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The player with the largest tribe (most people) at the end of the game is the winner.


Each player starts with:

  • 4 refugee cards
  • 3 scavenger cards
  • 1 brawler card
  • 1 spear card
  • 1 shovel card

Playing the Game

Each round of Arctic Scavengers has three phases, played in the order shown below:

Drawing Phase

  • 1) Discard all cards from the previous round.
  • 2) Each player draws 5 cards from the top of their deck, shuffling the discard pile and adding it to the deck when their deck becomes exhausted.
  • 3) Beginning with the third round, and continuing for the remainder of the game, the initiator peeks at the top card on the contested resources pile and then returns it to the pile.

Resource Gathering Phase

  • 4) The initiator takes the first action and uses any number of cards to gather resources.
  • 5) The initiator announces how many of their cards will remain for the skirmish.
  • 6) Play continues with the other players, in clockwise order, and they execute steps 4 and 5.

Skirmish Phase (Round 3 and following)

  • 7) Once all players have taken their resource gathering actions, players reveal their remaining cards for the skirmish and a winner is determined.
  • 8) The winner of the skirmish takes the top card from the contested resources pile and adds it to their discard pile.
  • 9) The initiator passes the initiator card to their left-hand opponent, starting a new round.

The game continues like this until the contested resource pile is depleted.

Resource Gathering

During this phase, each player plays any number of cards from their hand in order to add more resources (cards) to their deck. Gathering starts with the player that has the initiator card (lying in their play area) and play continues in clockwise order. There is no limit to the number of actions that a player can take during the resource gathering phase, although no action may be taken more than once.


The player draws one or more cards from the top of the junkyard pile. The player may choose one to place in their discard pile and returns any other cards to the bottom of the junkyard pile. The number of cards is determined by the sum of all the dig numbers displayed on the card(s) played from the player’s hand. As with other actions, dig may only be used once per round.


The player draws one or more cards from their deck, adding them to their hand. Multiple cards may be combined to draw several cards. As with other actions, draw may only be used once per round.


The hire ability is a free action (no card is needed to grant this action) in which a player takes a mercenary card from the face-up piles of cards. The player must be able to pay the cost displayed on the card. There are two currencies: food and medicine. Food is created in real-time using the hunt action (described below). Meds are provided in the form of medicine cards that must be played from the players hand in order to complete the hiring of a mercenary. Medicine cards do not require an associated person to spend. Each player may only hire one mercenary per round, and the player immediately adds the card to their discard pile.


The hunt ability generates food during the round that can then be used as currency for hiring a single mercenary card. The amount of food generated is determined by summing all hunt abilities played from the player’s hand. The player can assign tools to the mercenaries to improve their hunt abilities.


The trash ability is a free action (no card is needed to grant this action) that allows a player to take any number of cards from their hand and add them to the junkyard supply pile. The player does not draw cards from their deck to replace these cards. The junkyard pile is shuffled any time new cards are added.

Special Actions

Some cards may grant special actions that can be used in place of or to enhance a standard action. Examples include saboteur (disarm another player’s tool) and sniper team (snipe another player’s tribe member).

Using Tools

Each player starts with two tools – a spear and a shovel. Players can find additional tools by digging in the junkyard. Tools cannot perform actions on their own (these are inanimate, objects after all). A tribe member can use a single tool that enhances the ability of the action the tribe member is performing. Using a tool does not grant a tribe member an ability that they cannot inherently perform.


The game begins with two rounds of resource gathering (digging in the junkyard, hunting for food, and hiring mercenaries). In the first two rounds, there is no skirmishing. This allows each player to get a solid foundation prior to skirmishing over the contested resources. The initiator card remains with the first player for rounds 1-3. Thereafter, it moves to the initiator’s left at the start of each subsequent round.

Once all the players have completed their resource gathering actions, the skirmish phase begins. All players simultaneously reveal the cards that they have saved for the skirmish. The sum of the fight values from all of a player’s cards represents the strength of that player’s attack. All rules related to tool usage also apply to tools used as weapons during the skirmish phase (see ‘Using Tools’ above). Skirmishes are resolved by starting with the initiator and having their declare any actions performed by their units (including saboteurs and sniper teams). Play then passes to the next player in clockwise order to declare actions for their units (provided that they were not sniped or disarmed by the previous player). This continues until all skirmish actions have been resolved. Then the total remaining fight values are summed and the player with the highest fight value wins. The winning player draws the top card from the contested resources supply pile and adds it to their discard pile without revealing it to the other players. When cards are played during the Resource Gathering phase, they are discarded after use. During the Skirmish Phase, all cards remain until the end of the round, even if a special power is activated (e.g. saboteur or sniper team).

Resolving ties

In the event of a tie, each player sums the number of people involved in the skirmish (this includes refugees and tribe families that may not be directly contributing to the fight score) and the player with the most people involved wins the skirmish. If players are still tied, then the skirmish is considered a deadlock. In this case, the players place the top card from the contested resources pile into the junkyard pile without looking at it. The players shuffle the junkyard and the round ends. The player with the initiator card passes it to the left to begin a new round.

2 Player Variant

  • Remove two cards of each kind from the junkyard (i.e. 2 junk, 2 medkit, 2 pickaxe, etc.)
  • Eliminate all contested resources peeking
  • The number of tribe members a player brings to a skirmish is no longer relevant
  • Skirmishes must be won by 2. If not, then it is a tie and the players place the contested resource on top of the junkyard and then shuffle the junkyard

HQ expansion

Module #1 – Medics, Tools, and Gangs


  • 8 Medic mercenaries (can draw, hire for 1 med (like pills) or stop a sniper attack)
  • 8 Junkyard cards (4 Rifle for +2 hunting and fighting, 4 Toolkit)
  • 2 Gangs - go to relevant player at the end of the game. Worth 5 people.

