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A strategy card game of adventure and mad science!
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The Basic Game Rules

Posted by Cheapass Games (Creator)

Hello, all!

Today we'd like to tell you more about the history of this game, and explain the rules in more detail. We're also pleased to be almost 200% funded! This means we can make a few more upgrades to the game, as well as offering a few cool new products alongside it. More about those in the days to come.

A History of The Works

As you know, this is the second incarnation of Girl Genius: The Works. We printed the first edition 17 years ago, in 2001. That game, in turn, was based on an even older collectible card game by the same authors. So at its core, Girl Genius: The Works is a customizable game.

The Old Box: The Works, First Edition
The Old Box: The Works, First Edition

Summary of the Rules

The game is pretty simple. You start by dealing out 12 cards into a facedown grid. You flip up two opposite corners to get the game started. Then players take turns. On each turn you (1) flip up a facedown card, and (2) spin a faceup card 180°. 

Next, you check around  the edges of the card you spun, and see if any of the colored symbols match. If they do, that means those two cards have something in common, and their interaction "pops" the bigger one off of the board.

"Popping" means picking up a card, following its instructions, and then putting it into your Score Pile. These instructions are where the game can get a little crazy, because cards can pop other cards, make you draw cards, make you lose a turn, or dozens of other wacky effects.

Cards from the original Girl Genius: The Works
Cards from the original Girl Genius: The Works

After dealing with all the cards you popped, you play cards from your hand to replace the cards you took from the board, and then you draw your hand back up to five cards. 

Your goal is to collect 70 points in your Score Pile. Some cards and decks also include alternative ways to win, like the Circus card block pictured below.

Forced Moves: When the board still has some facedown cards, it is "open" and you can spin whatever card you want. However, once it is entirely faceup, it is "closed" and you must make a spin that will pop something. This is how you can be forced (or force your opponent) to pop cards with bad effects. If there are no moves left, then you shuffle the board and rebuild it facedown.

Basic Strategy

There are two layers of strategy in this game. The first layer is the puzzle mechanics of the board itself: you must be able to spot good moves for yourself, and leave bad moves for your opponent.

The second layer is the interaction of card texts. In Master Payne's Circus of Adventure, about 20% of the cards are "Circus" cards, and several cards have the ability "If you have five or more Circus cards in your Score Pile right now, you win." To shoot for this win condition, you have to grab as many Circus cards as you can, as well as control who gets to pop the final triggering card.

Three Circus Cards (Art not final!)
Three Circus Cards (Art not final!)

Reading the Rules

The rulebook for this edition isn't built yet. That's not something we usually do during a Kickstarter campaign, though it will certainly be finished shortly after we close. However, you can still find a PDF of the original The Works rulebook at, on our Boulevard of Broken Games.

There are a few differences in the new edition, of course, such as reducing the target score from 100 to 70 points for a shorter game. But that rules sheet should answer 95% of your questions about the game play, 93% of them correctly.

Something that rulebook doesn't mention, because that edition had only one deck, is that you can build your own deck if you want to. Mix and match your favorite characters and abilities from all the decks! The cards in this edition will have a marking in the corner (see the little green circus tent above) to distinguish which deck they came from, for when you want to sort everything back into its original box. 

Are the original cards compatible with these? Mechanically yes, but the cards are a different size, so mixing them together would be a challenge. You could use card sleeves to make them all into a single colossal deck. But we consider the new decks to be replacements for the old ones, and many of the old characters and abilities are duplicated in the new edition.

As to the contents of the different decks, that's a story for another update...

Thanks Again!

We're going to keep saying this, but thanks for backing Girl Genius: The Works and supporting a small game company (and its friends). We are thrilled that we can make this work, and we couldn't do it without you.

Now that you're a backer, you're also an advocate! Tell your friends about Girl Genius: The Works, and let's see how far we can go!

Jason Blackthorn, Ron Isdale, and 11 more people like this update.


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    1. Dave Marron

      Just re-read the update. Question answered. Sorry.

    2. Allen R. Bernstein on

      I am so looking forward to this!

    3. John Ickes

      I would like to see xXxenophile made, but I was more wondering if we could get the instruction book for the Works with a comic book to explain the game like in the instructions in the xXxenophile rulebook.

    4. Tony Cooke on

      @ John Ickes
      While I think a number of people would like an updated version of XXXenophile, I suspect a few factors weigh heavily against it - not the least of which would be the ACTUAL demand in a commercial profit-making sense.
      And unlike The Works, it was a CCG with starters and boosters, not an out of the box product.

    5. John Ickes

      Any chance we could get a "sanitized" version of the original collectible rules, with the "Illustrated rules" and all?

    6. Dave Marron

      Will the old cards be compatible with the new cards?