Strategically Thematic: Millennium Blades

March 23, 2017

Strategically Thematic is a segment featured on The Dice Tower's bi-weekly Throat Punch Lunch videos about games where the theme and mechanics go together really well.

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Hi, this is Ambie from Board Game Blitz, and this is Strategically Thematic, a segment where I talk about theme in different strategic games. This time, I’m talking about Millennium Blades.

Millennium Blades is a card game that’s a simulation of a collectible card game. In the game, there are two phases: a real time deck building phase and a tournament phase. If you've ever played a collectible card game, like Magic: The Gathering, or Yugioh, or Pokémon, you know that you tend to spend a whole lot of money buying booster packs trying to get those awesome rare cards to go into your decks, or just to collect them. The great thing about Millennium Blades is that you can still get a bunch of booster packs and “rare” cards, but you're just paying in game money, not real money!

In the game, you have these stacks of cash that are used to buy everything. In the deck building phase, you can buy booster packs, which are symbolized by face down cards on the board. Since you really only care about rare cards when you're buying the packs, the game simulates this by the card being either a rare card, or an accessory for packs that didn't have any cards you wanted. You can also sell cards back to the store or trade them with other players if you have cards you don't want. There's an aftermarket where you can buy the cards that other people have sold, so if you don't like the uncertainty of buying a booster pack, you can buy specific cards there.

All of the buying cards and customizing your deck is done in real time during the deck building phase. You don't take turns buying and trading things in real life, so in the game it's also first come, first serve to get the booster packs and cards in the aftermarket. This adds a lot of excitement to the game, since you might have to hurry to grab a card you really need before someone else can take it.

In addition to making a deck for the tournament, you can also use some of your cards to make a collection. In collectible card games, a lot of people enjoy just collecting the rare cards or getting the complete sets. You can do this in Millennium Blades - each round you can trade in a collection of cards to get additional points. The tournament phase is the other way to get points. Everyone brings the deck they've built and uses it in the tournament phase, which is like a mini game within the game. Players take turns playing cards and trying to get the most points, and the cards have nice combos to play with each other or against other players.

Something that adds a lot of theme to the tournament phase is the meta cards. In any tournament game, a “meta” tends to form from all the people playing - some types of decks tend to get popular, and then you start building your own decks to do well in that specific meta. So in Millennium Blades, the game simulates this by giving you more points for following the meta in the deck you use. But the meta changes in each tournament, so your decks are always evolving.

I never got super into collectible card games because I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on trying to get good cards. But I loved the excitement of opening booster packs and putting decks together. Millennium Blades captures that feeling for me, without making me actually spend a lot of money. Thanks for watching Strategically Thematic! As always, let me know what you think in the comments below.
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