Yannick Carriere
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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Last Saturday evening , six of us met at Yves Tourigny’s place (designer of the upcoming Top This! A Pizza Flicking Game and Northwest Passage) for our third Blue Moon tournament. Yes, our third one, and we didn’t report our first two tournaments here on BGG. Our apologies.

A little history then. 2-3 years ago, we organized our first friendly evening tournament. We were seven: Anthony, Martin, Mike, Yves, myself (Yannick), and two teenager friends of Yves’ whose name I forget. Each participant showed up with one deck to play all evening in a round robin, games being played to first player with 5 crystals (and 5 crystals being the max a player could score in a game). Our deck was a straight up 30 cards, 10 moons, with no Inquisitor or Emissary. The player with the most wins was to be declared the Champion, with the number of crystals for being the tiebreaker.

Seven players, six different races: Mimix, Hoax, two Terrah, Pillar, Aqua and Khind. It was a close affair at the top. With two rounds to go, Yves (with Aqua) and myself (with Terrah) were undefeated and were set to play each other. Yves won the first fight with 4 crystals and I won the second fight with 4 crystals. The third fight, being the decisive one in our game, was close and Yves managed to pull it off. He scored a win and 5 crystals and I scored 4 crystals. I thus believed that Yves was going to win the evening since he was next playing Anthony (also with Terrah) and the latter hadn’t done so well all evening. I played Mike (Khind) next and beat him easily since I had built my deck specifically against the Aqua (against which I had just narrowly lost) and the Khind. The big surprise was that Anthony won 5-3 against Yves! And that gave me the win on tie breaker (29 crystals to Yves’ 28). A very fun evening for all.

For our second tournament, less than a year later, we again showed up with one deck to play all evening in a round robin, with the same victory condition and tiebreaker. This time we were eight I believe: Martin, Mike, Yves, myself, the two teenagers, and a mother and his teenage son, friends of Martin. And this time we played with an Inquisitor, since all of us had both the Allies ad Blessings decks. The games lasted longer (more cards in play was part of it) and, with more participants, we didn’t finish the round robin since it was getting too late. I think we managed four or five rounds. Mike was in the lead with a Mimix deck, and I was second with a Pillar deck. So Mike was the unofficial champion for the evening (he had finished third in our first tournament).

So last Saturday was our third tournament, around two years after since our previous one. We played with an Inquisitor again and we capped it at six players in order to be able to finish the round robin: Yves, Martin, Anthony, myself, Mike and a newcomer (but strong gamer) Daryl. Also, in order to further ensure we could play it in 5 hours or less, we capped the time at 50 minutes for each game. Each game was to be a best two out three fights. No fights could start after the 40 minute mark. Number of wins was the condition of overall victory, with crystal differential being the tiebreaker (number of crystal for minus number crystals against). One reason we were so time sensitive was because Mike had since move to Beijing and we used Skype to play our games against him.

Mike was ready to go at 7am his time (thanks lot Mike, Blue Moon trooper) and we managed to play the round robin in 4.5 hours. The Skype connection was 90% good fortunately.

A side-note here: Martin and I wanted to test what we think we came across on BGG as the best deck idea in Blue Moon, practically unbeatable: heavy use of the FREE cards. After all, isn’t it why the Aqua and Pillar decks are OOP and commend steep prices on the used market? So he built a Pillar deck with the Inquisitor Weave-Tongue (+15 cards, +10 moons. At the end of my turn I may draw an additional card).

Now Martin is the guy you want to build decks. His mind works that way. He has played Magic extensively and built decks, and he has so far created and home-made 300+ different cards for Dominion. He can also come up with a new deck for Blue Moon in a matter of swimming a few lengths in his apartment building pool. Amazing to watch (his mind, not his swimming skills!).

