You Will Love Sailor Moon Dice Challenge
Anime Expo 2018
Over the course of four days, the Los Angeles Convention Center is transformed into a bustling hotspot for all things anime during the annual Anime Expo (hosted by the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation). AX (as it is known) is the largest anime convention in North America, hosting vendors, panels, world premiers, and so much more. During my coverage of AX 2018, I came across an amazing new game that blends the strategy of traditional tabletop games with the magic of one of the most beloved anime of all time.
“Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge“, designed by James Ernest of Cheapass Games and distributed by Dyskami Publishing, is a multiplayer dice game set in the world of Sailor Moon Crystal, the 2014 revival of the original magical girl anime. Made for players 10+ and between 2-8 players in a game, the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge utilizes the following components:
- 24 Character Cards that feature either a hero or a villain from the Sailor Moon Crystal Universe
- 24 Polyhedral dice (4 colored sets that represent each of the four supporting inner Senshi)
- 55 Cardboard die-cut tokens repesenting special abilities, coins, and victory tokens
- 2 Plastic Card Holders and 2 Custom Lanyards (advertising play opportunities, ideal for large conventions)
The goal of the Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge is simple in intention: utilizing four starter dice and four reserve dice based on the corresponding size value of the dice listed on each character card, you and your opponent each roll a starting roll to determine order. Once decided, you and your oponent will take turns attempting to capture the other’s dice until one person has had all of their starter dice captured. Each match is played on a best of three out of five, and the winner of each game is determined by the sum of each captured dice’s size (or number of sides – a d20, or a twenty-sided dice, is comprised of twenty sides and would be assigned a value of twenty for scoring purposes). An additional part of this game is the use of character cards that determine speical abilities of individual players; for example, certain characters would have the ability to re-roll their dice during a signal turn or the ability to block an attack on a specific die from their opponent. These special abilities are often interpretations of the powers or traits of actual Sailor Moon Crystal characters within the show.
During my initial preview of this game, I was actually surprised to find out that the Sailor Moon Dice Challenge is licensed by Toei Animation – the animation studio behind the Sailor Moon Crystal revival. In addition, the game has actually been signed off for production by Naoko Takeuchi (the creator of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, the original Sailor Moon anime, and Sailor Moon Crystal) and Kodansha Comics (the English publishing company of the Sailor Moon manga).
Initial Thoughts (Pre-Play):
While there is much debate around the animation style of the initial 2014 SMC (Sailor Moon Crystal) revival, I really did love the art and production value of the set. I’ve noticed that, in regards to table top and dice-style games, the boxes are as much a representation of the creative/art style as the actual game components. Based on the information in the included insert, it seems that the box itself is designed in such a way to provide a “game-on-the-go” style. This may appeal to those who participate in tabletop tournaments at conventions (Anime Expo has historically hosted a game area within the convention where attendees can sit, have the opportunity to challenge others, and to play among large groups of friends). While the game can accommodate up to 8 people for tag-team combats and almost unlimited players for tournament matches, I played the game in a one-on-one setting in order to get the best feel for the game. Additionally, the game comes with cards illustrated with each of the inner Sailor Senshi and Tuxedo Mask issuing challenges that often relate to their powers (these are intended to be placed in the included lanyards to advertise to others that you are open to play). As a note, I did notice that this box was extremely easy to transport throughout the convention and I really appreciate that design element – not heavy nor unwieldy, and it fit very neatly under one arm.
Thoughts (During Play):
I would like to preface this section by stating that I have never played a dice-based strategy game or an advanced tabletop game, so this was an entirely new experience for me. I also recruited the help of a friend who has never played a game like this, so this is truly the experience of two novice players. As I spent the first section on the initial impression of the set, I wanted to dive a little deeper into the deign elements of the set. The four sets of multisided dice (a d4, a d6, a d10, a d12, and a d20) are actually really pretty with rich colors and a shimmery, marbled effect. I also appreciate that they are themed around the color schemes of the four inner Senshi – Sailor Mercury (blue), Sailor Mars (red), Sailor Jupiter (green), and Sailor Venus (deep yellow). Additionally, each of the character cards have beautiful double-sided illustrations indicating your character, your assigned starter and reserve dice, your available tokens, and the game logo on the back. The individual tokens are incredibly helpful when keeping character powers in order (more so if you’re familiar with the powers of the characters in the actual anime and can associate them easily). By far one of my favorite elements of the game are the victory tokens, illustrated with a rose border. As far as game play, each game follows the basic format: As previously mentioned, your goal is to capture as many opponent dice as you can while protecting your own dice. After the starting roll to determine order, the player with the lowest-value roll goes first. The game is comprised of two main attacks – Power Attacks and Skill Attacks, explained below:
– Power Attack: A power attack is when a player attempts to capture an opponent’s dice by playing a starter dice that is of greater or equal value. For example, if I rolled a d20 and had a 15, I could capture any of my opponent’s dice as long as their dice is less than or equal to fifteen. This is a useful attack if there is a situation where you have the opportunity to capture a large-size dice that rolled a low number with minimal impact to the rest of your starter dice. However, you should note that when you have finished your attack, you must roll the dice you used in the attack once again. This could be detrimental if you have a higher size die and end up rolling a low number, becoming vulnerable.
