In Seasons, you take on the role of a wizard competing for the most prestige in the Tournament of Seasons. Gameplay involves choosing the correct combination of dice and the drafting/activation of card powers. There are two kinds of resources in the game: Energy tokens (which come in the four elements), and crystals (which translate directly to points at the end of the game, and are also used as a currency for some things during the game.)
The game begins with a draft in which each player selects a total of nine cards. Players divide these cards into three groups of three. The first group will start in your hand. The second and third groups are added to your hand at the start of the second and third game year, respectively.
Your final score is calculated by adding the prestige points on your cards in play to your crystal total. Five points are deducted for each power card remaining in your hand. The player with the most points wins.
At the start of each round, dice appropriate to the current season are rolled. Each player selects one in turn order. The effects are as follows:
- Star - Increase your summoning gauge, i.e. the maximum number of cards you can have in play. (Capped at 15.)
- Elements - Gain an energy token of the element shown (water, earth, air, or fire).
- Numbers - Gain the number of crystals indicated.
- Card outline - Draw a card. You will have the option of keeping or discarding the card.
- Circle surrounding the die symbols - You may transmute energy tokens into crystals. The rate depends on the current season.
- Pips - The number of pips on the die that is not selected by the players determine how many months the time marker will advance.
Each die will have some combination of these symbols. For example, a die may give you a water, earth and allow you to transmute, all in the same turn.
All cards in the game are referred to collectively as Power Cards. There are two types: Familiars (orange border) and Magic Items (purple border). Cards can have the following effects:
- Ongoing - The described effect persists indefinitely. Denoted by a circular arrow.
- When Played - The effect occurs once when the card enters play.
- When Activated - The card must be activated (and any relevant cost paid) to produce the listed effect. Cards may be activated once each round.
The board is divided into four seasons each of which have common, uncommon and rare elements. These designations tell you how likely it is that these elements will appear during each season and also tell you how much each element will transmute into during that season.
- Winter (Blue) - Water and Wind are Common, Fire is Uncommon, and Earth is Rare.
- Spring (Green) - Earth and Water are Common, Wind is Uncommon, and Fire is Rare.
- Summer (Yellow) - Fire and Earth are Common, Water is Uncommon, and Wind is Rare.
- Fall (Red) - Wind and Fire are Common, Earth is Uncommon, and Water is Rare.
Example: During Spring, Earth and Water are the most common and will transmute into one crystal each, Wind is uncommon and will transmute into two crystals each, and Fire is rare and will transmute into three crystals each.
Up to three times per game, you may use one of the following abilities, referred to as a "Bonus":
- Convert two energy tokens into other elements.
- Gain the ability to transmute this turn, and gain one additional crystal per energy transmuted.
- Increase your summoning gauge by one.
- If your Seasons die shows the "Draw a card" icon, you may instead draw two and select one to keep.
The first bonus you use deducts five points at game end, the second costs seven, and the third costs eight.
By default, your reserve may have seven energy tokens. If you acquire more tokens than you can hold, you must immediately discard the excess. If a card allows you to summon another card but you have no space for this second card, it will be discarded with no refund.
Notes on card terminology:
- Sacrifice - Put one of your cards in play into the discard pile.
- Discard - Put one of the cards in your hand into the discard pile.
Apprentice wizard level
In order to make the game easier to learn, there are “pre-constructed” sets of nine power cards. Instead of taking step 1 of the first game phase, each player gets one of these sets.
Only the power cards numbered 1 to 30 are in play. These cards have easy to grasp effects and will allow you to slowly discover the world of Seasons.
All 50 kinds of power cards are in play. The cards numbered 31 through 50 have more complex effects than the basic cards, but will allow you to extend the fun of playing by discovering new effects and combinations.