Ilk is a card game of strategy and luck. Each player starts off with 50 points of "life," and the winner of the game is the last player "alive," (i.e. the last player with any life). Life can be gained and lost in many ways, including "healing" yourself, "attacking" other players with "creatures" you can conjure, or directly damaging other players with a "spell." The "field," or table on which you play, can be seen as a battlefield, and you can conjure "creatures" onto the field to attack others or defend yourself. Creatures are basically two value cards where one value card stands for the creature's damage (how much damage it can do to another player/creature), and the other is the creature's life points. Once you've conjured a creature (which involves discarding other cards of equal or greater amount than the value of the creature), you put it face up on the field in front of yourself, and you can use it to attack other players, or to defend yourself. Attack and defense using creatures is the key element of the game. Below are more detailed rules concerning terminology, creatures, battle, special cards: King (direct damage spell), Queen (healing spell), Jack (double any value), Ace (extra life for a creature), and other aspects of game play.
Deck - A stack of one or more decks of cards, face down, in the center of the field. The deck is where all players draw cards from. When the deck empties, shuffle the discard pile into the deck. Because the deck runs out too quickly with more players, I recommend 1 deck for 2-3 players, 2 decks for 4-5 players, and so on (add a deck every 2 players you add).
Discard pile - A stack of cards face up next to the deck. All players discarding cards place their cards face up on the top of this stack. The discard pile is visible to all players, and any player may flip through it to count cards - however, you should not flip through the discard pile to the point of slowing down the game. I often make everyone agree upon no flipping through the discard pile during your turn before playing.
Discard value - The total value of all cards you have discarded this turn (discard value is usually compensation for conjuring a creature).
Value card - Any card of any suit other than Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces. Note: Jokers should not be included in this game. A value card's value is the number on it (example 4 of Spades has a value of 4).
Special card - Jack, Queen, King or Ace of any suit.
Fielding - Playing a card from your hand (placing it in the field). Cards do different things when fielded based on the rules.
Conjure - The act of fielding a creature.
x-y - Short hand for a creature with damage x and life y, where x and y are numbers.
- You begin Ilk with a deck of cards, and 2-5 players, each with 50 life. At the beginning of the game, all players draw 7 cards from the deck.
- At the beginning of each player's turn, they may draw up to four cards, but can not bring the total cards in their hand above 8. The player to go first may not draw any cards for the first turn. Also, at the beginning of your turn, reset your discard value to 0.
- At any time, you may discard cards from your hand (place them in the discard pile). If that card is a value card, then add that card's value to your discard value.
- During your turn, you may conjure a creature by fielding two value cards from your hand. You may only do this if the sum of the values of the two cards played is less than your discard value. You place the two cards down on the field as a pair, one behind the other, where the one on top is the creature's damage, and the one on bottom is the creature's life. After fielding a creature, subtract the sum of the values of the two cards played from your discard value. A creature cannot attack the turn it was conjured.
- Example of conjuring a creature: You have in your hand at the beginning of a turn an 8, a 4, and a 3. You discard the the 8, bringing your discard value up to 8, and then conjure a 4-3 creature by fielding the 4 and 3, the 4 on top of the three. This reduces your discard value to 1. Also note, that if your discard value is only 8, you can not conjure a 5-4 creature, as it requires a discard value of 9.
- Battle: during your turn, you may order any creature that hasn't attacked this turn (and who wasn't conjured this turn) to attack any player. That player has the option to block that creature with any creature that hasn't already blocked this turn. If the creature is blocked, it deals its damage to the blocking creature's life, and the blocking creature deals it's damage to the attacking creature's life. If a creature's life goes below 0, then it dies, meaning you discard the creature (this does not increase your discard value). If the creature is not blocked, then it deals its damage directly to the player's life. Note that this means each of your creatures can attack a different player each turn.
- At the beginning of any player's turn, all creature's life return to their marked value (the value of their life card).
- Jacks double any value card's value. At any time, you may field a jack card by placing it on any value cards (including cards you are discarding). The jack doubles that card's value until the end of the turn, at which point the jack is discarded. Note that you may play a jack on a value card that already has a jack on it, this doubles the value of the already doubled value, so it's exponential. Example: Play a jack on a 10, becomes a 20. Play another jack on it, becomes a 40.
- Queens combined with value card, heal player or creature. At any time, you may field a queen card by discarding a value card from your hand. The queen then increases target player or creature's life by the value of the discarded card. The queen must be discarded after being fielded. Note: your discard value DOES NOT increase because of discarding a card for the queen.
- Kings combined with value card, deal direct damage to player or creature. At any time, you may field a king card by discarding a value card from your hand. The king then deals damage equal to the value of the discarded card to target player or creature. The king must be discarded after being fielded. Note: your discard value DOES NOT increase because of discarding a card for the king.
- Aces give creatures an extra life. At any time, you may field an ace card on any creature. If a creature needs to be discarded (it dies), but if it has an ace on it, you may discard the ace instead of the creature. You may have multiple aces on one creature, but you can not move an already fielded ace from one creature to another.
- If a player's life goes below 0, then that player loses and is removed from the game.
- If there is only one player still in the game, then that player is the winner!
Response Stack - A stack of cards fielded on top of each other. Since special cards can be played at any time, you may field a special card in response to a card in the process of being fielded, as long as you do so before the player continues on to their next move or ends their turn, at which point it is too late to do so, for the card has already been fielded. This creates a stack, in which the last card fielded in response to another performs it's action first, and the first one fielded performs it's action last (stack structure). Ilk is not meant to be a game of speed, so if you wish for time to consider whether to play a card on top of another, you may ask a player to wait before they move on to their next card.
Example: Player A fields a creature. Player B fields a king to kill that creature in response to it being fielded. Player A fields an ace in order to protect that creature from being killed. Player B fields another king to kill the creature before the ace is played. The stack unfolds, player B's last king kills the creature. Player A's ace was played on a non-existent creature, and is discarded. Player B's first king was played on a non-existent creature, and is discarded. Note, if player B hadn't played the second king, player A's ace would be the last card on the stack, and that would be placed on the creature. Then player B's king would kill the creature, but since it had an ace, only the ace would be discarded, and the creature would still live even though player B played the king to kill the creature first.
Another Example: Player A has 5 life. Player B deals 5 damage to player A (which would bring player A to 0 life, making him lose the game). Player A heals 5 life. The heal resolves first, bringing player A's life up to 10, and then 5 damage is dealt, bringing his life back down to 5, so player A lives, even though the 5 damage was cast first and should have killed player A.
- Special cards can literally be played at any time, including after a player decides on blocks, but before your creatures actually deal damage. Example: Fielding a jack on your creature's damage card, doubling it's damage after the player has already chosen if he's blocking that creature or not, doubling the damage dealt to the blocking creature or the player.
- I think that having more than 5 players will make the game too slow, but feel free to try it out, and let me know how it works