how to tweak it over the edge. A few games later I wish that binder was a reality because I don’t have the same cards and I’m cobbling together a new strategy and they would have been perfect. Dots get connected between games while still playing in the now. After half a dozen games with a dedicated group, you can almost hear the mental clicking and people begin asking for and desperately seeking “The Guy…you know the one who did the Thing”.

I'm sure in time we'll be playing like the Power Players we represent.

The play’s the thing and it begins evolving.

Keep your Economics. I’m in it for the Exploration, Experimentation, and Evolution.

After a dozen plays I still feel like I am splashing my toes around in the card bath.

Millennium Blades for all its simulation and parodying of CCGs distills some of the best aspects of them in two hours…and across games.

It’s a beautiful thing

(At least I think so. I don’t really play CCGs. I mean it is what I gather from standing about 20 feet away from them at all times. )

(So..ummm…yeah…there’s that.)


All My Money Goes to Garfield University





There does seem to be unspoken question or two whispered on the winds.

As a CCG Sim, is Millennium Blades a game for CCGers?

Is it Niche-y?

Personally – I don’t think so.


I’ve never really played CCGs. I bought a Magic deck once - like you do - tried to fathom what this stack of cards had to do with the very tiny words on the fold out sheet of paper and gave up. A few people have tried to teach me since, but I tap out rather than tap mana. Pokemon was something crybaby boys cried about when their cards got stolen at summer camp. I just looked down and continued to eat my bologna sandwich quietly. The closest thing I have to a Perma-Deck in my game collection is a Mage Wars mini Trapper Keeper.

So nope – CCGs are not my bag…errr…deck box. However, I do know CCC.

Collectible Card Culture.

I know people buy decks and boosters – metric tons of little tear open boosters. I know decks are built. There are tournaments. There are Sealed Deck events and The Swiss-es (Swissi?). I have seen tables of people with cards lined up edge to edge going at it. I know if you don’t have enough trolls or goblins or some sort of minions in front of you, your wizard gets sucker punched in the gut and you had better start turning mountains sideways for biblical Frosted Flakes. I know the players gotta play-play-play and Charlizards gotta char-char-char or do something burny I imagine. I know new cards and decks and sets come out every other day so the House of M can be fed. I know the guy who spent $500 on cards will most likely always win out over the guy who spent $5.

I have a CC-Concept, even if I am not CC-Specific, as do most who game.

CCG is a known quantity in the Cardboard Kingdom. If you have ever been to a game store, visited a game site, or even walked through a Barnes and Nobles at a leisurely pace, you have probably bumped bums with something both collectible and cardy.

It is this nebulous Collectible Concept that comes from drinking the Cardboard Kool-aid at even the Gateway Level that makes Millennium Blades a fascinating concept. Not steeped in true CCG-Life I can’t say if Millennium Blades is an accurate CCG Sim – but it certainly relishes in CCG Concept.

I bought cards. I sold them. I built decks. I watched them decimate or disintegrate in tournaments. I had a blast and I didn’t care if the guy who spent $500 beat my $5 poor girl deck because it didn’t matter.

Paper money isn’t rent money.

I may not be a CCGer, but if playing my idea of one (which may indeed be the fuzzy piecemeal idea of one and all it entails) in board game form is as close as I come, I'm fine with that.

A bologna sandwich always tastes better when no one is sitting next to you hyperventilating 'Pikachu' through their tears anyway.

Bowing to the Com-sensus

Most card games have a bit of a sticky point. There’s always an easy, breezy rule book covering the basics and some highlights, then just when you think you have it all down comes that famous addendum:

If the effect of a card breaks one of the game’s rules, the card’s effect takes precedence.

*cue thundercrash and ominous musical sting*

So along with that rulebook getting passed around the table for the first game or two, you have a hundred other rules flying around the table:Cards.

It's a not very subtle Groucho nose and glasses disguise with cards. They're just rules with pictures on them.

Cards can be tricky things, my friends. They are like little textual prisms. Look at the one way and you may see the light. Put them in someone else's hands and the light may shine on a different facet. Look too closely and you may go blind.

Millennium Blades is no exception. It’s a CCG Sim – lots of cards and lots of lines of code to parse.

Some cards are very singular and stand alone, but in a game of playing cards off each other and creating chains and combos some cards that are crystal in one situation can get a little blurry rubbing elbows with another card.

When is a CGG not a CGG? When it is a CCG Sim and simulations don’t always run perfectly, but they still can press on.

Staying Cardio-Logical goes a long way in The Blades without a CRD. Even then there might be a hiccup.

