- 74 Unit Coins
- 1 Double-sided Initiative Marker
- 4 Coins
- 4 Bags
- 16 Unit Cards
- 1 Board
- 16 Faction Control Markers
Place the board in the middle of the play area. For a two-player game, each player chooses a faction and takes 1 matching bag, 1 Royal Coin, and 6 Control Markers.
Put your faction's Royal Coin into your bag, and place one of your Control Markers onto each of the two matching starting locations on the board. The other locations are neutral at the start of the game.
For your first game, we recommend you and your opponent use the Unit Cards shown in this picture rather than a random set. Player A starts with the Initiative Marker. If this is not your first game follow the set up described below.
Shuffle the 16 Unit Cards and deal 4 face-up in front of each player. These are the 4 units that player will have available this game.
Give each player the Unit Coins, matching their 4 Unit Cards. Put 2 Unit Coins of each type into your bag, together with the Royal Coin. Put the rest of your Unit Coins in piles next to the matching unit cards. These form your supply. Any unused Unit Coins should remain in the box.
Flip the Initiative Marker. The player whose faction matches the face-up side of the marker takes initiative (and the marker). You are now ready to begin.
Note: In a two-player game, you will not use the outer areas of the board indicated by the darker hexes (shown as red areas in the example).
Place the Royal Coins, the bags, and the Control Markers that you are not using back into the box. These components are only used in the four-player game.
Object of the Game
The game continues until one player or one team has placed all of their Control Markers on locations. Locations are a special kind of hex, indicated on the board with green knotwork symbols.
The player or team to have all of their Control Markers placed on locations is the winner.
A game of War Chest is played over a series of rounds. Each round is divided into two phases:
- Draw Coins
- Use Coins
1. Draw Coins
At the start of the round, each player draws 3 coins from their bag and puts them in their hand, hidden from their opponent. At any time that you need to draw coins and your bag is empty, refill it with the coins in your discard pile.
Then shuffle the coins in your bag and continue drawing until you have 3 coins in your hand.
Not Enough Coins?
In very rare circumstances you may have only one or two coins between your hand and discard pile. If this happens, draw the coins that you have.
During the Use Coins phase this round, you will not perform the usual three actions. After you've played your last coin, your opponent continues to play coins and take actions until their hand is empty.
2. Use Coins
There are three kinds of actions that allow you to use coins drawn from your bag.
Starting with the player with the Initiative Marker, you and your opponent now take turns taking actions using the coins in your hands, one at a time, until both your hands are empty. Each coin can used be used to perform a single action.
Note, each player will need to keep an area separate to their supply that will be their discard pile. It is from the discard pile that you refill your bag when you need more coins, not from the supply.
There are nine possible actions, broken into three classes:
Place a Unit Coin face-up onto the board to deploy or bolster a unit.
Discard a coin facedown actions:
Discard a coin facedown into your discard pile to claim initiative, recruit, or pass.
Discard a coin face-up actions:
Discard a Unit Coin face-up into your discard pile to maneuver the matching unit on the board (this will either be a move, attack, control, or use of a unit's tactic).
The Royal Coin
The Royal Coin does not have a matching unit. It can only be used to perform facedown actions (or the tactic on the Royal Guard unit).
You may deploy a coin to the board, creating the unit of that type.
Choose a coin from your hand and place it face-up into an empty location that you control.
You cannot deploy a unit if all locations you control are occupied.
You cannot perform a bolster, move, attack, control, or tactic action with a unit until it has been deployed.
You may only have one unit of each type on the board at a time. This means you cannot deploy a unit if you already have a unit of that type on the board.
If the last coin of a unit is removed from the board following an attack (see below), you may later re-deploy a new unit of that type.
You may place a coin to bolster the matching unit already on the board, making it harder to remove following an attack.
Choose a coin from your hand and add it face-up on top of the matching unit on the board.
A unit may be bolstered any number of times. There is no limit to the height of a unit stack.
All coins in the stack belong to the unit. If the unit is moved, for instance, move the entire stack.