So he built the Pillar deck below:

Pillar Fucius Con Leader
Inq Weave-Tongue, Royal Councilor Inquisitor
Pillar Primus Magicus Character
Pillar Devius Maximus Character
Pillar Colossus Gigantus Character
Pillar Bigus Musselus Character
Pillar Smartia Pantia Character
Pillar Speedius Unnecessarius Character
Pillar Lonus Mightius Character
Pillar Halitosus Teriblus Character
Pillar Cardus Nikkus Character
Pillar Crysalus Frendus Character
Pillar Bottelus Emptius Character
Pillar Caterpillar Fireeater Booster, FREE
Pillar Caterpillar Eartheroder Booster, FREE
Pillar Caterpillar Watertamer Booster, FREE
Pillar Caterpillar Lightseeker Booster, FREE
Pillar Caterpillar Moondoom Booster, FREE
Pillar Potion of Cosmic Power Booster
Pillar Potion of Conjoining Booster
Pillar Potion of Sparkling Fire Booster
Pillar Potion of Trembling Earth Booster
Pillar Potion of Prodigious Passion Booster
Pillar Giant Butterfly Eveningbreeze Support
Pillar Giant Butterfly Morningwind Support, FREE
Aqua Sudden Waterspout Booster, FREE
Aqua Instant Undertow Booster, FREE
Aqua Fire Swamp Support, FREE
Aqua Perilous Marsh Support, FREE
Aqua Yang Character
Aqua Yin Character
Mimix Stars Shining Character, FREE
Mimix Chosen of Nature Leadership
Tutu TUTU WhizWhiz Character, FREE
Tutu TUTU HugHug Character, FREE
Tutu TUTU KorKor Character, FREE
Tutu TUTU RipRip Character, FREE
Tutu TUTU PamPam Character, FREE
Tutu TUTU SnakePipe Support
Infl HYLA Hagbaad Influence
Infl HYLA Thurus Influence
Inter Shame on you! Interference
Flit Tittertweet Character
Flit Flitterflutter Character
FlitVulca Spark Character
FlitVulca Ignite Character
Mutant Var-dis-Nar Character

Out of 45 cards, 16 are FREE.

We agreed in advance of the tournament that him and I would build a deck that could counter his deck, while being able to win against the other decks. So we built this deck, a Mimix one:

INQUISITOR: Grease-Palm
Mimix Spirit of the Night
Mimix Spirit of the Light
Mimix Dancer of Dawn
Mimix Dancer of Dusk
Mimix Shaman of the Holy Sacrifice
Mimix Shaman of the Deeds to Come
Mimix Stars Shining
Mimix Virgin of Pure Fire
Mimix Virgin of Pure Earth
Mimix Heroine of the High Flames
Mimix Heroine of the Great Plains
Mimix Amazon Leaping High
Mimix Amazon Leaping Far
Mimix Wild Unicorn
Mimix Shaman of the Here and Now
Mimix Sun Setting
Mimix Moon Rising
Mimix Guardian of Time
Mimix Guardian of Space
Mutant Pen-dor-Nith
Mimix Menacing Wardance
Mimix Hypnotic Rattle
Mimix Fearsome Chant
Mimix Hail of Arrows
Mimix Whirling Hatchet
Mimix Call Spirit of the Battlefield
Mimix Call Spirit of the Underworld
Infl HYLA Yaggi
Infl HYLA Hagbaad
Inter Enough of this!
Hoax Brain Drain
Buka Commodore Lo Tan
Buka Commodore Tai Marn
Hoax Tome of Wisdom
Mutant Var-dis-Nar
Pillar Potion of Prodigious Passion
Buka Captain Ariosa Paal
Aqua Eelena-Aqua-Prima-Alpha
Flit Mad Mike Magpie
Terrah Provoke Earthquake

Daryl was the only player without a copy of the cards at his house so he came over to my place and I helped him to build a deck. He went for a Terrah one and specialized even more. It was an ultra-Terrah, with many mutants in order to constantly bring the fight back in earth. We playtested it that evening against my Mimix deck and he more than matched me.

