Please note, these are just the current rules of Algomancy. The game is still actively under development and things are subject to change. Card types may be added, the card layouts, fonts and icons are going to be redesigned by a professional, ability names and icons will almost certainly be different in the final product. Also not all cards, abilities or card art shown here will make it into the final game.
The goal of Algomancy is to get all of your opponents to 0 life. This is accomplished by attacking other players with creatures (and sometimes through abilities or spells).
There are two types of cards in Algomancy — Creatures and Spells. The easiest way to spot the difference between the two is that creatures have a stats icon on the top right of the card whereas spells do not. Spells will also have the word “Spell” on them.
Creatures are “permanent” effects, meaning when you summon a creature it will stay in play until it has been killed or removed. They tend to have abilities as well, which allow you to accumulate value over time. Looking at Crystalline Scavenger above, it provides value every time a crystal enters play. While it may only be worth one or two +1/+1 counters in a single turn, throughout the course of a game this card can represent a substantial amount of stats for your team. (+1/+1 counters are a way to permanently increase the stats of a creature by +1/+1).
Creatures have two stats — Attack and Health, which are usually denoted as two numbers separated by a slash. The first number is attack and the second number is health (sometimes called toughness). In the example below, Test Spike is a 1/3, meaning it has 1 attack and 3 health.
When dealing combat damage, creatures deal damage equal to their attack. When they receive damage, it reduces their health. If a creature receives damage greater than or equal to their health in a single turn, they die and are placed in the discard. Damage is removed at the end of each turn.
It is also possible to find synergistic abilities or combos, essentially collections of abilities that provide a greater effect than each ability on its own. For a very simple example, look at the card below. This creature has the ability Devastating, which means it deals damage in combat not just to the creature in front of it, but also to the two creatures next to that one. (The icon just below the creature stats, which denotes the Devastating ability is a great visual picture of how this works).
It is also a Crystal, so if we play Crystalline Scavenger above and then this card, we get a +1/+1 counter. If we put that counter on “Test Spike1”, this extra boost in attack power actually counts triple, since it has the potential to hit more than one creature.
Synergistic interactions like this are the key to pulling ahead in Algomancy — A large portion of the game is decided by who can maximize their value from the cards they drafted. If you can get as much value using two cards as your opponent did using three, you are effectively ahead one card. Do this enough times and you will accumulate a lead which you can ride to victory.
Spells are the “support team” for your creatures, helping you keep your creatures alive through combat or removing them from your opponent’s team.
Above are two examples of some common spell types. The Quick keyword means the spell can be cast at any time (essentially, in the middle of combat). The one on the left gives your creatures stats, while the one on the right takes them away from your opponent’s creatures. With a combination of proactive and defensive spells you can keep your creatures alive while making combat very difficult for your opponents.
Algomancy uses a semi-thresholded resource system. There are five resource types: Fire, Water, Earth, Metal and Plant. Each of these resources provide 1 threshold value towards casting cards.
Cards have threshold requirements, determined by the mana symbols in their casting cost. Piranha of the Woods has a single Plant in its cost, so you are allowed to cast it as long as you have a single plant resource.
Each card also has a total cost, determined by the total number of mana symbols in its cost. Piranha of the Woods has a total cost of 1.
In order to play a card, you need to expend a number of resources equal to the total cost of that card. In this example, it would be 1 resource. It doesn’t matter which resource you expend, as long as you have met the threshold requirements to cast the card.
Expending a resource has no effect on the ability of that resource to meet your threshold requirements, it is simply a method to keep track of how many total resources have been spent in a turn.
For example, if you have three water and one plant resource, you could cast Piranha of the Woods four times, but could not cast Fungal Gardener, because you only have a single plant and it requires two.
The white circle symbol is used to designate a generic resource. This is a way to increase the total cost of a card without changing the threshold requirements. Looking at Crystalline Portal above, you only need a single earth to be able to cast it, but must expend two resources in order to do so.
The intention for this resource is to be as pain-free and intuitive as possible. In order to see if you can cast a spell, you just need to know if you have met the threshold requirements and have enough total resources in order to cast it.
I am not sure if “tapping” the resources is the best way to designate how you pay for card’s “total cost”. I could do something like give the player gems equal to their total resources each turn which they could then spend on spells, but that felt like it introduces too many moving pieces. A more elegant method using just the resource cards could be useful, although I think just tapping them as a counting mechanism should work ok, once players learn it doesn’t matter how they are tapped.
To setup a game of Algomancy, shuffle the Void cards and game cards separately and place them into their own piles face down. Then get the resources/tokens/conjured spells and place them in a location where they are accessible to all players (or break them into multiple locations in the case of large games).
