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In Ex are a collector of rare and valuable books in a thriving fantasy town. The Mayor has just announced a new seat in the Village Council: that of The prestigious (and lucrative) position will be a warned to the citizen with the most extraordinary library! Unfortunately, several of your book collector colleagues (more like acquaintances, really) are also candidates.

To outshine your competition, you'll need to expand your personal bookshelf by sending your trusty assistants out into the village to find the most impressive tomes. Sources for the finest books are scarce, so you'll need to beat your opponents to them when they pop up - especially if they match your library's secret focus!

You only have a few days before the Mayor's Official Inspector comes to judge your bookshelf, so be sure your assistants have all your books shelved in time! She is a tough cookie, and will use her Official Inspection Form to grade your library on several criteria, including alphabetical order, shelf stability, prominent works, and variety. And don't think she'll turn a blind eye to books the Council has banned! You'll need shrewd planning, cunning tactics, and perhaps a little magic to surpass your opponents and become Grand Librarian!


1 Place the town board in the center of the table with the Official Library Inspection Form nearby (not shown).

2 Find the location tile labeled Diviner's Hut and place it face up below the town board. Then shuffle the remaining 17 location tiles and place them in a face-down stack next to the town board.

3 Give the first player token to the player who most recently acquired a book.

4 Shuffle the 12 library tiles and deal out two per player. In reverse order from the first player, each player chooses a library tile, then discards a library tile from the game.

Note: For a beginner game, give each player a single library tile. The basic libraries are printed on the back. (See page 19 for more details on the beginner game).

5 Each player takes the one of the 12 special assistants that matches their library and two standard assistants (shaped like gnomes) in the color of their choice. (There will be a standard assistant of each color left over - these are used in beginner and solo games only).

Note: For a beginner game, each player takes three standard assistants in the color of their choice.

6 Shuffle the six category cards and place one face up on the Prominent Works space of the town board, then one face up on the Banned Books space of the town board.

7 Deal one of the remaining category cards face down to each player. This will be their library's focus. Keep your own category card secret by sliding the card underneath the right hand side of your library tile. (You may check your category card at any time). Return any remaining category cards to the box.

8 Shuffle the 152 book cards thoroughly, then deal six to each player. This will be their starting hand. Place the remaining book cards in two roughly equal stacks near the board in reach of all players. These will be the deck.

Game Elements

Click here for a detailed list of the game elements.

Turn Overview

Each round of Ex Libris consists of four phases, which are always carried out in the following order:

  1. The Preparation Phase
  2. The Placement Phase
  3. The Resolution Phase
  4. The Cleanup Phase

I. The Preparation Phase

At the beginning of each round, the first player reveals location tiles from the stack and places them face up below the town board until there is one tile per player. (During the first round of the game, the Diviner's Hut location will already be present, so you will deal one less than usual).

Next, check to see if any of the face-up locations have preparation instructions in their upper right corner - these will tell you a specific number of cards to deal onto the card area on the right side of the tile. Follow these instructions, and if more than one card is dealt onto the tile, splay them vertically so that the vital information of each card can be seen.

II. The Placement Phase

Starting with the first player and going clockwise, players take turns placing one assistant at a time. On your turn, place one of your available assistants on an unoccupied space:

  1. On a location tile (on or below the town board) -or-
  2. On your library tile

Note: You may place either a standard assistant or your special assistant. For the most part, they function identically, and any game text that refers to an "assistant" applies to both types. Your special assistant has an ability that is keyed to its token. Typically, it is activated when they are placed, though not always.

A. Placing On A Location Tile

If the location your assistant visits has an Instant Effect, you will activate it immediately, following the effect summary text on the tile. If the location has a Delayed Effect, you will activate it in the second half of the round, during the Resolution Phase.

Location Tile Anatomy

The following information can be found on location tiles (Preparation Instructions, Card Area, and Solo Compatibility sections are not present on all location tiles):

1 Number - This is used in the second half of the round.

2 Name & Effect Type - Either an Instant Effect (green banner) or a Delayed Effect (red banner).

3 Preparation Instructions - This tells you how to prepare the tile at the beginning of a round.

4 Card Area - Deal cards here during Preparation Phase.

5 Assistant Spaces - 1-4 spaces assistants can visit.

6 Effect Summary Text - What the effect does.

7 Solo Compatibility - If this icon is present, the location may be used in a solo game (see page 19).

Note: Some location tiles have assistant spaces that are unavailable when playing with fewer than four players. You may not place an assistant on a space marked with a number that is higher than the number of players.

