By Julian "Legend" Jimenez
Shrine is a playing card game in which the objective is to remove all cards from the other player’s Shrine in order to win the game. During the play of the game, players may add cards to their Shrine, remove cards from the other player’s Shrine and play special cards and combos to help them win the game. Shrine uses a regular 52 card poker deck with an optional joker.
Playing the Game
First, the dealer must deal five cards to each player from the shuffled deck. Each player puts his or her set of five cards face down in front of them and flips only the top card face up. This pile is called the Shrine. The player’s Shrine may never have more than five cards total unless the player has a Triad. Next, each player draws five more cards to form his or her initial hand and play begins. The remaining cards are stacked face down in the center of the table to form a drawing stock known as the deck or Library. Players start out with five cards in their hand and can have up to seven but no more. If a player has more than seven cards in their hand at the end of their turn then they must discard until they have only seven.
During the game, players may play Token and Dagger cards face up on their own side of their table in the area around their Shrine, which is known as the Field. Used cards are placed face up in the Graveyard, a face-up pile in the center of the table next to the Library (draw pile).
Each player is allowed to take only one action during their turn. Players draw one card, usually from the deck, at the beginning of each turn. During the player's turn, he or she may: Heal their own Shrine, Attack another player's Shrine, play a Special card, take a card from the Graveyard, play a Special Combo, or pass.
During each player's turn, they may perform one of the following actions.
Drawing a card from the Graveyard
Instead of drawing a card from the deck, a player may choose to take the top card from the Graveyard and add it to his or her hand. If a player chooses to take a card from the Graveyard, it counts as their one action for that turn. The player may not take anymore actions.
Attacking and Healing:
Healing allows you to add cards to the top of your Shrine. To add a card to your Shrine, you must have a pair of Pawn cards in your hand that is the same number of the top card of your Shrine. At least one of the two cards must be the same color as the top card of your Shrine. Discard the pair of Pawn cards used into the Graveyard and flip over the top card from the deck and place it on top of your Shrine.
Attacking allows you to remove cards from the top of your opponent’s Shrine. To remove a card from another player's Shrine, you must take a Pawn card or a combination of Pawn cards from your hand that is of equal value (in total) and the opposite color to the top card of the other player's Shrine. Place the top card of your opponent's Shrine into the Graveyard and discard your Pawn card or cards. If the top card of a player’s Shrine is a Token card, it can be removed with another Token card of the same value but opposite color. It can also be removed by a combination of Pawn cards and Token cards that equal the value but are all still of the opposite color to the Token card on top of the other player’s Shrine. The values of the Token cards (which are can be used as Pawn cards for the purpose of attacking and healing) are: Jack = 11, Queen = 12, and King = 13.
Note: The exception to this rule is if the top card of a player’s Shrine is a Dagger card. See the Dagger card section for how this works.
EXAMPLE: If the top card of your opponent’s Shrine is a nine of hearts, you can remove that card with a nine of spades or clubs. You can also use a combination of cards that equal the value of the top card on your opponent’s Shrine but must all still be of opposite color. You could use a five of spades and a four of clubs together to remove the nine of hearts on the top of your opponent’s Shrine.
Note: The value of your attacking Pawn cards must be equal to the value of the top card on your opponent’s Shrine. Not greater. You could not use a five of spades and a seven of spades to remove the nine of hearts because it would equal twelve instead of nine. You must match the values exactly.
Playing Special Cards
To play a special card, you must discard one Pawn card of the same color as the special card you wish to play from your hand, then put the Special card into play.
The Special Cards
There are three Token cards: The King, the Queen, and the Jack. Each Token card a player has in play gives them a different advantage. A player may not have more than three Token cards in play at a time ( four if that player has a Triad) . A player may only have one of each kind of Token card on the Field at anytime. Token cards can also be used to block another player from removing a card from your Shrine. If a Token card is removed from the Field during play, that player may no longer take advantage of that Token card’s special ability.