Deal out N packs containing 10 cards from the game cards pile, where N is the number of players. (Right now I am testing packs of 10 cards, but this number will likely depend on the number of players in the future.)
Deal each player 2 Void cards face down. This is their starting hand.
In team games (the intended game mode) or 1v1, randomly decide which team starts with Initiative.
Give players each their starting life total (right now I’m just starting with 30, but this is very likely to change).
Begin the game.
There are two ways to play team games, the first is to have players act individually. In this mode, teammates sit alternating with the other team. Each player is surrounded by enemies. So if you have team A and team B, you would sit ABABAB… (and the first and last players would be considered “adjacent”, if you can imagine the players wrapped around a circular table). With 4 players, this means teammates sit diagonally from each other.
If teammates knock out an opponent and end up sitting adjacent from each other, they can send attackers through each other, effectively allowing them to combine attacking forces. (I am deciding if they can share defenders, but that seems very strong).
The second way to play teams is “two headed giant”, where teammates sit next to each other, share a life total and their attacking /defending force is combined into one (but they draft and play cards separately).
The Turn Structure
Unlike many other games where players take turns, in Algomancy players work through a global turn in unison, syncing up after each component of the major four steps: Draft, Main, Combat and Regroup.
Every turn starts with a drafting portion. Instead of drawing cards from a deck, players look at packs of cards and select their cards for turn from them. Players get two “picks” per turn and can spend them however they wish between cards in the packs, taking resources or cards in the Void pile. (Void cards are discussed more in detail later, but any void card can be exchanged for a card in a pack, essentially allowing players to “save up” picks.)
Cards that are selected during the drafting portion go into the player’s hand. Players start the game with 2 random void cards in their hand as well, giving them a small boost and allowing them to pick up additional cards early in the draft if they wish. They also get 2 picks for turn and can spend those two picks however they want between resources, the pack and Void cards.
They can also swap any number of the two void cards from their hand with cards in the pack, essentially giving them an “additional” pick. So at the end of their first turn, they could have taken two resources with their two regular picks, and swapped for two cards using their Void cards, essentially getting 4 total cards in a single turn. They cannot swap Void cards for resources or other Void cards though, only cards in a pack.
There are also “draft matter” abilities that can be activated during the draft, such as the Void cards which allow you to swap them from hand with cards in the pack and effects like Test_card213 above. You may activate these at any time during the drafting portion unless the card says otherwise.
The drafting step is finished when all players have used their two picks and finished any draft abilities they want to activate. Packs are passed to the left at the end of turn, so for now they stay with the player who drafted from them.
After the drafting step comes the Main phase where players cast spells, summon creatures and play resources. There is no interaction during this step. In theory, players could all perform this step at the same time. In practice there is an advantage gained by waiting to see what other players do, so we need to have an orderly structure to this step.
In team/1v1 games, there is something called “Initiative” which teams trade off every turn cycle. The team with Initiative needs to move first. So in the main phase, the player/team with Initiative cast their spells, summon creatures and play resources. Once they are finished, the other team does the same.
Because there is no interaction here, this should be a very short step. Although it can take more time in the late game when players are planning out complex turns during this stage.
Cards that are not cast during this step remain in the players hand.
The combat step is the heart of Algomancy, as almost all of the action and interaction takes place here. Combat in Algomancy is a bit different than one might be accustomed to due to the simultaneous turn structure. Essentially, every turn a player can attack opponents while simultaneously defending against attacks as well.
Below is a diagram of how combat would work in a 4 player match. P1 can attack P4 on the left or P2 on the right, and can be attacked by those same players. Attacking creatures meet a player or defending creatures in a skirmish. Each skirmish takes place at the location of one of the players (because that is where they and their defenders are located). So in a four player game, there can be up to 4 skirmishes happening at the same time, and each player can be involved in up to three skirmishes (two as an attacker and one as a defender).
Skirmishes are treated as completely independent locations. The intuitive explanation for most of these rules is: Players have physical locations in the world which are very far apart, and there is no action at a distance.
Creatures and effects that happen in one skirmish have no impact on other skirmishes. So if you control a creature that says “Your creatures get +1/+1” on defense at your base, your attacking creatures will not see this buff, and vice versa. Additionally, if you have that creature in your skirmish to the left attacking P4, any creatures you have in the skirmish attacking P2 will also not see that buff. All skirmishes are completely isolated from each other.
Additionally, players may only interact with creatures and players that they are engaged in a skirmish with. Players are not “Gods”, able to smite creatures out of the sky from across the entire world. If you want to cast a spell on something, you need to be close enough to do so. P1 cannot ever cast a spell in the skirmish happening at P3’s location. If P1 wants to cast a spell targeting P2, they would need to attack P2 in order to join in the skirmish located at P2’s base.
