Yeah, you heard me. The My Little Pony Collectable Card Game, by Enterplay, is totally worth playing. No joke. And before you go into a whole “Aren’t Ponies for kids?” rant, it’s best to point out that this game is a bit more complex than most kids can grasp. That being said, let’s talk about ponies for a moment!
The goal in My Little Pony is simple: To solve problems. Problems score you points, and points win you the game. That’s it. It’s not about casting spells and murdering your opponent, but about good old fashioned elbow grease and friendship. The game contains a variety of cards to help you in that goal:
MANE CHARACTER CARDS
The heart of your deck, you’ll choose a Mane character card to build your deck around. In this case, we have Rainbow Dash. She’s a blue (Loyalty) Card, as shown by her card frame. That number in the upper right shows how strong she is and what she contributes to solving a problem. (1 blue) The home limit shows that you can only have a certain number of cards in your home area. In this case, 3. You’ll also note it has an ability that turns the card over!
Here’s what she looks like on the other side of the card. She’s even stronger, and picks up a bigger Home Limit, and gains a new set of powers! All of the Mane character cards work like this, and there’s one for each of the show’s Mane six ponies.
But it’s not enough to just have one pony to solve a problem, that’s where friend cards come into play!
Fiddly Faddle here is what is known as a friend card. See? It says so on her card! What you may notice is that she’s white (Generosity) instead of the blue that Rainbow Dash is. That’s because there’s six different colors in the game. You may also notice she has the same number setup in the upper right, determining her power. (2 white) Which goes into solving problems. But what you may also notice is she has a set of numbers on her left middle border! The first number says “Cost” and shows a 2 in a circle. This means you need to pay 2 action tokens to play her. The second number is a box that shows 2 white. What this means is that to play her, you also need to have ponies/friends in play that have a total power of 2 white or more to be able to play her! (So say you somehow had another pony with a power of 2 white, or multiple ponies whose powers equaled that much or more together, you would be good to go!)
Friends can be played at either player’s problem, or at home. Ponies that are at problems can attempt to solve them if they meet the requirements, or you can keep them home and move them when you need to. Up to you.
So we talk a lot about problems. But what the heck is a problem?
Oh Noes! Wet mane!
THIS is a problem. The meat of the game. The way you win. Aside from your deck, you build a 10 card problem deck. You can have no more than 2 of any problem in the deck. At the start of the game you’ll pick a problem card that says “Starting Problem” In it’s text, and put it face up on your problem deck. (The card pictured would be a valid choice) And then, you attempt to solve the problem by moving Mane characters and friends to that problem. You’ll notice there’s a set of icons and numbers in the bottom middle, these are the requirements for solving the problem. In this case, you need 1 blue worth of power, and 1 blue of a color that ISN’T blue to solve this problem. You play or move friends to problems to solve them. You can play a friend card to it, or multiple, or you can move them to it. (we’ll discuss moving in a moment.) Once you have friends/mane characters that equal or exceed the requirement, you solve it and score a point! If you’re the first to solve it, you score the listed bonus points! Every turn you have the required power there, you keep scoring a point!
How the heck would you be the first to solve it you may ask? Well look at that upside down number in the upper middle of the card. That side faces your opponent, and tells him he can solve that problem for a cost as well, in this case it’s 4 total power of any color/colors. So if he gets friends over there that meet those criteria, he/she can solve it and earn the point. If you get to the point where you can BOTH solve that problem, and you both have the required horsepower (haha) there, you’ll engage in a faceoff to determine the winner! A faceoff is simple enough to do, you just both add up your total strength at that problem, and flip a card from the top of your deck, and add that card’s strength (again, in the upper right) to your total. Then after everything is done, you put the problem on the bottom of your problem deck and flip over the next one in line.
Of course, Mane Characters, Problems, and Friends aren’t the only cards in the game. There are three very important cards we haven’t discussed yet!
Every problem is easily solved with pastry
This is a resource card! Resources are cards you can play to give various boosts, and do a variety of different things. You play them wherever they tell you to do so, and the text will tell you HOW to use them. They have costs, just like friend cards. In this case it’s 2 action tokens to play, but you need to have 3 pink (laughter) worth of strength on the field to play it. That number on the upper right? That’s how much the card contributes to faceoffs. (The card’s strength) As you can see, this one is high, and that’s why this card is good. There are various types of resources, but they all do a good job of telling you how to use them.