Playing Token cards
To put a Token card into play, you must discard one card of the same color from you hand into the Graveyard. Place the Token card you wish to play on the Field in front of you. The Token card is now in play. You may now take advantage your Token card’s special ability.
Blocking with Token cards
When your opponent attempts to remove a card from your Shrine with one of his or her Pawn cards, you may block with a Token card if you have any on the Field. To block with a Token card, you must remove it from the Field and discard it to the Graveyard. Your opponent then discards his or her Pawn card or cards into the Graveyard. A player may not use a Token card to block a Dagger card.
The Different Token Cards:
There are three different Token cards: The King, the Queen, and the Jack. Each different Token card allows the player to perform a different special action when they are in play. Each special action takes up your action for that turn.
The King: The King allows you to remove a card from your opponents Shrine without having to match the exact number as the top card of the Shrine, but within one number above or below the value of the top card.
EXAMPLE: If the top card on your opponents Shrine is a 5, then you can play a Pawn card with a value of either 4, 5, or 6. The Pawn card must still be the opposite color of the top card on your opponents Shrine.
The Queen: The Queen allows you to add a card to you your Shrine without matching the exact number as the top card of your Shrine, but within one number above or below the value of the top card.
EXAMPLE: If the top card of your Shrine is a 5, then you can play a pair of Pawn cards both with a value of either 4, 5, or 6. At least one of the two Pawn cards must still be the same color as the top card of your Shrine.
The Jack: The Jack allows you to take a card from your opponent's hand and discard one card from your hand into the Graveyard. You may not look at the other player's hand when choosing a card. A player may only use the Jack's special ability as long as their opponent has at least two cards in their hand.
Triad: When a player has one of each Token card in play on his or her side of the Field, It’s called a Triad. When a player has a Triad in play, his or her Shrine’s maximum capacity is increased by two. This means that player may now have up to a total of seven cards in his or her Shrine. When a player has a Triad in play, he or she may also play the Dagger card as a Token card. If one of the player’s Token cards in play is removed from the Field, thus breaking the Triad, the players Shrine’s maximum capacity is returned to five cards. If the player has more than five cards in their Shrine when the Triad is broken, then that player must remove the top cards from their Shrine until they have only five left.
The Dagger Card:
The Dagger card can be used to remove one of your opponents’ Token cards from the Field or remove the top card from their Shrine. To play a Dagger card, you must discard one card of the same color as the Dagger card you wish to play from your hand into the Graveyard. Remove one of your opponent’s Token cards from the Field or the top card of their Shrine, place it into the Graveyard, and discard your Dagger card into the Graveyard. Dagger cards cannot be blocked by Token cards. Dagger cards can only be blocked by another Dagger card. Dagger cards can also be Fizzled.
Note: The Ace card is the Dagger card.
When a Dagger card is on the top of a players Shrine, that player cannot add anymore cards on top of his or her Shrine until the Dagger card is removed. The only way to remove a Dagger card from your opponent’s Shrine is by using another Dagger card or using a pair of Pawn cards with the same value. EXAMPLE: A pair of 3’s, a pair of Jacks, a pair of 9’s, etc.
Dagger Block: When a player plays a Dagger card, their opponent has the option of blocking the Dagger card being played with another Dagger card if he or she has on in their hand. To do this, the defending player must play the Dagger card as they normally would if it was their turn by discarding a Pawn card from their hand that is the same color as the Dagger card they wish to play. When a Dagger block is made, both Dagger cards are then discarded to the Graveyard.
The Dagger card as a Token card: When a player has a Triad on the Field, he or she is allowed to play the Dagger card as if it were a Token card. It is played the same way a normal Token card is played. When the Dagger card is on the Field as a Token card, it allows that player to draw one extra card and perform one extra action on his or her turn. If the player’s Triad is broken, then the Dagger card must be removed from the Field and put into the Graveyard.
In addition to Special cards, the player also has Special Combos that he or she can play. A Special Combo is a certain combination of cards a player may have in their hand and play to perform a special action.
The Different Special Combos:
There are three different Special Combos in the game.
