Copyright 1991 by William H. Timmins.

You have the right to copy and recopy this post under the condition you copy it with only acceptable modifications, in its entirety. Acceptable modifications: Boldfacing, realigning, changes of spacing (less than 3 spaces... no eliminate by scrolling off the screen). No one may use this document for profit without the express written consent of the author. (I love that sentence)


Kingdoms is a card game which simulates two kingdoms or nations at war. It uses a tarot deck. The goal of the game is to eliminate all of the opposing side's cards/forces. Note: The tarot meanings used in the game are sometimes a bit forced or simply wrong. In some cases the meanings of cards are flipped on their head. I apologize, but it was the best I could do to make a framework. If you don't like it you can piss off.


Each of the suits of the Minor Arcana represent a different part of your kingdom. Coins/pentacles represent wealth, gold in your coffers, disposable income. Cups represent agriculture, land, peasantry. Swords represent armies, military strength. Wands represent faith, religion. The Major Arcana represent events which can happen to your kingdom. The value of a card ranges from 1-10. Royal cards are force 10 cards plus the force of a leader (1-4), so the values range from 1-14.

Set up

Divide up the Minor Arcana according to suit, so that you have four piles. As a standard, piles are arranged in the order presented above (coins, cups, swords, wands). The Major Arcana make up a fifth pile. Shuffle each pile.

Deal out, from coins to wands, a card face down, then a card face up, so that for each side the face down card is behind the face up card.

Side  _____   _____  +  _____   _____  Side
1    |  d  | |  u  | + |  u  | |  d  | 2
     |_____| |_____| + |_____| |_____|

Proceed with the other suits, putting the cards next to the others. You should end up with the following pattern.

       _____   _____  +  _____   _____
Coins |  d  | |  u  | + |  u  | |  d  |
      |_____| |_____| + |_____| |_____|
       _____   _____  +  _____   _____
Cups  |  d  | |  u  | + |  u  | |  d  |
      |_____| |_____| + |_____| |_____|
       _____   _____  +  _____   _____
Swords|  d  | |  u  | + |  u  | |  d  |
      |_____| |_____| + |_____| |_____|
       _____   _____  +  _____   _____
Wands |  d  | |  u  | + |  u  | |  d  |
      |_____| |_____| + |_____| |_____|

The face up card is the active, or rank 1 card. The face down card is the reserve, or rank 2 card. (It is possible to later get rank 3 or more cards, which are placed behind and are still called reserve cards) The active cards are the only cards that can attack or affect the other side, and the only cards which can be attacked or affected.


The person who didn't deal has the first turn. At the beginning of a turn, a player may reorganize his ranks. He can rearrange his cards within each type, but when this is done must keep the first rank face up. (ie- moving back an army and moving up the reserve, you must then flip over the moved up army and turn over the retreating one.)

Also at the beginning of a turn, a player may combine forces within a rank. The cards are placed one on top of another. (Faith cards are the only ones which CANNOT be joined together) Then the action is accomplished. An action consists of a move or an event. If a player cannot use any of his cards, he must draw an event card (the Major Arcana pile). The event cards are dealt with at the end of this document.

However, after the move is made the opposing player can make a countermove while the force is still in enemy territory. After the countermove, the first player withdraws the force (if it still exists) and the second player gets his turn. Destroyed forces are placed back in the appropriate pile (unless move descriptions say otherwise)



Armies attack and destroy opposing forces. The army must be of a higher value than the opposing side, or it cannot make this move. After attacking a card of lower value, that card is removed and put into the proper pile.

If another army card is attacked, the opposing army is destroyed but damages the attacker. (The destroyed card is laid across the attacker's card) The effective strength of the army is then the normal value minus the value of the destroyed army.

An army can defend (countermove) against opposing forces if it is higher than the effective value. It never takes damage from this. Also, RESERVE armies can defend, since the enemy is near their territory.

If an army attacks a non-army card it's effective strength is normal minus 1/2 rounded up of the other card's value if it is counterattacked. ie- army 10 attacking money 3 would be at effectiveness 8 if counterattacked. However, once the army is withdrawn it is at full force.


X side has a 12 army. Y side has a 5 active army and a 10 reserve army. X side attacks Y's army. Y's army is destroyed, but damages X's army to an effective value of 7. Y's reserve army then destroys X's remaining forces, taking no damage.


