Back in February, we wrote about a great game that’s been revamped for a new generation. That game was Button Men, from Cheapass Games. At the same time that Button Men was being released, Dyskami Publishing was in the process of offering a pre-order for their game, Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge, which is a standalone game that uses rules and format of the new edition of Button Men.
While the game is based on Button Men, and the two are completely compatible (and fascinating to mix together), it is very much its own game with its own identity. For starters, it truly embraces its history as a “portable social game.” Button Men started as a game that people could easily play at conventions and other big gatherings. You would see someone else wearing a character button, and challenge them to a short game. Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge follows that inspiration and comes with a pair of lanyards and set of challenge cards so you can display your interest in a game while you walk around whatever event you are attending. It’s an amazing way to modernize a major element of the game’s past.
All together the game includes 24 characters from the Sailor Moon Crystal series, covering the Dark Kingdom and Black Moon arcs from the first two seasons of the series, and if things go well they may release an expansion with characters from the third season’s Infinity Arc. At the start of the game, each player selects, or is randomly dealt, one of those character cards. Each Character is unique and has their own strengths, weaknesses, and powers.
Every Character starts with four “Starting Dice” these dice usually from 4-20 sides, in standard sizes you would expect in many other games. However, some of the characters have 1 or 2 sized dice which use a token showing either 1 on both sides or 1-2 on opposite sides. This may seem strangely under-powered but they have some definite advantages. Let me walk through some of the basic rules, and you’ll see what I mean.
The game starts with both players rolling all of their Starting Dice, the player with the lowest showing roll goes first, So a d1 or d2 has really good odds to start. The first player can then choose to either make a power attack or a skill attack. For a power attack, they simply choose any of their Starting Dice to capture any of their opponent’s Starting Dice that shows a lower or equal number. The number of sides never matter for this, just the number showing. For a skill attack, the player selects any number of Starting Dice that add up to exactly the number showing on the die they wish to capture. After making either type of attack the capturing dice are rerolled before the second player takes their turn.
Every character in this game also has a special power. Some powers are unique to that character, while others are the same within a group of characters. For example, all five of the Sailor Scouts have the same Planet Power ability that lets them take an extra turn once per best-of-five match, but only Wiseman has the Death Phantom ability that lets him steal his opponent’s Reserve Dice.
That, conveniently, brings us to Reserve Dice; another mechanic unique to this game when compared to the original Button Men. When a player loses a round, they have the option to bring in one of their Reserve Dice. If they do, that die permanently becomes one of their Starting Dice in the remaining rounds of play. So now in round two, the player that just lost round one could have five starting dice, not just four.
One of the first people I showed this game too was a local expert on anime merchandise in general, and on Sailor Moon specifically. She was extremely impressed by the game and the artwork that was used in it. A glitch on her end has meant the copy she preordered hasn’t arrived, so she’s borrowing my set for a big Sailor Moon Day event this weekend. Sadly, I can’t make the event itself.
The Rat Hole occasionally sponsors and/or hosts gaming events, and we’ve already had three events ask us to bring this game out, keeping in mind that it hasn’t even hit brick and mortar retail shelves yet. There’s already a huge excitement around this game, and it isn’t the even first time that Sailor Moon and her allies have crossed paths with Button Men. Back in 2000 Dyskami Publishing’s founder Mark MacKinnon had just published the Sailor Moon Role-Playing Game, when he approached James Ernest at Cheapass Games about co-designing a set of Sailor Moon Button Men characters, which soon spawned a second set of characters as well. Eventually, Mark and James reconnected to discover they were both interested in relaunching Button Men, and Sailor Moon Button Men.
I’m loving this game, and with the amount of interest in it, I k ow I’ll be getting a great deal of play out of it over the next while. If you didn’t make it in on the preorder, don’t worry. You should start seeing it at your friendly local game store by the end of the summer, and you should pick it up when you do.