Ender Wiggins
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Introducing Day & Night

One day, there was a fine two player game called Blue Moon. It was made by Dr Reiner Knizia. And it was good. So good, in fact, that it had over 3000 ratings with an average over 7. And it fathered many children, and named them "Blue Moon Expansions". But despite its clever asymmetrical design, unique fantasy artwork, innovative gameplay, and family of many children, Mr Blue Moon was not entirely happy. And so secretly, he began a love affair with a classic abstract, Miss Othello.



Together, under the cover of night, they produced a secret love-child, named Day & Night. And now, thanks to designer Valentijn Eekels, this special child has now seen the light of day! I’m pleased to announce the birth of Day & Night!



So why should you care about Day & Night? The story about the relationship between Knizia's Blue Moon and the classic Othello is of course a fictional narrative for dramatic effect, but I do think that the parallel holds. So if you enjoy the hand management and fantasy artwork of Blue Moon, and can try to imagine it crossed with some elements of Othello, you might just like this game.



But more importantly, Day & Night was the winner of the 2009 International Gamers Awards in the 2 player game category (see other nominees here). In other words, this is a game that's good enough to make the bigwigs that hand out awards sit up and take notice. So maybe it deserves some attention from the rest of us too. Could this be a hidden gem? Let's take a look and try to find out!



Game box

I wasn't kidding about the comparison with Blue Moon. In fact, the myriad of blue colours on the box already made me think of the more well known game:



The back of the box continues the ocean of blues, shows off some of the lovely cards, and tells us something about the gameplay.



The theme is a duel between two players, one called Day, and the other called Night. I'm not into the yin-yang business suggested by the cover and some of the components, but I have to concede that the whole Day-Night concept is all rather clever, and that the idea of a battle between Day and Night works rather well, and the designer has done a great job of incorporating the theme into various aspects of the game (e.g. each player gets 12 "hours" of actions each turn).

The idea of the game is simple: Each player has their own deck of 70 cards, and plays cards (spells) to place Day or Night tiles on a board with 44 squares. First player to get two sets of 9 of their tiles on the board wins. But the fun part is that to do this you need to move your character around the board, and also play spells that can flip tiles or perform other nasty tricks!



So what do we need to play? Inside the box we find:
● 1 board
● 44 tiles
● 2 decks of 70 cards
● 4 player pawns
● 50 counters
● rules

Here's what the components look like:



Rulebook

The rulebook comes in two languages, English and Dutch.



It's clear, and there are several helpful examples that illustrate gameplay. The good news is that you can read the entire rules online here:
http://www.dn-boardgame.com/information/rules
Also download them as a single file here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/46332

Components: Board

The game board has 44 squares on which players will put their tiles.



All squares start as "neutral", but will be changed to Day or Night as the game progresses.



Components: Tiles

The 44 tiles are made out of a solid cardboard, and are durable enough for their purpose. They have Day pictured on one side, and Night on the other.



In other words, just like Othello, they are reversible. The artwork varies from tile to tile, so overall they are very pleasing to look at.



I really like the colours in this game: the oranges on the board, and the blue on the tiles and cards - it really fits well together and is aesthetically beautiful!

Components: Pawns

Each player also uses a "pawn" to denote where their Day or Night character is on the board. Two are supplied for each player, so you get a choice of which one you want to use.



At the start of the game these pawns start at opposite corners of the board.

Components: Cards

Each player has their own deck of 70 cards.



These are used to place tiles on the board, turn tiles over, or do other tactical tricks. Some sample cards for Day and Night:





So what does all the information on the cards mean? Here's our answer:



The most important detail is the number on the top left. This is the "cost" to play the card. Each turn you get 12 hours to "spend", so if you played Mimic at a cost of 8 hours, you'd have 4 hours left to use that turn.

There are approximately 20 different spells in each deck.



The cards themselves are slightly larger than a regular playing card.



They are medium grade quality, with magnificent artwork, but I did notice that the corners on one of the decks fairly quickly showed signs of wear.

Components: Counters

Special counters are used as markers.



Both the Day and Night players have opaque counters that are used to mark their Temples, i.e. a set of 9 adjacent counters - the aim of the game is to be the first player to get two Temples, like the one pictured here for Day:



The translucent markers are used to denote active spells corresponding to each player's unique ability: Mystify spells for Day, and Crystallize spells for Night.

Artwork

Day & Night is the result of a collaboration between designer Valentijn Eekels with fantasy artist Eerin Vink.



Eerin's illustrations are truly magnificent!



Much of the original art is available for purchase through her website, www.eerin.nl.



I really can't say enough about how beautiful the colours and illustrations look, and it really enhances the game!





Overall, the components are truly magnificent, and look fantastic.



The board, the colours, the cards – just beautiful!



Game-play: Set-Up

At the start of a game, each player gets their own deck and tokens, and the player tokens are put on opposite sides of the board.



Each player begins with a starting hand of five cards, with Day always being the starting player.



Game-play: Aim of the Game

The aim is to be the first player to build two Temples, i.e. a pattern of nine tiles bordering on each other. All the tiles have to be of your own type (Day or Night). Whenever you create such a pattern, you put nine 'Temple-counters' on those tiles, which means that they cannot be turned over or changed for the rest of the game.

In the picture below, the Temple-counters show that both players have successfully created one Temple each:



In the next example, Night has just completed a second Temple of nine adjacent tiles, and thus wins the game:



Game-play: Flow of Play

In turns, each player gets "12 hours" to use for playing spells and for moving your pawn across the board. When you play a spell, you deduct the number of hours that is shown in the top left corner of that Spell from the total amount of hours you have left. For every tile your pawn travels, you draw a new spell from your book of spells and deduct 3 hours from the total amount of hours you have left.



A turn consists of four phases:

1. Awakening - This just means that your turn begins with 12 hours to use.

2. Spell Casting - In this phase, you use the cards in your hand to place or flip tiles, draw cards, or whatever else the spells allow you to do. The cost of the spells used is subtracted from the 12 hours available that turn. For example, here the Night player plays Night Ritual twice to change a tile bordering on Night's location tile.



3. Travelling - If not all 12 hours have been used, you can move your pawn onto adjacent squares, at a cost of 3 hours per movement. This is also the way you draw cards, because you may draw a card for each tile you move to (i.e. you could spend 6 hours to move two spaces, and draw two cards.) Here's an example:



4. Retreating - If you have more than five cards in your hand at the end of your turn, discard down to five cards.



Game-play: Mystify & Crystallize

For the most part the spells are relatively straight forward, but both Day and Night have one special ability unique to them.

Day's special ability is Mystify, and there are four cards with this ability:



Night's special ability is Crystallize, and there are four cards with this ability:



Day's unique spell: Mystify

When Day plays a Mystify spell on a Day-tile, Mystify counters are placed on the tile in question.



At the beginning of successive turns, one Mystify counter is removed from the tile. When the last Mystify counter is removed, the tile becomes a single Day Temple-tile - with the advantage that it cannot be turned over or changed for the rest of the game. Here's how it looks:



Night's unique spell: Crystallize

When Night plays a Crystallize spell, Crystallize counters are placed one one or more tiles.



Crystallize spells only last one turn, so the counters will be removed at the beginning of Night's next turn. But during this turn, Day cannot change the crystallized tiles, and can also not move over these tiles for that turn. If Day's location tile is crystallized, Day can't move at all that turn! Here's how it looks:



These spells are very powerful. Day can use Mystify to get permanent tiles in places that disturbs Night's plan, and this can especially be useful towards the end of the game. But Night can use Crystallize to paralyze Day, by preventing Day from moving and drawing cards, and thus giving Night time to try to win. The asymmetrical abilities here are great!

Examples of Play

Much of the game-play is about carefully managing your hand, and skilfully playing trying to set up your hand with cards that will combine well together.

Example 1

Here's an example of play from a real game. Day has Mystified three Day tiles. Night already has one Temple and five more Night tiles bordering on each other, and must move quickly to get the four Night tiles needed to finish a second Temple and win the game. Can you see how Night can win? You have 12 hours to come up with a solution!



Solution:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
1. Play Night Instability to change the Day tile below Night's pawn to Night (cost: 2 hours). Now the condition for Night Meditation (can only be cast when a Day-tile has been changed this turn) is met.
2. Play Night Meditation to change Night's location tile (cost: 0 hours). Now the condition for Mimic (can only be cast when Night is on a Night tile) is met.
3. Play Mimic to change the two tiles on the left and right of Night's location tile (cost: 8 hours).
Night now has nine adjacent Tiles for a second Temple, and wins the game!

