Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tabletop Tuesday! Sailor Moon Collectible Card Game

Moon Crystal Power Make Up!!!

Today, June 30th, is the birthday of Tsukino Usagi, aka Sailor Moon! For this week's Tabletop Tuesday we played the Sailor Moon Collectible Card Game (CCG) to celebrate the birthday of the pretty soldier in a sailor suit, Sailor Moon!

Happy Birthday, Sailor Moon!!!
I was introduced to Sailor Moon by my best friend around 1998. Growing up without cable meant that I didn't get to watch it on TV, and she lent me her VHS tapes of episodes she had recorded off USA. I was immediately hooked and have been a fan ever since.

The Sailor Moon CCG was released in 2000 by Dart Flipcards and is based on the English-language version of the 1990s anime. Cards were sold in a Starter Pack, Character Decks (themed for the different senshi), and booster packs. This game is now out of print, but you can find new and used decks for sale online. I've seen listings on Amazon and eBay, and they are priced around $20 for the Starter Pack.

Follow the jump to read more!

I bought the Sailor Moon CCG starter pack circa summer 2000 at my local Blockbuster. Unfortunately it was hard to find Sailor Moon merchandise in my midwest town beyond what was carried by a nearby comic store and Blockbuster, so I never made any custom decks. I apparently did find a booster pack at one point, because my card collection has 71 cards, though! Booster packs contain 11 cards, and like other trading card games, some of the cards are more rare than others.

The starter pack contains enough cards for two players to play a quick game and in high school I would bring my deck to my best friend's house to give us a break from Pok√©mon cards once in a while!

The starter pack contains:
  • Two mini decks of 30 cards each
  • Health counters
  • Rule book
This is everything you need for a two-player game. Using the Character Decks and boosters it is possible to build custom decks and play games with two or more players. That's right, this game can be played with more than two players!

There are three different sets of rules, Basic, Standard, and Advanced, and the starter pack can be used to play all three. All three rule sets use the entire deck of cards. There are five card types used to play the Sailor Moon CCG: 

1. Scout and Knight Cards - these cards depict the good guys, the Sailor Scouts and their allies. These cards are used to fight the monsters and villains played by your competitors. Villains and Monsters can't attack the Scouts unless the Scout card has already attacked them.

2. Villain Cards - Primary enemies of the Sailor Scouts, these are the powerful enemies you fight with your Scout cards. These include the Negaverse Generals and the Black Moon Clan.

3. Monster Cards - Minor enemies, these cards depict the different monsters the Senshi fought in the anime series, such as the Negaverse Yoma and Doom Tree Cardians.

4. Person, Item, or Event Cards - aka PIE Cards. These are useful cards that help Scouts or affect the game in some way. They are based off of the minor characters and events in the series, such as Melvin or Amy's Cram School sessions, and allow players to draw additional cards, boost their attacks, or provide extra defense.

5. Power Cards - Body, Mind, and Soul power fuels the Sailor Scout's attacks. This is much like the power system used in the Pokemon trading card game.

For this post, we played games using the Basic and Standard rules. The Advanced rules are similar to the Standard rules, but apply special attack and damage reduction rules. The Basic game is completely different from the Standard rules, and is offered as a way for players to familiarize themselves with the different card types.

Basic Game
Honestly... it's a waste of time if your goal is to learn how to play the Standard or Advanced rules. Yes, you learn that there are Person and Item cards, but you don't learn what any of those cards do or how they are applied to the game.

For the Basic game, rule reminders are printed on the cards in pink text because they are so different from the Standard and Advanced games. The goal of the Basic game is to defeat all of your opponents Monsters with your Sailor Scouts. The Basic game is played by selecting four Monster Cards and one level 1 Sailor Scout from each deck, then using the remaining deck to determine turn order and action by flipping the cards over, kind of like War. Each card type has a specific action associated with it, so if you draw a Scout you add it to your allies, if you draw a Monster you discard it and attack your opponent's slate of Monsters with your Scouts, and on down the line. Items, Person, and Event Cards aren't used at all beyond determining what action each player does.

The game ends once one player defeats their opponent's Monster Cards. This type of game last 5-15 minutes according to the rule book. The pink Basic rule text on the cards is really helpful, because it saves time, but unless you're playing with a five-year-old who has no experience playing any trading card games, I would skip this one.

Standard Game
The Standard game is played by two or more players using 30 or 60 card decks. Just as with the Basic game, we played using the 30-card pre-made Starter Pack decks. The goal of the Standard game is the same as the Basic game - defeat your opponent's Monster Cards, but instead of defeating a predetermined number of Monsters, the goal is to defeat them until you win enough Victory Points. The rule book suggests 4 Victory Points for a short game.

Each player takes a level 1 Sailor Scout and one Monster Card (worth 1 Victory Point) from their deck. Depending on which Sailor Scout you decide to play, you can also start the game with one PIE card in play - these are listed on page X of the rule book. All of these are placed face down on the table and only revealed once every player has selected their cards. Each player also shuffles their remaining deck and places in on the table. The play area is set up like this:

This version of the game is played in turns, going back and forth between players. Each player follows these steps:
  • Draw 1 card.
  • Bring into play as many cards of any type as you like (excluding Defense Event Cards). Power Cards must be attached to a Scout or Monster to be in play.
  • Use the abilities of the Person and Item Cards on the table and play any new cards that are drawn as a result. Item Cards are discarded, but Person Cards remain in play each turn.
  • Play 1 action from each Scout Card in play, including an attack, a combined attack, or rejuvenating (discard Power Cards to heal 20pts, only if the Scout didn't attack this turn). The Monsters get to attack back, too. Place damage counters as needed.
  • Maintenance - this is when you remove any defeated Scouts or Monsters, awarding Victory Points as necessary.
  • Discard any cards you don't want from your hand and draw up so you have only 5 in your hand.

Sometimes the card text modifies this order and there are some nuances to the cards that can be played, such as Villains can't come into play until everyone has completed one turn, you can't have two of the same Sailor Scout or Person Card in play, and leveling rules apply - to get a Sailor Scout from level 1 to level 4 they must advance to levels 2 and 3 first.

An attack is completed by selecting a target Monster or Villain, attacking it, determining defense abilities and applying damage as allowed (some defenses prevent damage). The targeted Monster or Villain gets to respond with an attack, and the same order of selecting an attack, determining defense abilities, and delivering damage applies. On you opponent's turn, the only cards you can play are the Defense Event Cards to protect your baddies during this attack phase. Some Monsters have defense abilities that allow players to add items to them during this phase, too. Sometimes Power Cards are discarded after an attack by a Scout or when a Monster uses an ability or attack - this is written in the card text.

If a Monster or Villain is defeated, Victory Points are awarded to the player who defeated them. The value of the Victory Points is found on the Monster and Villain Cards, below the picture.

In the Advanced rules, the Monsters have Weakness and Strength against certain power types, and this modifies how much damage they take from each attack. The Advanced rules also allow players to discard cards to challenge attack results. These differences between the Standard and Advanced games are few, and can be easily learned once the Standard game has been mastered.

The Sailor Moon Collectible Card Game is a fun activity for fans of the 1990s anime series. I enjoyed looking at the Monster Cards and remembering what episodes they appeared in, or recalling the music and animation associated with the Scouts' attacks.

That being said... I remember finding this game a little confusing when I played it back in high school, and returning to it now after 10+ years I can see why. The rule book is 47 pages long, wordy is some areas and vague in others. I found at least three typos, and some of them were significant, referencing Sailor Scouts when the paragraph was clearly explaining Monster abilities. It is also very hard to reference the rules quickly, since so much text makes every page look the same.

Because of this, I think the learning curve for this game is higher than it should be, considering that it is not a difficult game to play once you decipher the rule book.

The game mechanics could also be streamlined to make the rules easier to remember. Understanding all the little caveats about what cards can be played when and how to figure out damage requires a close reading of the rules. And for some reason, I really hate the Jan-Ken-Pon system - it makes me really anxious and wound up. I'd rather roll some dice. But that's my own issue, and not really a fault of the game that I can't change for myself.

Other than that, I did enjoy playing this game again after so many years and teaching it to someone new (The Boyfriend). Because this game is out of print, I recommend this game to die-hard fans of the English-dub 1990s Sailor Moon anime or to Sailor Moon fans who really enjoy trading card games. Because of the problems with the game mechanics I would not recommend this game to anyone who wasn't already a Sailor Moon fan.

The card art is taken directly from the TV series, and the colors used are similar to other pieces of Sailor Moon memorabilia sold in the late 1990s/early 2000s. While they are not works of art, I like them because they play into my nostalgia for the series. Some of the Person/Item/Event Cards are really fun too, since they refer to minor characters and locations from the series. Because the game was inspired by the English dub there are some variations among the names and vocabulary of the cards, with a few of them merging Japanese and English names.

I don't remember what I paid for the Starter Deck in 2000, but it sells for around $20-$25 on eBay. I think that is a fair amount, since it is out of print and is probably similar to what it retailed for (at least, I know I wouldn't have paid more than $20 for a card game in 2000).

So... my final thought is, this is a lot of fun if you are a Sailor Moon fan. But there are better card games out there if you aren't.

Thanks for reading! Until next time, GAME ON!

1 comment:

  1. I've been meaning to comment on every single one of your TableTop Tuesday posts, but I just haven't done it yet. I LOVE these posts, though, so thank you for taking your time to write them :) I'm not really familiar with Sailor Moon, so I will probably skip this game, but I'm excited to check out some of the other ones you've recommended!