I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
I read Collectable Trading Moon Game because it was suggested to me when I asked for lyric game recommendations. I’m glad it was because this is a poetic, nuanced and layered exploration of several different themes that repeat in analog games. It also has a feather light humorous style that makes it pleasant to get into.
The core idea is that you collect moons. As you encounter or experience a moon (for example, seeing it up on the sky), you make a note of it as a photo, a drawing, a poem, etc. Thus you build a deck of moons which you can then use in moon fights with other players. In a moon fight, each player recalls the circumstances of when they collected particular moons and if they fail to remember and describe, they have to move to a different moon.
There’s an interesting aesthetic quality to Collectible Trading Moon Game in the sense that sometimes it feels like it’s made to be read and not played yet the rules seem perfectly functional. The only trouble is that like with many collectible card games, you get the most out of it if there’s a local scene of people playing the same game.
Sometimes the rules veer to contingencies where the poetic image suggested by the mechanics is more relevant than utility. For example, there are rules for what to do if you play the game while physically standing on a moon, and what to do if there’s more than one moon in the sky.
In terms of presentation, there’s an interesting progression: Quickstart Rules, Basic Rules, Standard Rules, Advanced Rules, Variant Rules and Forbidden Rules. This plays on the way mechanics are presented in many games. The Quickstart is to simply look up at the moon. Forbidden Rules are bad play practices encoded as rules you shouldn’t follow.