Discard a Coin Facedown Actions
The facedown discard actions play a significant role in the game. Knowing when to recruit and when to maintain your bag at a level that keeps your maneuvering options consistent is a key decision point.
You may discard any coin facedown to your discard pile to take the Initiative Marker from your opponent. This means you will go first during the next round.
Choose a coin from your hand and put it facedown into your discard pile (do not show it to your opponent).
Take the Initiative Marker and put it in front of you.
If you already have the Initiative Marker, or had it earlier this round, you may not perform this action. The Initiative Marker may only transfer between players once per round.
You may discard any coin facedown to your discard pile to recruit a new coin from the supply.
Choose a coin from your hand and put it facedown into your discard pile (Do not show it to your opponent).
Take any one coin from your supply, show it to your opponent, and put it face-up into your discard pile.
This coin will be shuffled into your bag in a later round.
The Unit Coin you recruit does not need to match the coin you spent to recruit it.
You may discard any coin facedown into your discard pile and pass. If you pass, you are not required to pass with subsequent coins. You may use any remaining coins as normal.
Discard a Coin Face-up Actions
Collectively all actions that involve discarding a coin face-up are known as maneuvers. Maneuvers are at the heart of the game. Maneuvering your units correctly and at the correct time is one of the critical aspects of game play.
You may discard any coin face-up into your discard pile to move the matching unit on the board.
Choose a coin from your hand and put it face-up into your discard pile.
Move the matching unit one space on the board, into an adjacent, empty space.
If all of the spaces adjacent to a unit are occupied, it cannot move.
You may discard any coin face-up into your discard pile to have the matching unit control the location it occupies.
Choose a coin from your hand and put it face-up into your discard pile.
If the matching unit occupies a neutral location, place one of your Control Markers onto that location.
If the matching unit occupies a location controlled by your opponent, return their Control Marker to them and replace it with one of your Control Markers.
You may not control a location you already control. Each location can contain only one control marker.
If you place your last control marker onto the board, you win.
You may discard any coin face-up into your discard pile to have the matching unit attack an adjacent enemy unit.
Choose a coin from your hand and put it face-up into your discard pile. The unit matching this coin is the attacker.
Choose an enemy unit, which is adjacent to the attacker. This unit is the target.
Remove one coin from the target and put it back in the box, even if it is the only coin in the unit stack (note: the coin goes into box not back into the supply or discard pile).
This means that if the target was not bolstered (i.e. it was a single coin rather than a stack), the unit is no longer deployed on the board (it is destroyed). You may use another coin later to re-deploy another unit of the same type.
Some units have tactics, indicated by text on the card. For example, Cavalry's tactic allows it to move and then attack.
You may discard any coin face-up into your discard pile to have the matching unit perform its tactic.
Choose a coin from your hand and place it face up into your discard pile.
Execute the tactic described on the matching unit's unit card.
Attributes and Restrictions
In addition to tactics (indicated by TACTIC on the Unit Card) some units have special attributes (indicated by ) and/or restrictions (indicated by ).
Attributes and restrictions do not need to be executed like tactics, but instead describe additional things that the unit can or cannot do in other circumstances.
For example, the Footman can have two units deployed (an attribute) and the Archer cannot attack other than using its tactic, i.e. it cannot attack adjacent units (a restriction).
Coins that are discarded face-up remain face-up and visible to an opponent until the point at which they are reshuffled into the bag. An awareness of which coins an opponent has discarded is an important tactical consideration in War Chest.
End of the Game
The first player or team who have all their control markers placed on locations is the winner.
For experienced players we recommend drafting Unit Cards rather than having them dealt randomly. During set up, deal 8 random unit cards face up in the middle of the play area.
Flip the Initiative Marker to see which player will draft first. The first player chooses and takes a Unit Card, then the second player takes two Unit Cards, then the first player takes two, and so on, until the first player is left with the last card.
The player who chose second takes the Initiative Coin to begin the game. This variant allows players to try to develop a style of army with distinct strategies based on unit interactions.