|designed by John Cooper
documented by Andrew Plotkin
It's also possible for your minions to be destroyed. When a minion is destroyed, you just take it back off the board, into your stash of unplayed pieces. You can bring it back into play later.
The board is made of cards; you can imagine it as a grid, with cards in each space. Minions on the board sit on cards. Initially, there are nine cards, in a three-by-three grid, but more cards can be placed later; the board can grow in any direction. Cards can also be removed from the board and discarded. The board can therefore develop holes, or even split completely in half.
The horizontal-vertical tile pattern in these diagrams isn't really important. It's just aesthetically pleasing. It also helps remind players that cards do not touch diagonally; cards are considered to be next to each other only if they lie edge-to-edge.In actual fact, a minion on the board doesn't have to sit on a card. A minion can sit in an empty grid space. Such a minion is considered to be "in the wasteland" -- it's on the board, but outside the fertile territory of the cards. However, minions can only inhabit wasteland spaces which are next to at least one card. If a minion is somehow caught in a wasteland space which is not adjacent to any cards at all, the minion is immediately destroyed.
When a minion is on the board, its orientation is important. A minion can be standing up (pointing upward), or it can be lying down, pointing in one of the four cardinal directions. Minions cannot point diagonally.
More than one minion can share a space. Even minions owned by different players can sit on the same space. However, there is generally a population limit of three minions on a single card (or wasteland space). If a space has three minions on it, you can't put another there.
Certain trump cards let you violate this rule. For example, the power of the Hermit lets you move a minion into a space, ignoring the population limit. If you get four or more minions in a space, you can leave them there as long as you like. There's no rule against leaving more than three minions in a space; only on placing new minions there.
Each player starts with a hand of three cards. There is generally a limit of six cards in your hand. If you add new cards to your hand, you may not take so many as to push you over the hand limit. You must stop at six.
Once again, there are certain trump cards that let you violate this rule. For example, the power of the Star lets you draw four cards from the deck, no matter how many you have in your hand already. Again, you can stay over the hand limit without using any special power. The hand limit says that you can't acquire any new cards when you have six or more already.
Various rules and powers allow you to draw cards from the deck, or discard
them to the discard pile. If you need to draw cards and there are none
left, reshuffle the discards to form a new deck, and draw from there. This
can happen more than once in a game. (It is certain to happen at least
once. See the section on ending the game.)
There is also a fifth "suit", the trumps or Major Arcana. There are twenty-two of these, numbered from zero to twenty-one, and each has a special title.
In Zarcana, each card has a power. The cards in each suit share a common power -- for example, all Cups have the power of growth, and all Swords have the power of attack. The twenty-two trumps each have their own special powers.
The powers are described in detail later on. For now, know that you can use card powers two ways: by playing a card from your hand, or by having a minion on the board use the power of the card it's sitting on. When you play a card from your hand, it's discarded. But you can use a card on the board turn after turn after turn... as long as you have a minion on it.
In fact, it's more accurate to say that a minion uses a card
power. When you play a card from your hand, indicate the minion that's
using the power of that card. When you use a card on the board, indicate
which of the minions on the card is using that power.
The value of a card is its number. Numbered suit cards score their own number, from one (ace) to ten. Any royalty card scores eleven. A trump scores its number, from zero to twenty-one.
The game ends after someone declares the final round (see the Turn Options section above). Nobody can declare the final round until the deck has been used up and reshuffled, so there's a certain minimum length to a Zarcana game. However, there's no maximum length; if nobody decides to end the game, it keeps going. The deck could be reshuffled a second time, or even more.
If, at the end of a game, two or more players are tied, those players share the win. Alternatively, if you can't bare the thought of a tie in Zarcana, try this optional rule: of the tied players, whoever solely occupies the highest ranked card (usually a Major Arcana card) wins the game.Naturally, you will want to end the game as soon as you are sitting on more points than anyone else. But remember: once you declare the last round, everyone gets one more turn. They will probably spend those turns trying to pull ahead of you -- or knock you down. Can you hold onto your lead?
|This card may only be used by a minion which is standing up.|
|This card may only be used by a minion which is lying down.|
|This card may be used by a minion of any orientation.|
|This card may only be used by a minion on a card territory, not in the wasteland.|
|This card may be used by a minion in the wasteland or on a card territory.|
|The population limit of three minions per space must be obeyed while using this card.|
|The population limit may be ignored while using this card.|
|The hand limit of six cards must be obeyed while using this card.|
|The hand limit may be ignored while using this card.|
|This card does not need to be used by any particular minion. It may be played by any minion, or played straight from your hand if you have no minions on the board.|
|The requirements of this card vary; they are the requirements of whichever power is being copied.|
|Cups: Grow or Clone|
Watch the icons in these power definitions. In this case, they say that a minion must be standing to use the power of Cups, and it cannot be in the wasteland. Watch out for the population limit: if a card has three minions of any color on it, you cannot clone them, although you can still grow.