Example 2

In this next example, Night has just won the game by playing Alter Soil (change a neutral tile bordering on Night’s location tile). This was an epic game that lasted over an hour, with a see-saw battle. When the dust settled after Night’s victory, only three neutral tiles remained, and remarkably Day had a card in hand (Day Ritual) that could have won the game on the very next turn!



Online Version

The designer has created a fantastic high-quality website in support of the game (see www.mystics.nl or www.dn-boardgame.com).



Eventually, even a web based version of the game will be available here. The online version of the game is not yet open to the public on the site, but is scheduled to be completed soon. Here's a couple of screenshots that give us a preview:



I am impressed with the quality here, and look forward to this being implemented!

What do I think?

There's a good reason this game was nominated for an International Gamers Award. Some things I like about the game:
The theme: using Day and Night as characters, flipping tiles from Day to Night, getting 12 hours to spend each turn - this is far more interesting than Othello!
The asymmetry: I love the concept of asymmetrical games, and this one works well.
The balance: it's important for an asymmetrical game to have balance. In most of our games, Night seemed stronger, but the designer has tested the game with over 1000 online sessions with different players, and statistically both Day and Night have done equally well. Some people insist Day is stronger, others insist that it's Night. But it's hard to argue with statistics, and if you find that you keep beating someone with the same deck, it's time to switch and take on the challenge of winning with what you think is the harder deck!
The gameplay: there's certainly some luck of the draw, and that's what gives it replay value and makes it interesting because you need to make the best of the cards that you get. But just like Blue Moon, much of this game is about careful hand-management and skilful play. There's definitely room for tactics and strategy, and more often than not it's the better player that wins.
The spells: games with cards that have unique CCG-type abilities have a strong appeal for me (Blue Moon is another example, see a list of more games like this here). Fortunately the spells aren't overly complicated, so you'll learn them quickly enough and already have fun on your first game. But like Blue Moon, the better you know your deck, the better you'll play.
The tactics: the comparison with Othello is fairly minor, and perhaps limited to placing tiles which can be flipped over. But there is a sense in which you need to employ careful tactics much like in an abstract game, and yet it never feels like an abstract.
The interaction: the game is all about interaction, without being too nasty. It gets the mix just right for my liking.
The artwork: I love the colours of the components, and the pictures on the cards.



Are there things I'm not sure about?
The card quality: The cards are big and attractive, but I'm not sure how they'll hold up to shuffling over an extended period of time, judging by the feel of the cards.
The game length: Some games can finish as quickly as thirty minutes, but others have been tense battles that stretched as long as an hour! The game is best played fairly quickly, and some people might find that it drags if it goes beyond 45 minutes. Usually a longer game is an indication of an exciting and tense contest, and I haven't found it overstaying its welcome yet.



When Day & Night first arrived, we were up and running with the rules in no time, and it was played 7 or 8 times in the first two days alone! As we got to know the cards and decks better, the level of enjoyment increased! It's not going to be for everyone, but I can see people who liked the hand management and feel of games like Blue Moon really enjoying Day & Night.

What do others think?

At the time of this review, the game only has ten personal comments! So day is just dawning for Day & Night! But here are a few reactions from others who have played the game.

"Despite the so-so components and the too precious art, I've been won over by the game play of Day & Night. Kudos to Eekels for an excellent first design." - W. Eric Martin
"Scratches a magic itch with a bit of abstract thrown in. Beautiful art and top notch production values." - Paul Lister
"Once you get into this game, you can't stop! It can get really competitive and exciting, especially at the last rounds and requires a lot of strategic skills, which is something that I love in games. It has a very big variety of amazing arts and creative spells; it is affordable and I would totally recommend it to fantasy/strategy lovers." - Eva G
"Very beautifully illustrated and exciting game. - Ellen Franssen
"The entire game idea has been well developed. The tale, the artwork, the game principle, it all works together." - Barad the Dwarf
"Beautiful art, mystifying gameplay and an innovative theme. In short a game with lots of potential, for the fantasy/spiritual boardgame market." - Alexander van der Zalm




The final word

Is Day & Night for you? That will largely depend on your personal tastes. But if you enjoy the game-play of modern classics like Magic: The Gathering and Blue Moon, chances are that you'll find much to appreciate here. Even those who enjoy the tactical play of abstract games and are looking to branch out to something more thematic will also probably enjoy Day & Night. I can see this appealing to a wide range of people - I had high expectations, and it did not disappoint. Recommended!



