Clashing Blades! Game

Note: Now available as an illustrated deck at Popcorn Press and DriveThruCards.

clash

Dedication: To Candy, for loving the game and playing it so fiendishly.

The Clashing Blades! game uses a standard set of poker cards to represent the fast and furious cut and parry of a duel with swords between two foes. It is inspired by a multitude of swashbuckling tales and the author’s own experience with fencing.

How to Win
Each duelist begins the game with 15 points of “health.” Damage from successful attacks reduces this health. You win by reducing your foe to zero health or below. If both duelists run out of health points, both lose.

The Suits

  • Hearts are used to keep track of health points.
  • Spades represent initial attacks (cuts and thrusts).
  • Diamonds represent defenses (parries).
  • Clubs represent parry/riposte combinations (defense and attack).

Preparing to Play

  • Remove the face cards, Jokers, and all hearts from the deck.
  • Deal each player two heart cards, worth 15 points. One player takes the 7 and 8 of hearts; the other takes the 6 and 9 of hearts.
  • Shuffle the remaining cards together (the ace through 10 of spades, diamonds, and clubs), and deal seven to each player.

The Turn Sequence
The game uses an unusual turn sequence to represent the back-and-forth action of a sword duel.

Step 1—En Garde: The players each select one card from their hand and play it face down. They then reveal those cards simultaneously.

Step 2—Exchange: A player threatened with damage (see the “Table of Card Interactions,” below) may play one card in response from his or her hand. If this causes a threat of damage to the opponent, the opponent may then play one card in response from his or her hand. This sequence continues until the duelists “disengage.”

Step 3—Disengage: The “exchange” step ends when a.) neither player is threatened with damage; b.) either player suffers damage; or c.) both players run out of cards. If “a,” return to step 1. If “b” or “c,” reshuffle the deck and deal each player a new hand, then begin again with step 1.

Note: On occasion, one player may run out of cards before the other does. The turn continues, however, until either one player suffers damage or both are out of cards. This means that sometimes a player may be attacked while holding no cards for defense.

Card Effects
In the basic game, the deck contains only three suits—spades, diamonds, and clubs—and only the cards ace through 10. The value of each card is that card’s “strength.” Each suit has a different effect.

Spades are attacks. They can be played only during the “en garde” step, never during an “exchange.” The “strength” of a spade is the amount of damage it can cause.

Diamonds are defenses. They can be played during either the “en garde” or the “exchange” step. The “strength” of a diamond is the amount of damage it can stop.

Clubs are “parry/riposte” combination moves. Like diamonds, they can be played during either the “en garde” or the “exchange” step. The “strength” of a club is the amount of damage it can stop, and if the club’s “strength” is greater than that damage, the excess becomes an attack against the opponent.

Suffering Damage
If an attack or riposte is not fully countered (see the Table of Card Interactions for details), it causes damage to the targeted duelist. That player must cover up that many pips on his or her pair of heart cards, to represent “health” lost. Use one card to cover pips on the other. When one card is completely covered, flip it face down and use it to mark damage on the other.

Etiquette of Play

  • Each time a new card is played, if it results in the opponent being threatened with damage, the player should announce the number of points threatened. (“Two points to you,” for example.)
  • Players should take turns dealing each new hand.

Extended Example
Annette and Carlos have squared off for a duel. Seven cards are dealt to each, and they each go en garde: Annette plays a spade 10 face down and Carlos a diamond 4. Now they reveal their cards: Annette’s spade 10 threatens Carlos with 10 points of damage, but his diamond 4 reduces this to a threat of 6 points. Carlos begins the exchange step by playing a club 9 against this 6-point threat; as a result, Annette is now threatened with 3 points of damage. She replies with a club 10, thereby threatening Carlos with 7 points of damage. Carlos plays a diamond 8 to counter, and neither player is threatened with damage, so the exchange step ends.

The players go en garde again with the cards yet in their hands—Annette has 5 cards remaining and Carlos 4. Annette plays a club 7 face down, and Carlos a diamond 2. When the cards are revealed, neither player is threatened with damage, so the exchange ends immediately.

Another en garde step begins; Annette has 4 cards remaining and Carlos has 3. Annette plays a spade 3 face down, and Carlos a spade 6, then they reveal their cards. As things stand, Annette is threatened with 6 points of damage and Carlos with 3 as the exchange begins. Being the player with the lowest spade, Annette has the first option to drop her attack and play a different card in response to Carlos’s. She decides that’s the wisest choice, discards her spade 3, and plays a club 8 to replace it: Carlos is now threatened with 2 points of damage. He plays a diamond ace, reducing the threat to 1 point. He cannot play more than one card at a time, so he suffers the 1 point of damage, and the fencers disengage.

Damage has been done, so both players discard the rest of their hand (Annette 2 cards and Carlos 1 card). They shuffle all discards back into the deck, deal a new hand of 7 cards to each player, and start a new en garde step.

