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COG Gaming - Millennium Blades game cover for interview

COG Gaming Kickstarter Highlight and Interview for Millennium Blades from Level 99 Games

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COG Gaming - Millennium Blades game cover for interviewYear Published: 2015
Designer: D. Brad Talton, Jr.
Publisher: Level 99 Games
Players: 2-5
Playtime: 120 minutes

The TCG/CCG as a game model is largely defunct in modern gaming with the exception of a few large, omnipresent titles like Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon.  It’s basically designer-suicide to attempt introducing a new collectible card game to the market, though that doesn’t stop enthusiastic, albeit misled parties from attempting each month on Kickstarter.  Part of the reason people keep trying, I think, is because the genre incorporates so many exciting aspects: the rush of opening packs of cards and the chance of finding something rare, the mental exercise of pouring over a collection for hours constructing card synergies and strategies for the perfect deck, the social interaction of trading, collecting, and competing, and the satisfaction of seeing your hard-earned deck emerge victorious.

The problem, however, is that Collectible Card Games can take a whole lot of time, and a whole lot of money.  Although I loved the aforementioned elements when I collected Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon, the fact is that I don’t have the time now to dedicate to collecting, and there are many other pulls on my wallet that really preclude me diving heavily into a TCG again.  The concept of the TCG is one I’m still quite fond of though, and each time I watch Yu-Gi-Oh it makes me wish there were some way for me to live out all those experiences again without the other commitments.

COG Gaming- Millennium Blades wizard characterWell, imagine my elation when I started hearing about Millennium Blades (on Kickstarter now), a deck-building game that simulates the full experience of collecting, building, socializing, and playing a Collectible Card Game.  Published by Level 99 Games, who you may know for their excellent squad-based card game Pixel Tactics, Millennium Blades starts players off on pre-release night with a starter deck of a fictional collectible card game by the same name, and challenges them to develop their collections through opening new packs, selling, and trading in order to compete for the World Championship.

You’ll find all the tropes of TCG/CCG collecting, and it’s pretty amazing that designer D. Brad Talton, JR. appears to have successfully emulated the various processes and experiences of collecting a card game, right down to the excitement of stumbling across ultra rare or promotional cards.  From turn-to-turn players develop their collections and decks, and fuse cards to build their strength for the tournament phase, which then pits the players against each other in points-driven rank contests to see who can acquire the Victory Points for that competition.  Finishing collections, making money, and earning friendship points for helping other players are also legitimate paths to victory, meaning Millennium Blades should accommodate many different playstyles and allow each person to pursue what they enjoy most in the TCG experience.

COG Gaming- Millennium Blades store setup

The designer Brad, and JR Honeycutt from Level 99 Games were kind enough to answer some questions for me about the game:

What was the initial impetus behind the idea for making a game about playing another game?

Brad: I played Magic and YugiOh many years before I got into designing games myself. A few years ago, I was playing an online collectible game, and it reminded me about how much fun it was to open packs and chase rare cards. I thought to myself “how cool would it be to make a game that’s all about collecting rare cards.” From there, I started in corporating more and more elements of TCGs until it eventually became a simulation of the complete experience.

How long after that initial “this could be cool” moment did you wait to actually conceptualize the first iteration of the game?

Brad: It took a few days for everything to get formed, but probably a week or two to get my first prototype to the table.

What elements of the TCG play and collecting experience did you think were important to try and simulate in Millennium Blades?

COG Gaming - Millennium Blades card exampleBrad: Millennium Blades takes 4 important aspects of TCGs and simulates them:
– Playing competitively.
– Collecting sets of cards.
– Making and spending money (through the store and aftermarket)
– Social interaction and community.

Were there any of those elements that got cut from the game as it’s now presented on Kickstarter?  If so, what were they and why were they cut?

Brad: We managed to include all of the aspects that I felt defined the genre and simulate them. However, Millennium Blades doesn’t treat all of these equally (social interaction is a little harder to score effectively than competitive play is, after all) but it does treat all of them in one degree or another.

Some of the stretch goals add in some additional game features or mechanisms, like the cooperative mode or the Event Venues. Other Level 99 Games have a great deal of room for content expansion- do you see Millennium Blades having that same sort of potential, and do you have any ideas you could share about future mechanisms you might like to experiment with adding?