If P1 wants to kill a creature that P4 has, they would either need to be attacked by this creature from P4, or attack P4 with one of their own creatures so they could get to their opponent’s location in order to interact with the creature.
Basically, the general rule is: Skirmishes are each happening at their own locations. If you or one of your creatures are in the skirmish, you can interact with things in that skirmish. If you are not, then you cannot.
In the situation where a player is being attacked from the left and the right by different opponents, all of those creature formations would be in one skirmish, but the defending player would split their forces to align with each incoming army (basically, the two attacking formations by different players are not adjacent but they can interact with each other through spells. Likewise for the defending army).
Combat is broken into three sections: Declare attackers, Declare blockers, Damage.
In team games, the team with Initiative declares attackers first. Each player may send attackers to the player on their left and or the player on their right. Once the first team has finished declaring attackers, the second team may do so as well.
In free for all games, attackers are declared simultaneously using “attack tokens”. These tokens are just cards that say “attack left”, “attack right” or “no attack”, which are placed face down in front of creatures or groups of creatures to designate their intended action. Players may use multiple tokens to hide their intentions if they like (if you were attacking all to the left, you could place your team in four groups, each with a “attack left” token in front of them). Once all players have placed their tokens, they are flipped face up and the creatures are declared as attackers simultaneously. (Their formations are specified at this time, after the tokens are flipped up.)
After all attacking creatures are declared by all players, the creatures are officially placed into their respective skirmishes and there is a “post attack” step, where players get priority to interact through spells if they want. This allows attacking players to remove potential blocking creatures before they have the opportunity to get in the way, and gives defending players the ability to modify their creatures in order to best block the oncoming force. (For example, a spell that gives flying to a defending creature can be cast now, so that creature could block an incoming flying foe).
In team games, the team with Initiative gets priority to cast spells first, and the other team may react to their spells (or lack of spells).
In free for all games, the defending players all get priority first. Then priority is passed clockwise in parallel, so all of the players who are attacking someone from the left get priority, then players who are attacking from the right get priority.
Once a player uses their priority to do something within a skirmish, other players get a chance to respond to this interaction, going clockwise from the player who acted. This repeats, as each “responding” player creates a new opportunity for other players to interact. This process is repeated until all players pass priority through the skirmish.
When starting out or during very complex late game battles, it is recommended to ignore the “all at once” aspect of combat and just resolve one skirmish at a time. Once you get a feel for it, resolving skirmishes in parallel can really speed up the flow of the game.
After all players have declared attacks, the defending players may declare creatures defending the attacking forces. This step is done in parallel, all players can make defensive decisions at the same time.
After the defending creatures are declared by all players there is another priority step with the same structure as above where players can interact through spells and abilities.
Once attackers and defenders have been declared, and all players have passed their priority to interact, all creatures in all skirmishes deal damage at the same time (unless they have abilities that say otherwise, such as creatures with the Sluggish keyword, like below). Unblocked creatures deal damage to the player they are attacking, blocked creatures trade damage with the creatures they are blocking.
After damage, creatures remain in their skirmishes and formations for one last stage of interaction. Players get priority the same as above to resolve any final interactive spells or abilities they want to.
Regroup/End of Turn
In the regroup step, creatures lose their formations and leave skirmishes. Once again there is no interaction during this step. No spells can be cast here, but there will often be triggered abilities to be resolved, and some activated abilities as well.
Once all the abilities are resolved, players pass their packs to the left, untap everything and move back to the drafting step. After a number of draft steps that would empty the packs discard any remaining draft cards and deal every player a new pack. (For example, with packs of 10 cards when you get 2 picks per turn. After 5 turns you would have drafted up to 10 cards so recycle the packs at that time even if the packs still have cards in them). The passing direction reverses.
The turn has ended and a new turn has begun. Repeat this process until the game ends.
Conjuring is a mechanic that was invented to allow players to spread out the interaction beyond just the combat step. To Conjure, you create a spell face up which will be cast at a pre-determined time. Proactive spells are cast the first time you would receive priority, right after attackers have been declared. (The Spells you get from conjuring will be available in card form just like tokens.)
Fireball X is a proactive spell that says “Fireball deals X damage to any target. If X is not specified, X=1.” So if you cast Test Flame during your main phase, you would get a copy of Fireball 1. Once attackers are declared in combat, you MUST cast the spell in one of your respective skirmishes, otherwise it disappears forever.