In our times spent with Millennium Blades, we allowed the cards to do the talking. The cards are very ‘explicit’ in their wording and various uses of the standard effects. Too ‘implicit’ a player translation can lead to a side bar or two.

Common Sense’ and ‘Consensus’ are the watchwords in a game of Tournaments without any real judges.

If you think a card does what it explicitly says it does, you are probably right.

If three other people are shaking their heads at you while you try to squeeze Ranking blood from a cardboard stone, you are probably wrong.

Still not Niche-y, but Nietzsche

Millennium Blades is a CCG Sim – but it also a parody of CCG Culture. There’s plenty of reference humor and flavor text. Not only that but individual boosters skewer other objects of pop culture: video games, television, movies, and anime - lots and lots of anime. The humor ranges from the groan inducing obvious to the head scratching obscure and from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are plenty of chuckles and an equal amount of shrugs to be had. Even if Millennium Blades cuts a wide swath through the back alleys of nerd culture: does humor niche it?

I suppose that depends on how much any individual needs to get it to get into it.

Personally, I know as much about anime as I need to know and that’s very little, all things giant and robotic confuse me about Mecha-nation, and don’t even try to explain the hilarity of that Price Sculptor card. I’ve played Kingdom Hearts and know a terrible weapon when I see one, chuckled at those Plumber Bros, and thought the Firefly deck was genius. If two jokers on either side of me want to have a laugh about some giant robot comedy, feel free and waste time, lil ol me will be over here constructing her deck. I’ll just sneak off and Google why ‘Obari as Hell’ is funny when we take a break before the next Deck Building (which I did and still don’t get it.)

And don't even think about touching that Bert and Ernie sad clown oboe - I completely dominated that game.

So does referential humor and in-jokiness niche a game? (*cough* One towering Talking Head *cough* seemed to suggest so on the Tube while I was penning notes last week for this Chatter) I suppose it is all in the eye of the beholder, speaking of which, I need to take care of something.

Allow me to get my Time Phone.



“Hey Steve Jackson circa 2000 – you don’t know me, but I’m from the future. Yeah I know the whole ‘circa 2000’ should have been a bit of a clue in. Listen… What? No this isn’t that other Steve Jackson from Games Workshop pranking you. Really? I’m sorry he does that. Steve – are you crying? Stop it – just listen - these Time Calls aren’t cheap. You know that Munchkin game you have in the works? Pull the plug! It’s nichey. It’s referential. Nobody is going to get it unless they spent a year in an AD&D campaign fighting Gazebos. What’s that…uh huh…ok…The Floating Nose is a Beholder? Right…I’m not seeing it. There’s no money in it. I don't know. More Boat Wars? Listen… I understand you were planning on putting little bowler hats on the Wight Brothers. No game. No little bowler hats. I’m hanging up Steve."


Whew – that guy can talk your ear off.



Just give it a minute while the boards sort out all the timey-whimey wibbley-wobbley stuff.

One thing I will say is that Millennium Blades is a game of fictional Power Gamers playing the ultimate faux Power Game, but it might not be the game for certain flesh and blood Power Gamers or at least Power Gamers unwilling to step back and enjoy the fun. While you might be playing and planning to create the Ultimate Deck, can you ever be sure? There’s too many cards – too much uncertainty for some. The excess of Millennium Blades can limit access and a Power Gamer might never feel in control or find themselves facing a Nietzschean futility fatality. In crafting order from chaos – it comes down to making the best of what you have, which might not seem like enough. There’s unbalance, there’s overpowered cards and combos which are in the nature of poking the CCG beast in the belly and all in fun – but it might not be the idea of it for a certain mindset.

For others, well…

In the Designer’s Foreword Mr. Brad Talton of the Hat says that it is his hope that Millennium Blades ‘captures the emotions of playing a collectible card game: excitement, desperation, discovery, hope, dread, and camaraderie.’

And it does.

Any given game of Millennium Blades hits all those notes and then some. It’s an ambitious idea distilled into an accessible game of equal parts clever design, evolving game play, and tongue-in-cheek fun. It is a game that sits firmly in the middle ground of non-CCGs stepping up into a conceptual simulation and CCGs stepping down for a laugh at themselves. It is a game that lends itself and bends itself to a fair percentage of the tabletop and a far wider berth than a simple confining niche. What is there to say about a game that does exactly what it sets out to do, and does it with the Level 99 patented elegance and excess, but…



The Hai Mind Ranking: 9.9*



See you come Set Rotation for more...







