Monday, July 14, 2008

Guardians Rules, Part 1

Guardians is a great Collectible Card Game formerly produced by FPG, Inc. The game is no longer supported, except by fans who have played the games since its inception or since picking up discounted cards.

One problem with picking up discounted cards: if you can't find a starter deck, you don't have the rules. (There are other things you may not have either, but the rules are the most important.)

This is an effort to correct that problem. What follows are a quick set of rules for playing the game. They get more complex as the go along. All that is listed is what you *can* do, not what you *should* do. For playing tips, go elsewhere.

part 1 of 4
(version 0.3)


The first thing you need is a deck. It must have at least 55 cards, and no more than 5 of any card, except terrain and shields. There is a limit of 1 Guardian (who isn't part of the deck). The only restricted card is Champs, the Wonder Dog from Dagger Isle. If you don't have one of them, don't worry about that now. (Note that all card limitations are typical tournament rules and are not actually found in any of the rulebooks. But they are good ideas.)


If the only cards that you have came from Limited or Revised edition booster packs, you didn't get any shield sets, although you probably got some standard bearers (which are also Shields).

Shield sets only appeared in starter packs. Individual shields were introduced in each of the expansion sets: Dagger Isle, Drifters Nexus and Necropolis Park. Also, there were Shield/Terrain cards in Dagger
, but don't worry about these either, just yet.

You'll need anywhere from 6 to 10 shields in a deck. The exact number depends upon deck design which isn't covered here. If you don't have that many shields, my suggestion has always been to take a creature or terrain that isn't in your deck and declare before the game that this card is you shield. Treat it as such during the game.


Your Guardian sits in front of you, and represents you. If you don't have a Guardian, put the King of Hearts (or any other card) in front of you and write down these stats: Vitality 30, Stones 7, CMP 9, Base Draw 3, LDL -1, MDL +1, LUC +1. These are the statistics for the Guardian Rak Nam, only available in starter decks. For other Guardians, some with special abilities, check out a Spoiler List.


Strongholds are sets of three cards. Three sets were available only in starter decks. Each expansion set has a stronghold set that has to be collected. If you don't have a full set of strongholds, put any three cards horizontally in front of the Guardian and write the following on them "+5 to defend". For descriptions of other Strongholds, a Spoiler List.

(Another joke: use three Magic(tm) Walls of Wood and say that they provide 3 point defense. Well, they look cool, anyway.)


You play a Guardian. You control armies of creatures that travel under Shields into the "disputed lands" between you and your opponent. There are three lands in front of your stronghold that are considered to be under your control at the beginning of the game. There are also three in front of your opponent under his control.

The object of the game is to take control of all six lands OR to destroy five of your opponents Shields OR to kill his Guardian.

How to Play

Shuffle all your cards, except the Guardian and Strongholds. Even though some of the card backs have a single-line border and some a double-line border, they are all shuffled together in one deck. Let your opponent cut the deck.


The first phase is called the Draw & Organize phase. Draw 12 cards. Separate the single-border cards (Creatures, 'C' Creature Magic Items, Shields and Terrain) and double-border cards (Spells, 'H' Hand Magic Items, bribery cards).

If you didn't draw any shields, you may spend a stone and reshuffle the deck and draw again.

Place Creatures

There are four places for your creatures to go: on a stronghold under a shield, on a stronghold without a shield, under a stronghold or in your Creature Pen, which is underneath your Guardian.

All creatures are placed face down.

You may not have more than 30 points on or under any space at any time. You may have creature both on and under the same stronghold space at one time, but their total must be 30 points or under. Also, some creatures have penalty numbers, red numbers underneath their vitality numbers. For example, a Gunner has a Vitality of 4/6. He has a Vitaly of 4 but stacks as if he were a 6.

You may stack creature Magic Items under any stack, do you cannot have more than magic items than creatures in any stack.


Channeling is a way to temporarily increase a creature's Vitality in combat. Some creatures can only channel; others can only accept channeling. A few can do both. Most creatures do neither, unless under the affects of a Spell.

Any creature that has a number under the CMP label in the lower right corner of the card can channel. (It doesn't matter if the bar above the number is red or green -- that's for *receiving* channeling).

