Arts: Introduction

Dark Yeoman commented that her comparative study of character creation in Changeling andĀ Arcadia is “mostly academic” and will maybe “not have a great effect on the way you play Arcadia”.

Well, I disagree. šŸ™‚ The reason I disagree with that statement has to do with the Arts. The best part of her excellent comparative study are the parallels she draws between the Arts of both worlds, and I think that deserves a separate post (or a series of posts, if I get around to it!), because I think it got buried in a lot of technical stuff that is indeed maybe more academic. (If you haven’t read Dark Yeoman’s post, please do. It is very much worth reading!)

In this and future posts I’ll talk more about the Arts, and give some variant rules on how to use them with greater flexibility in Arcadia. Those variant rules are mostly found at the end of this post.


As Dark Yeoman points out in the above mentioned post, the Arts in Arcadia match the Arts of Changeling, and perhaps more so than the simple use of theĀ Changeling Arts icons on the Arcadia Arts cards indicates. To recap, each Art card in Arcadia displays an icon in the left border, which indicates what type of Art this is. In Changeling there are 9 main types of Arts, which use the following icons:



Arcadia has a few more, as Dark Yeoman notes in that post, but we will come back to those later. (Arcadia also doesn’t have Spirit Link Arts).

The Art cards in Arcadia are really cantrips or spells. The Arts are the different types of fae magic. Each cantrip is a spell that is of a specific type of magic or Art.

The way cantrips work in Changeling is complex. Too complex, really. To cast as cantrip there are 7 steps (and that is not even considering the 2-pages of “Advanced Cantrip Rules”)! I do not propose to follow this in Arcadia, but I do give some optional rules below that are very loosely based on/inspired by this.

When you create a character in Changeling, you don’t select the Arts you know willy nilly. They should match the rest of your Character’s characteristics. Here is a relevant section from the example given in the Changeling handbook (page 125) to explain the process of Character creation (Angie is the sample player; Emma her Character):

Angie thoroughly reads all the Arts and Realms descriptions before she begins to allocate points to them. Once done, she begins with Emma’s Arts, immediately putting two points in Primal due to her athleticism and Primal’s connection with the body and other things physical. The next choice comes less easily, but in the end, Angie decides to give Emma one point in Wayfare, another Art that somehow seems related to physical movement.

So choose your Arts carefully. Choose those that match the rest of your Character’s Abilities, and specialise in one Art, before selecting others (see the variant rules below). Often Arts are also associated with particular types of persons, with commoners, with nobility, or even with specific kith. I encourage you to pay attention to these guidelines as well (and will mention them in subsequent posts).

In Changeling each Art has cantrips of varying difficulties, ranging from 1 to 5. As mentioned, the Arts in Arcadia often correspond closely to the cantrips of Changeling, and their difficulty is expressed in Arcadia by their cost, ranging from 1 to 6. The Arts with a difficult/cost of 1 to 3 are found in The Wyld Hunt, whereas the Arts with a difficult of 4 or higher are only found in King Ironheart’s Madness. In other words, there is a good reason the Merits in King Ironheart’s Madness cost more than those in The Wyld Hunt!


Arts are great, because they make Arcadia a more fun and challenging game. Without them you do little more than moving and facing Waylays each turn, but with Arts you can do more unpredictable things, and challenge your opponent directly, rather than through a Waylay.

For this reason, I’ve been thinking of and experimenting with ways to make Arts more prominent in Arcadia. We now have two basic variant rules when it comes to Arts:

  • Every Character needs at least 1 Art.
  • When you take a 5 or 6-point Art (during Character creation or when you gain more experience points) you can automatically also take 1 Art of the same type that costs less than half the value of the greater Art you’ve chosen. This lesser Art does not count towards your Merit cost. So, if you pick Captive Heart, a 5-point Chicanery Art, you can also takeĀ Fugue (2 points), since this is also a Chicanery Art, and you’ll still have 5 points of Merits to spend (in the King Ironheart’s Madness rules), sinceĀ FugueĀ does not cost you anything.

These two rules are obviously meant to encourage players to use Arts, but also encourage them to take more powerful Arts. A 6 point Art doesn’t let you choose a lot of other Merits, and so you might not be quick to take it. but if that 6 point Art comes with another (free) 2 or 3 point Art, this becomes a more compelling choice. With the increased number of Arts, cards like Favored by Ali’i become a lot more useful (and are particularly recommended for Kokua.

Obviously, this also means that we do mix Merits from The Wyld Hunt with those from King Ironheart’s Madness. Dark Yeoman thinks this doesn’t go so well, but my experience/experimentation tells me otherwise. (To clarify: since we don’t live in the same country now, we very rarely play with each other, and all the rules she posts are those that she has been using with the people she plays with. When she talks of “we”/”ours” that generally does not include me and the people I’ve recently been playing with).

The way we mix Merits from both sets is as follows:

  • You get 10 points of Merits for Character creation, and can choose freely between Merits from both sets.
  • You can’t take only Merits from The Wyld Hunt. You need at least as many points of Merits from King Ironheart’s Madness as you have of The Wyld Hunt.
  • One major Flaw is selected by your opponent, as in Dark Yeoman’s House Rules, but those points do not give you more Merit points (so a 5 point Flaw does not give you 5 points extra Merits). But you can also choose to takeĀ only 1 minor Enemy Flaw (of 1 point), and this does allow you get 1 extra Merit point.

These two rules ensure that your Character cannot get too powerful. The Merits from both sets also complement each other nicely. Abilities from The Wyld Hunt, for example, always need to be exhausted to take effect, and generally only give you 1 extra point, whereas those from King Ironheart’s Madness give you a fixed increase in Might/Savvy/Resolve/Combat and don’t require to be exhausted (but do not take effect when exhausted).


