Magic the Gathering, Yu Gi Oh, Pokémon Cards. These are all popular Collectable Card Games that have been around for years and most people will be, at least aware of them. Their popularity has sparked tournaments and highly competitive play, leading to players finding the most optimal combinations with the released cards to give them the best chance of winning. These card systems often have a changing “Meta” which is the best combinations of the cards currently available and allowed during play. So, why am I talking about these? Good point, but to fully appreciate Millennium Blades these need to be considered.
Millennium Blades is a board game about the people who play these kinds of games. It sees you taking the role of one of these professional players, from their first starting first booster pack all the way to them competing in world tournaments with the fictional “Collectable card game” in their world called Millennium Blades.
This game encapsulates the whole “Collectable Card Game” experience from buying and selling cards from the market, building your deck for tournaments and trying to complete a collection. One of the refreshing takes on gameplay is the use of real-time during play. Allowing players to make mistakes and learn from them in this high-pressure game.
It is funny and light-hearted, over the top and full of references, and if you have played and or watched any cartoons about these games you will find it very relatable and hilarious at times. The game is for 2–5 players with a two-hour game time and no specified age limit, but it's advertised as High intensity so is not suitable for younger children.
Ha You have activated my trap card?? No, but here is what to expect.
Firstly, Millennium Blades (published by Level 99 Games) is a big game and is packed full of hundreds of cards. You will also need to assemble some “Millennium Dollars” which are stacks of cash bound together. This is a nice touch, as the feel of physical cash as you are buying and selling cards feels great.
The game has a variety of different game modes but to start with I will go through a typical game for three or more players. Included in the box are play sheets for each of the players, the store and the aftermarket. The cards in Millennium Blades are made up of “Singles” cards, “Accessory” cards and “Deck” cards.
The Single cards represent the Rare or Valuable cards in a typical CCG booster pack and are characters or monsters that are used to play the game. Deck Boxes represent all the common and uncommon cards you get in these typical booster packs and in this game offer bonus RP points (used to determine your place in tournaments) if you use a deck, tailored to its type. Accessories are one off bonuses used during tournaments.
To set-up, each player is given or chooses a starter deck of cards, a character card (if being used) friendship cards and one “booster pack made up of six random cards from the store deck.” The store deck is made up of an assortment of packs that are available, offering a chance of having a different pool of cards each game.
So, the aim of the game is to win, and you do this by having the most Victory Points. You gain victory points by your position at the tournaments, making collections, making money and by gaining friendship cards from other players (Made in reference to many CCG cartoons that emphasises the power of friendship). Millennium Blades is broken up into different stages.
Each player is given 30 Millennium Dollars. You then choose a starter deck or can be given one at random. A store deck is created out of a mixture of the Core Expansion Premium and Master sets and there are more sets than is required to play. These extra sets allow for more replay-ability and chances of unique games.
This creates a tower of cards for the store. Two sets of Bronze and Silver Promo Cards (one set for tournament wins, with the other placed on the store sheet) and a Gold Promo set also placed the store sheet. Type and Element Meta cards are placed on the aftermarket sheet.
Four Sell tokens, character cards (chosen or randomly given out) and the corresponding friendship cards are given to all players. Fill the store sheet with cards from the store face-down and you are all set!
Players can also choose to use location cards, to add another element to the game but this is not required, however this is very funny. A Pre-release Tournament can be used for first-time players (and is highly recommended!) where you play a tournament with the starting decks only. This allows you to get a feel of the game before you start your first deck-building phase. The game will be shortened accordingly as only three tournaments can be played each game.
This is not a phase of the game but here are some details on how the cards work. The back of the cards (with exception to the core set) will show what Type and Element cards can be found in that particular set, allowing players to have a rough idea what to expect from it at a glance. They will also display a number in the right corner showing the Cost of the card if you wish to buy them from the store.
The front of the card will show you the Star Rating and this is used to determine the new value of the card when selling. It is also used to show the Strength of the card in Clashes during tournaments. The image of the character or monster and a description of any effects the card might have are also displayed.
Players are given three cards from the top of the store deck and then a six card Booster Pack made from another six cards from the store deck. None of these can be looked at yet. The player sheet will have details how to play the deck-building part of the game.
You will have a Collection area where you can build a collection of cards of all the same Type or Element, but each card needs to be a separate star value to count and are all discarded at the end of the phase. A seven-minute timer is set (I use my mobile phone), make sure everyone is ready to begin and start the timer! You can do the following;
- Buy Cards from the Store/Aftermarket – Pick any card from the store for the cost printed on the back of the shown cards or the Star number in the aftermarket and pay with your Millennium Dollars.