Creatures that can channel do not have to, but if you want them to during the turn, you must place them underneath a stronghold. This shows that you have the intention to channel this turn.

Other placement

Stronghold Upgrades: these get placed next to either your left stronghold or your right stronghold during the Draw and Organize phase. Once placed, you can't remove them. No more than one on the left and one on the right.

Put your terrain, extra shields and extra creatures and creature magic items in your Creature Pen, underneath your Guardian.

Put all double-border cards face-down next to your Guardian.


Place Shields face-up on top of the stacks of creatures. You may only have one Standard Bearer in play at a time.

Creatures can only move if they're under a Shield. If you don't have any Shields, your creatures cannot move (and your opponent will have a distinct advantage during this turn).

Who Places First?

Sometimes players try to "out-wait" each other, waiting to see where their opponents place their shields so they can react to it. If this becomes a problem, flip a coin to decide who must place something first and then alternate until finished. Another possibility is a "house rule" -- turn over your Up card at the beginning of the D&O
phase instead of the Movement phase (see below).


Turn your Up card

Turn over the top card on your deck. This is your Up card. The player whose "Up Number" is higher goes first. If both cards have the same number, put them on the bottom of your deck and turn another card. Note: Creatures use their Vitality number for their Up number; they don't use the red penalty number.

The player with the higher Up number goes first and then the turn alternates until every shield has been "turned".


On your turn, you must turn a Shield. That is, you rotate a shield 180 degrees so that it faces away from you. After you turn the shield you may do one of the following:
- move the shield one or two spaces (not diagonally)
- fly a shield one or two spaces (if it only contains fliers)
- re-inforce a shield (put more creatures in it)

You may not move past a space that has no terrain, an opponent's terrain or an opponent's shield unless your shield is flying.

If your shield flies, you must show its contents to your opponent. You may only fly one shield per turn.

If you move unto a terrain occupied by an opponent's shield, go to Combat immediately.

You cannot stop on a terrain that already has one of your own Shields on it, but you may pass through such a space.

Reinforcing a Shield

This can get complicated.

You may reinforce a Shield with any creature from your strongholds so long as the creatures are not under a turned shield. (They may be unshielded or under an unturned shield.) They are subject to the same movement rules that shields are. For example, you can't reinforce over an opponent's terrain unless your creatures fly. And the creatures are still limited to two spaces of movement. After
reinforcing, your shield is still limited to 30 points.

Note: The shield that you re-inforce does NOT have to be the same shield as the one you turned. However, you may not reinforce to a shield that has not been turned yet.

You cannot move creatures FROM a shield in the disputed lands TO another shield or to your stronghold.

Picking Up and Dropping Off Creatures

If a Shield moves through a Stronghold space, it may drop some of the creatures under it onto the space and continue moving (up to its limit). Likewise, if there is room under the Shield, it may pick up a creature from the Stronghold space.

There are two restrictions: You cannot drop a creature onto a space that has an UNTURNED shield, and you cannot pick up a creature from a space that has a TURNED shield. This prevent creatures from moving more spaces than they are allowed.

Replacing Creatures

Similar to reinforcing, you can replace the contents of a shield that is right in front of your stronghold with creatures that are in the stronghold spaces adjacent to your Shield. That's not as complicated as it sounds -- in fact, it becomes quite obvious when you start playing.

If your Shield is, say, in the center terrain in front of your stronghold and you have creatures on your center stronghold, you can do the following: turn your shield, move onto your stronghold, pick up and drop off as many creatures as you want so long as the Shield doesn't exceed its limit, then move back to the terrain you started from.


This is handled in a separate file.

Confused? That's normal. Try it out a few times and you'll get the hang of it.

Hopefully, I'll come up with a good sample hand that illustrates all these points.

Homebrew Card

Slag Pile:
Terrain, Up 26 Counts as The Dry Heaps. Slag Beasts beaten or destroyed on this space return to your Creature Pen for one Power Stone each. If control of this space is lost, it is immediately flipped over and becomes a face-down terrain for the rest of the turn.

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