We’ve also been experimenting with one rule that makes Arts dependent on dice rolls:

  • Whenever you would normally use an Art, you make a roll with 10-sided dice. The number of dice you roll is twice the number of unexhausted Arts you have (so if you have 2 unexhausted Arts, you roll 4 dice, if you have only 1 you roll 2 dice, etc.). If you roll at least 1 number equal to or higher than the cost of the Art, the Art is cast successfully, and you must exhaust it. If all your dice rolls are less than the Art cost, the attempt to cast the Art fails, and the Art remains unexhausted.
  • Any 1 you roll negates a success (i.e. a roll higher than the cost of the Art), as in the “standard” 10-sided dice variant rules. If you roll more 1s than successes you mess up badly. You are unable to use the Art, but have to exhaust it nonetheless.
  • For some Arts you can add a success rate: depending on how many successes you roll, the Art will be more or less successful. For example, Quicksilver, a 2 point Wayfare Art, lets you move 3 Leagues, but if you roll only a single success, you can only move 1 League. I will note which Arts I think would lend themselves to this in future posts.
  • Optional: you could also add a penalty to the dice roll if you are using the Art to affect a Character, Waylay, League, or Treasure that is is separated from your Character by more than 2 Leagues. For each League after 2, you have to roll 1 higher (so with a 3-point Art, you will have to roll a 4 or higher if you want to affect something or someone who is 3 Leagues away from your Character).

We’ve only played a few games so far with these dice rolls, and we like them, but will have to test this a bit more. The reason we like them is that they both make it a little more difficult to use Arts (which offset the advantage of having extra (lesser) Arts), but also forces you to have a bit more strategy, because the more Arts you use the fewer dice you will be able to roll (so you may want to wait casting that lesser Art, if you soon want to cast that greater one).

All this (and especially the degrees of successes) may seem to make what was very simple hopelessly complicated, but it isn’t that difficult, really, once you take into consideration what the Art really does, aside from the “technical” aspect of moving a League or having to undergo a Might Trial, etc. Once you understand why your opponent has to undergo a Might Trial, it isn’t so difficult to remember what you could do to him when you roll only successes. But all this will probably (hopefully!) make more sense once I begin talking about each individual Art, in future posts.


Into the Unknown — A Solo Variant

Life was simple, and your world was small. You never wandered far from your home town. Apart from the occasional travelling merchant and the rare wanderer passing through, the only people you ever met were those born within a day’s walk from the house in which you were born, and the only ones that you actually knew were those that were born in your town, or those that married those who were born there.

But the pleasures, however genuine, of that small world, were not enough to keep you there, and one morning, the longing for the lands beyond the horizon that had grown within you since childhood flared up once again. You decided it was time to see more of the world. That day, you left the world you knew so well (the only world you ever knew!), its comforts, and securities, and faced the unknown. You remind yourself that this was but a few days ago, though your old life now seems as many years behind you as the miles you have travelled.

Somehow, you got caught in an adventure beyond your wildest childhood dreams. Who knows where it will bring you? During your travels, you will explore the new, wide world of Arcadia, and discover its many surprises, dangers, and wonders, as you roam from place to place, searching for new quests, more treasures, and perhaps a few trusted friends who are willing to share your journey.


This is a variant that can be used in combination with most other variants or with standard rules. These variant rules only change the way you play Leagues and move into new Leagues. Every other aspect of the game—the way your Character is created, the way you encounter Waylays, the way you win or lose the game, and so on—can be taken from any of the other existing variants.

In this variant, you build a map of Arcadia while you travel through its Leagues. You are roaming blindly, and have no idea what lies around the corner, or where Eidolon or the Ruins of Srissan really are, or how long you could follow this river before you reached the ocean. In this variant, you do not play Leagues during setup, as you would in the standard rules. Instead, you will build a deck of League cards that you can draw from before you move into a direction with no Leagues in play.

During setup, choose about 20 Leagues from either one of the sets of cards (either The Wyld Hunt, or King Ironheart’s Madness). (You could use more Leagues, if you like, but the more Leagues you use the longer the game will likely be.) Choose Leagues that can, reasonably, be played together—don’t have one pure marsh League when you have no other League that can border it—but make sure your selection contains some variety of Terrain types. One easy way to do this is to select a section of the map of either Ardenmore or Middlemarch, and use those Leagues.

Choose your Base Camp, and place it on the table. Shuffle the remaining Leagues you have selected into a League Deck. Place this League Deck within easy reach, with the map side up (the League info side down). If you can place the top League anywhere adjacent to your Base Camp, following the standard rules for playing Leagues, place that League. If not, place it at the bottom of the League Deck, and see if you can play the next one. Do this until your Base Camp has Leagues on every legal side (generally on all 4 sides, but less if your Base Camp is a border League). Once this is accomplished, reshuffle the League Deck, and place it within easy reach. You will draw from this deck every turn you move into a new League.

At the beginning of each turn, if you are planning to move into a new League that turn, you will draw League cards from the top of your deck and try place them adjacent to your current League. If you move to a League that is already in play, you do not draw new League cards. If you can not move to a new League (because you are engaged up by a Waylay, for example), you do not draw new League cards either.

Place the League cards in clockwise order: first North, then East, then South, then West. If the League at the top of the League Deck can be played in the first available position, place it there. If not, see if it can be played in the next available position, and so on. If it can not be played at all, move it to the bottom of the deck, and draw a new one. If you can play that in the first available position, play it, and draw a League for the second position. Otherwise see if you can play it on any of the other positions, in clockwise order. If not move it to the bottom of the Deck. You are only allowed to draw two cards for each position, so the next card you draw can not be placed in the first available position, but you have to start at the second (or the third, if you were able to play one of the first two cards you have drawn on the second position). Once each position has a League in place, or you have drawn up to 2 cards for each position. Note that you can’t draw two Leagues and choose which one you play—the first playable League has to be placed in the first available position, and can not be exchanged for another League drawn once it is played.

