How to Play

Spelldawn is not currently a game you can download and play. At time of writing, development is perhaps at most 20% complete, so everything here is extremely subject to change based on iteration and playtesting. The game doesn't currently have an in-game tutorial of any kind, so this serves as the only introduction to playing the game.

If you're familiar with the rules of Android: Netrunner, the companion page Spelldawn for Netrunner Players might also prove helpful.


Spelldawn is a card game for two players set in a high fantasy universe. One player acts as the Overlord, a dungeon master attempting to put their nefarious schemes into effect. The other player assumes the role of the Champion, a valiant hero attempting to delve into the dungeon and thwart the forces of evil.

Players in Spelldawn alternate taking turns, always beginning with the Overlord. During a player's turn, they have action points () to spend on a variety of possible game effects such as gaining mana (), drawing cards, and playing cards. The Overlord can play and progress their scheme cards in the rooms of the dungeon in order to score points, while deploying minions to defend them. The Champion can initiate a raid on a room of the dungeon to attempt to bypass the dungeon's defenses and score points by foiling the Overlord's plans.

The objective of the game for both players is to score 60 points. The Overlord scores points by progresing their scheme cards, while the Champion scores points by initiating raids and scoring those schemes. The Champion also loses the game if they take too much damage (see Damage below), and the Overlord loses the game if they must draw a card from an empty deck.

Game Overview

To start a game of Spelldawn, each player reveals their riftcaller card and any boon cards to their opponent, special cards in play which can grant unique abilities throughout a game. Each player starts the game with 5 mana and draws 5 cards from their deck to form a starting hand. After drawing starting hands, the Overlord may choose to mulligan their hand, shuffling it back into their deck and drawing 5 new cards. After the Overlord has decided, the Champion decides whether to mulligan as well. The game then proceeds to the Overlord's first turn.

The play area in Spelldawn is broken up into eight distinct areas called Rooms. These represent the different places within the Overlord's dungeon in which they enact their plans.

Three of the rooms are for a special purpose, called inner rooms:

Other rooms are referred to as outer rooms.

Schools of Magic

In the world of Spelldawn, certain rare individuals called Riftcallers can call upon powerful magical forces in order to accomplish their goals. Each card has a school associated with it, and only cards from schools matching your Riftcaller can be found during an adventure.

The schools of magic are:

In addition to these schools, some cards have no school affiliation. These are called neutral cards and can be used in any deck.

Overlord Cards

There are five types of Overlord cards: rfitcallers, spells, schemes, minions, and projects. All cards except the riftcaller card are shuffled into the Overlord deck at the start of the game. Cards other than spells are called 'permanent' cards. Overlord permanent cards are always played face down into different rooms.


The riftcaller card defines who the Overlord is in the universe of Spelldawn. It starts the game in play and provides an ongoing benefit throughout the game.

Projects cost +1{M} to destroy.


Gain 15{M}.

Spell cards represent one-time effects. They're always revealed when played and then discarded. The Overlord must pay the listed mana cost of the spell, and then the abilities are resolved in order. Once complete, the card is moved to the Crypts.


Mana cost


Scheme cards represent the Overlord's evil machinations to bring about their master plan. They are the cards in Spelldawn that are worth points.

The Overlord plays scheme cards face-down in outer rooms. Each scheme has a 'progress requirement' that must be met before the Overlord can score that card (see the Progress a Card action). There can only ever be one scheme or one project in a room at a given time. Schemes often have a Score ability which resolves when the Overlord meets the level requirement.


Progress counters required to score
Points value

{#}Score: Gain 7{M}.


{#}Combat: Deal 1 damage. Gain 1 {M}.

Minions are cards that the Overlord plays in order to defend the rooms of the dungeon against the Champion. Minions are played face down in rooms without paying their mana cost. They can be summoned and turned face up during a raid by paying their mana cost if the Overlord has sufficient mana available.

Each minion typically has a Combat ability which fires if the Champion is unable to defeat this minion during a raid, as well as a health and sometimes a shield value. See the Encounter Phase section below for more information about combat.


Health value
Shield value


Projects provide the Overlord with resources in order to further their objectives. They're played in outer rooms in the same manner as schemes, without paying their mana cost. Projects can be summoned by the Overlord, turning them face up by playing their mana cost. Different projects have different rules about when they can be summoned.

Unveil when activated, then Store 15{M}.

{A} {-} Take 3{M}.

Champion Cards

There are four types of Champion cards: riftcallers, allies, evocations, artifacts, and spells. As with the Overlord, the non-riftcaller cards are shuffled together to create the Champion's deck. Champion cards are always played face-up.


{#}Dawn: If you have no cards in hand, draw a card.

As with the Overlord, the Champion's rifcaller card defines the character the Champion is playing as in the current game. The Champion rifcaller card starts the game in play and provides ongoing abilities throughout the game.


Artifacts provide the Champion with ongoing benefits. A subset of artifacts called Weapons are used by the Champion to defeat the Overlord's minons. The Champion plays weapons by artifacts their mana cost. During a raid, a weapon can be used to attack and defeat a minion if it is of the correct Resonance and its attack value equals or exceeds the minion's health.

Each weapon starts with a base attack value which is shown on the card. Many weapons also have abilities which can increase their attack value during combat by paying mana.


Base attack value

2{M}: +1 Attack

Breach 1


{#}Dawn: Take 1{M}

{A} {-} Store 3{M}

Allies provide a variety of additional tools for the Champion to draw upon. The Champion plays allies by paying their mana cost, and like artifacts they enter play face-up and stay in play permanently (or until destroyed).


{#}Dawn: Take 1{M}

{A} {-} Store 3{M}

Evocations are similar to Allies in that they also enter play face-up. Evocations tend to provide resources to the Champion while in play, and they are more vulnerable to being destroyed because they can be targeted when the Champion is cursed (see Curses below).


