Thursday, July 13, 2006

Strategy of a Game: Blue Moon, Part Two: Flit & Mimix

This is the second in a series of strategy articles about Blue Moon, which I'll be publishing about once a month here at Gone Gaming. If you haven't already, you'll want to read my original discussions of the game and my strategy notes about The Hoax & The Vulca.

This time around I'll be moving on to cover the first two standalone decks, The Flit and The Vulca. These notes originally appeared at RPGnet in a slightly different form, but have been revised, expanded, and edited for inclusion here.

As before, I'll be starting out with some looks at card counts in the decks. I'm building on my listings from the last article to put everything into perspective.

Card Counts

Here's a breakdown of the card types in the decks:

Card TypesLeadershipCharactersBoostersSupport

These are pretty dramatic departures from the original decks, with the Flit having slightly fewer characters, but a huge numbers of boosters and the Mimix being very heavy on characters.

Here's card icons.

Card IconsFreeGangPairProt.Repl.Retr.EShieldFShieldStop

* Keep in mind that each deck tends to have a mutant with the icons: earth shield, fire shield, stop. Thus a base number of 1/1/1 for these last three icons is normal.

** This count includes 1 gang/paired card whose matches don't appear in this deck.

We can see a lot about the strengths of the decks just from this chart. The Flit has a mess of paired boosters and retrievables, while the Mimix has almost half a deck of paired characters. We'll get back to these ...

Finally, here's some combat value counts:

CountsEarth SumEarth MaxFire SumFire Max2C Max Play
8 either
Hoax44555510 earth
8 either
Vulca46569714 fire

Max shows the highest card of the type while "2c max play" shows the highest value possible when playing two cards, usually a character plus a booster or support.

Mimix looks quite strong, but that's just because of its Character card bias, while both decks (particularly the Mimix) can very easily exceed a two-card play because of their pairs, and the frees for the Mimix, so the 8 attack values can actually go much higher.

Deck #3: The Flit

Strengths: Retrievable characters, multi-paired boosters.

Weaknesses: Low-value characters. Utter dependence on boosters.

Cards of Note: The following cards are of particular note in the Flit deck.

Commence Mega Launch (Leadership). Even better than a paired booster, you can play this card, then drop any number of boosters onto the table, hopefully jumping immediately to six cards and blowing your opponent out of the water.

Fel-Nar-Gan (Character). The Flit deck mutant is a really nice match for the rest of the deck, because it allows you to swap the element of the fight if you have no cards in your combat area, and that's pretty easy to do if you've been bouncing Flit back into your hands.

Various Characters (Character). There's a bunch of Flit with kinda' neat powers, that aren't extraordinary. In particular: Cheepchirrup (2/2) limits your opponent to just 1 card play, and so is great if your opponent hasn't gotten out any support. Trillilling (2/2) ignores your opponent's boosters, Flitterflutter ignores your opponent's support, Tittertweet ignores your opponent's special effects, and Cark Kamikaze Crow doubles the value of his boosters. Various of these will be particularly effective against various decks, depending on whether they depend on boosters, support, or special effects to win

Strategy: The strategy of the Flit is beautifully mirrored in their theming. They dive down and pull up in an arial dance, and sometimes they make large, sudden attacks that their opponents don't expect at all.

Much moreso than in the basic decks, it pays to generally play low when you're playing the Flit. Drop the lowest character you can, then retrieve it. Rinse, lather, wash, repeat. This will cause your opponent to waste cards while you're having no impact on your own card supply.

You almost always want to retrieve your retrievable cards. This does have some deficits. You won't draw new cards after your first retrieval. In addition, you're not building your combat area up to the 6 cards required for a double-dragon reward. However, you can utterly bamboozle your opponent.

Be aware that you're going to eventually have to "sacrifice" some of your Flit, because when you win a duel the winning Flit is going to be discarded. If you have a choice, think about which Flit you don't mind going away. Also consider that you might sometimes want to sacrifice a Flit before the battle ends to ensure that you hit 6 cards. The easiest way to do this is to play a Flit with two boosters followed by a Flit with two boosters. It costs 40% of your paired booster supply, but if it gives you a two-dragon swing, it's probably well worthwhile.

The boosters do work the best as pair, because they can let you make a sudden increase to a hard-to-match number. A 7-8 is quite possible, while a 10 is doable in a perfect world--but probably overkill.

Ideally during a fight you'll want to bounce a few retrievable characters off the table while your opponent is playing early cards. Then, when you think you've seen his best hand strength hit him with one of the special characters and a good pair of boosters; between the special effect limitations and the high value he'll have a hard time matching you.