If you were not able to play any League this turn, you can’t move. Imagine that the weather has turned, and a storm is now coming, so you’ll have to stay in your current League for another day.

For a League to be playable, ordinary rules apply: only a single feature needs to match. Thus, a League with an edge that has both forest and river Terrain can border either a League with a forest Terrain, or one with a river Terrain, or one with both.The new League will also have to match the Terrain of other Leagues already in play that it will border. Keep in mind that no League can be placed next to a border Terrain, except an ocean League.

This probably sounds more complicated than it really is. Let me illustrate it with an example:

Blackrock Pass

You moved into this League (Blackrock Pass, from The Wyld Hunt) from the East. There are no Leagues to the North, South, and West. You draw the top card from the League Deck. If this has a (long) border with a River or Mountains Terrain type (or both), you can place it to the North of Blackrock Pass. If not, you can try to match it with the Southern and Western side (in that order): for the South, it would need (long) border with Hills or a Road; for the West a (short) border with a Road or Mountains. Whether you were able to place the League you drew in the South or West or not, you draw the next League. If you can play that in the North, play it there, otherwise try South and West again (if you had not placed a League there earlier). If you could not place this second League in the North either, you’ll have to try to match the next League you draw in the South, or, if you can’t place it there, in the West. If you have drawn 2 Leagues for the South that could not be played there, and, in the unlikely event that there still is no League in the West, you can draw up to two more Leagues to try and place in the West (but nowhere else).

Here is another example:


You moved the previous turn into the Sibylline Swamp (also from The Wyld Hunt) from the North, and now want to move onwards, to new lands, since you’d rather not go back in the direction you came from. You can only place a single League, to the East, since the South and West are borders. You draw the first League. If this has a River or Swamp on a (short) border, you play it to the East of the Sibbyline Swamp; if not, you move it to the bottom of the deck and draw another League. If you can’t play the second League, you can not draw another one, since you can only draw 2 Leagues for each direction.

After the Leagues are placed, you can move into a new League in any direction you chose. Pass the Enter and Leave trials, if any, as usual. The rest of the turn will proceed as per the normal rules (or the rules of whatever variant you follow).

If your Character has a Special Ability or Merit that allows you to travel for more than one League per turn, you repeat the process of placing new Leagues immediately after you have moved into the first League. If you are unable to play any Leagues the second time, you have to remain in that League. If you used a Merit to travel for more than one League that needs to be exhausted to use it, you will still have to exhaust the Merit, even if you were not able to travel as far as the Merit allows you to travel.

If you play with the Character Triton (from King Ironheart’s Madness), you will be able to move diagonally only to Leagues that are already in play.

This variant can make Quests in which you have to travel to a particular League particularly challenging, as you do not know where it will show up on the map, and you might have to retrace your steps before moving into a new direction. To avoid drawing the League you have to travel to to complete your Quest in the second turn (and thus complete the Quest in 2 turns), you could opt to shuffle that League into the League Deck only after you have moved 2 or 3 times.

What then do you do with Quest Treasures?

Before you start the game, select the Leagues where you will place your Quest Treasures. Note down which Treasures are at which Leagues, and shuffle those Leagues back into the League Deck. When you are able to play that League later in the game, place the relevant Quest Treasure under it.

The same rules apply if your Quest specifies that certain Waylays need to be placed on certain Leagues. If you have to travel to a particular number of Leagues for your Quest (as in Royal Cartographer or Reconnaissance Mission from The Wyld Hunt), select those Leagues before the game starts (possibly randomly, if the rules by which you play the rest of the game do not specify otherwise), note them down, and shuffle them back into the deck.

This variant may not work too well with some Quests, like Marauders (Quest 2 of The Wyld Hunt) or Hunted! (Quest 2 of King Ironheart’s Madness), in which you have to place Waylays on specific Leagues and then move them each turn. I have not tried this variant with such Quests. But you could try this: assign each Waylay to a specific League (and note this down). Whenever that League comes into play, you bring the Waylay also in play, and begin moving it then. If you also have to reach a specific League (like in Hunted!) only add that League to the League Deck after you have brought all those Waylay Leagues into play. If you come up with a different solution, let us know in the comments!

Variant: Using 10-sided dice

I love the world of Arcadia and I like more than a few things about the card game. But there are a few important elements of Arcadia that I don’t like much. One of these is the way Test and Trials are resolved.

In Arcadia, depending on which expansion rules you follow, you roll 1 or 2 six-sided dice to determine whether you succeed or fail at a particular Test or Trial. The highest throw always wins, and the outcome is simple: you either win or you fail. Or, you can reach a stalemate, if you both end up with the same score, but that does not happen all that often. This works well enough, I suppose, and does not complicate Waylays, but I’ve always thought this was a little boring and can slow the game down if you are not very good even at simple math (like me…).

d10So this is what we’ve been doing. We’ve used dice rolls that are based on Changeling rules. Instead of rolling 6-sided dice (d6), we use 10-sided dice (d10).

These are the rules we have instituted:

  • The number of 10-sided dice you roll in a Test depends on the value of your Attribute for that Test. For example, I encounter a Savvy Waylay, and have a Savvy of 3. This means I can roll 3 dice in this Test.
  • The difficulty of the Test is determined by the value of the Ability of the Waylay or Character you encounter. Your dice roll needs to be higher than the Ability you face. For example, the Savvy Waylay I encounter has a Savvy of 3. This means I have to throw a 4 or more to have a success. The more successes I roll, the higher the chance that I will defeat the Waylay. If you roll no successes, you automatically lose the encounter.
  • If the Waylay you encounter is a person or a creature—if the Waylay is a conscious being—and you are engaged in a Might, Savvy, or Combat Test, your opponent has to roll for the Waylay. The same rules apply: your opponent takes the value of the relevant Ability, and if she rolls higher than the value of your Ability in this Test it is a success. If the successes of the Waylay exceed yours, you are defeated. If they are equal, it is a stalemate. If they are lower, you win. So, in the above example, your opponent would roll 3 dice, and will have a success only when a roll is greater than your Savvy.
  • If the Waylay you encounter is a Resolve Waylay, or an inanimate one (like a Hurricane), the outcome of the encounter is only determined by your own roll. Your opponent will not roll any dice.
  • Furthermore, any 1 you roll negates a success (this is a Changeling rule). So if I rolled a 1, a 2, and an 8 in the above example, I would fail, since the 8 is negated by the 1 and the 2 is a failure. If I roll more 1s than successes, I “botch” (in Changeling terms)—I fail catastrophically. Exactly what happens then your opponent decides. You could have to exhaust 2 Merits, instead of 1; you might have to face another Waylay, who is attracted by the commotion that ensues; you might lose a Treasure; and so on. Bring in some storytelling! Or, if you don’t like that, decide in advance what happens whenever you botch.

Trials are done in the same way: the difficulty of the Trial is the roll you need to make to succeed, and the number of dice you roll depends on the value of the relevant Attribute of your Character. For example, if you have to pass a Might Trial of 7 and you have a Might of 2, you roll 2 dice, and need at least 1 roll that is a 7 or higher to succeed. (You could make it that you need to roll higher than the Trial difficulty—in this case an 8 or more—but that makes most Trials exceedingly difficult, in my opinion! That is what we did in the beginning, but it turned out to be very difficult to succeed. The way we do it now is actually the way it works in Changeling. Since most Waylays have low values for their Abilities, we kept our old rule—higher, not equal—for those, because otherwise it would be too easy.)

There are a lot of cards that modify your rolls. These are mostly Merits and Flaws, but also some Waylays that stay with you (like Polluted Water in King Ironheart’s Madness).Ā  Decide at the beginning of your games whether certain Merits that give you +1 allow you to roll one extra dice or give you +1 to all your rolls (and the same for Flaws that give you -1). We decided that most Waylays that give you -1 when undefeated subtract 1 from your rolls, but Flaws give you 1 less die to roll. With Merits it depends on what the Merit is—whatever is deemed most realistic or appropriate is what we go with.

There are a few downsides to using this method. This works well with King Ironheart’s Madness Waylays. Not so much with The Wyld Hunt Waylays, because they are weaker: lots of 1s and 2s, which are too easy to defeat. We therefore add 2 to every attribute of The Wyld Hunt Waylays.

The biggest advantage to using 10-sided dice is that the outcome is not just a victory or a defeat, butĀ  that there are degrees of success and degrees of defeat. I have already mentioned botching your Test or Trial, but you can also decide that the outcome of a victory depends on how well you really did. If the majority of your rolls are successes (even after the Waylay’s roll) you have a resounding success, which could lead to a very different result than a meagre 1 success. What happens in both cases is up to you. In order to make it a little more challenging, we decided that you need a certain number of successes to gain a win—the majority of your dice rolls, in fact. Anything else would then be a special stalemate: you do not exhaust a Merit, and the Waylay remains in place, but when you encounter it again the Waylay will have a -1 (on rolls for Savvy and Might Tests, on dice for Combat).

House rules for some cards

Some Waylays can be disastrous for a Character—you can’t retreat from them and if you are unlucky with your rolls (or weak in the attribute they test) you can lose all your Merits within a few turns. Other Waylays don’t specify what happens in certain circumstances or are ambiguously worded. In this post, I list our house rules for a few common Waylays. Most of these we have implemented to prevent a Character from being stuck on a League for turns on end, or to make the game more fair, by finding a solution that fits the nature of the Waylay.

Smog Cloud

Smog Cloud & Dystopian Maze (KIM), and Maze (TWH)

All three Waylays remain on the League, even when defeated, as detailed on the cards. If you defeated the Waylay and move out of that League on your next turn, you will not need to face this Waylay again, but if you were defeated (or had a stalemate), or if you stay in that League one more turn (to recover a Quest Treasure, for example) you will need to face the Waylay again. You can not rest on a League that has any of these Waylays.

If you get stuck on a League with one of these Waylays for 3 turns, your opponent may move you to any adjacent League of his choice on the fourth turn (which counts as your movement for that turn; you can encounter another Waylay on that new League); you will then not have to exhaust a Merit.

Autumn Plague

Worn Out

Autumn Plague (TWH) & Worn Out (KIM)

The card text does not specify whether you have to exhaust another Merit whenever you retest and fail again to overcome it. We have decided you do not need to do so. Suffering a -1 penalty on Tests or Trials is bad enough, and you do not grow weaker by trying to overcome your weariness or sickness (as exhausting an additional Merit would imply).

Polluted Water

Polluted Water (KIM)

When your encounter with this Waylay ends in a stalemate, we have decided, you do not need to retest against this Waylay and can move on to another League in your next turn (as drinking a little polluted water alone would not hold you up) but you will suffer -1 only on whatever Test or Trial (including Terrain Trials) you have to face the next turn.

If you later again move into a League with the Polluted Waylay on it, you will have to pass the Test again; if you fail, and have not recovered from the previous time you failed it, you will suffer an additional -1 on all Test and Trials.

