Review by Anthony Glynn
Have you ever looked at a game and thought to yourself, "That is going to be one of my favourites and I know it" and then your hunch was right?! That to me was Millennium Blades (MB) designed by D. Brad Talton, Jr. and published by Level 99 Games.
The Thursday Night Board Game Rumble is a weekly gaming group of friends and in this iteration of the Rumble Paul (Mav), Danny and Myself all took up the challenge of becoming the ultimate Anime card master!
In MB you will build decks of cards, play the meta, acquire valuable collections, crack open random boosters like a Friday Night Magic at your Friendly Local Game Store(FLGS), and compete in tournaments for prizes and fame. The game takes you from Starter Deck to Regionals in about 2-3 hours.
Play happens over 3 rounds with 2 phases per round, the Deck Building phase and the TOURNAMENT PHASE. I am going to start with the tournament phase as it is the most straight forward for non-gamers and gamers alike.
Each player is allowed to bring 8 "monster" cards, 1 deck box and 2 accessories (each depicted by cards) to the tournament, you take it in turns to play a card and then optionally do an action. After everyone has no more cards to play, the tournament ends and a victor is determined by who has the most points. Each card played is there to either help you increase your points or to conversely lower your opponents. The variations in MB are truly amazing, as any Collectable Card Game (CCG) player will attest to.
This game implements one of my favourite rules in recent years. Quite Simply; No Take Backsies. Once a card is played and on the table you are not allowed to remove it even if you instantly see the better move. This game stresses that the winner is the person who navigates the challenges presented, the first time. Ouch.
Already you start to see that in an Tournament things can get hairy, you come in with a vague idea of how you want to play only to have your friends say "NOPE!" then proceed to smash your face into the metaphorical dirt, as happened to me on Thursday Night. But now you might be thinking "this game doesn't seem that overwhelming", well let me bring you to the DECK BUILDING PHASE (DBP).
First and foremost, the DBP is played in REAL TIME and the amount of time you have is just 20 minutes broken up into 2 segments of 7 minutes and 1 of just 6 minutes. This doesn't seem like a problem until you see all the things you can do to try and improve upon your current deck;
- Buy cards from the store (not knowing truly what it is you are buying)
- Sell cards that you no longer want in your hand for fat stacks of cash
- Creating a collection of similar cards to score end game victory points
- Trading cards with the other players
- Revealing upcoming themes and meta games bonuses for the upcoming tournament
- Trying to get ultra-rare promotional cards
They were having an absolute blast. Wait a minute. Aren't we forgetting something?! Oh yes, amongst all of above did I mention that you are trying to CREATE A DECK OF 8 CARDS, 1 DECK BOX AND 2 ACCESSORIES FOR THE TOURNAMENT?! The first time Mav and Danny went into the deck building phase they were gobsmacked at the amount of cards they were holding and came out the other end bewildered at how much they were trying to do and yet none of it got done. In fact I am sure that was the feeling after the second DBP as well.
This game will keep you up at night wondering if you had only played the cards in a different order, or if you had kept that rare card would you have been the victor in the end. This is certainly one of the strengths of MB as it keeps you wanting to come back for more. Also thinking back on the game would be remiss to not mention the homage to Nerd Culture found in the design of the cards artwork.
The games art is jam packed with Pop Culture references that is sure to keep you smiling and laughing as the card progresses. Some of the references include everything from One Piece Pirates, Gundam Mechs to Mario Brothers to Firefly. Danny's favourite was the 'Lightning Bug' theme in reference to the Firefly TV series. Honestly if you can recognise every reference I will tip my hat to you or worry about the state of your mental health, I have yet to decide which one.
The end of the night rolled around and when we looked at the score sheet we realised that Mav had not only won, but won EVERY round and collection in the lead up. Danny and I could only congratulate him on a great win and swear revenge on our next play through
This is a game that is intimidating to look at for someone without a whole lot of card experience but is something that I wholeheartedly recommend for anyone who is after a game with almost endless replayability and where every decision feels like whether of not you should push the big red button. There will be times where you feel like you are drowning in an eternity pool of decisions but the fact you make some, own the mistakes and try to do better next time makes this one of my top 3 games in the Neeber Collection.