Ruins of Elysia: A Deck and Map Building Adventure Game

We’ll take this website out of the 90s eventually.  For now, please visit our Kickstarter campaign and leave some feedback.  Thanks!

Welcome to Elysia, the paradise where heroes go when they die – at least it used to be.

map-tiles-ruins of elysia

The video below is the rough draft of thematic introduction half of our kickstarter video made entirely in PowerPoint using clipart.  The second half of our final draft will be a brief overview of gameplay.

Long ago, when time itself was still young, the gods created a separate realm alongside this realm, meant to be a paradise for those they deemed worthy – for heroes!  They called this paradise, ‘Elysia,’ and all who were reborn there were granted eternal life.

Yet not all had gone according to plan.  Believing in their arrogance that their creation was perfect, the gods continued to send soul after soul into a realm they had never seen with their own eyes.  The imperfections of their so-called paradise turned the heart of a hero black with hate and anguish.  In turn, that hero summoned monsters from other realms and influenced other heroes to operate under their growing shadow.

It is into this paradise crumbling to ruins that you too have been reborn: to spend everlasting life as you see fit.  As you travel the lands, you discover villages where people struggle to carve out a life for themselves.  You can join them in their quest for humble goals.  Or, you can do what heroes were meant to do and save this realm from the darkness!

The Birth of an Idea

While it took me a while to finally get my feet wet in the board game sphere, I came to realize that board games that told a good story were more accessible in terms of skill set than video games that told a good story.  I’ve never made it very far in The Legend of Zelda.  The menus in Final Fantasy made me feel too detached from the game.  Then our group started playing Pathfinder and we collectively lived Vogler/Campbel’s hero’s journey.  I was hooked.  But, sadly, our group broke apart.  In the interim I discovered my love for the deck-building mechanism; fueling my desire for an accessible RPG with a good story powered by deck-building.  There were precious few, if at all.  They were clunky, complex and expensive.  After extensive revisions and play-testing, Ruins of Elysia is the deck-building adventure game I had been yearning for.

About the Game

In Ruins of Elysia, players select characters to serve as avatars whose available actions are based on simple deck-building mechanics, significantly reducing the learning curve for new players.  It’s all in the cards.

On a player’s turn, they perform the following 6 steps.

1. Exhaustion

This step involves basically indicating whether or not you are exhausted.  Players become exhausted by losing a fight. As soon as a player becomes exhausted, they start their next turn and only their next turn with fewer cards in hand. While exhausted, they cannot be involved in a fight, even through an encounter. This lasts up to 2 turns.

2.  Play Cards

Simply place the cards on the table for everyone to see, and gain whatever the card says (walk, coin, card draw, etc). Which resources you gain from a card played depends on whether you are currently engaged in a fight, so choose wisely.

3.  Move

Movement involves pushing your luck a little as you can stop whenever you want, but if you keep going until to run out of Walk you might wind up somewhere dangerous.  Cards played during the exploration phase (non-combat) will let you draw more cards, gain coin and/or gain Walk, the currency for moving your character across the map. This is the heart of Ruins of Elysia, and moving will activate weather, encounters, and let your character buy cards from village markets.

4.  Combat

The rules for playing cards for combat are different than the rules for exploration. There are no dice in Ruins of Elysia, and combat is a strategic back and forth as each character (player or enemy) chooses which cards to play for attack or defense, and which cards to discard if the defense was not enough.

5.  Buy

You can’t just stop in the middle of nowhere and start buying from the market: you must be in a village to buy cards. Ruins of Elysia was designed to have a less abstract map where location mattered.

6.  Discard and Draw

At the end of your turn, you discard all cards played, but you are not required to discard the cards in your hand. You then draw until you have 5 cards in your hand, but as the game progresses you might have way more than 5 cards in your hand at the end of your turn. Choosing not to discard any cards will mean you’ll have a much stronger next turn or you’ll have plenty of health if another player attacks you.

Using only these 6 steps keeps the game simple while allowing players to explore the world of Ruins of Elysia.  The map is comprised of 2 types of transparent hexagonal tiles: terrain tiles and overlays.  Using this system we separate the terrain from the structures occupying the terrain that are relevant to the gameplay.  Without this system, a map tile with a forest village would always be a forest village and we would need more components to introduce variation therein.

Below is an example of how the overlays and terrain tiles interact using our first draft art for our map tiles

Forest Fortress

mountain fortress

Here’s an example of our second draft art for the map tiles.  Almost every terrain tile affects a village in some way.  Cards in the market have elements: wood, metal, water, and fire.  Notice the wood icon near the -1 icon on the village overlay?

map iconography

Click here to see a rough draft of our manual:  Rulebook

We are currently finishing our mechanics and art and beginning to work on our kickstarter campaign.

Our weekend at protospeil MN was amazing.  We got tons of great and invaluable feedback.  While we are still working on Ruins of Elysia, we will be launching a smaller title at 2DCon.  We won’t be getting a booth, but I will be set up in the board game section where you can see how far we’ve come and find out more about our other products.

Game concept by Kevin Dalton

Graphics and Art by Chris Jabas

A special thanks to all our play-testers: past, present and future.

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