TRIPLET: When a player has three cards of the same value, he or she may play a Triplet to remove all of his or her opponents Token cards from the Field. When a Triplet is played, all of the players opponents Token cards in play and the players Triplet are placed in the Graveyard.
QUAD: When a player has four cards of the same value, he or she may play a Quad to remove all of his or her opponents Token cards from the Field and one card from the top of their opponent’s Shrine. When a Quad is played, all of the players opponents Token cards in play, the top card of their opponents Shrine, and the players Quad are placed in the Graveyard.
RESURRECTION: When a player has three cards of any color in his or her hand that are in sequential order of value (EXAMPLE: 3, 4, and 5 or King, Ace, and 2.), he or she may automatically place the top card of the Graveyard into play. The player may use the card to add to his or her own Shrine without having to match the value or color of the top card of their Shrine, or to remove a card from their opponent's Shrine combined with other cards in the player's hand if needed. If the top card of the Graveyard is a Token card, the player may choose to put the card into play on their side of the Field without having to discard a card from their hand. If the top card of the Graveyard is a Dagger card, the player may choose to play the card as usual without having to discard a card from their hand. If a player has a Triad on the Field and the top card of the Graveyard is a Dagger card, then that player may choose to play the Dagger card as a Token card without having to discard a card from his or her hand.
The Fizzle is used to interrupt another player’s actions.
FIZZLE: If a player has three or more cards in his or her hand during their opponent’s turn, they may Fizzle their opponent's action by discarding their entire hand. This stops your opponent from performing any action such as playing a Token card, playing a Dagger card, Attacking, or Healing. When a player’s action is Fizzled, he or she must discard whatever cards they were trying to play into the Graveyard. If you Fizzle one of your opponent’s actions during their turn, and they have at least three cards remaining in their hand (not counting the cards they are currently trying to play) they have the option to counter the Fizzle by discarding their entire hand as well, thus finishing their original action and both players have no cards left in their hands.
Winning the Game
Players continue to draw cards and perform actions until one player loses all the cards in their Shrine. The last player with any cards in their Shrine is the winner.
When the deck runs out, re-shuffle the Graveyard and turn it over to use as the draw deck Library).
The Balance Card
There is one Balance card in the whole deck. It is added to the game before play begins and only if both players decide to play with the Balance card in the game. The Balance card MUST be played as soon as it is drawn or is turned over in a player's Shrine. Drawing the Balance card uses up that player's action for that turn. The Balance card can either help you or hinder you. When the Balance card is played, all other players must equal themselves to the person who played the Balance card by doing all of the following.
- Drawing or discarding as many cards from their hand as it takes to be equal to the person who played the Balance card.
- Adding or removing as many cards from their Shrine as it takes to be equal to the person who played the Balance card.
- And putting down or removing as many Token cards in play as it takes to be equal to the person who played the Balance card. The Token cards removed or added to the Field must be of the same type as the ones on the player who revealed the Balance card’s side of the Field. If a player needs to add Token cards to their side of the Field, search the Graveyard and draw deck to find the correct cards.
After the Balance card is played, all cards remaining in the deck and the Graveyard must be re-shuffled. The Balance card is then removed from the game. To make a longer and harder (frustrating) game, re-shuffle the Balance card back into the deck after it has been revealed.
Note: The Balance card is the Joker card.
An alternate and easier method of Healing is to do it the same way as Attacking except the player would have to use Pawn or Token cards that are the same value and same color as the top card of their own Shrine. The player then flips over the top card from the deck and places it on top of his or her own Shrine. This tends to make the game last a little longer because it makes it easier for players to keep their Shrine filled to full capacity. Players may still not have more than five (or seven if that player has a Triad on the Field) cards in their Shrine at anytime.
A slightly easier way to perform the Fizzle. The player still needs to have at least three cards in his or her hand but instead of discarding their entire hand, they only have to discard three cards. It works for a player trying to counter a Fizzle with another Fizzle.
