Squad Combat v1

17 Sep

This is a new version of the squad combat rules, and is the result of a lot of playtesting and quite a bit of discussion. You can see the old rules here.

I’ll be adding some downloads for demo decks, or at least card files you can use to mock up your own decks in the near future.


Each player controls 3 characters. The object of the game is to be the last player with characters alive. You attack your opponent’s characters using attack cards, respond with edge cards, and use action cards to manipulate the game state.

Card Types


Characters start the game in play. They have the following stats:

HP: The amount of damage a character can take before succumbing to death. If a character ever has a wound value/damage greater than or equal to its life, flip it face-down. It is considered dead and any Death Effect it has remains in play until the end of the game.

Energy: A resource characters spend to perform actions.

Dice Pool: The amount and facing of dice the character starts the game with and receives each time they refresh their dice pool. For example, a character may have a Dice Pool of “34R”, meaning they have one die facing 3, one facing 4, and one randomly rolled.

Refresh: The amount of energy it costs to refresh this character’s dice pool.

Trait: A skill or identifying category of abilities.


Actions are cards that are played for some effect. They take your action, passing the turn to your opponent. Actions have the following stats:

Trait: Used to determine if this card is eligible to be played. You must control a character who matches the trait on the card to play it.

Cost: Characters must pay a card’s cost in order to use it. Costs can be expressed as energy and/or dice. See “paying costs.”

Effect Bar: The bottom of the card shows an effect that happens when attached to a character. For attacks, this is usually some amount of damage, but it could be other effects.


Attack cards are considered actions, although not all actions are attacks. After attacks are performed, if they failed, they are discarded. If they hit, they are attached to the character they hit. Put the card up-side-down under the character so that the Effect Bar is showing.


Edges are cards that can be played anytime the card itself states it can be played. They do not take your action for you turn. If it does not have a restriction on it, it may be played at any time. After an edge has been played and taken effect, it is discarded.


At the beginning of the game, each player places their three characters in a row in front of them. They then shuffle and cut their decks, and each player draws 5 cards.

Players then set up their characters’ dice pools from left to right.


All dice in the game are six-sided. When you roll a die, the value it rolls is stored until spent or otherwise altered.

Turns and Phases

Randomly choose a player to start. Turn order then proceeds around the table to the left of the first player. After turn order is determined, the first player is given an action phase. They may play any action card from their hand, or use an action printed on a card they have in play. After the first player takes an action, each other player gets an action phase, in turn order. After all players have received an action phase, the order repeats, starting again with the first player. Play continues until the end of turn conditions are met (see below.)

Any player may, instead of taking an action, pass. If a player passes their action, they may not receive actions again during this turn (but may still play edges.) If all players pass, the turn ends.

At the end of each turn, each player may then discard up to two cards from their hand, then draw up to their hand size (default 5.)

Performing actions and edges

To perform an action, attack, or edge you must first have a character who is eligible to play the card. They must have energy remaining to pay any energy costs (if any), and they must have dice on them equaling or exceeding the dice cost of the card (if any.)

After confirming the costs are met, you must also match traits. A character must have at least one trait on their character card that matches a trait on the card being played. If they do not, then they are not eligible to play the card.

If the character can afford the costs or the card and matches a trait with the card, announce you are playing the card. Pay for any costs the card may have, then resolve the card. Unless specifically stated, actions and edges are discarded after resolution.

Refreshing Dice

Characters spend the dice on their character cards to pay for costs and abilities. If a character runs out of dice, or you do not like the values of the dice currently on the character, you may take an action and pay the character’s “dice refresh” energy cost to add that character’s dice pool to the character. Then, remove dice from the character until they no longer have more dice on them then their dice pool value.

EXAMPLE: Character “Jimbo” has 1 die on him and has a dice refresh cost of 2 energy as well as a dice pool value of “RRR.” If Jimbo has 2 energy you may, as an action, spend 2 energy to roll 3 new (separate) dice. Then, since Jimbo’s dice pool value is “RRR,” or 3 random dice, you choose any 3 of the 4 dice associated with him and keep those 3 dice. The other die is removed.

Paying Costs

When a character pays a cost for a action, edge, or ability, that character must spend energy and/or spend dice from their dice pool.

Energy costs are depicted as a number inside a diamond <X>. In order to pay an energy cost, that character’s current energy (their total energy minus their burden/spent energy tokens) must be equal to or greater than the energy cost of the card. Once this has been verified, place spent energy/burden tokens on the character equal to the card’s cost.

