Update: Valeria Card Kingdoms: Darksworn has launched on Kickstarter and the campaign will run for 22 days. You may pledge for the Darksworn expansion, or the Card Kingdoms base game, or both. You also have the option of backing the French or the German edition, or the PnP.
Our preview post below was published on March 8.
In the core game, cards are displayed on a central 4x5 grid, with Monsters in the upper row, Domains in the lower row, and two rows of Citizens in between. There are three resources in the game: Strength (to defeat Monsters), Gold (to recruit Citizens or claim Domains), and Magic, which acts as a wild. You start with 2 Gold and 1 Magic, and two starting Citizens in your kingdom, a Peasant and a Knight.
On each player turn, two six-sided dice are rolled. All Citizen cards have an activation number: if one of the dice, or their sum, matches this activation number, the Citizen card takes effect. All the other players also activate their matching Citizen cards, but these only trigger an alternative, “passive” effect. These effects usually allow you to gain resources or to trade one resource for another.
Then, the active player takes two actions from the following list: they can slay a monster by paying the corresponding resource cost, recruit a Citizen or claim a Domain from the central board by paying its Gold value or taking one resource for free in the supply. Domains provide victory points at the end of the game and have specific abilities, either instant or passive. Monsters also provide victory points. Cards taken from the central board are refilled until the exhaustion of the corresponding decks.
In the solo mode, at the end of your turn, monsters attack a column of the central display and kill a Citizen or, if none left, lay waste to a Domain. If you manage to kill all Monsters before all Domains are destroyed, you win the game.
The Darksworn expansion works differently. It comes with six book-decks, each one with several chapters. A chapter introduces a special effect that might be triggered in the course of the game, a tidbit of story and a Task that must be completed in the same way monsters are slain, that is, by paying the corresponding cost in Strength and Magic. Domains are no longer used. You can engage in additional actions, such as fulfilling a Task, praying to Aquila to exchange victory points for effects or share resources with other players. Then, similarly to the core game solo mode, a Monsters Phase occurs. Monsters will attack a specific column depending on the value of a die rolled for this purpose. You are initially protected by a wall, but once the wall is destroyed, they will start killing the available Citizen cards.
To win in the Darksworn expansion, you must fulfill all the tasks of the book you are playing before the Monsters attack a column that can no longer be refilled with fresh Citizen cards.