THE SHRINE: Initially, the Shrine is made up of five Pawn and or Token cards. Additional Pawn and Token cards can be added or removed during the course of the game. A player may never have more than five cards in their Shrine at any time during the game unless that player has a Triad in play, in which case they can have up to a total of seven cards in their Shrine. When one player has no more cards in their Shrine, the game is over.
THE GRAVEYARD: The Graveyard is the discard pile. At the beginning of a players turn, he or she has the option of drawing the top card from the Graveyard instead of drawing a card from the deck. When a player chooses a card from the Graveyard, it also uses up their one action for that turn.
THE FIELD: The Field is the area around a player's Shrine where the Token cards are placed when put into play.
THE PAWN CARDS: The Pawn cards are the numbered cards in a deck of playing cards. They are all the cards that are numbered from 2-10. All Special cards except the Balance card (if players choose to play with the Balance card in the deck) are also considered Pawn cards until they are put into play as a Special card. Most of the game revolves around the use of the Pawn cards. Using Pawn cards or discarding them from your hand usually pays for actions.
THE TOKEN CARDS: The Token cards are the face cards in a deck of playing cards. They are the King, Queen, and Jack cards. Token cards allow you to use a Special advantage during your turn depending on which Token cards you have in play. Each player may not have more than one of each type of Token card on the Field at a time. Token cards can be used to block your opponents attempt to remove a card from your Shrine with a Pawn card. Each type of Token card allows the player to perform a special action once per turn when it is in play.
THE DAGGER CARD: The Dagger card is the Ace card in a deck of playing cards. Dagger cards are used to remove one of your opponents Token cards in play or remove the top card from their Shrine. Dagger cards can only be blocked by another Dagger card or by being Fizzled.
ATTACK: To remove the top card from an opponent’s Shrine.
HEAL: To add cards to the top of a player’s own Shrine.
DAGGER BLOCK: To block an opponent’s Dagger card being played by playing another Dagger card.
TRIAD: When a player has one of each type of Token card in play at the same time.
FIZZLE: To counter an opponent’s action by discarding the players own entire hand of at least three cards.
SPECIAL COMBOS: Special combos are certain combinations cards a player may have in his or her hand that will allow them to perform a special action during their turn. The three special combos are Triplet, the Quad, and Resurrection.
THE BALANCE CARD: The Balance card is the Joker card in a deck of playing cards. The Balance MUST be played when it is drawn or discovered in a players Shrine. If the Balance card is drawn at the beginning of the game when each player draws his hand, then he or she must draw another card and re-shuffle the Balance card back into the deck. The Balance card is used to even out the game. It can be the extra help you need to win the game or to lose it. The Balance card is only used as an optional rule.
*THE RULE OF COLOR: This applies whenever the instructions tell you that a card must be the opposite color to another card. The opposite color to black is red and vice versa. Suits do not play any role in this game and can be ignored. Only the color of the cards makes a difference.
I started making this game a long time ago and worked on it off and on over the years. The idea was originally to make a game that was similar Magic: The Gathering but using a regular deck of poker cards. After working with different ideas about how to make things like "spell casting" and "creatures" work, I decided to go in a more abstract direction because it seemed close to impossible to recreate the complexity and variety involved with a game like magic using a regular deck of cards without making it overly complicated and having to use some sort of cheat sheet to remember how to tell what does what.
Originally the game was much harder, took a really long time to play, and the player was often stuck with no available plays because they didn’t have the right cards to play. The deck was originally separated into piles of face cards and number cards. The Shrine originally had ten cards in it and only consisted of number cards. The player could only use one card that had to match the top shrine cards in order to remove it or add to it. Only number cards could be used to pay for playing the special cards. With twenty number cards stuck in the shrines, the player would end up with only face cards and have no way to make a play. This made the game very long and dull. Players would have to pass and discard the majority of the time.