Yves, for his part, waited at the last minute to assemble a deck: he googled something like "Blue Moon deckbuilding" and found this deck, the 2006 European Blue Moon Championship winning deck:

LEADER: Aqua-Alpha-Alpha (Aqua)
30 Cards / 10 Moons
INQUISITOR: Grease-Palm
+10 Cards / +15 Moons

LEADERSHIP (3)
Aqua (30): Drown Resistance (K)
Aqua (31): Administer Water of Immortality (A)
Aqua (32): Chosen of Water (X2)

CHARACTER (15)
Aqua (01): Eelena-Aqua-Prima-Alpha (A)
Aqua (02): Giant Octopus (A)
Aqua (03): Terrible Kraken (A)
Aqua (04): Aaralia-Aqua-Secunda (V)
Aqua (12): Yang (A)
Aqua (13): Yin (A)
Flit (01): Wing Commander Razorfeather (F)
Flit (07): Tittertweet (F)
Hoax (14): Genathones the Blind (H)
Mimix (13): Wild Gazelle (M)
Mimix (14): Wild Antelope (M)
Mimix (15): Wild Unicorn (P)
Terrah (02): Roomban Rockmaster (T)
Terrah (12): Ferro Fos (T)
Vulca (02): Flash the Incendiary (T)

INFLUENCE (4)
Infl (603): Yaggi (X2)
Infl (604): Piplox (X1)
Infl (605): Hagbaad (X2)
Infl (608): Reappearance (X2)

INTERFERENCE (4)
Inter (401): How dare you! (X2)
Inter (402): Shame on you! (X1)
Inter (406): Who do you think you are? (X2)
Inter (407): I saw that coming! (X1)

SUPPORT (11)
Aqua (21): Fire Swamp (A)
Aqua (22): Perilous Marsh (A)
Aqua (23): Ravenous Razorjaw (A)
Aqua (24): Swarming Sea Serpents (A)
Aqua (25): Torrential Flood (A)
Aqua (26): Tidal Flood (A)
Terrah (26): Impenetrable Fog (T)
Terrah (28): Evil Eye (X1)
Tutu (508): SnakePipe (X2)
Vulca (24): Flickering Fires (V)
Vulca (25): Heat Haze (P)

BOOSTER (3)
Aqua (16): Sudden Waterspout (A)
Aqua (17): Instant Undertow (A)
Aqua (18): Aquatic Armor (A)

Total Cards: 40
Total Moons: 25

Notice the deck only has 15 characters cards out of 40 cards. The usual number in an out-of-the-box deck is 18-20 characters out of 30 cards. About two-thirds. This Aqua deck only has just above one-third. Martin and I were skeptical. Note also that this "winner" deck made use of FREE cards.

The evening went smoothly and we had a lot of fun, especially with being able to play with Mike all the way across the world. Very cool!

Martin started off with two easy wins. I also won my first two games, although Yves gave me a scare with his Aqua deck, winning the first fight. I came back and won the next two. So it was Martin and I in the third round, both undefeated. My deck had performed well so far, but we were going to test it has it was meant to perform.

Martin won the first fight very quickly. Two dragons, then two dragons. Wham! 1-0 for him. I was worried! But I won the second fight. Not as quickly, but also with 4 crystals. The third fight was memorable. Back and forth. Martin had put Chosen of Nature in his deck (Mimix, Now we both shuffle our discard piles into our draw decks). He played it well in the fight, so we went at it further more. It went down to the wire! All three dragons were in the middle, he ran out of cards in his draw deck and hand, and I had one card left in my hand. He announced 8 Earth and I could only do 7! So close! He had won it! I could console myself with not having been outplayed. It also turned out that it was the closest he ever got to lose that evening.

And yes, Martin went on to be undefeated and was declared the Champion. Yves (with his Aqua deck) surprised Martin and I and finished second, tied with me (because I lost 0-2 against Daryl and his ultra-Terrah deck; I just couldn’t crack it and it was well designed against my deck specifically). I won the tiebreaker and took an honorable second place.

Martin also had another memorable moment in his game against Mike’s Flit deck. He went through all his deck and his last card in his draw deck was his Chosen of Nature. He played it and got all his deck back. He kept hammering Mike but the latter was constantly thwarting Martin with his Flit characters ignoring Martin’s boosters, supports and special power texts. Adding to that his own boosters and some Tutu cards, Mike held off Martin until almost a second cycle of Martin’s deck. Martin finally got the best of Mike and it was epic.

For Martin and I, the lesson of the night is: did the deck Martin built unbeatable? And the greater question is: is Blue Moon broken?

