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1-4 Heroes battle the Witch Master in this miniatures based board game set in a magic infused Middle Ages realm.
1-4 Heroes battle the Witch Master in this miniatures based board game set in a magic infused Middle Ages realm.
4,656 backers pledged $727,648 to help bring this project to life.

Play by the Rules

Posted by Dark Gate Games (Creator)

Welcome Witch Masters!

Welcome to our first in-depth rules update. It is important to us that you gain a good grasp of the game during this Kickstarter. We really want you to be happy when you receive your rewards and providing information is the key to that.

Everyone learns in different ways. We have already released an early version of the rule book and two rules videos, with one more to come. There will also be a video showing a detailed walk-through of a full game round. Our rules updates will provide the info in a different way, focusing on narrow topics combined with our thoughts and intentions. Half rules, half designer diary. Hopefully one of these options will work for you. Enough intro, let’s get to it.

Today we will give you a quick overview of turn order, Stamina, Actions and Reactions.

Let’s start with the turn order. Unlike many games, players do not activate in a clockwise order around the table. Turns alternate between the Heroes and the Witch Master. On the Heroes’ turn, only one Hero activates, but that can be any one of the Heroes (with minor restrictions). It is completely up to the Heroes how they organize their Round, and this is not announced in advance or locked in with some kind of activation queue. 

Next, the Witch Master takes a turn, and they have a similar free choice. They may activate any one of their Characters, again with minor restrictions. We find this very dynamic, with the opportunity to surprise your opponent with a crafty plan or counter. You won’t find your activations limited by unfortunate card draws or ideas you locked in moments earlier. You are in full control!

These turns are very short, so the Hero players do not need to worry about waiting for long periods before they can join in. A turn is just one or two Actions. The rules stay out of your way and let you choose what you do: there is nothing to limit how you combine these Actions. You can repeat the same Action twice and perform different Actions in any order. 

Starting from a position shown by the solid icons, the Crusader can Move then Attack or the Executioner can Attack then Move; there’s no prescribed order. Or if the Witch Master is active, then the Possessed Farmer can Attack the Executioner twice; there’s no restriction on double Actions.

There are some minor restrictions for activating, most importantly you must have Stamina in reserve that you can exhaust. Each Hero has their own pool of Stamina and the Witch Master has one larger pool for the whole Legion of Darkness. You can’t activate when you are out of Stamina. Each Action requires a different amount of Stamina, and the same Action may cost different Characters different amounts. All Actions and the associated Stamina are visible on game components, so there’s little to remember.

Managing Stamina is important, so either side may pass their activation and play a cautious “wait and see” game. It’s great if you can run your opponent out of Stamina and get a couple of consecutive turns at the end of the Round, while your opponent passes. But being too passive can backfire! The Round ends if you both pass and everyone recovers their Stamina. If my opponent passes twice in a row, I’ll pass too, refill my stamina pool and say thanks for the two free Actions!

Further, it gives you another method to harass your opponent. There are spells and plagues that target Stamina directly and you might find ways to force your opponent to spend Stamina on actions when they would prefer not to. 

I have talked about Actions without defining them, but the term should be intuitive: when you are active you take Actions. I’ll skip the basics today, like Move, Attack, Trade, Search, as they are in the rule book and first rules video. 

The Executioners’ Alchemy Book, shown here, has 3 Actions and 5 Reactions, marked by the “play” and “stop” icon, respectively.

Many Actions are found on game components, for example the Heroes’ Alchemy Books or on the Witch Master’s Witchcraft Cards. This leads to variety in the game when you use different Characters, or draw different cards from the decks. Further, many of these Actions are effectively hidden from your opponent, since they are on cards in your hand. This leads to surprising moments of cinematic activity!

But you might make as many Reactions as Actions. They are similar, but Reactions require a trigger before you can resolve them: you need to React to something happening. You do not need to be active for many of the triggers to fire, indeed for our simplest example, you will never be active: when you are Attacked, you can use the Defend Reaction. Let’s look at a much more exciting example on this Witchcraft card:

Bang! The little square is the general Reaction icon, meaning stop the game and resolve the text. Next comes the Stamina cost, you must exhaust stamina for Reactions too. Don’t worry about the details of Attacking now, but you can see this allows the Witch Master to make unexpected Attacks while inactive.  The Heroes have similar opportunities with Reaction Alchemy spells, for example. 

The goal of the Action/Reaction terminology, and the consistent “When …” wording, is to make it clear when you can act. Controlling an inactive Character does not mean you are not playing, as your reactions will get you into the game. There will be some careful strategizing so that your powerful Reactions do get triggered!

If you want to see more of the base elements of the game check out the introductory video or take a look at the rule book. We’ll be back with a look at Attacking and Defending soon.

Download the rule book here. 

Watch the first rules video on YouTube. 

Pick a side!


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    1. Tony at DGG Collaborator on

      Yes, you can react after you pass ... as long as you have stamina to pay for the Reaction.

    2. Tomi on

      I just went briefly through the beta rulebook and there is one thing that hit my eye.
      The heroes have 2 options - make an action or pass. But what happens if the hero doesn´t want to do any actions because he might be f.e. attacked and he wouldn´t have enough stamina if he performed an action.
      My question is - can you perform reactions even after you passed this round?
      Thanks for your answer

    3. Tony at DGG Collaborator on

      @Rodney A Awesome. a meaty rules question. Thanks for reading the rule book. Any chance of you reposting this question in the rules section on BGG? There's not much space to talk in comments (and no chance to edit my typos).

    4. Missing avatar

      Rodney A on

      Nice rules update and decided to have another look at the rulebook.

      @ DGG I'm guessing that generally the witch-master (WM) will have more stamina than an individual hero (but similar to the heros combined total). Are there any protection mechanics (other than focusing the witches as that seems to lock down the WM pretty good) to prevent a WM from just continuously re-activating a powerful minion and just out-stamina burning the hero down? I saw there was the Aid reaction but this is dependent on proximity.

    5. Tony at DGG Collaborator on

      @Larkin No limit. I mean during a game will make an approximately equal number of Actions and Reactions. Reactions are common.

    6. Missing avatar

      Victor Ramirez Martin on

      I need the rules in spain xD

    7. Josef Hanzl on

      Well, interesting variant of Conan (which I missed) and Batman (which I skipped), easy and simple. Exactly the system, I was hoping I could do for my "great miniatures/poor game" board games. Pleas, make great narative and expand board with more diverse tiles and many will go all in, included me

    8. Larkin on

      What does 'you might make as many reactions as actions' mean ? Is there a reaction limit per turn ?

    9. Run to the Hills on

      Informative! Thanks DGG.

    10. Rowan

      Thanks, that actually cleared up a lot of things I was concerned about with the heroes and I'm excited to try them out!

    11. Tony at DGG Collaborator on

      There will be more graphics in the next ones! Thanks guys.

    12. Diego Ruiz-Hernandez on

      Awesome. Thanks. Very appreciated.

    13. Diego Ruiz-Hernandez on

      Awesome. Thanks. Very appreciated.

    14. Mark-Ders on

      Excellent. Thanks.

    15. Locusta on

      Thanks for the update!