– Skill Attack: A skill attack is a more specific type of attack where, should you not have any dice that have rolled a number large enough to capture an opponent’s high-value roll, you can use two or more dice to combine the sum of each die’s roll in order to capture an opponent’s die. This is particularly useful if you have higher size dice that rolled low numbers and you want to attempt higher rolls on the re-roll opportunity at the end of your round. However, the catch is that the sum of the dice used must equal the number of the desired opponent’s dice; it cannot be higher.
Each character also has specific attacks to use during the match. These are useful in detering your opponent from obtaining a high-size die (since their score is determined by the number of sides each captured die has) or in helping you keep your starter dice from staying vulnerable if they roll low. I’ll be honest: understanding the scoring and the use of polyhedral dice is a little complicated if you have never used these types of dice before. I’ve, of course, seen polyhedral dice before; many of my friends play tabletop games and collect fancy versions of these dice. However, keeping track of the sizes of each dice and calculating the score while keeping a strategic mindset took a while to get the hang of. I did really like that this game is extremely portable and requires no set up at all; you have your character card, your dice, and any tokens needed for those characters. There isn’t much fussing around and once you play a couple of trial games, you start to understand the mechanics very quickly.
- Portable – Easy to transport to various locations; does not require many materials
- Marketability – I know as well as anyone in this community that girls play tabletop and dice-based strategy games. I have seen them live at conventions and online, so when I write the following statement, please keep that in mind: This game makes tabletop games approachable for girls. Sailor Moon is beloved by many in the anime community, boys, girls, and non-binary alike. However, Sailor Moon was a genre-defining shoujo manga aimed at girls. With that in mind, I really appreciate that this game is not hard to pick up and has the potential to introduce a lot of girls and young women (and even male or non-binary Sailor Moon fans) into the tabletop gaming arena. It makes this style of game less intimidating and introduces terms and gameplay that is shared among other tabletop games
- Art/Design: I really love the design of this game. The art is really beautiful and inspires the joy that I felt when I heard that SMC was being developed. In addition to that, you can see the love that was put into this game regarding gameplay. The abilities of each character really relate to their characters within the original story, helping to tell an actual story within the parameters of the game. Additionally, small things such as the lanyard designs and the challenge cards are really nicely designed
- Price: Selling in the U.S. and Canada for $34.99, this is essentially a nice starter set to the world of tabletop gaming. While it may be a little more expensive than an average board game, I think that the quality of the components and the detail of the gameplay (in addition to the fact that this is a licensed Sailor Moon Crystal game) really makes the price worth it
Rule Book: I absolutely love this rule book. It is illustrated in the same style as the box, includes extremely clear instructions on gameplay, and even has an example game with diagrams representing the use of dice and example turn scenarios
- Number of characters: I understand that this game was designed with specific arcs of the anime in mind (Dark Kingdom arc and Black Moon Clan arc), I would really like to see additional packs released with the Outer Senshi and possibly the civilian alter egos of the Senshi. I would definitly like the dice colors expanded as well and have additional sets included for larger tag-team battles. However, during my research, I discovered that an expansion pack based on Season III of Sailor Moon Crystal is currently in production!
- Attack Options: As I mentioned, I am new to tabletop games so this con may not be a con at all. However, I would really like a tie-in with the character’s actual attack names. It is mentioned in the manual that the large-size dice correlate to more powerful attacks while the smaller ones correlate to speed attacks. Having more tie-in with the attacks from the anime would be an exciting new dimension to the game
- While this isn’t a con in my book, I would argue that some fans may be upset that this game is sold under the Sailor Moon Crystal brand and not the original 90’s Sailor Moon title.
I absolutely love this game! Using the dice really was an interesting new aspect of gameplay and I liked that it really didn’t overload the player with too many aspects. Additionally, having this be a game that is tied to a series I have watched for twenty years really keeps me invested in the long-term play of the game. You can definitely tell that the production of this game was a labor of love and that this was made for both old and new fans. I would definitely rate this game 9.9/10 and urge you to pick up this game online!
Disclosure of Material Connection: YBLTV Writer / Reviewer Katie Hernandez, received a Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge from Dyskami in consideration for a Product Review.