- Sell Cards - Sell cards to the aftermarket, its value is the Star number in the right-hand corner. You get the card's value immediately in Millennium Dollars and you place one of your Sell Markers on them. If you run out of Sell Markers, you cannot sell any more cards. If another player buys that card from the aftermarket, you will get the Sell Marker back.
- Trade Cards with Other Players - You can trade cards you have with other players. The trade has to be equal value, or the difference made up with dollars. You can ask for, or offer, friendship cards (which give VPs) if you think the trade is more favourable for the other player.
- Build your Deck - You need to make a deck of cards (min six signals) to take into the tournament phase. You will need to try and make a deck that will gain you the most RP in the tournament, with the cards that you have acquired and that are available. This is the main emphasis with Millennium Blades and will offer the most VP gains.
- Make a Collection - You can make a collection of cards that are of the same type, or the same element. Each card must be a different star value to count and the more you have, the greater reward in VPs.
You then are given another six card Booster pack and a new seven-minute is set - where you can do all the above again. You repeat this once more but with a six-minute timer and that is the end of the deck-building phase! You clear away and score any collections you made. Any cards you don’t have in your deck area are put in your binder. Turn over your player sheet and get ready for the Tournament Phase.
The idea of this phase is to gain as many RP as possible. You can use one deck box and two accessories, unless you have an ability that affects this. You each have a turn where you MUST play one card from your hand and can use one card action (which can be any card you have played that’s still face-up) and any actions used flips the card face down unless otherwise stated.
Face-down cards are considered void, blank and with no type or element. You play each card from the left most available slot in the tableau and the furthest card to the right is considered the top card when card effects are used. Each player takes turn until all players either reach six cards in their tableau or run out of cards.
Some abilities allow you to play more cards too. Some abilities allow players to clash with others, with the winner and loser being affected in some way. The clash takes the Top Card star value and then a card is drawn from the store. The star number form each card is added together and the player with the highest number win’s the clash.
When cards are played keep track of any RP gains or losses during the tournament. At the end of the tournament any cards that have a Score ability are activated and any on your RP track amended. The player with the highest RP wins first place and the other players are placed in second and third etc. They each gain VP based on how well they done shown on a table on the player boards. Promo cards are given to the first and second place holders. You then clear up the aftermarket cards if there are any and go onto the next deck-building phase.
There are three deck-building phases and three tournaments in each game. At the end of the last tournament a final scoring is done taking into account and friendship cards you have and for every four dollars you gain one VP. The player with the most VP wins the game!
The game also comes with different modes of play the too to accommodate different tastes such a two-player mode, turn based deck-building and drafting.
Final Thoughts on Millennium Blades
I LOVE Millennium Blades. It appeals to my taste in games perfectly. I am a player of CCG games and have done so for many years. I really enjoyed watching those nerdy cartoons growing up and into anime and gaming too. So, this game has a lot to offer me and many laughs have been shared with my like-minded friends.
The game mechanics itself are solid and really good fun, personally the deck-building phases provides the most enjoyment just because of the craziness of it all. That timer really puts the pressure on, and you have so much to consider that it goes in a flash.
The tournament phase is again is really solid but dare I say slightly bland at times as there can be very little player interaction at times. My only concern with this phase is that a mistake can prove fatal in a tournament (which is the point of this game) and can be a little disheartening if you accidentally brought one card you didn’t want into your deck that ruins your whole strategy. So long as you don’t take it too seriously you can appreciate why this is the case and you can learn from it.
I find the cards are often funny and are made themes from other pop culture references, but not quite the same to avoid licencing issues.
One issue I found with Millennium Blades is its appeal. For those who like or play CCG games, or are aware of them, you will find the game near perfect, for everyone else it will be just a “good” game. Also, if you have a player who is used to sealed or draft games, they will have an edge in Millennium games from the start.
Some of the rules and set-up can be a little problematic, such as the MASSIVE store deck and how difficult it is to set-up. Money in the game was also bit too good for getting VP and some character cards can net you big cash easily. If take a look on Level 99 web site you can see updated rules that have release with expansions for the game that can be used in the base game. Two rules I used are separating the core deck card from the other cards you would add in and have two separate decks. Money VP is also five dollars for one VP, not four.
With these rule changes the game is brilliant and definitely worth your attention. Happy gaming my friends.