A minion must be lying down to move. It moves into the space it's pointing at, and arrives standing up. If you want to move it again, you'll first have to take a turn to reorient minions.
|Swords: Attack Minion or Territory|
You cannot choose whether to attack minions or cards. If there are minions in the target space, you can decide to attack any of them, but if there are none, you must destroy the card. Remember, a standing minion points at its own space, so it can attack other minions on the same card as itself. A minion standing alone cannot use Swords at all, because a minion cannot attack itself and cannot destroy the territory it occupies.
|Discs: Build Territory|
You can build territory in wasteland spaces, extending the board; or you can build territory on top of existing cards, stacking the cards higher. Only the top card in a space ever counts for anything. An upright minion can build territory under itself, but only if it's already on a card. Remember, a minion in the wasteland can't use Discs at all.
|Royalty: Wild Suit From Hand|
|0||Fool: Play Two Random Cards|
You decide which minions use the two cards you draw. They do not have to be the same minion, or even the minion that invoked the Fool's power.
|1||Magician: Play as Any Suit|
Yes, in your hand, it's just like any Royalty, but on the board, it's still a wild suit.
|2||High Priestess: Draw Two Cards and Go Again|
No, you can't use the High Priestess on your second turn, getting a third turn. But you might be able to copy the power of the High Priestess by using a different card. That's allowed. Be creative.
|3||Empress: Grow or Clone, Ignoring Limits|
|4||Emperor: Attack and Demand Cards|
|5||Hierophant: Attack and Convert|
|6||Lovers: Create Minion in Wasteland|
|7||Chariot: Move Twice|
Even a standing minion can use this power. You do have to obey the population limit on both of your moves, however, so you can't move through a space that has three minions on it.
|8||Strength: Grow or Clone Twice|
Remember, it's more efficient to grow first and then clone.
|9||Hermit: Move Ignoring Limits|
|10||Wheel of Fortune: Build Hidden Territory|
|11||Justice: Trade Hands|
It's legal to trade with a player even if one of you has no cards at all. It's also legal to trade with a player who has more than six cards.
|12||Hanged Man: Destroy This Territory|
|13||Death: Attack Twice|
|14||Temperance: Build Territory Ignoring Limits|
This is the only power that lets you build land "under the enemy". The normal Disc power does not allow this.
|15||Devil: Reorient Nearby Minions|
|16||Tower: Destroy Occupied Territory|
|17||Star: Draw Four Cards|
|18||Moon: Transport Territory|
|19||Sun: Build Territory From Hand|
|20||Judgement: Resurrect Three Cards|
|21||World: Play as Any Face-up Trump|
|Doppelganger: Mimic Last Discard|
|Assassin: Attack in Any Direction|
|Evil Eye: Devalue Territory|
|Harvest: Pick Up a Card|
|Miser: Discard Cards of Your Choice|
|Plague: Destroy Minions and Territory|
|Holy Grail: Grow or Clone Regardless of Position or Orientation|
You might want to draw cards early on, as well. You can hold up to six, and you start with only three.
You want to occupy more cards. This means you have to clone new minions and send them out, while still leaving minions on your starting cards. Don't abandon a valuable card.
Since you can only take one turn option on your turn, it may take several turns to accomplish something. For example, moving a minion to attack may require you to reorient, move one space, reorient again, and then attack.
But by the same token, turns are very short. Once you're familiar with the game, you can plan a couple of turns in advance, and the game zips right along.
To mobilize your forces as quickly as possible, grow large minions, then clone them, and then reorient all your minions at once. It's inefficient to take a reorientation turn every time you get a new piece on the board.
A fine defensive strategy is to use Discs to build a peninsula on your side of the board, which nobody else can easily reach. But watch out for the Moon, the Chariot, the Lovers, and the Gateway.
It is possible to share a card with another player, but it can be an uneasy truce. If both pieces are standing, either can attack the other. And neither of you can score points for the card when the game ends... unless one player is somehow removed from the card. Beware the last-minute betrayal.
Watch for the unexpected. Since the deck will be reshuffled at least once, every card should turn up. If one doesn't appear, someone might be hoarding it.
Initiative is critical. If two players have minions pointing at the same valuable card, whoever moves in first will probably be destroyed. But if either player is distracted for a turn, or lacks a Sword, the other player may be able to occupy and defend the target.
One minion on a card can be destroyed. If you have two, you can respond to any attack by cloning... as long as you are sitting on a Cup, or you have Cups left in your hand. Beware Death.
In any multi-player game, there is diplomacy. If two players get into a tussle, the others may spread unchecked over the board. A non-aggression pact can keep you in the running. On the other hand, if you get too far ahead, you may face a devastating cooperative attack.
If someone points minions at you, it may not be a prelude to an attack. She might be defending herself, preventing you from gaining the initiative in pointing at her.
On the other hand, it might be a prelude to an attack...
A minion can be standing up, or lying down in any of the four cardinal directions.
You can only do one action on your turn. Most actions involve just one minion, but reorienting minions is an exception.
There is a population limit of three minions per space, unless some card power says otherwise.
There is a hand limit of six cards in each player's hand, unless some card power says otherwise.
A minion can only inhabit a wasteland space if it is next to at least one card.
A minion cannot use a Sword to destroy the territory it occupies. Only the Tower can destroy occupied territory.
You can only declare the end of the game after the deck has been used up and reshuffled at least once.