Counter Strategy: I'm generally not a big fan of card counting, but if your opponent is playing the Flit you must keep track of the retrievable cards that they've retrieved. Unless you're just trying to cycle your hand or increase your combat area to 6 cards you never want to play a card whose value is lower than or equal to a retrievable that you know your opponent is holding. Generally, if you can play medium-value characters (4+) rather than low-value characters (1-3) you have a better chance of keeping your opponent on the defensive. Otherwise, you'll just be watching him drop and retrieve cards as you edge the combat value up.

If you can keep the combat value at 4 or 5 you'll generally be forcing your opponent to either play boosters or drop out of a fight. However try and keep some support, boosters, or high-value characters on hand to defend against a sudden Launch.

Also don't be afraid to drop out of a battle just to kill one of your opponent's retrievables, particularly the better ones. They're a limited resource. Even if you lose a dragon you may be hurting your opponent's chances for the future.

Finally, be very aware of any anti-booster cards you might have, because if you can prevent the play of boosters, or ignore them, you'll greatly hurt a Flit player's chances to win. Consider those cards very valuable in a fight against the Flit.

Deck #4: The Mimix

Strengths: Strong characters which can be easily combined

Weaknesses: Few special effect texts, with the best (shamans) pretty hard to play.

Cards of Note: The following cards are of particular note in the Mimix deck.

The Two Call Spirits (Leadership). Call Spirit of the Underworld lets you recover something from the discard pile, and Call Spirit of the Battlefield lets you retrieve something from the combat area. These should both be used to help put pairs of Mimix together.

The Four Shamans (Character). These four 2/2 characters represent most of the Mimix's special effect characters. They're all hard to play because of their low values, and the Shaman of the Afterlife and Shaman of the Here and Now are even more dificult because they have "stop" symbols on them. As a result, you should play Shamans whenever you have an opportunity, starting off duels with them, or responding with them if your opponent starts off low. Every one of the Shamans let you draw a card (from the draw deck or the discard), thus allowing you another opportunity to get pairs of Mimix.

Virgins of Pure Fire & Earth (Character). A 6/1 and a 1/6. Don't bother playing them paired, as they're almost as good on their own.

Strategy: Playing the Mimix is all about playing the pairs of Amazons. You've got tons of character cards, so you shouldn't be afraid to play them, and you want to play them as pairs whenever you can, to make up for the general lack of boosters and support in this deck.

The trick is, of course, getting the pairs. You don't want to just depend on luck for this; instead you should concentrate on using the cards you have that can help you set up pairs. As already noted, that's the shamans and the Call Spirit cards. I see much of the Mimix gameplay as a dance between Shamans and the Amazons. You play the Shamans whenever you can to create pairs of Amazons, and otherwise you tread water until you're ready to drop a pair down together, hopefully as a crippling blow.

One of the hard decisions with the Mimix is always when to play a character when you don't have its pair. Generally it's better to do this with the weaker cards than the strong ones; you can quickly remember which category a card fits into by looking at its moons (from 0-2) or by summing up its fire + earth values to remind you of its paired total (from 5-8). In addition, remember that the Heroine of the High Flames doesn't have a pair in this deck (it's in the Vulca deck), so you shouldn't be concerned about playing her. Likewise, as already noted, because the Virgins are so offbalanced, you probably want to play them standalone anway

You should also be more willing to play an umatched card if you haven't yet used the cards which let you retrieve a played card yet. (That's the two Call Spirits and the Shaman of the Afterlife.)

When you drop pairs, you should try and match them up with the boosters, support, and free characters in this deck. However, those other cards are very rare and thus should be treated as real commodities. Don't spend them early, if the numbers are still low, unless you think that your opponent just offered his best shot. Do try and use them when you're dropping down a good pair, in the hope of totally overpowering an opponent. (This can be quite important since the Mimix otherwise max out at 8 for a pair.)

Counter Strategy: The Mimix's greatest weakness is ultimately their dependence on paired, no special-effect characters. Thus, particularly effective cards against them are ones that limit the playing of cards (say, to just one in the combat area) and ones that require them to play characters with special effects. The latter can knock the Mimix straight out of a fight since every one of their special effect cards is a 2/2.

Generally, pressing a fight quickly can hurt the Mimix. The faster you hop to the high numbers, the less likely they are to be able to build up to their pairs. In addition, always try and jump the duels straight up to "3" or higher. This will prevent them from playing their Shamans unless they waste a bosoter or support when they do so (and that's not even possible with the two Shamans who have stop icons.)

Support can be particularly effective against the Mimix, because they have to match it with expendable cards, so don't be afraid to play Support against them early in a fight, forcing them to waste better resources throughout the battle.

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