The game is divided into a series of Derbies. At the end of each Derby, the player who controls the Combatants with the highest combined Strength is the winner, and the first player to win 3 Derbies is declared the champion.
A Derby is played over several turns. In each turn, players simultaneously deploy a card from their hand and then pass the rest of their cards to the player to their left.
The key to winning is choosing which Combatant to deploy while gathering information for later turns.
- 52 Combatant cards:
- 3 Reference cards
- 13 Derby Victory tokens
When playing with fewer than 6 players, remove the appropriate Combatant cards according to the number of players.
For example, in a game for 3 players, remove all cards marked with 4+, 5+, and 6+.
The total number of cards in a game should be as follows:
At the beginning of each Derby, shuffle all the cards being used and deal a number of cards to each player equal to the number of players plus two.
So, in a game for 3 players, each player is dealt 5 cards; in a game for 4 players, each player is dealt 6 cards; and so on.
Note: For a 2-player game, deal each player 7 cards instead.
Place any cards that are not dealt to the side of the playing area face down; they will not be used in this Derby. You are now ready to begin your guest to win 3 Derbies!
Anatomy of a Card
There are 52 Combatants in the game: they all have a Name, Strength, Type, and Special Ability (there are multiple copies of some Combatants).
A Combatant's type is always tied to its Strength. Finally, a Combatant may also have an ability that is triggered at the appropriate time (see icons reference).
Note: Any text in italics is flavor text, and does not have any effect in the game.
This ability is an ongoing, permanent effect that applies from the moment the card is revealed and for as long as the card is face up and controlled by a player, even if control of the card changes.
This ability applies from the moment the card is revealed but only lasts until the end of the current turn, even if the card itself is discarded.
This ability is applied (in order) after deployed cards are revealed. Each instant ability is only triggered once during the game, even if the card would come back into play later in the game as the result of another ability.
This ability only applies at the end of the Derby.
Note: Only the effects of abilities which state 'may' are optional. All other effects are mandatory
Control: You control a Combatant that you select in the current turn, as well as any other Combatants in front of you from previous turns.
Gain: A card is gained by taking it and placing it face up in front of you. You now control this Combatant.
Swap: To swap a Combatant with another, take another player's Combatant and replace it with one of yours. You now control the one you took.
Each Derby is played over several turns. Each turn, every player simultaneously deploys a Combatant by choosing a card from their hand and placing it face down in front of them.
Once every player has chosen a Combatant, they are all revealed simultaneously. Any Ongoing and Turn abilities are immediately applied (the order does not matter).
Then, any Instant special abilities are resolved, starting with Combatants with the highest Strength and proceeding in descending order to those with the lowest Strength. Combatants with equal Strength are activated simultaneously.
If a game effect causes a Combatant to be discarded before it has resolved its instant ability, that ability is not resolved. Any Combatant cards discarded as a result of a Combatant ability are placed face down in a common discard pile in the middle of the playing area.
Once this is done, the chosen Combatants that are still in play stay in front of the player who deployed them (joining any previously chosen Combatants).
Finally, each player passes the rest of the cards in their hand to the player on their left, and a new turn begins.
This process is repeated until players only have 1 card remaining in their hand. That card is discarded and then the winner of the Derby is determined.
Note: Special rules for 2 players - on each turn, players choose 2 cards that they will deploy that turn instead of 1. Once they have chosen, the cards are revealed and abilities resolved in the normal way After 3 turns, each player will have played 6 cards. The final card is discarded.
End of a Derby
The Derby is concluded once each player has only 1 card remaining in hand. This card is then discarded, and the current turn is concluded as noted in the Gameplay section above.
At the end of each Derby, any Derby abilities are applied, and then players add up the total Strength of all of their controlled Combatants (including any that are face down).
The player with the highest total Strength wins that Derby and takes a Derby Victory token.
If there is a tie for highest total Strength, then the tied player with the most Combatants wins.
If it is still a tie, then all tied players are considered to have won the Derby and each takes a Derby Victory token.In the unlikely case that there are no more Derby tokens, players may use any other token to represent them.
Note: If a player controls the Commander and/or Underdog at the end of the Derby and has fulfilled the winning condition listed, they win the Derby instead, even if another player has a higher total Strength.
If two different players would each win with the Commander and Underdog at the same time, they both win the Derby.
After determining the winner and awarding them a Derby Victory token, all cards are discarded and shuffled together.
Players are then ready to begin the next Derby, starting with the Setup procedure.
End of the Game
Once one player has won 3 Derby tokens, they have won the game.
If two players are tied with 3 Derby wins each, keep playing until any one player has won more Derbies than any other.
Variant: Mekk Mania
For a more chaotic game suited for experience players, remove the Liaison Unit card and separate the rest of the cards into decks, each of a different type of Combantant.
Shuffle each pile separately, then draw cards from each deck according to the number of each type that should be in the game depending on the number of players (see table on page X).
Return all other cards to the box, and shuffle all the drawn cards together to form the deck used in this Derby.
Then, deal out the cards to the players and play the game as you normally would.