Firstly, designate an Officiator. This is the story-teller and Game Master of your war, who does not participate in regular gameplay, but instead directs the narrative by means of story cards, improvisation, and organisation.
Without showing the other players your cards—
- Shuffle and distribute character cards, one per player
- Shuffle and distribute trait cards, two per player (Each player checks their trait cards for any set-up bonuses)
- Shuffle and distribute class cards, one per player
- Each player takes the deck of cards for their assigned class, shuffles it and draws one familiar
- Place player pieces on the board, a character piece and a familiar piece, in each corner of the map (unless otherwise dictated by trait cards)
- The Officiator draws five story cards, and is allowed to keep or discard them as they please. An experienced Officiator may choose not to draw cards at all, and instead create their own story from scratch.
- Gameplay order is determined by the character with the highest SPD stat, and proceeds clockwise. If characters have an equal SPD stat, each rolls a d10, and the player with the higher number goes first.
Once the cards are distributed, the board is set, and the instructions on any cards that require set-up bonuses have been followed, the objective is to defeat the other players, and claim the Boon for yourself.
In order to do that, each player can take one action per turn, and each action takes two turns to complete. Standard actions are:
- BOUNDARY — Increase the area of the board you own by one additional row and column, i.e. a 3×3 territory becomes a 4×4
- STRENGTHEN — Increase one of your character’s stats by +1 OR one of your familiar’s stats by +10
- SKILL — Use a character or familiar’s unique skill.
Any action may also be assisted by a strength, speed, or stealth roll. Strength doubles the effectiveness of an action (ex. a 3×3 territory becomes 5×5) but takes an extra turn to complete. Speed reduces the number of turns an action takes to perform. Stealth allows you to hide your action from the other players and the Officiator.
To perform an action with skill, announce the skill you are rolling for. Then, roll one d10, and add your relevant character stat to the number. If the number is higher than 5, the attempt is successful.
Ex: a player rolls a 5 for stealth, and their character STL stat is +1. Their overall roll is 6, which is a successful stealth attempt, and their action is hidden from the other players.
Within your boundary, you have advantage on all rolls. This allows you to roll a second time if an attempt to use a skill fails. Ex: you roll a 3 on SPD, with a +0 character stat, and fail the attempt. Because you are within your boundary, you roll again, and get a 6, which succeeds.
MOVEMENT is allowed up to 5 steps per turn; however, a player cannot move during an action, i.e. you can move at the beginning of your turn before starting an action, or at the end of a turn when the action is completed.
The game ends when all other players are defeated, and the victor has claimed the Boon — unless otherwise dictated by the Officiator.
Combat may be initiated in one of several ways:
- You may deliberately attack another player’s character OR familiar at any time if they are within your familiar’s attack range.
- If you are within another character’s boundary, they may choose to initiate combat on their turn at any time for as long as you are within the territory.
Standard combat involves six turns, each turn involving a single action from a pool of three. For each turn, a player chooses to attack, guard, or break. The effectiveness of each action is determined by a triangle: attack > break > guard. The winning action deals damage to the loser, the amount of which is determined by the familiar’s stats.
ATTACK — ATTACK = TIE (both take damage)
ATTACK — GUARD = GUARD wins
ATTACK — BREAK = ATTACK wins
GUARD — ATTACK = GUARD wins
GUARD — GUARD = NO DAMAGE
GUARD — BREAK = BREAK wins
BREAK — ATTACK = ATTACK wins
BREAK — GUARD = BREAK wins
BREAK — BREAK = NO DAMAGE
Each player writes down their six actions and hands it to the Officiator, who marks the victory between each match-up, shows the results, and announces the damage taken by each player.