Edit: Changed subject, to reflect the fact that after being nominated as a finalist for the International Gamers Awards, Day & Night went on to be named as the winner! Congratulations!

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The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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-matt s.
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
As always, a terrific review! I want to get this game just for the artwork. With the deal on FunAgain, I'm having a very hard time not making a game purchase as I promised myself for this month....your review just may have pushed me over the edge to get it....
 
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Paul Lister
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
Great review of a great game. TY!
 
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Judit Szepessy
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
Ecxellent review with beautiful pictures! Makes us really curious about the game.
 
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Manuel Pombeiro
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
You must be banned from posting this reviews!!!!

Another one to my wishlist!!! laugh
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
WOW - you so deserve more then 5 gg for this review, 10 really wouldn´t cover your time on it, if I had any GG I would give you more, but it is all going to to try and win games that I know I will never win, but at least I am in the game i figure.

Thanks so much, and yep , another on my wish list.
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Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
Quote:
Eerin's illustrations are truly magnificent!


The same clearly holds true of Eerin herself.

Thanks for the great review, Ender, that game would have flown entirely under my radar.
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Gary Sonnenberg
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
Ender, you've played Castle at least once. How does this compare to that?

-Gary
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Ender Wiggins
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Comparison with Castle
glsonn wrote:
Ender, you've played Castle at least once. How does this compare to that?

-Gary

Good call, I guess there are some elements reminiscent of Castle - a game I also enjoy immensely from time to time. The games are similar in that you're playing cards with CCG-type abilities, and that card play affects tiles/cards on a board. But the differences are greater than the apparent similarities, and they have quite a different "feel".

Castle is more of a race to play out all your cards, whereas in Day & Night the focus is more on using your cards to create a favorable tile configuration on the board, and the speed at which you go through your cards is not important. Castle is considerably more chaotic and dependent on luck of the draw, whereas in Day & Night there's far more room for strategy and tactics, and the choices you make about how to play your cards and manage your hand are far more interesting and important. In Castle, the choices offered by each card are usually quite simple, e.g. "send back a card from a Tower". In Day & Night, there's more room for creative play, because a card like "change a tile" allows you to change 1 of 44 tiles, so you have far more options and control. Castle is fun, but it's lighter and more random, whereas Day & Night gives more room for skill, trying to set up your hand with card combinations, as well as press your advantage on the board.

It's not too often that I can be persuaded to play Castle two games in a row, because while I have a fun time playing it, often I get a feeling at the end that the outcome was largely dependent on card draw and I didn't have as much control as I would have liked, and so I'm usually not interested in playing again right away. Day & Night does have an element of luck of the draw as well, but is more likely to reward careful play and give room for strategic choices, and as a result, I'm happy to play a couple of games in one sitting.

My children enjoy both games, but are more likely to have a chance of winning in Castle. Day & Night, much like Blue Moon, rewards familiarity with the deck and cards, and managing your hand along with skilful tactical play with the tiles and tokens on the board. Having said that, if you enjoy the CCG-type abilities on the Castle cards, you may well find yourself liking Day & Night as well.
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Valentijn Eekels
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
A great review, full of pictures and background information.

Thanks so much Ender, looking forward to your next reviews!
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Albert Gao
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
Thanks for another awesome review,Ender

I think you are right,There is something in this game make it looks like Blue Moon a lot. But through reading your review, I feel like that this is a better game than Blue Moon.

Blue Moon is a pure combo game and too chaos for me, in most of the times, you must wait the very card to make combo of your current hand.That is a very bad feeling and make Blue Moon hard to grasp,OK,just like the moon in the sky.

But Day & Night is very elegant, the goal is very clear, and the way to achieve the goal is very easy to grasp.

I've downloaded the rule book for a further research.
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Kevin Taylor
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon

Fantastic review of a great looking game.

Thank you
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Andre Lucato
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
This review just made my mind. The game looks absolutely beautiful and this abstract etheral mood feels so refresh from what is around the market.
Many thanks to the reviewer and game designers.
 
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Re: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: An International Gamers Awards nominee, and a secret love-child of Othello and Blue Moon
Thanks for taking the time to give us such an in depth review!!!
 
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