[*** END TRANSMISSION *** ]


*Dear Brad, I am I am holding a tenth of a point hostage until you realize the functionality of dividers. Nothing fancy or plastic. Just ones with booster deck mechanic information printed for the various sets so they can be passed around as reference during game play. See you in Set Rotation! ---XOXO, Hai




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Markus
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HaiKulture wrote:

The Hai Mind Ranking: 9.9*






This is probably not intentional, but just so you know: hai translates into a shark in Finnish.

Thanks for the crazy review!
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DeePee wrote:


This is probably not intentional, but just so you know: hai translates into a shark in Finnish.

Thanks for the crazy review!


Haha! I use various facets of 'Hai' as an on-line persona, but I have never been a shark. It is funny how things work out like that.
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DeePee wrote:

This is probably not intentional, but just so you know: hai translates into a shark in Finnish.


Hai is shark in German, too

Thanks for the great review, Hai!
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That was insane. Read some of your other stuff and it is like falling down a rabbit hole. This one broke my spine. The layperson's understanding of CCG and phone conversation with SJG I have no words for.

But I will say it if you won't. I had no what Tom Vasel was muttering about either. Backhanded endorsement.
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mellyagain wrote:


Hai is shark in German, too

Thanks for the great review, Hai!


Well I can see sharks and Finns

But Germans also?

Haha Thanks

saucyjack wrote:


But I will say it if you won't. I had no what Tom Vasel was muttering about either. Backhanded endorsement.


SSSSSHHHH! He'll send Sam Healey over to kneecap us both!

I can't splash in the card bath of Millennium Blades wearing cement shoes! *wiggles toes*
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saucyjack wrote:
I had no what Tom Vasel was muttering about either. Backhanded endorsement.


I won't but I will say that I could lay a bet on what his standard opening intro was going to be:

It's a LEVEL 99 Game! I like Level 99 games *scrunchy face* but they always put too much game in the box. *scrunchier face* Why do they put so much game in the box. I am going to completely dismiss the fact that most of it is modular’




Yes please – Level 99 – stop with all the gamey goodness already! I am downright insulted by your history of producing the equivalent of FanFlight level games and two expansions right off the bat! *SCRINCHIEST FACE*

HUH? Seriously? *rolls eyes* Whatever. That just makes me laugh sadly because I have no idea why he deems that necessary.
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TREMBLE PETITE, AND THEREBY, PUNY BLADER! DARE YOU MOCK JEEVES STACKSON WITH YOUR COMEDIC COMMUNIQUé MOST TEMPORAL! I USED TO PUT GAMES IN ZIPL...

Wait...

That's not me is it?

Right - that other guy...


But...I mean...why is he dressed like that?


From his Bio? Are you serious??


Who does he think he is? Lord British?


That guy - that guy was looney tunes...


Anyway...carry on...

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Thanks for the review - this one is definitely on my "Need to try list". I was never a CCG fan, I didn't like the real financial arms-race that went on with friends of mine (buying boxes of boosters at a time), but the experience described in the game is appealling!

Now I'm off to see your other reviews...
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HaiKulture wrote:
saucyjack wrote:
I had no what Tom Vasel was muttering about either. Backhanded endorsement.


I won't but I will say that I could lay a bet on what his standard opening intro was going to be:

It's a LEVEL 99 Game! I like Level 99 games *scrunchy face* but they always put too much game in the box. *scrunchier face* Why do they put so much game in the box. I am going to completely dismiss the fact that most of it is modular’




Yes please – Level 99 – stop with all the gamey goodness already! I am downright insulted by your history of producing the equivalent of FanFlight level games and two expansions right off the bat! *SCRINCHIEST FACE*

HUH? Seriously? *rolls eyes* Whatever. That just makes me laugh sadly because I have no idea why he deems that necessary.


PS - Noticed the Battlecon picture, I take it you enjoy it? Any favourite characters?
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ViolentSilence wrote:
Thanks for the review - this one is definitely on my "Need to try list". I was never a CCG fan, I didn't like the real financial arms-race that went on with friends of mine (buying boxes of boosters at a time), but the experience described in the game is appealling!



LOL. I know that boat. I think another reason I never got became one in the Gathering Crowd was I never had an entry point. Anybody who I 'gamed around with' in college that wanted to teach me had been playing for years. Whenever the conversation started with 'Why don't you want to learn Magic? I'll teach you. I'll give you some of my old cards and you can build a deck..." - the conversation would finish in my head:

"You'll give me some old cards..."

"The cards you don't want. The cards that are useless because you have been honing your deck since puberty. I'm supposed to take this ragtag band of rejects and play against your Power Deck how?"

"Just throw the deck at me - it will hurt less.."

Of course, I would watch games and be secretly jealous.