Assembly Line

Assembly Line (KIM)

Loosing one of both Tests is a stalemate. A stalemate on one, and a win on the other is a stalemate. Losing both is a defeat.

Loosing the Might Test requires you to exhaust a Merit. Once you’ve passed the Might Test, but failed the Resolve Test, you do not need to pass the Might Test again in later turns.


Capsized (KIM)

If one of the two tests is a stalemate and the other a win, the result is a stalemate.

A Few Frequently Asked Questions

These are a few questions that we’ve asked ourselves (somewhat) frequently, but which are either not covered in the rules or frequently confused new players. For more “Frequently Asked Questions”, see here, and here, and here.

Q: I have a Merit that allows me to add X to a Test or Trial when I exhaust it. Can I do so after I have rolled the dice, or do I need to do so before I roll the dice?

A: Unless the card explicitly states that you can do so after you roll the dice, you have to exhaust the Merit before you roll the dice to be able to add X to your dice roll. (See here for an “official” response.)

Q: When I leave a League, do I need to flip the League card back (text down)?

A: During Setup you place all the Leagues with the text down, so that you do not know what each League is really like until you visit it–what its Enter or Leave Trials are, what is special about this League, and, perhaps most importantly, what you can recover when you Rest there. When you move in to the League, you flip the card, so you come to know all that information, and can pass the appropriate Enter Trial, if any. The official rules do not specify whether you need to flip the card again—and “hide” all that information—when you leave, and I suspect most players do not do so. You could do so, however, but know that this will likely make the game more difficult, as you may not remember exactly which Leagues allow you to recover a specific Merit when you are in great need of doing so!

Q: If I fail the Enter or Leave Trial of a League, and am thus forced to stay in my current League this turn, can my opponent play a Waylay against me?

A: No. The official rules are quite clear about this: “If a Character remains in the same League you cannot play another Waylay on him, unless special circumstances say otherwise.”

This Art can be played during your opponent's turn.

This Art can be played during your opponent’s turn.

Q: When can I play an Art?

A: The rules are entirely silent about this. We have decided that, unless the Art is a direct response against an action of your opponent, as specified in the card’s text, or if it would affect the score of a Test or Trial you are involved in during your opponent’s turn, you can only play an Art at any time during your own turn.

This Art can only be played during your own turn.

This Art can only be played during your own turn.

One Quest: A 2-Player Variant

In this variant, both players pursue the same Quests in every game, and pursue the Quests in order. We started playing Arcadia in this way mostly to have a richer story line to our games, so that in each game we both do not pursue random Quests, but are on an ongoing campaign. We have only tested this with King Ironheart’s Madness Quests (since Herr Marmaduke has nearly all the The Wyld Hunt cards), and then only with those mentioned below. This is an ongoing experiment; I’ll update this post whenever we complete another Quest. Any feedback is most welcome!

King Ironheart's MadnessFollowing to The Legend of Arcadia solo variant, you could play on the entire map of Ardenmore or Middlemarch, though we have not done so. Instead we have placed Leagues during Setup, as usual. We have sometimes increased the Leagues to 6 each (instead of 5), to give each other a little more chance to avoid each other, but we could not come to a conclusion what we preferred.

In order to make this work, and in order to create a bit of variety, we have slightly modified some Quests, as detailed below. Pursuing the same Quests in the way we did leads to some variety of game styles. In some Quests (like III – The Dark Yeoman’s Dream Test), you interact little or not at all. In others (like I – Border Run) you race against each other. But in others (like VII – Dark Yeoman’s Quest: Cog Refinery Spill) you have to cooperate and play against a common pool of Waylays to achieve your goal, while in others (like II – Hunted! andĀ V – Dark Yeoman’s Quest: Jacko D’Rakk) you get a mixture of both styles: these Quests require you to cooperate initially, before you can turn on each other.

A few general rules:

  • If a Quest specifies that a specific League needs to be placed by your opponent after all Leagues have been placed, start with this League instead, and then take turns placing the remaining Leagues around it.
  • If there are two such Leagues mentioned in the Quest, one player places the first, the other the second, not adjacent, but anywhere on a “grid” that will be filled in with the other Leagues.
  • Characters may encounter each other, as in the rules. But if your opponent loses the Test you have chosen, instead of exhausting one of her Merits of your choice, you may steal a Treasure that is needed to complete a Quest from her (no other Treasures can be stolen in this way). Treasures that are thus stolen retain their exhausted state (i.e., if you steal an exhausted Treasure it is not automatically unexhausted).
  • You can only encounter another Character if there is no Waylay (of any kind) on your current League.
  • Gord’s Knot (a Waylay from The Wyld Hunt) can be played on a Treasure needed to complete a Quest immediately after your opponent gains such a Treasure. This Waylay counts towards the opponent’s Quest Waylay rating.
  • A Character who carries a Treasure needed to complete a Quest, may never discard it when losing a Test, though he may chose to leave it on the current League instead, where it can then be recovered like any Quest Treasure. When your Character needs to exhaust a Merit and only has an (exhausted) Treasure needed to complete a Quest, he is returned to Base Camp (or another League of your opponent’s choice, according to the official rules), and leaves that Treasure on the League where he was defeated.

Here is how we modified the Quests to make them work when both players pursue them simultaneously:

I – Border Run

Your opponent must select a Border League you have to travel to (which cannot be the same League that you select for him).

II – Hunted!

Ignore the moving of Mirron. The 3 Waylays should be placed around the Mirron League, and will move to whomever is closest (or to whoever has the most unexhausted Merits, if there is a tie). One of these 3 Waylays must be of a 4 rating or more; the other two of at least 3.

III – The Dark Yeoman’s Dream Test

The Base Camp of both players is Mirron.