Advanced Rule 1: Extra Heart Cards
The extra heart cards (ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10) can be added to the deck. These represent exceptionally stinging attacks. When a player suffers damage, the opponent may then add one heart card from his or her hand to the attack. This heart card causes no extra damage, but it remains before the victim during the next deal. Before the “en garde” step of that turn, the victim must discard a total “strength” of cards equal to or greater than the “strength” of the heart card and play the turn with a reduced hand. (These discards may be of any suit.)

Note: Because hearts are not playable alone, a duelist with nothing but hearts remaining in his or her hand must discard them.

Advanced Rule 2: Event Deck
The face cards and Jokers can be used to represent special events in a duel. Shuffle them together as a separate deck. Whenever a player counters the opponent’s attack by exact count (e.g. counters a 3-point threat with a 3 of diamonds or clubs), he or she may turn over the top card of the “special events” deck and apply its effect. (Don’t reshuffle this deck.)

Spades are punches. You strike your opponent with your free hand causing: Jack: 1 damage, Queen: 2 damage, King: 3 damage. This does not end the turn.

Hearts are second wind. You regain (if needed): Jack: 1 health, Queen: 2 health, King: 3 health.

Clubs are trickery. You confuse your foe, who must discard (if possible): Jack: 1 card, Queen: 2 cards, King: 3 cards.

Diamonds are balance. Keep this card before you until used. You may use it as or in addition to one defense (diamond) when needed. Jack: 1 point, Queen: 2 points, King: 3 points.

Jokers are disarms. Minor Joker: You temporarily disarm your foe, who must discard the remainder of his or her hand. Major Joker: You drop your own weapon! Discard the remainder of your hand.

Optional Rule: Origins 2008 Deck
If you are playing with the deck designed for Origins 2008, which has an extra King—the Marcus King—shuffle it in with the rest of the face cards and Jokers. It has the following effect:

The Marcus King: You draw a dueling pistol and shoot your opponent for 4 points of damage. This does end the turn. It also creates a cloud of smoke. While you wait for that to clear, shuffle any discarded face cards and Jokers back into the Event Deck.

Table of Card Interactions

Spade* vs.

*Playable only during the “en garde” phase.

Spade

Both players are attacked by their opponent’s spade. The player facing the greatest damage has the first option of discarding his or her attack and playing a new card during the “exchange” step. If he or she opts not to do this, the opponent has the same option. If neither discards and plays a new card, each takes the damage threatening him or her.

Diamond

The attack’s value is reduced by the defense’s value. Any remaining attack value threatens damage to the attack’s target.

Club

The attack’s value is reduced by the parry/riposte’s value. Any remaining attack value threatens damage to the attack’s target. Otherwise, any remaining value of the parry/riposte becomes an attack against the opposing player.

Diamond vs.

Spade

The attack’s value is reduced by the defense’s value. Any remaining attack value threatens damage to the attack’s target.

Diamond

No effect. Discard both and begin a new “en garde” step.

Club

No effect if played in the “en garde” step. Otherwise, treat the club’s attack as a spade attack against the diamond.

Club vs.

Spade

The attack’s value is reduced by the parry/riposte’s value. Any remaining attack value threatens damage to the attack’s target. Otherwise, any remaining value of the parry/riposte becomes an attack against the opposing player.

Diamond

No effect if played in the “en garde” step. Otherwise, treat the club’s attack as a spade attack against the diamond.

Club

No effect if played in the “en garde” step. Otherwise, treat the first club’s attack as a spade attack against the opposing club.

 

Game design by Lester Smith.

Copyright © 2009 Lester Smith. All Rights Reserved.

Tip Jar

If you like this game, please make a donation.





 

6 Comments

  1. This is a great game! I’ve enjoyed it so much that I decided to try and make a prettier version of it than my old poker deck. Thought you might like to see it, so below are (a lot of) links to some pictures of the physical deck of cards, as well as some more detailed close-ups of some of the cards. The jpg titles should be pretty self-explanatory. If you do check them out, I hope you like them.

    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_box_outside.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_box_inside.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_duelcard_back.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_eventcard_back.jpg

    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_duelcard_attack.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_duelcard_defense.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_duelcard_parryriposte01.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_duelcard_parryriposte06.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_duelcard_injury.jpg

    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_eventcard_balance.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_eventcard_disarm.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_eventcard_fumble.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_eventcard_punch.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_eventcard_secondwind.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_eventcard_trickery.jpg

    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_healthcard_front.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_healthcard_back.jpg

    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_pic01.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_pic02.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_pic03.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_pic04.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_pic05.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_pic06.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_pic07.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_pic08.jpg
    http://www.skrir.dk/grafik/clashingblades/cb_pic09.jpg

    PS: If anyone’s interested I could put together a US Letter format-friendly pdf for easy printing.

  2. Pingback:   Lester’s Games by Purple Pawn

Leave a Reply