The Rules

For those unfamiliar with Star Wars: Epic Duels, I figured it was probably prudent to get into the Basic Rules of the game so you can learn how to play it once you have the decks. There’s also a few things that differ, even if you are used to it.

The Basics

To start a game, players should place their characters on opposite sides of the board. (Star Wars maps and Lord of the Rings maps can be found at these links; I haven’t made any maps yet but am in the process of doing so.) Then each character deck is shuffled and 4 cards are drawn to make a starting hand. Then the players may decide who goes first and play begins.

In a 1v1 game, the rules are simple; one player takes their turn, and then the other player takes their turn. A turn consists of: 1) Movement and 2) Actions.

Movement is determined by the role of a die; I prefer a 4-sided die, which you can find at most hobby stores since they’ll have full sets of Dungeons & Dragons style dice. A 6-sided die is also plausible, and can make combat happen a little quicker. Another option is to use the 4-sided die but 1 to the movement so that a roll of 1 is 2, a roll of 2 is 3, etc. Ultimately this is unimportant and is really up to the players to decide what is fun for them. What is important is that movement comes before actions. You cannot use actions and then more, or take an action, move and then take the second action. You do not have to move on your turn however, and you can roll the die and decide not to move.

Actions are the heart and soul of the game, and come in two varieties: Drawing Cards and Playing Cards. Each player gets 2 actions on their turn and may do them in order they can. Drawing a card is self explanatory; draw the top card from the deck and put it into your hand. Your hand may not exceed 10 cards. If you manage to go through your entire deck and are unable to draw a card, you shuffle your discard pile and make a new draw pile. If you go through the deck twice, that character is eliminated from the game. (This rule is optional but mostly done because games this long cease to be fun.)

Playing a card comes in two forms as well: Attacking or playing Special Cards.

Attacking and Defending

Attacking requires your character to be in attack position; Melee characters must be adjacent to an enemy character, while Ranged characters can attack from any distance as long as the spaces match up. There are two kinds of attack cards: Basic Combat Cards and Power Combat Cards. Basic Combat Cards have an attack and defend value and no other effect and make up 16 of your 31 cards. Power Combat Cards are unique to each character and typically have interesting effects and higher damage. Effects can range from the simple (drawing cards, forcing a player to discard cards, not counting as actions, or additional movement) to very complex (such as being stronger or weaker based on parameters, going on a character’s life card to effect their status, or any number of effects).

Regardless of whether you are playing a Basic Combat Card or a Power Combat Card, you play the card face down. The opponent then has the option of playing a defense card face up. Then the attack card is flipped over, and as long as no effect prevents it, the defending character takes damage equal to the attack value minus their defend value. When a character takes enough damage, they are destroyed and removed from the game. When all characters on a team are destroyed, the other team wins the game.

Some Power Combat Cards are Defend cards. If a player defends with a Power Combat Card, that card’s effects always take precedence over the attack card. For example, if the defend card forces the attacking character to take damage, they take damage before revealing their attack card.

Playing Special Cards

While attacking and defending is the bread and butter of the game, it’s far from the only thing your characters can do. Special Cards can be played any time on your turn, though some require certain conditions to be met first. Special Cards have a wide variety of helpful effects: many allow you to draw extra cards, gain extra movement, search your draw pile for specific cards, shuffle your discard pile into your draw pile, etc. Many more cause your opponent problems by forcing them to discard cards, affecting them with status conditions, or dealing direct damage that can’t be defended (many of these require you to be in attack position). Note that Special and Power Combat Cards are different types of cards and any effect that mentions them only effects cards of the named type.

Effects with Conditions

Some cards have effects that change based on certain parameters. For example, Superman’s Power Combat cards are significantly weaker if KRYPTONITE is in his discard pile. Effects that don’t require conditions will always be listed first and take place as soon as the card is played. MAN OF STEEL will always allow you to draw a card, even if KRYPTONITE is in your discard pile.

Some cards also allow you to discard them from your hand for a different effect. For example, you might be able to play a card to draw a card, BUT you might be able to discard that card when an opponent plays a Special Card to negate the Special Card’s effects. Or you might have a card that only works when you have a certain teammate or opponent, and you can discard that card when those characters aren’t in the game. If a card has an effect that is triggered by discarding the card, the effect of playing the card does not happen – only the effect of discarding it.