Brad: I think that Millennium Blades has a huge room for expansions and extras, but we’re already doing everything we’ve thought of for the base game and the expansion. I think that more will have to come with time, but things like draft and sealed play are things we might like to experiment with going forward.

I love the art for the game, and multiple characters remind me existing characters from various shows like Yu-Gi-Oh.  Are there any characters from other TCGs or shows you particularly wanted to pay homage to or give unofficial cameos as you thought through the design?

COG Gaming - Millennium Blades Yu Gi ParodyBrad: There are too many to list! 😀
But obviously YuGiOh is a huge parody point for us (both in the Millennium Accessories, and the box cover character, Deques). I think the inspiration for the game’s level of silliness comes from anime like YuGiOh and Cardfight. That silliness comes out more strongly in the expansion, what with the co-op games and more fantastical characters.

Games from Level 99 Games usually include some cool cameos from friends in the industry, be they characters or actual people. Millennium Blades has a few of these, and Pixel Tactics Deluxe was chalk-full of them.  Are these usually from people reaching out to Level 99 Games, or do you contact people asking to use their likeness or creations?

Brad: It’s a little of both. We usually reach out to larger companies and peers, while smaller companies usually reach out to us. We try to balance between helping out others and being helped out. We want to pay forward the goodwill that’s been shared with us by so many of our peers in the industry.

Are there any people or characters in particular who aren’t currently in Millennium Blades you think would make for especially cool sponsor cards?

Brad: There are quite a lot that we would like to include. However, fewer people are interested in sponsoring a new property like Millennium Blades, versus something like BattleCON or Pixel Tactics that’s very established. Still, we have some cool sponsors to show off before the whole project is over, so look forward to those! 😀
JR: If it were up to me, I’d include the Ninja Turtles (favorites when I was a kid) and My Little Pony (I’m a huge Brony, as is our graphic designer, Josh) – they’re getting parodied, I’m sure, but I’d love the real thing. I’d also love to see the cast of Friends, just because there are six of them and I’d love to see how Chandler’s sarcasm or Monica’s OCD would translate into the world of Millennium Blades.

COG Gaming - Millennium Blades base box contentsLike previous Level 99 Games Kickstarter campaigns, Millennium Blades has a whole lot of base content to offer, and a lot of additional content being added through stretch goals.  The base game is no slouch with over 500 cards included, and to add to that there are sponsored promotional card sets and new expansion cards getting unlocked on a daily basis thanks to funding goals, and social media stretch goals.  A new cooperative game mode was even added, as were event venues and Millennium Accessories which add new mechanics to the game.   Backers recently also unlocked the game’s first full expansion as an add-on which includes well over 120 new cards at this point in addition to new playable characters.  At this point there are still a few days left in the campaign and it’s going strong, so I think current and future backers still have the chance to unlock even more content to add value to everyone’s investment.

The art and graphic design are perfect for what Millennium Blades is trying to simulate, even designating the cards’ different expansions on the backs of the cards by making them look like actual packs.  I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the cameo and parody appearances of beloved characters and real-life personalities in other Level 99 Games products, and I’m very happy to see they’ve continued that trend in Millennium Blades.  Fans of various series should easily recognize their favorite characters in some of the cards and playable duelists, and I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll see that list continue to grow over the next few days and as the game develops further.  JR and Brad gave some examples above of who they might like to see included, and after JR’s answers I quite frankly think the game needs an “80s & early 90s Cartoon” style card expansion in the game that includes parodies of not just the TMNT and My Little Pony, but gets some Ghostbusters, Care Bears, and other nostalgic references rolled into the game.  Until then, I’m quite enjoying finding all the Yu-Gi-Oh references.

You can bet this is one I’m backing, so look for our full review of the game after release! In the meantime, click the link below to learn more and support the game, or even get yourself included as a card!  I’m even tempted myself to sponsor a COG Steampunk character 😉 VISIT THEIR KICKSTARTER TODAY! 


Author: bduerksen30 I have an m.a. in history focusing on naval and maritime history in the Atlantic from the seventeenth-early nineteenth centuries. I've worked as a website consultant, and am currently employed as an analyst. I also run the COG Gaming blog for board game reviews, news, and kickstarter highlights. COG Gaming also offers playesting and editing services for new designers, and we're in the process of developing a few titles of our own. Contact me if you're interested in having your game reviewed, previewed, or in one of our other services!

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