Next up are Event cards! Like Resource cards, Events usually tell you when and how you can play them. The difference is that Events go to your discard pile after use, while resources usually stick around unless they have an ability that removes them. You’ll see the same card anatomy here that you typically do on other cards, such as cost, card strength, etc.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Troublemaker cards. These little buggers are played from your hand for 1 action token, and you typically play them at your opponent’s problems (with the exception of another kind of troublemaker card known as a Villain card.)
Troublemakers are played to block your opponents from solving problems, while having effects that disrupt their game plans. Troublemakers chill there until the opponent defeats them in a Troublemaker faceoff, which is pretty much like a regular faceoff. The number in the upper right is the Troublemaker’s strength, and you’ll note the little blue box on the left that notes that if your opponent beats it, they score a point.
So we’ve mentioned the card types, but how do you PLAY the game? Well, I’ll give you a quick rundown:
The game is divided into phases, and I’ll briefly explain each one:
1.) Ready Phase
–Draw a Card
–Ready any exhausted cards: If a card effect exhausts a friend, this is when you unexhaust it.
–Collect Action Tokens: Action tokens are how you play cards from your hand. At the start of the game, you collect 2 action tokens a turn that you can use to play cards. If you don’t use them, they accumulate over turns, so your next turn, if you didnt use the 2 from last turn, you’ll have 4! As mentioned previously, all cards have their action token costs printed on them, except for Troublemakers, who cost a flat 1. A special note on action tokens: As the score rises, players receive more action tokens each turn.For instance, when any player reaches 2 points, both players start receiving 3 tokens a turn, regardless of who has the higher score. This goes up to 4 tokens a turn at 6 points, and 5 once a player reaches 11 points!
2.) Troublemaker Phase
-Uncover your face-down Troublemakers: When you play a Troublemaker, it enters the field face-down on your opponent’s problem deck. They’ve got a turn to prepare for it, because during your Troublemaker phase, you’ll reveal the Troublemaker! (you only play Troublemakers during your Main Phase though.) So this is when you would flip it face up! If you’ve got Troublemakers blocking your path that your opponent has played, this is when you can challenge them to a Troublemaker faceoff.
3.) Main Phase
This is when you can spend those delicious tokens! You can play friends to your home or to either players problem, play resources and other stuff! Here’s what you can do with those tokens!
–Pay 1 token to draw a card
–Pay 1 to play a Troublemaker face-down at an opponent’s problem (or a villain at any problem)
–Pay 2 to move a character: If you have a character at home or a problem, you can pay 2 action tokens to move them to another problem or home. Some characters have abilities that can reduce this though. :p
–Pay 2 to ready frightened Friends: Sometimes friends get frightened from card effects. If they do, they get turned face down and are essentially useless until you ready them again.
And of course, pay the costs of any Friend, Resource, or Event to play it during this phase!
4.) Score Phase
-Score 1 point for each problem you confront: Easy enough really. This is the phase where you solve problems and score points!
-Resolve any Faceoffs: This is where you resolve faceoffs, and flip a new problem (If a faceoff occurs)
So that, in a pretty big nutshell, is the MLP card game. There is definitely an emphasis (almost requirement) for you two play at least two colors, which kind of drives the whole “nopony can solve a problem alone” theme the game has going for it. The first run of the game has had a little bit of errata, as some cards were printed WAY too powerful for their own good, but its a solid, well constructed game with a depth of strategy you wouldn’t expect. Some of the rules in the booklet can be a bit vague and foggy, but the internet has a pretty rich community devoted to the game, and can answer any tough rules questions.
If I have one complaint about the game at all, it’s about Enterplay. They’ve put out a pretty respectable amount of MLP goodies lately, all high quality, but they’re not a game company. But they have developed one hell of a game. I feel that the availability of the game is geared more towards checkout lanes and not Local Game Stores, which is baffling considering a game lives or dies by supporting organized play, which Enterplay seems kind of meh about. It’s up to your local game store to make the game a hit, because they’re not doing anything to offer prize support or promotional tools. But this in no way impacts what is clearly a fun and awesome game that I’m glad to have a chance to play.
Till next time, when we dive into the world of Indie RPGs!