Cooperatively, all players are trying to defeat the twelve royals: the Jacks, followed by the Queens, followed finally by the Kings.
Hand Size is 8-5 for 1-4 players respectively.
Jacks have 10 Attack and 20 Health.
Queens have 15 Attack and 30 Health.
Kings have 20 Attack and 40 Health.
A royal's suit blocks the use of that power against it.
- Play 1 card; or
- Play an Ace and another card together (Aces can be played on their own too); or
- Play a group of matching number cards (except Aces) whose sum is 10 or less.
2. Activate the suit of the card(s) played (unless they match the Royal's suit, in which case the Royal blocks the activation):
- ♥️ Hearts: Return to the draw pile from the discard pile the value of the card (e.g. 4 of hearts would return 4 cards).
- ♦️ Diamonds: Draw cards in turn order to the value of the card, skipping players at max hand size.
- ♣️ Clubs: Double the damage inflicted on the Royal.
- ♠️ Spades: Reduce received damage by the value of the card for that Royal attack phase.
3. Deal damage to the Royal equal to the total value of the card(s) played. If the damage exceeds the Health of the Royal, the Royal is defeated and placed on the Discard pile. The next Royal is then drawn from the Castle and faces the same player.
4. If the Royal is still alive, they attack and you must discard cards whose value is equal or greater than the attack combined
Animal companions - Aces are Animal Companions. They have a value of 1 for the purposes of attack and taking damage. They can be played in combination with another card, and their suit will apply for both cards (if different): for example, when playing the 8 of Diamonds with the Animal Companion (Ace) of Clubs the total attack value is 9, 9 cards are drawn, and 18 damage is dealt.
Jester - Jesters have an attack value of 0 but they remove the suit of the royal when played. They also prevent the Royal from attacking the player. Finally, the next player to take a turn is chosen by the active player, rather than clockwise. Jesters have a value of 0 for the purposes of taking damage.
Exact Damage - If a Royal is killed by an exact finishing value (e.g. a 3 when they have 3 life left) the card is placed onto the top of the Tavern pile (face down, ready to be drawn) rather than going to the Discard pile.
Royals as allies - Royals retain their attack value when players play them (J10, Q15, K20) and that is also the amount of damage they can take, same as normal cards (i.e. they do not have double health).
Yielding - A player may choose to Yield (pass) entirely, not playing a card but skipping straight to step 4. A player may not Yield in solo, or if every other player has Yielded on their last turn.
Discarding - Cards are only discarded once a Royal is defeated, this is mainly because any Spades played previously or by other players will stack. No other powers stack.
Limited Communication - Players may not communicate to the other players any information which may reveal or suggest the contents of their hand. They may however remind other players of any public information such as how many cards they have in their hand, how many cards are left in the tavern, etc.
- Examples of allowed communication: “I have two cards in hand”, “We only have 3 cards left in the Tavern deck!”.
- Examples of prohibited communication: “I’ve got a 10 of clubs”, “I hope someone plays a Diamond soon!”, “If you play a Heart then I can probably help us get some cards in hand”, “Don’t kill that enemy, leave them for me!".
- Jester Exception: after a Jester is played, and for the purpose of choosing the next player, the other players can say "I'd like to go next" or "I'd rather not go next" (in BGA, this can be done by pressing one of two buttons).
The game ends either:
Win - The final King is killed.
Lose - A player is unable to defend an attack from a Royal or unable to play a card when the player cannot yield (because all the other players have yielded or in solo mode).
Set up the game as per usual but place the two Jesters to the side. You play with a single hand limited to 8 cards. Play as normal, playing each turn one after the other. However a Jester can be flipped to activate the following power: “Discard your hand and refill to 8 cards - this does not count as drawing for the purpose of enemy diamond immunity.” Since you have two Jesters this can be done twice per game. Flipping the Jesters in this way does not cancel immunity. You are allowed to use the Jester power a) at the start of step 1 before you play a card or b) at the start of step 4 before you have to take damage. Winning the game after using both Jesters achieves you a Bronze Victory. Winning after flipping only 1 Jester is called a Silver Victory and winning the game while having both Jesters untouched grants you the ever-elusive Gold Victory!