X side has 12 army. Y side has 10 army and 8 coin. X attacks Y's coin. Coin is destroyed, but X is at 8 for Y's counterattack, which destroys it. If Y had not counterattacked, X would have returned home with no damage.


Faith is used to convert forces on the other side. If faith is higher than another card, it can 'attack' the card and move it to the other side. However, faith is at effectiveness minus 1/2 rounded down of the other side for a counterattack. Even if a counterattack is successful, the card is still converted.

Faith can be used to defend, taking over the attacking card. If a damaged army is taken over, it is STILL damaged.


If an army takes damage, it can be 'healed' at the beginning of that player's next turn (the damage stays until then, however!) if the damage is lower than the active agriculture card. If damage is higher, and consists of several cards, the lowest cards are healed up to the agriculture value. (ie- if an army has a 4, 5, and 10 damage on it, the healing will eliminate the 4 and 5 first) If there are no armies left, the active agriculture card can form a militia. The card is moved to the armies file, and it's force is 1/2 rounded up.


Wealth cards can be used up to draw new cards. Wealth/3 rounded up (getting a value of 1-5) is the number of cards you can draw from any of the piles (except events). You then choose the card you want out of the choices presented and return the other cards. (ie- wealth only returns one card, but you get better chances with higher wealth) The new card is placed behind the last reserve card of the proper file. You cannot use wealth to draw more wealth cards.

Optional extras

If you want a longer game, two minor changes are suggested:

  1. Agriculture cards can buy wealth cards.
  2. Wealth cards CANNOT by agriculture. (No infinite loop!)

Major Arcana/Event cards

There are 6 ranks of event cards, with four cards in each except the last rank, which has two.

Rank1- Disaster cards.

If this card is drawn, the active card in it's realm is destroyed.

The four cards are The Tower <economic collapse = wealth card gone>, The Hanged Man <crime rate jumps = agriculture card gone>, Death <disease breaks out = army card gone>, and The Devil <corruption in the church = faith card gone>

Rank 2- Good Omen cards.

If this card is drawn, the player draws an extra card, which is placed behind the last reserve card. The four cards are The World <new finds>, The Moon <land expansion>, The Star <recruiting jumps>, The Sun <piety and church expand>

Rank 3- Bad Influence cards.

If this card is drawn, it is placed behind the appropriate file. Every card in it's file is treated as worth -3 normal, all other cards are at -1. On the second move following the present one you can sacrifice any active card from files other than that of the influence to destroy the influence. <ie- drew card, move- can't do anything, move- destroy card> Of course, you don't have to destroy the influence.

The four cards are The Hermit <money is being hoarded and is unavailable>, The Fool <people are slacking off and not doing enough work>, The Magician <soldiers and others taken by superstition and gambling>, The Lovers <vices and lusts let loose>

Rank 4- Leader cards.

If this card is drawn, a new leader comes to power. Several leaders can rule at once. If the file of the leader is destroyed, the leader is destroyed. If a file is empty, the leader doesn't come to power.

The four cards are The High Priest <money for the needy, acts as banking system>, The Empress <justice and civil reform>, The Emperor <organizes the nobility and military forces>, The High Priestess <leads with insight and inspiration>

Rank 5- Chance cards.

If this card is drawn, a card is either lost or gained in the appropriate file. If the difference in the file between the opposing person's active card and your active card is odd, then chance becomes Disaster (as above). Otherwise, you can draw a card as in the Good Omen cards.

The four cards are The Wheel of Fortune <economic luck or disaster>, Justice <land either expands or lack of justice consumes it>, The Chariot <decisions by the nobility either help or destroy the militia>, Judgment <the true faith of disciples are tested>

Rank 6- Helper cards.

These two cards, Strength and Temperance, may be used on any card you owned. Strength increases the offensive capabilities of a card by 1/2 rounded up of it's value. Temperance increases the defensive capabilities of a card by 1/2 rounded up of it's value. (Note: Temperance increases the amount a card can withstand when attacked. Counterattacks are covered by Strength.)

-It's harder to write rules then explain, but it's rather easy once you get going. Email any suggestions or questions to

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell