Welcome to another edition of Discount Dive where I review games that are “on the cut” or deeply discounted. In the case of Blue Moon City, I found a copy on the shelf of my local game store for $20.00. Thinking about Discount Dive’s non-existent guidelines, I picked it up. Hell, it's a Reiner Knizia game, can't really go wrong with the good Doctor, right? (See my upcoming Discount Dive into Glenn's Gallery to find out exactly what can go wrong when picking up a random Knizia title).
Little did I know that CMON's version of Blue Moon City is apparently a Color Blind simulator to give game players a chance to see what it is like to play boardgames while visually impaired. The tiles are bland (Which I get, they all start as ruins so the grey color choices make sense in that respect). But when you rebuild a structure and flip over the tile, it should really pop. It doesn't. On the front of the tiles are the required number of points needed to contribute to rebuilding the structure against the background of the card colors. The card colors are Grey, White, Black, Blue (but not a bright blue, a muted brown blue), Red (but not a vibrant red but a subdued brown red), and Yellow (Not a sunshine yellow, but a dingy brown yellow). Now slap those on a grey background to really wash them out. Have you ever had to literally pull our your cellphone and turn on the flashlight to try to discern what color that background/card color is supposed to be? Well, you certainly wouldn't be able to figure it out by the light of the Blue Moon.
I've played more than my fair share of bland looking games. Thurn and Taxis, Nations, and Shogun immediately come to mind but I can't say I have ever played a game like Blue Moon City where it thoroughly impacted actually being able to properly play and enjoy the game. I've found myself actively avoiding picking this off the shelf because I can't be arsed to fight with trying to make out the colors on the tiles.
And the thing is that I really think I might really enjoy this game if it wasn't for these physical shortcomings. It's is a tight action efficiency game, where you want to optimize every single move you make to claim crystals and, in turn, Obelisk points before other players. Like many of Reiner Knizia's other titles, the basic actions you take hide an, at first, unseen depth. On a normal turn: you move, spend some cards to rebuild part of a ruin, hopefully gain some crystals to rebuild the obelisk (the true goal of the game) and draw some more cards. You'll find a suit that works as wild cards that you can play as any color. You will also find powers on the lower numbers of various suits (The ones and twos) that let you manipulate what is in your hand or how you move yourself or the Dragons on the board. So, each turn is weighing how many cards you want to spend on restoring the ruins versus how much you want to hold others and use those special powers. You'll also want to build in the sight of the Blue Moon City's Dragons, which ends up feeling like exhibitionists kinking it up with voyeuristic dragons. “Watch me rebuild this temple. Oh, you like that don't you? Dirty little beastie. Give me some scales.”
It wouldn't be a CMON game if it didn't have at least some miniatures. And the player markers are some of the most mundane miniatures I have ever come across: a hearth, a hammer, a bellows and a bucket. Pretty sure these fall heavily on the side of the “Or Not” portion of Cool Minis Or Not.
Will I be keeping Blue Moon City in my collection? Not this version. Hopefully my copy finds a home with someone with either better hallway vision or more patience for sorting out which of the bland colors the tiles are supposed to be representing.