Reactive spells are similar, but they are cast after any proactive conjured spells do. An example of a reactive spell is Growth X, which says “Target creature gets +X/+X”.
If you have a Growth 2 and your opponent has a Fireball 2, after attackers are declared they will have to cast their Fireball 2 first and choose a target. Once that spell is on the stack, you can then cast Growth 2 on a target of your choice (potentially saving the creature they were trying to burn).
If a spell is conjured during combat, it simply enters the stack immediately. For example, if Test Flame gets killed by a removal spell, you immediately cast the Fireball that it conjures.
If a spell is conjured after combat, it stays until your next combat step.
Thoughts on Conjure Mechanic
The conjure mechanic is not 100% worked out yet. I have not decided if I want the spell locations to be declared into combat like creatures or not. What this would mean is that you would have to choose which of the three skirmishes you want each spell to go into (left right or no attack), just like how you do with your creatures.
Then you could send a fireball directly to an opponent’s face or creature by declaring the fireball “as an attacker (sorta)” towards them, and placing it onto the stack, even if you had no other creatures in that skirmish.
The downside would be you couldn’t wait to see which skirmish you wanted the spell to go into, you would have to make your decision ahead of time. This would make reactive spells a lot worse (although I could make proactive spells be sent out and reactive not, I think this would get confusing having the cards work so differently).
Creatures enter combat in a formation, meaning their relative positioning matters. When attacking, creatures are placed sideways and assembled into a formation, which determines which cards they are adjacent to. Adjacent creatures are the ones to the left, right front and back of the card (not diagonal). Some cards have effects based on the positioning of the creatures in combat. For example, the Test Spike card above has Devastating, meaning it deals damage to the three creatures in front of it. If it were the middle card, then during combat damage it would deal 1 damage to all 3 creatures on the opposing side.
When defending an attacking formation, the defending formation must align with the formation of the attackers (in the example below, the three defenders are adjacent from blocking the three adjacent attackers.)
There are two rows in the formation, the front and back row. Creatures can only be in the back row if they are behind another creature in the front row.
During combat damage, creatures in both rows deal damage equal to their combined power to the entire row in front of them. That damage is first dealt to the front row creature, and all remaining damage beyond what it takes to kill the front row creature is dealt to the back row creature. (This idea is still in progress, trying to figure out how it interacts with things like deadly or flying. The intention of the back row is to allow you to bring support creatures with you when attacking without them immediately dying, and also allow you to combine smaller creatures into a more effective attacking force.)
There is an update to this ruling here https://calebgannon.com/2022/07/13/algomancy-development-log-2-combat-abilities/
Void cards are all generically costed, and sit face down in their own deck called the “Void” deck. Players can take a randomized card from the void deck at any time by spending one of their two picks they receive in a turn.
All Void cards have the ability “Reveal this card from your hand: you may exchange it with a card in the draft”. Essentially, you may take a card from the void deck to save a pick for later when a pack has no cards that you want because you can exchange that Void with a different card from a pack later on.
The upside is that the Void cards are all generally castable on their own. They don’t have much synergy and are often more expensive than the regular game cards, but sometimes you just need a body or a removal spell.
Right now, cards that say “+1 pick” really mean “take a void card from the void pile”. I will work on this wording.
I think it is possible I need to limit the number of void cards a player can have in hand at a time, but for now I will test an unlimited number. The goal of these cards is to allow players to pivot and reduce the effects of pack distribution variance.
Players can play any number of resources per turn.
In general, players can take any number of resources per turn, but this is essentially limited to 2 picks since Void cards cannot be swapped for resources.
All creatures can attack/block the turn they enter play. (This is so players do not have to keep track of what just entered play, which would be difficult with the simultaneous turn structure.)
All effects only last until the end of turn unless denoted by a counter. For example “Target creature gets +2/+2” would only last until the end of turn. But “Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature” would last indefinitely.
There are no decks in standard play of Algomancy, players only have their hands, resources, discard and creatures.
I am aiming to release Algomancy in time for Christmas 2022.
Algomancy will be released as a physical card game.
I am planning to run a Kickstarter once the game is completed to do a bulk manufacturing order and bring prices down.
Algomancy is a complete game, meaning there is no intention of trading or collecting. You get everything you need in the box.
I may release expansions or other versions of the game. I don’t plan to keep everything the same between different versions of the game — a later version could have wind as one of the elements instead of metal, for example.
I have plans to release specifically designed 2 player versions of this game.
Follow Algomancy’s Development
If you’re interested in following the development of Algomancy, I’ll be posting more blog updates here as well as sending out email notifications for playtesting, polls and release dates on the email list, which you can sign up for here: