On Board Game Arena, Tash-Kalar may be played only by 2 players, and in 2 distinct forms :
- The High Form: Players score points for tasks and for legendary pieces currently on the board.
- Deathmatch Duel: No tasks. Players score points for destroying enemy pieces, for summoning legendary beings, and when their opponent invokes a flare.
The actual board game also features Deathmatch Melee for 3 or 4 players, and team play.
Each player draws 6 cards : 3 beings from his or her own deck, 2 legends, and 1 flare.
In High Form, 3 tasks are revealed that may be claimed, along with a fourth "next task".
In Deathmatch, the player who plays second puts one common piece of each color on the game board, on marked squares.
Players take turns in clockwise order, beginning with the starting player. Each turn, you have 2 actions. Exception: The starting player has only 1 action on his or her first turn.
- Place 1 common piece of your color on any empty square. If you have none left to place, you begin this action by picking up 1 of your common or heroic pieces, then place it as a common piece.
- Summon a being. (See below.)
- Discard 1 being that you drew from your deck. If you do, you may also return one or more of your other cards to the bottoms of their decks.
Actions can be done in any order. You can do more than one “place” or “summon” action per turn (but no more than one “discard” action). You have to use all your actions. You can invoke a flare (see below) before or after any action. Invoking a flare does not cost you an action.
Finish your turn by drawing cards so that you end up with 3 beings from your deck, 2 legends, and 1 flare. If you draw the last card in your deck, you may end up with fewer than 3.
High Form: At the end of the turn, you may claim exactly 1 of the current tasks, if you meet its criteria.
Deathmatch: At the end of your turn, score points for destroyed enemy pieces: 2 points for legendary, 1 point for heroic, 1 point for each pair of common pieces. You get no points for destroying your own pieces. You get no points for an un- paired common piece. Also score 1 point each time you summon a legend. (Upgrading a heroic piece does not count as “summoning a legend”.)
Summoning a being
To summon a being, use 1 action and do the following:
- Play the card from your hand and choose a square on the board where your pieces match the pattern on the card. The pattern can be rotated (by 90, 180, or 270 degrees). Mirror images and flips also count as a match. The pieces used to summon the being can be the same rank as those depicted in the pattern or higher rank. Empty squares are not important to the pattern.
- Place a piece of the indicated rank (upper left corner of the card) on the square indicated by the white-framed square in the pattern. This square may be empty, unless the pattern says it must be occupied by one of your pieces. If the square is occupied by a piece of the same rank or lower, destroy that piece when you put the new piece on the square. If the square is occupied by a piece of higher rank, you cannot summon the being. If all your pieces of that type are already on the board, you may still be able to summon the being by picking up a piece that is not required for the pattern and use it as the new piece.
- Once the new piece is on the board, resolve the effect printed on the card.
- After resolving the effect, discard the card.
Invoking a flare
You can invoke a flare on your turn before or after any action. To invoke a flare, you must meet at least one of the criteria:
- You meet the upper criterion if your opponent has that many more upgraded pieces (heroic and legendary) on the board than you.
- You meet the lower criterion if your opponent has that many more pieces (total) on the board than you.
If you meet the upper criterion, you resolve the upper effect. If you meet the lower criterion, you resolve the lower effect. If you meet both, you resolve the upper effect first, then the lower. Once the card has been resolved, discard it.
Resolving effects of beings and flares
No other action can be taken and no flare can be invoked until the entire effect of the card is resolved. Some parts of an effect may be optional:
- May indicates that a certain part of an effect is optional.
- Up to always includes 0.
Any parts that are not specified as optional are mandatory. If an effect cannot be performed fully, do the parts that can be done. When a card uses its own name, it is referring to the piece on the board that represents the summoned being.
- Upgraded piece: a heroic or legendary piece.
- Non-legendary piece: a common or heroic piece.
- Piece: If a piece is not specified as belonging to you or an opponent, then the effect includes any player's piece.
- Marked space: a colored space in the pattern. If the text does not refer to marked spaces, the colored spaces in the pattern are just illustrational.
- Adjacent square: one of eight squares sharing an edge (orthogonally adjacent) or a corner (diagonally adjacent) with a given square. If the given square is not specified, assume it is the square currently occupied by the newly summoned piece.
- Distance: the shortest number of moves required to get from one square to another. For example, adjacent squares are at distance 1.
- Move: A move is always onto an adjacent square. A move onto an occupied square destroys the piece that was there.
- Standard move: This type of move can be only onto an empty square or a square occupied by a piece of lower rank.
- Combat move: This type of move can be only onto an empty square or a square occupied by a piece of equal or lower rank.
- Standard leap and combat leap: A leap is the same as a move, except the square doesn’t have to be adjacent. If not specified, a leap can be onto any square on the board.
- Place: Like the “place” action. However, if there is no piece of the specified color and rank available, the piece cannot be placed.
- Upgrade: Legendary pieces cannot be upgraded. To upgrade a common piece, flip it over. To upgrade a heroic piece, remove it and replace it with a legendary piece. If none is available, the heroic piece cannot be upgraded.
- Downgrade: Common pieces cannot be downgraded. To downgrade a heroic piece, flip it over. To downgrade a legendary piece, replace it with a heroic piece. If none is available, the legendary piece cannot be downgraded.
- Destroy: To destroy a piece, remove it from the board.
- Convert: To convert an enemy piece, replace it with one of your pieces of the same rank (unless a different rank is specified).
When keeping track of how many enemy pieces you destroyed, count pieces you destroyed during summoning, pieces you destroyed with moves and leaps, pieces you destroyed with a “destroy” effect, and pieces you converted. Neither upgrading nor downgrading ever counts as destroying a piece.
The end of the game
The end of the game is triggered when a player draws the last card from his or her deck.
In High Form, the end of the game is also triggered if a player has 9 or more points at the end of any player’s turn. Count the points for tasks claimed (by the player or by the team) plus 1 point for each legendary piece of that player’s color currently on the board. (It doesn’t matter how the piece became legendary.)
In Deathmatch, the end of the game is also triggered if a player reaches or surpasses 18 points.
Once the turn that triggers the end is done, play continues so that each player gets one more turn, including the player whose turn triggered the end. Then the game ends. The player with more points wins. If there is a tie, the tiebreakers are, in this order: number of upgraded pieces on the board and then total number of pieces on the board. If there is still a tie, it remains unbroken.
These rules are extracted from CGE's full rules for Tash-Kalar.