After a while I quit working on the game till about two or three years ago when I decided to pick it up again and came up with quite a few changes to make the game run smoother and a little faster. The alternate healing method was the original way to add cards to a players shrine. But after I made it possible to combine cards to reach the value needed to remove cards from a shrine, it made healing a little too easy and so players were able to add cards so often that it still felt like the game to a little too long to finish. That’s when I got the idea to use pairs to add cards to a shrine. It makes it a bit difficult in the beginning of the game, but once a player gets a queen on the field it becomes easier. I didn’t want the player to be able to heal too easily because I wanted the game to be played fairly quickly. A game of Shrine can be finished in as little as five minutes and I think the longest game comes close to twenty minutes.
I also had to make an adjustment to the Jack’s ability so that an opponent had to have at least two cards in their hand because otherwise it was to easy to handicap your opponent early on if they only had one card at a time and it was continuously taken away leaving them with no almost plays to make.
The balance card was also part of the original game but also had to be turned into an optional rule because it could make the game last way too long and frustrating. It’s still fun to play with the rule every now and then though.
The Triad was a later addition to the game and was originally very different. It was originally called a tribunal and it allowed the player to have two of each token cards in play at a time thus doubling the range of their special abilities. It also let the player add and remove cards from the shrines without having to follow the rule of color. This made the game really unbalanced so it needed to be changed. I still wanted to use the idea of getting some sort of benefit by having all three token cards on the field at a time. I think the idea of being able to use the ace as a token card was really cool. I also changed the name to Triad because I think it made a little more sense and sounded better. I’m pretty happy with the way it ended up.
The last thing I added was the special combos and the fizzle action. I really wanted to incorporate a few types of poker hand in order to do special actions because I think it adds to the strategy of what cards the player uses to pay for actions and which ones they hold on to. Although special combos can be rare to come by, when the player does have them in their hand, they can do some pretty strong and powerful actions.
The fizzle was the very last thing I incorporated. From early on I really wanted the player to be able to perform some sort of action by discarding their entire hand. I needed to make sure the action wasn’t too powerful, so I though a type of counter move would be perfect since I wanted to put something like that in the game from the beginning and it’s useful. I made so the player would have to have at least three cards in their hand in order to do this because discarding your entire hand is the easiest thing you could do especially if a player only had one card left. In which case a player could just continually stop the other player’s actions every turn and put the game in a stalemate. Even if the player more than three cards in their hand, they have to discard their entire hand and not just the three. I think this makes it pretty interesting so that a player really has to think about whether they are willing to pay the price. I did include an alternate Fizzle rule to make it I little less taxing on the player to perform so they can recover from performing it a little quicker.
I had the name "Shrine" in mind from the beginning. It was inspired by an old online game called Magestorm that I used to play. The goal of the game was to change the other players "Mana shrines" to your team's color. I didn’t want to call the stack of cards to be depleted life points or hit points. I thought it was a little too cliché. Originally it was just called the "Stack". But that was too bland. I decided to call it a shrine because I thought it was a more interesting and creative. I originally had names for all of the face cards too based on what they did. I called the queen a Cleric or medic because it aided in healing. I called the Jack the Thief or Rogue because it steals cards from the other player. I called king a Warrior or Mage because it aided in attacking an opponent. I also considered calling the Ace card an Assassin. I could never really settle on what exactly to call each face card. In the end I decided to drop the names entirely again because I felt they sounded way too cliché. I always had a fantasy and magic theme in mind, but then I thought a slightly more abstract theme for the names would be more interesting. I even considered making some sort of background story for the game but felt it wasn’t really needed (much like this notes section) and would take away a little from getting into the game. I’m happy with the names I gave to all the different aspects of the game because I think they add a nice touch of flavor and all make sense to what they are for without being too cliché.
Anyways, thanks for taking the time to read this section which turned out to be a lot longer than I originally intended but since I’ve been working on this game I think for around five years and I wanted to let anyone who might have been interested know how the game came about and evolved. I hope everyone enjoys this game. I worked really hard on it and getting to play just right. I would love to get some feedback. Please send all questions and comments to:
Please take the time to drop me a line and tell what you think of the game. I also have a couple other card games and non-card games I have made and am still working on.
Copyright © 2007, Julian "Legend" Jimenez