IV – Dark Yeoman’s Quest: King of the Hill

General Electric’s workshop is in the Garden District. One player places the Anthill, the other the Garden District, and places General Electric and the Shrink Lamp on that League. Only when he is defeated can the Shrink Lamp be recovered.

To complete the final Resolve Trial, the Shrink Lamp needs to be exhausted. If you fail the Resolve Trial, you will have to unexhaust the Shrink Lamp first, before you can attempt the Resolve Trial again.

V – Dark Yeoman’s Quest: Jacko D’Rakk

Characters can try to defeat Jacko D’Rakk together, if they desire: to do so, they should both be on Jacko’s Bog, and combine their Might values to attempt to defeat him in a Combat Test. Use the Jacko D’Rakk Waylay (who has a Combat of 8 and a Savvy of 7; though this is a Savvy Waylay, you need to defeat him in a Combat Test.) If they are defeated, both exhaust a Merit. If they win, the two characters engage in a Resolve Test. The victor gains the Blood Key. Roll the dice: the player with the lowest roll may move next.

When Jacko D’Rakk is defeated in this way, each Character gains 1 experience,Ā providedĀ one of the Characters returns the Blood Key to his or her Base Camp (for which that Character gains an additional 1 experience). If no Character is able to return the Blood Key to his Base Camp, no one wins the Quest, and both Characters will have to undertake it again, before continuing to the next Quest.

If Jacko D’Rakk is defeated by a single Character, whoever returns to Blood Key to Base Camp gains 2 experience.

The Blood Key is not carried over to the next Quest.

VI – Dark Yeoman’s Quest: Decoy

The Base Camp of both players is not Mirron. Each Character has their own Cog Waylay they have to draw to their own base camp. We made it a Savvy Waylay of 4 (instead of 3) to make it a little more challenging, as both our Characters are strong in Savvy.

VII – Dark Yeoman’s Quest: Cog Refinery Spill

Both players will have to cooperate to blow up the Refinery. The Base Camp for both is Mirron. Increase the Waylay rating of this Quest for each player by 3. Each player selects Waylays matching the Quest Waylay Rating, as usual, but then these Waylays for both players are shuffled into a single pile. Each time a Character moves into a new League, or does not rest, draw the top card from these Waylays. If the Waylay drawn cannot be played on the current League, draw another one until you can play one.

To blow up the Refinery, both Characters need to be on the Refinery League together, and collectively pass a Resolve trial of 10 (add their Resolve values, and roll 1 dice) . The rest of the Quest remains as it is. If successful, both Characters gain 1 experience.

On this Quest, Arts normally targeted at opponents, may be used against creature Waylays, where applicable.


Our House Rules


Playing Quest 1 of King Ironheart’s Madness, “Border Run”

I’ve mentioned a few house rules we’ve established in other posts, but will gather all of them here, for easy reference. I’ll update this post whenever we develop a new house rule (or when I remember to add one I had forgotten).

Characters, Merits, and Flaws
  • No Character can have more than 2 Abilities, and you can not select a second Ability unless you also have an Advantage, an Art, and a Treasure. Abilities increase your Might, Savvy, or Resolve and if you use enough of them you have a Character that has a value of 5 for each of these, which makes game play rather boring, as there would be few Waylays that are a real challenge, and hardly any Trial you will fail.
  • Your Character can not have Merits (like some Ally mounts) that allow you to travel more than one League at a time, for more than a single turn. You can also only have one Merit that allows you to travel faster, and one that needs to be exhausted to do so. This is because it is too easy to win most Quests against your opponent if you can move quicker through Leagues than she can.
  • You need at least one Art, unless you have a good role-playing reason not to have one. Initially, we often overlooked Arts, as they do not seem to offer as much as an Ability or Advantage, and need to be exhausted to be used. Arts are mostly directed at your opponent. They generally do not help you as much as they thwart your opponent. This means they require more strategyā€“it makes the game more than a ā€œbeat the Waylay each turnā€ game, which is so much more fun, and allows for much more enjoyable replay.
  • If you play multiple Quests with the same Character (using the Chronicle Play rules), especially if you play the Quests in order, you can not start the first Quest(s) with an Ally. This rule has not much to do with game play itself, but more with the storytelling aspect of the game. It just does not make all that much sense that a person with no real experience would already have an entourage, even if only of one. You can only gain Allies with subsequent experience.
  • When you gain experience and can choose new Merits, you may choose to get rid of a Treasure or an Ally and use its Merit points to gain new Merits. (For example, I have gained 2 experience points, and I also have a Treasure of 4 points. I may choose to get rid of that Treasure so I can choose another Merit of up to 6 points.) All other Merit types must be kept, as they form the personality of your Character.
  • Every Character needs a Flaw. The rules make this optional, but we’ve found it much more fun to make this compulsory. In our house rules, your opponent chooses your Character’s Flaw, and this has to be a major one–not the 1 point Enemy cards that have little effect on the game! In selecting the Flaw, though, storytelling is again important: it has to fit whatever else the Character already has, and there has to be some background story to go with it. When we are creating a new Character, we assign each other a Flaw before we finalise our Character’s Merits, as that helps not only to compensate for the Flaw, where necessary, but also to make a more realistic Character–someone who struggles with this particular Flaw, but found a way to make it liveable.
  • If playing solo, you have to draw a random (major) Flaw.
  • Flaws can never be eliminated by extra experience points. Experience can only get you more Merits.
  • If you spend one turn resting in your Base Camp, you may regain an Art you discarded earlier. The recovered Art will be exhausted, though.
  • The official rules are unclear about what happens when you pass the Leave Trial of a League, but then fail the Enter Trial of the League you want to move into. We have decided that if this happens, you will not need to roll again for the Leave Trial of your current League, only for the Enter Trial of the League you are moving into. (It is as if you’ve moved to the border of the current League, but then cannot move onwards. Otherwise, you risk getting stuck for turns on end, which makes for rather frustrating–and often tiresome–games.)
  • Per game, you may play a maximum of 1 Waylays that remain on the League they are played for the rest of the game.
Winning and Losing
  • When all your Merits are discarded, you are transported back to Base Camp (or another League), as in the official rules. If you are then defeated by a Waylay, you automatically lose the game. Your opponent still has to complete her Quest to win the game, which means there might not be a winner. If you are playing the Quests in order, both of you will have to retake that Quest before being able to move to the next one.
  • If playing solo, you are automatically defeated whenever all your Merits are discarded.

Do you play Arcadia solitaire?

Officially, Arcadia can be played with just a single player. There are official rules for solitaire play, but they are very minimal, and don’t make for very a exciting game–if you follow those rules, you’ll win every single time! Some have modified those rules, and implemented a time limit for each Quest; if you don’t complete the Quest in time, you lose. That variant does work, and can be fun, particularly if used with “The Legend of Arcadia” rules, but after a number of games I’ve found them lacking in some ways too:

First of all, every Quest becomes a race against time, which tires after a while, and, particularly when following these modified rules, depend on cards that allow you to travel more than one League per turn.

But, more importantly, all the solo rules rely mostly on luck: the luck of your dice roll, of course, like every other Arcadia game, but also luck in encountering Waylays, which you draw from a random deck. What makes a 2-player Arcadia game good is the strategy that is involved in completing your own Quest while also making it more difficult for your opponent to complete his. The solo rules mostly remove the strategy, or reduce it to a minimum: you just move from League to League, encounter Waylay after Waylay (and perhaps occasionally retreat), until you’ve come to the end of your Quest. There are no real surprises–no Flaws that can suddenly be exhausted, Arts played against you, Treasures stolen from you, or a strategically played, powerful Savvy Waylay played against you just as your Savvy Ability got exhausted.

I’ve been trying solo variants that involve more strategy, or at least more variety. I think I might be getting somewhere, very slowly, but it is difficult to find the balance between something that is challenging–I don’t want a guaranteed win–and yet not discouraging, and something that does rely on luck and can be unpredictable, yet also requires some strategic thinking and perhaps even elements of role-playing and storytelling. Perhaps I’m trying to do too much, but I’d love to be able to keep the elements that make 2-player Arcadia so much fun.

I’ve gone through quite a few ideas and version, and continue to come up with new things. The rules are far from complete, and continue to change dramatically, and it might take a little while before I have something worthy of sharing here. But while I am working on that, I’d love to hear from other solo Arcadia players. What do you do–how do you play it? Do you follow any published rules, or do you have your own house rules that you’ve developed? What do you like about solo play, and what would you like to see improved?

Playing Arcadia: Setup

How do you play Arcadia? Obviously, that is what the official rules discuss. Arcadia’s rules are very simple–they fit on 4 small cards, spread between the Character and Story Packs. (That link, by the way, is not to those rules, but to the extended official rules that were produced, as a 12 page booklet, when The Wyld Hunt was released.) That simplicity is one of Arcadia’s strengths, but there is also a downside to it, as it can make the game seem simplistic. In a way, the most important part of the game, in our opinion, is what happens before you actually start playing: Setup. Setup is covered briefly in the rules, but it warrants some additional comments, as the success of the game largely depends on what happens here.

Arcadia is a collectible card game, but perhaps an unusual one. Unlike most collectible card games there is no “deck building” involved–you do not create a deck of cards that work together from all the cards you’ve collected, and then play each game with that deck of cards. Unlike other collectible card games, you are not playing with your cards against your opponent’s cards, but rather are using each other’s cards to complete your Quest. We’ve learned early on not to treat this as a combative, collectible card game, and we realised that we had more fun if we pooled our cards, and had the same set of cards to draw from.In any case, keeping track of who owns which card becomes quickly difficult to track, especially when Leagues and Waylays (and sometimes even Treasures) become common to both Characters during the game. Trying to keep your cards separate from those of your opponent is going to be difficult!

However, though there is no deck building as such, you do need to sort through your cards before you play, while you set up the game. It is tempting to see this as just a boring preliminary you need to get over with so you can play the game, but what I want to suggest here is that the game really starts there. During setup each of you choose the specific nature of your Character, what he or she will be able to do and attempt to do, where he or she will travel, and what he or she may encounter. The entire game will be determined by the cards you choose during setup, and it is therefore important to choose them carefully.


With Merits you make your Character more powerful and resilient, but it is not too hard to create a Character that is nearly unbeatable, particularly if you have gained sufficient experience points by completing Quests.

We’ve set up the following house rules:

  • No Character can have more than 2 Abilities, and you can not select a second Ability unless you also have an Advantage, an Art, and a Treasure. Abilities increase your Might, Savvy, or Resolve and if you use enough of them you have a Character that has a value of 5 for each of these, which makes game play rather boring, as there would be few Waylays that are a real challenge, and hardly any Trial you will fail.
  • No Merits (like Ally mounts) that allow you to travel more than one League at a time, for more than a single turn. No Warhorse in our games, in other words.We do play with Merits that allows you to move faster, but limit it to only one (and one that needs to be exhausted to do so). This is because it is too easy to win most Quests against your opponent if you can move quicker through Leagues than she can.
  • You need an Art, unless you have a good role-playing reason not to have one. Initially, we often overlooked Arts, as they do not seem to offer as much as an Ability or Advantage, and need to be exhausted to be used. Arts are mostly directed at your opponent. They generally do not help you as much as they thwart your opponent. This means they require more strategy–it makes the game more than a “beat the Waylay each turn” game, which is so much more fun, and allows for much more enjoyable replay.
  • If you play multiple Quests with the same Character (using the Chronicle Play rules), especially if you play the Quests in order, you can not start the first Quest(s) with an Ally. This rule has not much to do with game play itself, but more with the storytelling aspect of the game. It just does not make all that much sense that a person with no real experience would already have an entourage, even if only of one. Allies you can only gain with subsequent experience.
  • Whatever Merits you chose, they have to make sense. Preference should be given to Merits (particularly Arts) that fit thematically with your Character. For example, I play with a Selkie Character, whose element is water; hence it makes sense to choose an Art that has something to do with water (in my case “Flood”, from King Ironheart’s Madness). Gremlins play tricks, so if you play with one, chose Merits that reflect that.
  • If, after a few games, a particular Merit or a combination of Merits, seems consistently unbalanced, we adjust and perhaps remove that card from the game. The game has to be a fair challenge for both players for it to be fun.
  • When all your Merits are discarded and you are then defeated by a Waylay, you automatically lose the game. (The opponent still has to complete his or her Quest to win.)

Overall, our main rule is this: if your Character is rarely defeated by a Waylay, and has no difficulty with Trials, you have to recreate your Character, or adjust your Merits. (The same applies if you are never able to defeat a Waylay!) Some cards we have put aside entirely, others we’ve learned to use with great caution. Again, the storytelling or role-playing elements are important here: no one is perfect, everyone is flawed in some ways. Especially,


Your Character needs a Flaw. The rules make this optional, but we’ve found it much more fun to make this compulsory. In our house rules, your opponent chooses your Character’s Flaw, and this has to be a major one–not the 1 point Enemy cards that have little effect on the game! In selecting the Flaw, though, storytelling is again important: it has to fit whatever else the Character already has, and there has to be some background story to go with it. If we are creating a new Character, we sometimes assign each other a Flaw before we choose the Merits, as that helps not only to compensate for the Flaw, but also to make a more realistic Character–someone who struggles with this particular Flaw, but found a way to make it livable.


According to the rules, each player must select 5 Leagues, and then place these one at a time on the table, to create the map or board on which you will play. Depending on what Leagues each of you chose, this can create a very exciting map, or one that will be very difficult to play, because adjacent Leagues have to match. For example, if I select a lot of swamp Leagues, and my opponent selects a lot of mountain Leagues, it might be difficult to make these match.

We’ve worked around this in two ways: either we select 10 or 15 Leagues at the start, and, as we are building the map, play 5 of these; or we draw from any of the Leagues we have, as we are building the map (perhaps also trying to make a “perfect” map, one where every League border connects neatly with the adjacent ones). Often if we do the latter, we ignore what I mention in the next paragraph–our main interest is to create a nice map, the details of which we will discover as we explore (neither of us remember the specific details of any Leagues, even after all this time, and so moving into a League is always a bit of a surprise.) If we do the latter, we often also make slightly bigger maps, sometimes of up to 20 Leagues.

It is in your interest to place Leagues that will help your Character, or hinder your opponent’s. For example, I generally play with the Selkie from King Ironheart’s Madness. She is strong in water–she can turn losses into stalemates when on a water terrain–so I will try to get as many Leagues with water (rivers, lakes, ocean) on the table as I can. Or, if you play with the Nymph, you benefit from forest and rivers, and some Merits also benefit from certain terrains. It is thus in my interest to get as much water in play as possible, and in my opponent’s interest to place as few of those as possible (if her Character does not benefit from those). If my Character’s Resolve is weak, I probably don’t want too many Leagues that have Resolve Enter or Leave Trials. Leagues that allow me to recover Merits I possess are naturally good for me (even if also for your opponent).

Alternatively, you can also play using the map of Ardenmore or Middlemarch, though to make it fun, you should make sure that your Quests will keep you both in the same area of those realms, so that you’ll have to cover at least some of the same Leagues (and hence possibly Waylays). Recently we’ve tried to play the same Quests (in order, starting with The Wyld Hunt’s first Quest, “Prove Yourself”), but starting from different Base Camps. This generally means our Characters have to go to the same Leagues, and race to get the Treasures we need to complete the Quest–or try to steal it from each other. The few games we have played in this way have been a lot of fun–particularly as it makes the Quest feel less random–but we’ll have to see how it works out with the rest of them.


During setup, choose your Waylays carefully. Obviously, you will select Waylays that can actually be played on the Leagues in play. But also look for Waylays that are a challenge for your opponent. Is his Character weak on Savvy? Make sure you have enough Savvy Waylays! Will she have to return to Base Camp? Make sure you have Waylays that remain on the League they are played, so she will have to encounter them twice. This last one is tricky, though, since your own Base Camp is not assigned until after you have chosen the Waylays: when you play them, you’ll have to make sure you will not need to pass them too.

We’ve found it good to select some higher point Waylays, alongside the weaker ones. You’ll be able to select fewer Waylays, but they will provide a better challenge to your opponent, if chosen carefully, and will force her to retreat or be stuck in a League for a few turns.


Taking all this into consideration as you set up the game will take more time than you perhaps normally do. But we’ve found it really pays of on two levels. 1) Starting with the story telling here, during the creation of your Character and the building of the world you will roam, means that more of this element will surface naturally during the rest of the game. 2) Strategy becomes essential–what you play when is crucial, and comes to determine the outcome of the game as much as the random luck of the dice throws.

I’d be interest to hear of your own strategies and house rules, if you have any. What have you found to work well and be particularly fun in playing Arcadia? Leave a comment if you have any tips!