Not necessarily we believe. It is probably possible to build a non-Pillar deck that can beat his Pillar deck. I could have changed 1-2 cards in my deck to target his deck specifically, but by doing so, weren’t I then weakening my deck against the other ones in a competitive format? I did finish second, proving my deck was strong, and I almost beat Martin. But his deck won.

And yes, you will tell me that there are other factors in play: luck of the draw, skill level of the different players. Those are very difficult to control so we have to take what we can to draw possible conclusions. And I say "possible" cause we don’t know for sure. And if we find in the future that Martin’s deck wins every time, then are we to conclude that if we want to beat it we’d all have to build a similar Pillar deck? I hope not because that would mean the end of the fun of the game for us.

Thoughts?
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Christopher Dearlove
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Chelmsford
Essex
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I'm pretty sure I played a heavy FREE Pillar deck with E&I before anyone else (I did have the advantage of the game not having been published at that point) and IIRC you can get the ratio above 16/45. But while I think it is fun (especially when upu get to make an opening play of six cards and straight into double dragon territory) and strong, all decent E&I decks are strong. I've certainly lost with it against a Khind deck, and probably others.

It worth asking why the deck is strong in order to consider how to beat it. Basically it can put down big power levels, and some of that is in tje form of supports, the gift that keeps on giving. So the obvious counters are either ways of building up your own big strength (which most decks can do with some help) or s shield (possibly a mutant). The big total puts tje problem back on the Pillar, who have to do the same again, but is hard. The shield is just a one-term stay of execution (and makes it more likely to go into double-dragon territory). And the FREE supports means the problem gets worse. So some support removal is a definite. But then it's no good just reacting, you need to mess with the deck. Khind and Pillar cards are good for that, plus some leadership and interference cards. And you need your own Hyla.

Will that make an easy win? No. That Pillar deck (well, I've not studied that particular version, but I assume it's good) is tough. But unbeatable? I don't think so.

But that's all hot air. How about some facts. Tje German fans used to run E&I constructed deck tournaments. And from what I heard most of the peoples produced competitive decks. I don't know for a fact that high-FREE Pillsr wad one tried. But I'd be amazed if it wasn't.
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Joe Gola
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We hold a Blue Moon tournament at our local gaming convention, and it's great to hear about other tourneys taking place elsewhere. Thanks for the excellent write-up.
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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Gola wrote:
We hold a Blue Moon tournament at our local gaming convention, and it's great to hear about other tourneys taking place elsewhere. Thanks for the excellent write-up.

What format(s)? Any conclusions from what wins?
 
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Joe Gola
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Dearlove wrote:
Gola wrote:
We hold a Blue Moon tournament at our local gaming convention, and it's great to hear about other tourneys taking place elsewhere. Thanks for the excellent write-up.
What format(s)? Any conclusions from what wins?
Five-crystal matches. Constructed decks, 30 cards, no emissaries or inquisitors. First year was won by a Mimix deck, but I didn't play against it myself so I don't recall how it was constucted.

Second year had one Pillar deck (me) and three Terrah decks. I made it to second round but was beaten by Octavian's deck, which was loaded with Hyla and interference. Games were 0–2, 0–2, 4–0, 0–4.

#3 scheduled for March....
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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Gola wrote:
Dearlove wrote:
Gola wrote:
We hold a Blue Moon tournament at our local gaming convention, and it's great to hear about other tourneys taking place elsewhere. Thanks for the excellent write-up.
What format(s)? Any conclusions from what wins?
Five-crystal matches. Constructed decks, 30 cards, no emissaries or inquisitors. First year was won by a Mimix deck, but I didn't play against it myself so I don't recall how it was constucted.

Second year had one Pillar deck (me) and three Terrah decks. I made it to second round but was beaten by Octavian's deck, which was loaded with Hyla and interference. Games were 0–2, 0–2, 4–0, 0–4.

#3 scheduled for March....

After posting, I was thinking about how many approved formats there are for playing Blue Moon and came up with several (ignoring the "are promotional cards allowed?" question as not a fundamental format, just a modifying detail). And I missed the "E&I allowed, but without inquisitors" format that you've used. Duh.

(I have a suspicion that the "30 card preconstructed deck plus a Buka family" is the least used format. Anyone use it regularly? Anyone use it at all?)
 
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