So with Millennium Blades not only can I 'play' at 'playing a CCG', pretend in that 'Pro Player' world I just sidelined, and with nobody's rejects because they are 'all the best cards'

As for BattleCON - I played a mess of WAR 1.0 before Devastation and the Rebootery so I'm always partial to Kallistar because she's my old school girl. I like to play with Shekhtur for that 'Just Mash the A Button' until I win style and Runika for the Artifacts
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Fantastic review. I plan to write a review for this at some point myself for my blog, but this is a super hard act to follow. I may just link to here.
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amigo de fuego wrote:
Fantastic review. I plan to write a review for this at some point myself for my blog, but this is a super hard act to follow. I may just link to here.


LOL Allow me to return the compliment.

When Argent hit my table I was in love. My good friend Tommy V got on the tube and did his standard scrinchy face shruggy praise and some other V-Head thought it hilarious to mispronounce the name. I hopped up on my mental soapbox, penned notes and snark on you can't flap your arms and say 'Oh goshy golly! There's so much to do!!!' when that's the point of Worker Placement. DUH! (and not when there are several design tweaks that allow you to do far more than drop workers). I even e-mailed Trey back and forth a few times to get some flavory designer quotes. Then on a fly-by through the BGG to see what other people were saying I saw 'Let's Get Ready to Dumbledore' and threw the whole thing in a drawer because you beat me to my best joke.

(I should get back to it at some point, but I just thumbed the review right now in a moment of seething jealous waters parted)
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J Young
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Thanks for the entertaining review.

I have not played this, but I would not really consider this an economic game. I was not really sure why I wouldn't consider this an economic game, but I like how you explained it.

HaiKulture wrote:

Personally, I find all that buying and selling and trading not to be ‘stocky markety ‘ but ‘Ebay in the moment’. Unless you have something someone wants, you are probably going to wind up with less than you paid for.

The buying and selling and burning cards for points and promos, I can’t help but peel away the veneer and see the man behind the curtain: a way of gaining and discarding cards. It isn’t quite deck drawing and it isn’t quite drafting. It’s a hybrid. It is clever, satisfying, downright brilliant fun, and CCG sims to a tee, but I am just not seeing the ‘stock’ in card stock.

Accumulating Cold Card Cash isn’t getting you the bulk of your end game VPs, playing cards are what gets you there.


Win conditions aside, I can see how Millennium Blades might turn into an economic game if players actually buy and trade directly with one another instead of selling to and buying from the open market.

I think trading is a cool and fun mechanic, even though it can become problematic or degenerate, but in my experience players only trade in a game when the game requires trading. I don't see why players would trade with one another when they could just sell their cards to the open market. I know there is a limit to the number of cards players can sell (i.e., player sell tokens). So I suppose a player might be forced to trade if she/he is out of sell tokens. Have players ever run out of sell tokens in the games you have played?

Another reason I don't think there will be trading in Millennium Blades and why it is less of an economics game is because the "deck-building" phase is done in real-time. The real time component is ultimately why I did not back the kickstarter. I do enjoy real-time games (both Steam Park and Escape are fun), but I thought the time restrictions in Millennium Blades would hamper game-play. Negotiating takes time, so it just does not seem practical to negotiate and trade when there is a time restriction. Also looking through players cards would also take time, and it would just seem more prudent to buy boosters or cards from the market. Has trading been a big part in any of the games you have played?

HaiKulture wrote:

After a dozen plays I still feel like I am splashing my toes around in the card bath.


Congrats on the number of plays too. I would love to play this before I buy it even though my game group may not be into Millennium Blades. I already have some Level 99 games that don't see play because my group doesn't want to play them. Are you going to BGG.Spring or BGG.Con? Maybe we could play Millennium Blades.

Thanks again for the review!
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J Young wrote:
I don't see why players would trade with one another when they could just sell their cards to the open market.


A reason to trade is because smart people, who've played the game a few times, will make sure not to put certain cards out into the aftermarket for someone to easily get. They could be a cornerstone of a certain strategy or just really good card. There might be a card you know another player could really use because of the deck they played the last round. So instead of letting them get it for a few dollars you get some other card that might help you in return plus some friendship card VP potentially.

Initially it's going to be hard for people to trade cards because no one really knows the value of cards for any deck. Once you've played a few times the necessary cards for a certain deck strategy will become clear and you won't necessarily be able to acquire that card yourself by buying blind so you have to see if someone else has it. Also once you're a little familiar with the cards trades should resolve fairly quickly as you will know what to exchange based on what each person is looking for.

I will say my first game there wasn't much trading except a couple times exchanging cards for adding more to each persons collection.