2 vs. 2 and 3 vs. 3 Play

Epic Duels is at its most fun when 4 or 6 players get in on the fun. This is especially true in my version of the game, and even if it’s just two players, I prefer to play with 2 characters vs. 2 characters. In this game, it’s important to note order of play; each turn alternates from team to team, and play order is decided at the start and follows that order. Team A starts their turn with Player A1, then it’s Player B1’s turn, then A2, then B2, and so on.

When a character or player is defeated, turns still alternate between teams. In a 2v2 game, this means that if Player B2 is defeated, then turn order plays like this: A1, B1, A2, B1, A1, B1, and so on. This can get complicated in 3v3, but as long as you remember team order and to alternate between teams every turn, you should be able to stay on track.

In team games, the first player gets 1 action on their first turn. This is done simply as a balancing measure to prevent the first team from getting a preposterous advantage.

1 vs. 1 vs. 1 Play

Hey, who says you need teams? Sometimes you’ve got three players and everyone wants in on the action. While not always optimal (especially since two players usually unite against one), it can be fun. The rule about the first player only getting 1 action on their first turn can be used here to make things more fair to the third player, but it is not necessary.


As a matter of courtesy, it is advised that no player attack or do direct damage to a character that has not had a chance to play yet. While it is not a hard and fast rule, it is often important in team games with newer players. Remember that this is a game and the goal is for everyone to have fun; winners and losers don’t matter nearly as much as the fun of playing the game.

With that in mind, it’s also advised that, especially in group situations, taunting and insults be kept as friendly as possible, and considerations should be made for players with little experience, anxiety or other conditions that can create undue stress. Always be courteous to each other. While this is not usually a problem among groups of friends, if you ever choose to do a competitive tournament, it is advised to have an impartial referee to maintain a level of civility between players, especially if they are unfamiliar with each other. The referee should also be familiar with the rules and be able to settle any disputes that might arise.

5 thoughts on “The Rules

  1. Hey it’s umondy from the ED wiki. First time I come across your site. Love it and never realized before what a great expansion you have besides Star Wars. I really never had any time to check out some non Star Wars stuff.
    I am working on my first non-Star Wars expansion also and was very excited that you came to many same conclusions as I did. I also have to go with single character decks and as I like the healing card concept for the single decks in SW-ED, I don’t like it for a complete expansion.

    I am very curious to learn more on how you came up with the exact setup you now have. You obviously deceided the 31 card deck is more important to you than sticking with 10 basics and 12 talent cards. why is that and how did you came up with the split you now ended up on?
    You also kept the basic deck concept with the colors going but with an increased number of cards you had to modify. Did you come up with a new template, one like OWJ has on the wiki and are you willing to share that template?

    One thin on my mind was really to stick to 12 talents and 10 basics, so that each deck only consits of 22 cards. Single decks are only half as fun so I thought about how cool it would be if you could team up every character with whomever you want. If the cards have the same card back you could mix two decks together and get 44 cards. From your experience, do you beleive this could work?

    Thanks again for all the great content, I am really looking forward to take a look at all your awesome decks and would love to get some insight from you.


    1. Hey Umondy, thanks for checking out my website! I hope you find some interesting deck ideas to check out. =)

      For me, it came down to math. The basic Star Wars Epic Duels set up gives you a 39% of getting a Special card, a 32% of getting a Basic Combat Card for the Main and a 29% chance of getting a BCC for the Minors. I considered doing the 22 card set up you suggested, but that tips the scales to a roughly 55/45% split in favor of Special cards. To me, having the Special cards be outnumbered by the Basic Combat cards was key to balance. It was just a matter of deciding how to split it: ultimately, I found the 15 Special cards more suitable to the variety of powers that someone like Superman has or Batman’s arsenal of gadgets, so I ended up with a 16/15 split, or a 51/49% split in favor of Basics.

      The result is that while you’re statistically likely to get a Basic Combat Card, you do get more cool stuff more often than in a Star Wars game. Another key difference is that you almost *always* have at least one defense card: just having a couple of A1/D2s in the Red Deck gives it a lot more staying power.

      Finding the right six cards to add to each Basic Combat Deck was a lot of trial and error, really. On the whole, each one is much more balanced than the original decks, with more defense in the Red and Yellow decks and more offense in the Green deck.

      Please feel free to comment on any deck, feedback is Super-appreciated.


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