Castle: Rules

A Game by Serge Laget and Bruno Faidutti
for 2 to 5 players ages 10 and up.

Components

Goal of the Game

Each player tries to be the first to place all of their character cards onto the board. Most of the cards have some sort of special effect when they are placed, often causing one or more other cards to be sent back to the hands of other players. The winner of the game is the first player to get rid of their cards.
The more players you have, the more luck will factor into the game, and the shorter the game will last. However, with two players, Castle is very tactical, and can last over an hour. A five player game is easier to play, and rarely lasts more than a half hour. 

The Game Board

The game board represents a fortified castle and its immediate surroundings. It is composed of four pieces and the "spaces" they create inside.
To set up the board, place the four castle wall pieces in the centre of the playing area, as indicated in the diagram below.
The completed Castle now forms four different areas in which players will place their cards: Outside the walls, the Courtyard, the Ramparts, and the Towers.
With the exception of the area Outside the walls, the game board is divided into spaces on which cards are placed. The sixteen spaces in the Courtyard are not actually printed, but can be easily visualized. Unless specified by the card, only a single card may be placed on each space.
For game purposes, the word "Castle" refers to the Courtyard, Ramparts, and Towers. The word "Adjacent" in the text of some cards means any cards within the castle that are adjacent orthogonally or diagonally, even if they are in different zones. Thus, the corner spaces of the Courtyard are each adjacent to 1 Tower, 4 Rampart, and 3 Courtyard spaces.
The area Outside the walls is not divided into spaces. Cards that must be placed outside the castle may go anywhere near the castle (except for Siege Engines, which must be placed beside a Rampart. See below for details.) Cards which rest Outside the Castle are not "adjacent" to any other card.

Dealing the Cards

At the start of the game, each player is dealt two sets of cards, face down, according to the table below. One set of cards forms each player's hand, and a second set of cards is stacked in front of each player, to form their deck. The remaining cards are placed face up near the board so that all are visible. These cards are called the Exchange.

Each player also takes all of the tokens of one colour. With two players, use the black and beige tokens. With three players, also use the reds. With four players add the green tokens, and with five players, the purple tokens.

# of players

# of cards in players' hands

# of cards in players' decks

# of cards in the exchange

2*

9

13

10

3

7

8

11

4

5

6

12

5

5

4

11

* with two players, the Village Idiot and Fool cards are not used, and should be removed from the game before dealing the cards.

A Player's Turn

Players take turns in clockwise order, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. On each player's turn, they must perform two of the following three actions. The player chooses which two they will perform. If a player wishes, they may choose the same action twice:

End of the Game

A player wins if they have no more cards, neither in their hand nor in their deck, after they have applied any effects of the last card that they played. Thus, a player who plays a Soldier which returns their own Siege Engine to their hand does not win.

In very rare situations, a blockage may occur (there are no more spaces to play a card). In such a case, the player with the fewest cards in their hand is the winner.

Playing The Cards

Every time a player plays a card, they must place a token of their colour on the card. Each card must be played in a particular area as indicated on the card. The Red cards are played in the Courtyard; Green are placed Outside the walls; Orange are placed on the Ramparts; Blue are played in the Towers; and Purple can be played anywhere. There are more cards that may be played in each area than there are spaces available the area. Moreover, many cards have additional requirements that must be met ("Must be played next to the King", etc.) in order to be played. If there is no available space for the card, it may not be played. Card effects (such as moving adjacent cards) that are not possible (there are no adjacent cards) do not prevent the card from being played, they are instead ignored.

Sending Back Cards
When a card is sent back, it returns to the hand of the player who owns the token resting on the card. If, for any reason, there is no token on a card (E.g. it was removed or not placed due to an action of a card), the card is returned to the Exchange. A card to be sent back need not belong to an opponent, players can send back their own cards if they wish.

Moving Cards
When a card is moved, it must be moved to a free space within the same area (except when moved by the Fairy). So if the card to be moved started on the Ramparts, it must be moved to another space on the Ramparts. However, any other restrictions for placement (E.g. "Adjacent to the King") that are printed on the card need not be followed.

Except for the Knights, which are always placed on top of another card, only one card may occupy any one space.

Most of the cards have some sort of effect when they are played. Being unable to carry out the effect does not prevent the card from being played. However, the effect is not optional, and if it can occur it must occur - even if it hurts the player who played the card. With the exception of Protection effects, and the Herald card, the effect of a card only takes place at the moment a card is played. The placement rules and effects on a card have no lasting effect. If a card is moved, you do not reapply the effects of this card in the new space.
Only Exception: If a Soldier is moved by the Lookout to the last free space on a Rampart, a Siege Engine facing that Rampart is sent back.

Ex: The Lady in Waiting must be placed on a space in the Courtyard adjacent to the Queen or the Princess. Therefore, she may not be played if neither the Queen nor the Princess are in the game, nor if all of the spaces adjacent to the Queen or Princess are occupied.

The player who plays the Lady in Waiting sends back a male character on an adjacent space. The player who owns the token on the sent back card returns the card to their hand. If there is no male character adjacent to the Lady in waiting, this effect does not occur, but the card may still be played.

Knights
The Knights are the only cards which can be placed on top of another card. When playing a Knight, place it slightly askew so that the name of the card underneath is visible to everyone. The token on the Knight and the token on the card underneath need not be the same color. You may play a Knight on top of another Knight, but you can't place a Knight on an empty space.

Note: When a card's placement rules, or effects apply to a Knight, this only applies to a "real" Knight, not to the Black Knight.

Protection
Some cards (Knights, Priest, Captain) have the effect of protecting other cards. The Ambassador is also automatically protected. A protected card may not be sent back, moved, or assassinated as long as the card which protects it is present. However, a token on a protected card may be removed or changed.
Therefore, in order to send back or move a card protected by a Knight, a player must first send back or move the Knight.

Soldiers & Siege Engines
Siege Engines are placed outside the walls. However, unlike other cards outside the walls, they must be placed clearly facing one of the four Ramparts. There may not be more than one Siege Engine facing each Rampart.
When the fourth and last Soldier is placed on a Rampart, any Siege Engine facing this Rampart is sent back. It is however, permissible to place a Siege Engine next to a Rampart where four Soldiers already rest.
When the fourth Siege Engine is placed around the castle, all of the Soldiers on all of the Ramparts are sent back. It is permissible to place new Soldiers on the Ramparts even if all four Siege Engines are in place.
If some Soldiers are protected by their Captain, they remain in place. The Captain, however, does not protect himself and is sent back.

Character Name - Location to Play Card
Effects of Card Text
 

Alchemist - Tower
The Alchemist forces you to immediately exchange two of the cards in your hand for two of the cards in the Exchange.
 

Ambassador - Courtyard - On the last free Space.
The Ambassador is always Protected.
 

Archer - Tower
The Archer sends back a card from Outside the Castle.
 

Assassin - Courtyard
The Assassin permanently removes from the game a card from an adjacent space. The King and protected cards cannot be assassinated.
 

Barbarian - Outside Castle
The Barbarian sends back one card from either a Tower or a Rampart.
 

Black Knight - Courtyard
The Black Knight sends back a Knight from an adjacent space.
 

Captain - Ramparts
The Captain is a Soldier. The last soldier placed on a rampart sends back a Siege Engine facing that rampart. The Captain also protects all of the other soldiers on the same rampart.
 

Conspirator - Courtyard
The Conspirator must exchange the tokens on any two cards. These two need not be adjacent to the Conspirator.
 

Courtesan - Courtyard
The Courtesan takes a random card from an opponent's hand, and replaces it with a card of your choice from your own hand.
 

Courtier - Courtyard
The Courtier sends back a card from any adjacent space.
 

Dragon - Outside Castle
The Dragon sends back a card from Outside the castle and a card from either a Tower or the Ramparts.
 

Enchanter - Outside Castle
The Enchanter sends back the last card played, prior to this one.
 

Fairy - Outside Castle
The Fairy moves a card from inside the Castle to Outside the Castle.
 

Fool - Courtyard
All players simultaneously pass a card of their choice to the player on their left.
 

Ghost - Occupied Tower
The Ghost sends back the card that previously occupied the Tower.
 

Herald - Outside Castle
If the Herald is on the board, the player with the King in their hand must play it at the beginning of their next turn.
 

King - Courtyard
The King sends back a card of his choosing. If the Mistress is in play, its controlling player must also send back a card.
 

King's Counsellor - Courtyard - Adjacent to the King.
The Counsellor places a card from the Exchange onto the board. No token is placed on the card chosen from the Exchange, but any effects this card has are carried out normally by the person who played the Counsellor.
 

Knight - On top of another card.
The Knight protects the card beneath him from being moved, sent back, or assassinated.
 

Lady in Waiting - Courtyard - Adjacent to the Queen or Princess
The Lady in Waiting sends back a male character from an adjacent space in the Courtyard.
 

Lookout - Tower
The Lookout moves a Soldier.
 

Magician - Tower
The Magician sends a card from anywhere on the board to the Exchange.
 

Merchant - Courtyard
The Merchant sells you a third action this turn. As payment, you must replace three tokens of other players with tokens of your own colour.

Minstrel - Courtyard
The Minstrel rearranges as he chooses any adjacent cards in the Courtyard.
 

Mistress - Courtyard - Cannot be played if the Queen is in play.
The Mistress moves the King and a Knight.
 

Priest - Courtyard
The Priest protects cards in adjacent spaces which have tokens of the same colour as the token on the Priest.
 

Prince - Courtyard
If the King is not in the Courtyard, cards which must be placed next to the King may instead be placed next to the Prince. When the King is in the Courtyard, cards that must be placed adjacent to the King can no longer be played adjacent to the Prince.
 

Prince Charming - Courtyard - Adjacent to the Princess.
Prince Charming moves a female card.
 

Princess - Courtyard
The Princess moves a Knight.
 

Queen - Courtyard - Adjacent to the King, if he is in play, otherwise anywhere you like.
The Queen sends back a card from anywhere in the Courtyard.
 

Siege Engine - Outside Castle - Facing a Rampart
All Soldiers on the Ramparts are sent back when the fourth Siege Engine is played.
 

Soldier - Ramparts
Playing a Soldier in the last empty space of a Rampart causes any Siege Engine facing that Rampart to be sent back.
 

Spy - Courtyard
The Spy may rearrange the Tokens of the adjacent cards in any way he sees fit.
 

Thief - Courtyard
The Thief removes the token from a card on an adjacent space.
 

Traitor - Ramparts
The Traitor is a Soldier. If played in the last empty space on a Rampart, a Siege Engine facing that Rampart is sent back. The traitor sends back an adjacent card in the Courtyard.
 

Village Idiot - Courtyard
All players simultaneously pass a card of their choice to the player on their right.
 

Witch - Tower
The Witch sends back a card from the Exchange to the hand of a player of your choice.

 

 

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