You stand across the bloodied mud of the battlefield. Your mortal enemy is just out of range, seething with lethal intent. Only one of you will walk away; only one will be victorious. Choose your weapons, test your mettle, and cross steel with your foe in a duel to the death.
Clash of Steel is a tactical two-player card game of medieval duels. Every element of play is designed to explore the nuanced and complex decision-making of crossing blades, from choosing your stance to selecting your target.
Gameplay focuses on managing your limited stamina, predicting your opponent's actions, and whittling their defenses down until you can land a final, crushing blow.
The game takes about five minutes to learn and 10-15 minutes to play. There are no random elements -- the only unknown is which cards your opponent's playing and how much they're willing to spend to gain the upper hand.
At its heart, Clash of Steel's gameplay is a series of tactical decisions. Do you want to hurt your opponent, stop them from hurting you, or edge for an advantage?
You won't be drawing random cards from a constructed deck; there aren't any lucky streaks; it's just several careful decisions, round after round, until one duelist is mangled to the point of defeat.
Every round works the same way, making the game quick to learn and easy to play, but allowing for enormous tactical variety.
One round you might fight aggressively, selecting cards to inflict maximum damage. But in the next round, you might take your time, reposition to a range more suited to your weapon, or try to mitigate your foe's advantage.
On each action, you bid (and exhaust) some of your Stamina cards, but bidding too much is risky. Reckless warriors might attack again and again, only to find themselves fatigued and vulnerable to a deadly counterattack. Likewise, minding which cards your opponent has exhausted will help you to predict their actions, keeping you alive until you land the felling strike.
Every round you can bid up to two Stamina cards, but different actions expend Stamina differently, adding an extra layer of strategy for the round. For example, Attacks discard both of your bid Stamina cards, while Moves only discard the lower-value of the two cards you bid.
The entire two-player game comes in a single poker-sized tuckbox, including 75 cards and the rules booklet. Note that the final deck will have unique artwork for every card (5 Stamina will appear differently than 4 Stamina, and so forth).
The Playmat Add-On (+$20)
We've designed a full color playmat that helps keep the tableau organized during a Clash of Steel game. Below is a mockup of what it might look like (not the finalized design). Just add $20 to your pledge and note that you're requesting a playmat during the reward survey, or simply select the combo pledge for one deck and one mat.
Watch the video above or download the rules.
To win, you must eliminate all of your opponent's Stamina cards. A typical game is a few rounds, each lasting a minute or two. An entire game usually takes 10-15 minutes.
Before starting play, you and your opponent set up your pool of seven card stacks:
- Action cards (Attack, Defend, Move)
- Target cards (High, Mid, Low)
- Stance cards (Strong, Quick, Neutral)
- Item cards (such as Axe or Shield)
- Stamina cards (with values of 1 to 5)
- Maneuver cards (like Armor or Feint)
- Wound Cards
Your card pool is identical to your opponent's, except for your choice of two Item cards and one Maneuver card. When you're both ready, you blind-bid Stamina to win starting Initiative.
Every round, you and your opponent each choose a set of cards that describes how your duelist moves and strikes: one each of Action, Target, Stance, and Item cards, along with one or two Stamina cards.
You begin playing your cards in a fixed order, while the player with Initiative decides, card by card, whether to play their card face down, letting their opponent play face down as well, or to let their opponent play a card first and face up, then play their own card face up. Stamina cards, however, are always played face down.
By choosing whether a card type is played face up or face down dictates the nature of the round -- the player with Initiative can either react to what their opponent is going to play, or they can act first and surprise their slower opponent.
Since each card's decision is independent, it might make sense for a player to choose to play all of their cards face down except for their Action card, reacting off of what their opponent did. Or, they might wait for each card to be played face up and go into the next clash with a full bevy of information.
Once you both have played all of your cards, any facedown cards get flipped face up. By comparing the cards you played, you'll determine who gets to resolve their Action card, who gets Initiative, and who suffers the pang of failure.
If you get to resolve your Attack Action card, for example, you hit your foe -- they lose their highest Stamina card and take a Wound, suffering its pains (a penalty to certain actions).
This process is repeated until a hit exhausts a duelist's last Stamina card, signifying the killing blow and the end of the battle.
$7,500: Increased art budget -- UNLOCKED!
Devin Hoyt (the primary artist) will make additional variations between the Red and Blue decks, changing details in the knights' appearances to make them more distinct.
$10,000: Linen Cards -- UNLOCKED!
A higher quality linen material will be used in all of the cards, increasing durability and feel.
$12,000: The "Retrieve" Maneuver -- UNLOCKED!
We'll add another Maneuver card, expanding your options!
$14,000: Black core upgrade -- UNLOCKED!
All of the cards' interior will be upgraded to the thicker, sturdier, more reliable black core. This helps prevent card transparency and bending, especially during gameplay.
$16,000: The "Warhammer" Item card -- UNLOCKED!
Adding a sixth Item to give you more options in battle.
$20,000: A sturdier clamshell box -- UNLOCKED!
Rather than a thin cardboard tuckbox, we'll upgrade to a much more reliable clamshell box that'll hold the deck and rules booklet.
$24,000: The "Dash" Maneuver card -- UNLOCKED!
This one gives you even more tactical opportunity to throw off your opponent.
$28,000: Full color, better rules booklet -- UNLOCKED!
We'll upgrade the rules booklet to a full color, proper print with some art and better quality paper.
$32,000: Improved quality clamshell box
The clamshell outer box will be upgraded to a higher quality stock with a sturdier coating.
$36,000: Print and play
We'll provide high quality print and play files for the mat and the game for every backer at the deck or playmat levels.
$40,000: Improved print quality for all components
The print-quality for the cards, the box, and the booklet will be improved.
And more to be announced!
Clash of Steel is being printed in China and shipped to multiple international distributors around the world. Shipping costs for each country or region are below:
- United States: $4
- European Union: $6
- Canada: $6
- Australia: $6
- Other: $8
Risks and challenges
This is SSP's sixth Kickstarter, and we've always delivered in full and on time. After partnering with Stewart Wieck and Nocturnal Media, we gained access to a huge network of resources -- printers, distributors, artists, and more.
The game's rules are complete and thoroughly tested. All that's left is completing the artwork and fine-tuning the layout of the rules booklet.
SSP is handling all of the production, while Nocturnal is managing printing and distribution. With our combined resources we're utterly confident in delivering a solid product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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