As with the Overlord, the Champion can wield spell cards to apply one-time effects, paying their listed mana cost, resolving the effects in order, and then placing them into the discard pile.

Initiate a raid. Gain 5{M} to spend during that raid.

Turn Sequence

Players in Spelldawn alternate taking turns, starting with the Overlord player. The Overlord player starts their turn with (3 action points) while the Champion player starts their turn with (4 action points). A turn consists of these phases:

  1. Start of Turn Phase
  2. Draw Phase
  3. Main Phase
  4. Discard Phase

Start of Turn Phase

During the Start of Turn phase, triggered start-of-turn abilities on cards in play fire. The start of the Champion's turn is called Dawn and any cards with Dawn trigger their abilities in this phase. The start of the Overlord's turn is called Dusk and fires Dusk abilities.

Draw Phase

The active player draws one card from their deck. If the Overlord player's deck is empty, that player immediately loses the game.

Main Phase

The player takes actions by spending (action points). All action points must be spent during the main phase, after which the discard phase immediately begins.

The active player can take the following actions as many times as they like:

Gain Mana

The player spends to increase their mana pool by 1

Draw a Card

For , the player draws one card from their deck. This action cannot be taken if the deck is currently empty.

Play a Card

The player pays along with any required costs for a card in hand in order to play it.

Progress a Room

By paying and 1, the Overlord can pick a card to progress. They place one progress counter on the card.

When the number of progress counters on a scheme card is greater than or equal to its progress requirement, that card will immediately be scored. The scheme card is turned face up, and then any Score abilities trigger. The Overlord gains scheme points equal to the points value of the card and it moves to their score area.

Initiate a Raid

For , the Champion can initiate a raid against one of the Overlord's non-empty rooms in order to score schemes and destroy projects. See Raids for more information.

Activate an Abilitiy

Some cards have abilities listed on them. These are called activated abilities and can only be used during the owning player's Main phase by paying all of the listed costs.

Discard Phase

Finally, the active player must discard down to their maximum hand size. Players begin the game with a maximum hand size of 5 cards, but card effects can increase or decrease this limit.


The world of Spelldawn is the result of a confluence between three planes of existence. The original terrestrial plane is being overlaid by two other planes, the astral plane and the abyssal plane, and creatures and items from those other worlds are now passing through into the mortal world.

Thus, there are three main types of weapons and minions in Spelldawn, called the resonance of that card. They are:

Because of the nature of planar magical interaction, minions can only be damaged by a weapon from a matching resonance -- anyone attempt to wield a mortal weapon against a creature of Infernum will soon discover that their blade simply passes through the enemy like slicing through air!

In addition to the main resonance types, some weapons and minions have special properties.


During a raid, the Champion attacks one of the Overlord's rooms in order to foil their schemes and destroy ongoing projects. They encounter each minion defending the room in sequence, either defeating that minion using their weapons or suffering its combat effects.

Raids are broken up into three phases:

  1. Start of Raid Phase
  2. Encounter Phase
  3. Access Phase

Starting a Raid

When a raid is declared on a room, any Raid abilities on cards in play trigger. Next, the game checks if the room is defended by any minions which are face-up or which the Overlord has sufficient mana available to summon. If any such minion exists, the raid proceeds to the Encounter phase, otherwise it moves to the Access phase.

Encounter Phase

Approaching Minions

During the encounter phase, the Champion approaches each minion in the target room in sequence, starting with the outermost minion. If the defending minion is face-down and the Overlord currently has mana available to pay its listed summon cost, the minion may be summoned, turning it face up. Any Summon abilities on the card trigger.

The Champion then encounters the minion if it is face up. Otherwise, the Champion approaches the next minion in sequence, or proceeds to the Access phase if no minions remain.

Encountering a Minion

When a minion is encountered, the Champion must either defeat the minion or continue and have its Combat ability fire.

In order to defeat a minion, the Champion must do two things:

Defeat is always temporary for the Overlord's minions, as they are soulbound to their post by the summoning ritual and resurrect after a few hours. The minion is not removed from the room when defeated, but stays in play -- ready for the next raid.

Once the minion is either defeated or has used its combat abilities, the next minion in sequence is approached, or the raid moves to the Access phase.

Attack Boosts

Many weapons have printed abilities which temporarily increase their attack value, called an attack boost, in the form of a cost to add some amount of attack. Unless otherwise indicated, this cost can be paid any number of times to reach the target, and the increased attack value lasts only for the duration of the current minion encounter.

For example, if the Champion has a weapon with a base attack of 3 and a boost ability "2: +1 Attack", the champion can pay 2 per attack point required. If they are attempting to defeat a minion with 5 health, they can do so by paying 4 to activate the attack boost twice. The weapon's attack value then reverts to 3.

Access Phase

Raid Success

Once all of the minions defending the target room have been passed, the raid is considered a success, and any Successful Raid triggers on cards in play fire. The Champion then accesses cards as follows based on the target room:

Accessing Cards

When the Champion accesses cards, the actions they can take vary based on the type of the accessed card:

When accessing multiple cards, the Champion may take these actions in any order. After concluding access actions, the raid ends and the Champion's main phase resumes.

Other Card Abilities


Some cards and abilities deal damage to the Champion. When the Champion takes damage, they must discard one card from their hand at random per point of damage dealt. If the Champion takes damage and is unable to discard a card, they immediately lose the game.


A card ability may apply a curse to the Champion. Curses can be removed by paying and 2. While the Champion has a curse card in hand they are said to be cursed.

While the Champion is cursed, the Overlord can destroy the Champion's evocation cards during their turn by paying and 2.

Winning the Game

There are three primary ways in which a game of Spelldawn can end: