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Ramparts, Pens & Swords - Rules Refined

Here, I'd like to take the opportunity to further define the rules of Ramparts, Pens & Swords. But first, a great big SHOUT OUT to all of the members who've given feedback so far. You've all made valid and constructive points to consider, and it's because of your suggestions that I recognize the need to refine the rules of the game. I'll upload a revised rules doc when I get around to adding this information and managing the format. Until then...

(The core rules and mechanics of the game have not changed from the original posting. These points are primarily in response to the questions asked by forum members.)

- Some of the terminology in the rules is not consistent. I have endeavored to change this for clarity's sake. For example, anything relating to the four factions are now known as Faction Cards, or the Faction Decks.

- The game will have two (2) sets of each Faction Deck and its associated Round Cards. This allows players to choose the same factions, if they wish, such as the example given in the alternate rules, turning that game into a 'civil war.' Also, I have some ideas in the works for making the game capable of handling 4 players. The extra set of each Faction Deck is paramount to making this a possibility.

- For Hero Cards, players choose any one Hero at the start of the game. There are no duplicates of Hero cards in a box set. Once a Hero is used in play then it is removed from play permanently. Standard rules state that players only get one Hero card for a game, while the alternate rules say that players may choose any Hero card, blindly or knowingly, and once that Hero card's ability has been used then players choose another Hero card, blindly or knowingly. Honestly though, guys, you can play the Heroes however you want.

- The term "discard" sends a card to its associated defeat pile. The term "draw a card" refers to drawing that card from the Faction Deck, unless otherwise specifically stated. The term "remove from play permanently" removes a card from the game until its conclusion.

- The Redraw Phase creates a minimum hand of five cards for every round. It's primary intent is to ensure that players have at least five cards in their hand at the start of a new round, before any match cards have been placed. Some card effects allow players to draw cards throughout the matches of a round. The mechanic is quite simple, it just asks that the player keeps track of the number of cards he should draw for the next Redraw Phase. I'll list a quick example of how this may play out:

* A match occurs and the Franks Archer card loses the match. This card has the lose condition effect: "Move the top card of your defeat pile to your hand. This does not count toward the next round's redraw phase."

* A player's hand will most often consist of 2 Faction Cards during a round. This card effect now leaves its player with 3 cards in their hand. However, this 3rd card does not count toward the next round's redraw phase, and so this player would still draw 3 cards from their Faction Deck in order to meet the Redraw Phase requirement, yet their hand will consist of 6 Faction Cards for the start of the next round.

* This carrying over of cards effect is not ongoing, and so if no further cards effect the player's hand by the start of the following round, then they will be holding 3 cards in their hand and so will only draw 2 cards during the next Redraw Phase to meet the Redraw Phase requirement, returning their starting hand to five cards for the round.

- Let's talk Win/Draw/Lose. Every card has a Win/Draw/Lose outcome condition, and if this condition is met then the card's effect occurs. Some cards have effects which negate other cards' effects. For this reason, there is a play order for these effects: wins first, then losses, and draws occur at the same time (and can not cancel each other out). Some card effects capitalize on this order:

* English Ballista, scissor, WIN, "Your opponent's card effect does not occur."

* If the opposing card is the Turk Scholar, paper, LOSE, "End the round. All remaining cards on the field are sent to their respective victory pile." then this condition would not occur, because the Ballista's win condition negates this effect by order of play.

- The Round Card Deck is built by each player taking their Faction Deck's associated round cards (10 for each Faction) and shuffling them together to create a 20-count Round Card Deck for each game. I have no concrete rule for what happens when the Round Card Deck runs out, as this has only happened to me once. Alternate rules allow players to choose their 10-count round cards from any of the available round cards in the game. This would undoubtedly create some unexpected results, but the option for customization is there.

- A player wins by defeating all of their opponent's Faction Cards, or by leaving their opponent unable to complete a round, generally because they no longer have the necessary number of Faction Cards to play out the matches in a round. I've experienced some unexpected conclusions because of the nature of the different elements at play in each round. To name a few:

* Both players were down to only a few cards in their hand--3 for one, and 5 for the other. Players placed their cards into their match positions, and the round card was played. Unfortunately for the 3 card remaining player, the round card "Mercenaries" came into play, which states, "A total of 5 matches occur. Players use the remaining cards in their hand or the top card of their deck to set the matches." This left the 3 card remaining player unable to finish the round because he lacked 2 additional cards to meet the round card requirement.

* A player only had 1 card in their hand for the final round of the game. However, this player had chosen Salah ad-Din as their hero, whose condition states, "Play in the final round of a game," and whose effect states, "You may draw the needed number of cards from the top of your defeat pile in order to finish the round." This allowed the player to play out one final, crucial round.

* A player placed his 3 Faction cards into their match positions and the round started, with the player having only 3 Faction cards left. However, as the round played out, the player lost every single match, and one of the card effects required the player to discard a card from their hand. This left the player with only 2 cards to start the next round, and unable to complete a round.

Alright, this is meaty enough, but feel free to leave a comment or pm me if there are other questions about the game rules not clarified here. Thanks!

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gamejournal | by Dr. Radut