Dice costs are depicted as the face of a die (represented by [X] in notes.) To pay a cost in dice, the character performing the action has to remove a die from their dice pool that meets or exceeds the value of the die on the card.

Some costs may have multiple types. For example:

<3>[1] – Means the performing character must pay 3 energy and spend 1 die of any value.

[2][4] – Means the performing character must spend two dice, one with a value of two or greater and one with a value of four or greater.


When you spend an action to play an attack card, perform the following steps.

1 – Choose a character you control who shares a trait with the attack, and pay for the attack. That character becomes the attacker.

2 – Choose an enemy character to be the target of the attack. This character becomes the defender.

3 – The defender has a chance to play a reaction. This can allow the defender to dodge or block the attack.

4 – If the attack is not interrupted by the defender’s reaction, it hits.

After the attack, all missed/negated attack and reaction cards are discarded.

Deck Building

Trait Characters must match the action’s trait in order to include that action in your deck.

Example Demo Deck Setup

1 Character

1 Character-specific card

5 Trait-specific cards

4 Generic cards

1 Resource card

Example Demo Deck Setup

3 Characters

3 Character-specific cards

15 Trait-specific cards

12 Generic cards

3 Resource cards

Example Set Setup (90 total cards)

10 Characters = 10 cards

1 Character-specific cards per character = 10 cards

5 Character-specific cards per character = 50 cards

4 Generic cards that fit with the character, but can be shared with others ~=~ 20 cards

2 Resource cards




Alpha – Best at dealing damage. Atk ratings are low, and often negative.

Beta – Small accurate strikes, with high atk ratings. Dice are not always necessary to hit.

Charlie – Midrange attacks. Sometimes has edges to bolster attacks.


Delta – Typically costing more than fair for their damage (duno why I wrote that, seems obvious) delta attacks excel in taking energy and dice away from their targets.

Echo – This trait specializes in healing. Few, if any, attacks.

Foxtrot – Attacks in this trait are inefficient. However, actions and edges in this trait can raise the character’s defense and redirect attacks to them.

Gamma – Strikes with this trait typically add, reroll or increment friendly dice.


Here are some average numbers that we’ll be working with for the initial prototype.

Energy: I would guess the average energy cost for an action or attack to be 4 (assuming no other costs), and the average energy value on a character to be 7-9. We don’t want players running three 9-energy characters and taking twice as many actions as their opponents, though. Energy should be used more for activated abilities and edges.

Dice: 3-4 seems like a good number for dice pools, with 4 energy to refresh. Larger dice pools should cost more to refresh, and dice pools with fixed numbers should cost more too. Dice should be use more for attacks.

HP: 12-15 is midrange, I would worry about going any higher than 18-20.

Damage: I would imagine that 4 is a pretty median hit, although cards with 1-2 damage better have something else going for them.

General Mechanic Ideas

Death Effects: When a character is dead, it still provides some small benefit. It would be easiest to show this on the back of the card. We still want the opponent to know what the death effect is before the character dies, though. Death effects should be common knowledge and players should be able to look at them at will. Additionally, death effect actions or edges should usually require discarding cards, as it will give the player controlling the dead character a way to channel the trait cards that they cannot use anymore.

Damage Token Cards: Certain effects might want to produce (perhaps recurring) damage without attaching itself to the character. In these cases, it might be useful to use damage cards (think MTG Tokens Cards–not real cards) that can be attached in its stead. This would be difficult to proxy, though, unlike the MTG Tokens Cards. This concept could also apply to buff effects.

Heal X: Remove any damage card from target character if that value is X or less.

[Trait] Resistance X: All damage on this character of this trait is reduced by X. If this would reduce the damage value to 0 or less, it becomes 0 and remains attached.

[Trait] Hardened X: All damage dealt to this character by an effect of this trait is discarded instead if that damage is X or less.

Power Up: A character may take one if its dice and increase its value by 1, to a maximum of 6.

Power Down: A character must take one of its dice and decrease its value by 1, to a minimum of 1.

Stun X: Remove 1 energy from target character. [typically on attacks, if hit]

Suppression: A token that prevents a character from recharging; cleared at start of round?

Switch: Switch 2 character positions; in case we care about that

Overcharge: Add an extra die to a character, even if it would go over their maximum


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