The Gearheads gang go to the player with the most cards with the tool icon. Ties broken by most tools that are contested resources.

The Pharmers gang go to the player with the highest total med value from pills and medkits. Ties are broken by most Medics.

Module #2 – Engineers and Buildings


  • 8 Engineer mercenaries
  • 12 buildings (3 each of bunkers, armories, pharmacies, hydroponic gardens)
  • 1 Gang, The Masons - goes to the player with the most completed and enabled buildings cards at the end of the game. Ties are broken by most Engineers. Worth 5 people.

Engineers can dig in the engineering schematics pile (12 building cards as above). The process of constructing a building is as follows:

  1. Play an engineer card
  2. Use the engineer’s dig (combined with any modifiers) to draw cards from the engineering schematics pile equal to the dig value
  3. Select a maximum of 1 card to build and return the others to the bottom of the engineering schematics pile
  4. Place the new building card face-up in your play area
  5. Draw cards from the player’s deck equal to the building’s build time and place those facedown on top of the new building
  6. Discard the engineer card
  7. At the start of the player’s next round, remove 1 card from each building that is under construction
  8. Starting with the round following the initial building placement, additional tribe members (and toolkits) may be played from the player’s hand to accelerate construction on one or more buildings. Each tribe member played can remove 1 card from a building that is under construction. If wielding a toolkit, then 2 additional cards may be removed. Tribe members that work on construction projects may not take any other actions that round and are immediately discarded.
  9. Once a building has zero cards stacked on it, it is complete and immediately goes into effect.

Module #3 – Tribal Leaders

Adds 10 Tribal Leaders, each with a unique power.

Each player selects one of two leaders at the start of the game.

Module #4 – Dirty Deeds

New Saboteur Ability: A saboteur may attack a building that is completed and disable it, rendering it unusable (flip the building’s card over to reveal its back, indicating that the building is disabled). If a building is disabled, its abilities cannot be used and cards cannot be added or removed from the building. To repair the building, a tribe member card must be played from the player’s hand to work on the building and then immediately discarded.

New Sniper Ability: A sniper team may attack a tribal leader, wounding him (turn the leader’s card over to indicate the tribal leader is injured). This removes the leader’s advantage until a med is applied to the leader to heal him.

Recon expansion

Module 1 – Spy Hunter


  • 4 binoculars to junkyard
  • 8(?) Spies to the mercenaries

Recon Action - Enables you to peek at cards and gain essential information. Recon rules:

  • Only you may see cards as a result of your recon action. You may not share this information with any other player.
  • Cards are returned in their original order.
  • It may be possible for your recon action to be interrupted through a cancel action or as a result of a snipe attack.

Module 2 – Liars and Thieves

Adds assassin, provocateur, rogue, and guard mercenaries (select 6 other mercenaries for a total of 10 in the market)

Assassin: Like the sniper team, this mercenary has the ability to snipe an opponent’s tribe members during resource gathering or the skirmish. Unlike the sniper team, the assassin is restricted to only attacking single-unit tribe members (cards that represent only 1 tribe member).

Provocateur: Grants a special means of fighting through intimidation. During your turn of the skirmish resolution phase, you may announce an intent to use the number of tribe members you brought to the skirmish as your fight score. Count the total size of your force (tribe members you brought, even if they are not fighters) ignoring any tools or other combat modifiers, but including leader and building abilities that increase the size of your force. Use the total force size as your fight score. If your provocateur gets sniped, your fight score reverts back to its natural score. The Gangster leader ability does not count toward the provocateur ability. A player in later turn order can snipe a provocateur in earlier turn order.

Rogue: Grants a special skirmish win condition. If a skirmish ends with a tie for highest fight score, the first player in turn order with a rogue in the skirmish automatically wins the contested resource. Only a tie for highest fight score is considered, not the number of tribe members. The rogue ability constitutes a higher order of precedence than the number of tribe members brought to the skirmish. It is not necessary that the player using the rogue be involved in the tie. Any two players with identical fight scores trigger the potential for a rogue win condition for ANY player in the skirmish. At this point, the number of tribe members in the skirmish is not relevant. The rogue’s ability to steal the CR is passive. You do not need to give up the rogue’s fight in order to steal the CR. Your rogue can be targeted by a snipe action. Only the first rogue action can be successful per round (resolved in turn order). Multiple players cannot successfully use this action. A player in lower turn order can snipe a rogue in higher turn order.

Guard: An inexpensive fighter, similar to a brawler. Can be used to cancel any action outside of the skirmish which targets your card(s). Examples include spying, sniping or disarming while you gather resources, attacks against your buildings, and etc. If you do use the guard for his cancel ability, discard him and draw a new card from the top of your deck.

Module 3 – Expanding the Ranks

Adds courier, drill sergeant, scrappers, and tinker (select 6 other mercenaries for a total of 10 in the market)

Module 4 – Randomized Contested Resources

Adds 14 contested resources (cargo sled, combat medic, demolition team, tear gas, tribal hunters)

The new contested resources are shuffled with the 14 base game contested resources and 14 are drawn for this game.

Module 5 – The Kitchen Sink


  • Humanitarians gang
  • Map
  • 2 Leaders (Swindler and Yardmaster)



GEN1: Why was the skirmish considered a tie in my two-player game? I should have won!

When playing with only two players, you must win the skirmish by at least two strength, otherwise it is considered a tie. There is no population tiebreaker in two player games.