J Young wrote:
The real time component is ultimately why I did not back the kickstarter. I do enjoy real-time games (both Steam Park and Escape are fun), but I thought the time restrictions in Millennium Blades would hamper game-play.


20 minutes is a decently long time. It's plenty of time to look at all your cards while building a deck and a collection. Now the first game it's definitely going to be a little bit stressful as you aren't used to evaluating cards on the fly, but it will get easier. Even then I only had minor trouble the first game in one of the deckbuilding rounds, but I was also done in 14 minutes for another round. The time is really meant to be slightly flexible. If people are having trouble you can extend the time as much as you want/need it's just trying to keep the game moving.
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@JYoung To me if someone says 'Economic Game' I think buying,selling, and trading as the means to endgame success. Whether it be real estate, stocks, or alien mining rights I was wily and bought this and sold that and I had the most equity so I won. There's plenty of buying and selling and trading happening in The Blades, but to me, it is the means to the end. The end being making your cards dance with synergy in the tournament. I just really enjoy the test and the tension of the tournament (which seems to be rather dismissed by da pros.) It really is a game of two halves 'card gathering' and 'card manipulation'.

Even in the Deckbuilding I feel it more to be about the cards than the cash. Do I keep this or how is it best to ditch it? What will this card do best for me? Not - 'Woo I just bought a card for 3 that I can sell for 9' because in the end that money is just fueling my quests for cards. Perhaps I am just more fixated on the clever design tweaks of what 'simulation' brought to Draw and Draft mechanics. The Store - well that's just drawing blind from a deck, but not - because I can see a 10 card draw and I have a sense of what I may or may not get and my payout makes for a price gamble. The Aftermarket is a draft - but not. Everyone keeps their best cards for themselves, so time to pick through the scraps and see what they have to offer. I know what I am getting and paying for the privilege to do so.

In the end for me, it is always about the Quest for Cards and the money - the spending or profiteering - that's just keeping my brass lantern lit.

@JYoung/Majora99 Trading does come into play - eventually. It is part of the Evolution of Millennium Blades and I had much the same experience as Majora999. The first game or two not much trading whatsoever or 'nice' trading i.e. 'I really need an Air 5! Anyone?' and then we had a dedicated group. There's a difference in Millennium Blades: The Wild Two Hour Chaotic Romp randomly pulled off the shelf and Millennium Blades: The Dedicated Group Who Has a Few Games In. I mentioned this in another thread about How Trading Goes. We threw out the 'fair trade' niceties as we graduated to competitive players. We started purposely buying cards other people might want and holding them for ransom or burning them away. I began lining Trade cards up at the top of my player board as Blade-Bay where 'you come to me and ask me what I want because these aren't going willy nilly into the Aftermarket.' We even started using Friendship cards 'wrong'. 'Sure it says 8 to buy- but I'm feeling it's 12. Of course, toss me a Friendship and we can call it a 9'.

It's part of the Evolution of Millennium Blades. A dedicated group knows what it is doing and different avenues begin to blossom and while still in the 'spirit of simulation' the experience is flexible enough to bend in different ways to the group dynamic.

As for the Real Time - I have to admit I was dubious of it also. Galaxy Trucker leaves me pretty cold and while this was on Kickstarter, Brad said it could be played turn based and I assumed that was going to be the way I preferred. Color me surprised - but I love it. There's something perfect about that 20 minutes. It is plenty of time and never enough, It keeps things moving. It is frenzied, but fun. It makes decisions quick and feel crucial. I never felt crushed by it. As Majora999 said I always had time to read cards and think but at the same time it keeps poking you into action and a bit of distraction.

But yes - first time out it can be overwhelming - all those cards and so little time. Usually by the third Deckbuilding Phase the flop sweat has dried and everyone's cylinders are clicking. I do find the first game needs to be treated delicately because not everyone is going to be of the 'I had no idea what was going on but I want to play again' mindset. In teaching, I always find that pre-game Starter Deck tournament a necessity because you want to go into the Deckbuilding with a feel of the tournament mechanics so you know what all those cards you are buying mean. I also parceled the store 'freebies' at 3/4/6 so people didn't get buried under a bunch of cards to digest in minute one.

As for Cons BGG - I have a few InterGame friends who are in the Texas area and have been trying to cajole me into going for the past year or two. Unfortunately in my professional life, I get a slice of time off for Thanksgiving and the term ends shortly after so taking time off in November is rough, especially since a whole other aspect of professional life finds me at NYCC every year in October with the blessing of my Department Head and it is best to keep him liking me. I want to hit it some time because I hear it is a blast, but that is also the word from those cajoling peeps.
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