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You take on the role of investigators trying to discover ancient knowledge -secrets beyond beyond the grasp of time ... beyond the grasp of the human mind. You will contact mysterious cults, explore hidden locations, encounter horrific creatures, and learn unspeakable words.

The horror of this knowledge may prove too much to bear for their weak minds, and some of you may be lost forever to madness!


  • 18 cards
  • 1 pencil
  • 1 notepad
  • 20 Madness tokens
  • 1 rulebook.

Object of the Game

The goal of Tides of Madness is to score the most Victory Points (VP), earned by developing your knowledge of the Ancient Ones during the game. You must, however, beware the madness! If you have 9 or more Madness tokens () at the end of a round, you lose the game.

The game consists of 3 rounds in which you will draft cards to build your knowledge and earn VP (). Some cards will also give you Madness (). After the third round, if both players survive, the player with the most VP () wins!

Anatomy of a Card

Every card has a name 1 and an ability 2. Most abilities are scoring objectives that will reward VP 3 if the conditions are met at the end of each round.

There are 3 cards for each of the 5 suits 4: Races , Locations , Outer Gods , Great Old Ones , and Manuscripts

Additionally, there are 3 cards without a suit. Beware, 8 of the cards feature Madness 5.


Shuffle the cards and deal 5 to each player. These cards form your starting hand. Place the rest of the cards aside, face down, to form a draw pile. Keep the pencil, notepad, and tokens within easy reach.

Game Play

The game is played over 3 rounds in which both players will draft cards and at the end of each round score VP.

Each round comprises of following phases: Drafting, Scoring and Refresh.

A. Drafting

This phase consists of three steps that are repeated five times in the following order:

  • Choose one card from your hand to keep and place it face down in front of you.
  • Reveal your chosen card simultaneously with your opponent.
  • Pass the remaining cards in your hand to your opponent.
  • Repeat these steps until both players have 5 cards face up in front of them and no cards remaining in hand.

B. Scoring

After all 5 cards have been played and revealed, perform the scoring steps in the following order:

  • Take one Madness token () for each card you have with the Madness icon (Madness ).
  • If you received the most Madness this round, you may choose to gain 4 , or heal 1 Madness by discarding a token. In case of a tie, no player gets to choose.
  • Now, check each of your cards for their scoring objectives and write down your points on the notepad.
  • If you have 9 or more Madness, the game ends immediately and you lose.
  • If both players have 9 or more Madness, the game ends immediately with no winner.

Scoring example: At the end of the first round you have the following cards: Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Dagon, Pnakotic Manuscripts, and Elder Things.

Your opponent has: Yog-Sothoth, Cthulhu, Hastur, Mountains of Madness, and Shub-Niggurath.

You receive 2 Madness tokens () and your opponent receives 1.

You choose to take 4 extra since you are not in danger of succumbing to Madness.

You score: 0, 3, 7, 7, 6 for your cards, plus another 4 for receiving the most Madness tokens in this round, for a total of 27 . Your opponent scores 7 for Yog-Sothoth only.

The other are worth no points.

C. Refresh

(skip This Phase In Round 3)

Perform the following steps in order:

  • Take 5 cards you played this round back into your hand.
  • Choose one card from your hand to keep and place it face down in front of you.
  • Choose another card from your hand and discard it face up to the game box, simultaneously with your opponent.
  • Reveal your face-down card.
  • Deal 2 new cards to each player. You should both now have 5 cards in hand once again.

Round 2 is the same as the first round with the exception that you start with 1 card already in play, and at the end of the round you will score all 6 cards.

In Round 3, you will start with 2 cards in play and score all 7 cards. There is no refresh phase in the third round.


There are 18 cards in total: 3 for each of the 5 suits, plus 3 without a suit. 8 cards also feature Madness. Most cards provide a scoring condition that will reward you with VP if you meet the condition.

Having the majority in a suit means that you have more cards than your opponent in that particular suit (ties do not count).

Detiled description of some cards:

16. Miskatonic University (no suit) with @Madness : For each majority gain 4 . These points are added to any points gained from other cards that reward you for a specific majority.

17. Shub-Niggurath (no suit): Double the of your previously played card (when you reveal cards, put this card on top of a previously played one to note this). If this is the first card you played in this round, there is no effect.

18. Dreamlands (no suit): This card has a wild suit. You decide the suit of this card before scoring each round. Additionally, take one Madness () from your opponent after checking who received the most Madness this round (step 2. of the Scoring phase). This Madness token counts towards your total Madness.

End of the Game

After scoring the third round, if neither player has not lost to Madness, the player with the most VP wins.

In the rare case of a tie, both players share the victory ... and the defeat, of course.

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