B. Placing On Your Library Tile

Your library tile has three home action spaces with Instant Effects, which may only be visited by your assistants. When you place an assistant on a home action space, you may either:

  1. Draw one card from the deck -or-
  2. Shelve one card from your hand

Library Tile Anatomy

The following information can be found on library tiles (Solo Compatibility section is not present on all location tiles):

1 Reference Bookmark - This tel Is you the Quantity of each letter across the entire book card deck.

2 Name - What the library is called.

3 Library Focus - Your category card is tucked under this reminder image.

4 Assistant Spaces - 3 spaces your assistants can visit.

5 Solo Compatibility - If this icon is present, the library may be used in a solo game (see page 19).

6 Home Action Summary - The home action options.

7 Special Assistant Summary - A summary of your special assistant's ability.

Ill. The Resolution Phase

When players have no more assistants to place, the Resolution Phase begins. During this phase you will resolve all locations in numerical order, beginning with the Diviner's Hut. To resolve a location, follow these steps:

  1. If the location has a Delayed Effect, activate it now by following the effect summary text on the tile.
  2. Discard any cards that remain on the location.
  3. Return all assistants on the location to their players.

IV. The Cleanup Phase

After all locations have been resolved, check to see which of the tiles below the town board is first in numerical order, then move it onto the bottom half of the town board, in the section labeled Permanent Locations. It will be available each subsequent round until the end of the game. (At the end of the first round, the Diviner's Hut will be the first in numerical order and thus will always be available).

Note: Permanent locations do not count toward the number of location tiles dealt below the town board at the start of each Preparation Phase. In this way, every round will have one more available location tile than the previous round.

Next, place the remaining location tiles from this round aside, face up in a discard pile. If the location stack is ever depleted, shuffle all discarded locations to create a new face-down stack.

Lastly, remove any remaining assistants from their home spaces, then check to see if one or more players have the required number of shelved cards in their bookshelf to trigger the Final Round. This number varies based on player count:

If the Final Round has not been triggered, begin a new round with the Preparation Phase.

Final Round & Scoring

If the Final Round has been triggered, begin a new round as normal, but this will be the last round of the game. After the Resolution Phase, the player with the best handwriting is appointed the Mayor's Official Inspector, taking Official Library Inspection Form B-7c and following each step on the form to calculate scores:

Note: Remember that, prior to inspection, you may choose to voluntarily flip any card in your bookshelf in order to achieve a more favorable result.

Alphabetical Order Check

Each player checks the bookshelf of the opponent to their right. Starting with the leftmost card in their top row and moving right across each row, flip any card that does not alphabetically and numerically follow the card before it.

Categorical Tally

Next, the Official Inspector will call out each of the six categories, one at a time. After a category is called out, each player counts the number of books in their bookshelf that match the category and announces their total. The Official Inspector records these totals.

Survey Shelf Stability Bonuses

Each player counts the largest rectangular group of cards in their bookshelf that includes cards on their bottom row. Every card in that rectangular group earns them 1 point. A rectangle must be at least two cards tall and two cards wide to Qualify.

Bestow Prominent Works Awards

The Official Inspector circles the row in the categorical tally section that matches the category card dealt to the Prominent Works space on the town board. The player with first place in this row is awarded 15 points, second place is awarded 9 points, and third place is awarded 4 points. In the case of a tie between two or more players, add the award for the tied place to the next lowest place (if any) and divide the total as evenly as possible, rounding up.

Assign Banned Books Penalties

The Official Inspector draws a zig-zag line around the row in the categorical tally section that matches the category card dealt to the Banned Books space on the town board. Assign each player a -1 point penalty for every banned book in their bookshelf.

Assess Categorical Variety Bonuses

The Official Inspector finds the category each player has the fewest books of (ignoring Banned Books) and multiplies that number by 3 points to determine their variety bonus.

Reveal S Score Library Focuses

Each player now reveals their category card, scoring 2 points for every book in their bookshelf matching their library's focus.

Total Individual "section B" Scores

Finally, one player at a time, the Official Inspector adds up all the figures in section B. The player with the highest score wins!


In the case of a tie, the tied player with the most books in their bookshelf wins. If still tied, the tied player with the fewest cards in their hand wins. If the tie persists, the tied player with the fewest Banned Books in their library wins. If the tie still persists, the first tied player to finish reading a book is the winner.

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