Melee Rules

A game by Rikki Tahta for 2 to 4 players.
Illustrated by Naiade.

The king has died childless and the land has had it's last days of peace and prosperity. Now the power hungry nobles see their opportunity to seize the throne and launch a war without mercy to assert their own rights. Only force of arms, and the gold to pay for it, matters.

Who shall succeed to grab the throne in the chaos that ensues?

There are two ways to play the game:
1. The Standard Rules: Fun and Mayhem with Special Actions.
2. The Basic Rules: For younger or newer gamers, you can play Melee without the Special Action Cards. Just ignore the rules that are labeled standard.

Aim of the Game

Be the first player to capture any other Player's Castle
Or control more Provinces than any other player at the end of 4 Seasons.


1 Double sided game board for 4 players on the front(4 castles) and for 2 or 3 players on the back (2/3 Castles)
40 units in 4 colors (10 units per player)
>2 knights
>3 soldiers
>3 camps
>2 catapults

12 Action Cards (3 cards per player)
21 Special ability cards(for standard rules)
1 First Player Card
1 Season Card and Turn Marker
1 Variant Rule Card
35 Gold Coins


1. Select the correct board for the number of players.
2. Each player chooses a color and receives:
>10 Units in their color
>3 Different Action Cards(Recruitment, Tax, Move & Attack)
>15 Gold Coins (The total amount of gold each player is always known throughout the game)
3. The remaining Gold Coins are left next to the board to form the Treasury.
4. The First player is chosen randomly and gets the First Player Card.
5. The Season Card is placed next to the game board and the season marker is placed on the first line (sprint)
6. Each player places a Soldier on their Castle
7. Deal out a number of Special Ability cards equal to the number of players plus one and place them face up next to the board (For two players deal 3 cards for three players deal 4 cards, for four players deal 5 cards)

A Player's Lands are comprised of its castle and two adjacent Provinces
> A player can always recruit units in their castle
> A player can always recruit units in the two provinces adjacent to their Castle (provided they are free of enemy units)

A province is an area defined by the dotted yellow lines(15 provinces on the 4 player board)

Important: A castle is treated like a province. It also has a permanent garrison(not shown) which always defends against an attack.

Preliminary Drafting Phase

Before the first round of play (the first season) a preliminary drafting phase occurs. Starting with whoever holds the First player card, players take one of the following 3 actions in a turn and continue until all players have passed:

1. recruit a unit in their lands (pay its cost and place it)
A player recruits one unit (Soldier, knight, catapult or camp).
She pays its cost (as indicated on the recruitment action card) then places it in their lands (their castle or in one of the two adjacent provinces)
Important: Two identical units may never be in the same province or castle.

2. Bid on a special ability card(only in the standard game)
A player can bid (or over-bid) for any special ability cards in the game.
> If he is the first bidder, he places on the card that he wants a minimum bid of 1 gold, and an unused unit of his color. (to indicate that the bid is his)
> If there is already a bid on the card then he has to pay more gold to over-bid the existing bidder, and must return the previous bid and unit to the relevant player. He may also over-bid his own previous bid.

Special Ability cards are always kept visible to all players at all times and are available for use through the whole game. Any cards not purchased are discarded.

3. Pass
Once a player passes they may no longer re-enter the preliminary drafting phase and the other players continue drafting without them.

End of the Preliminary Phase

(When all players have passed the preliminary drafting phase ends, the special ability cards are distributed to the winning bidders and the first round of the game starts in a Standard game)

Playing the game

The game takes place over four rounds(the four seasons)

Each season consists of 5 phases

1. Auction the first player card
2. Simultaneously pick an action card
3. Action card resolution
4. Income
5. Change of Season

1. Auction the first player card

After starting how much total gold they have, each player takes all their coins and secretly puts coins in their fist as a bid(they may bid nothing) and holds their fist over the table.

All players open their hands and reveal their bids together. The player with the highest bid pays their bid into the treasury and takes the first player card, keeping it for themselves or giving it to an opponent. The other players keep the coins they bid.

In the case of ties the winning bid is the previous holder of the first player card or the closest to him in clockwise order.

2. Simultaneously pick an action card

Players simultaneously choose one of their 3 action cards (recruitment, tax or move & attack) and places it face down in front of them.

3. Action card resolution

1. The holder of the first player card reveals their action card. The effects of this card are immediately applied.
(In the standard game, special ability cards that correspond to the selected action may be applied)
2. Then the next player in clockwise order reveals their action card and performs its action and likewise until all players have take their action.

The 3 action cards in detail

1. Recruitment
Choosing this action, the player recruits new units at the prices shown on the recruitment action card and places them on the map:
>Solder 2 gold
>Knight 6 gold
>Catapult 2 gold
>Camp 2 gold

(In the standard game some special ability cards can change these costs. Recruit Special abilities can be taken)

Rules for placement of all units

A. There can only be units of one color in any province
B. Two identical units cannot be in the same province or castle.(there cannot be 2 soldiers in a province or 2 knights etc...)
C. A unit can always be recruited in a player's castle, or in the two provinces of their lands if those provinces are free of any enemy unit.
D. A unit can be recruited in any province that already contains units of the same color.

Exception: Camps may never be recruited in a castle.
Exception: Knights may never be recruited in Kilimandjora.

2. Tax
Choosing this action, the player receives 3 gold from the treasury.

(in standard rules some special actions can give extra bonuses, tax special abilities can be taken)

3. Move & attack(in the standard rules Movement and Attack special abilities can be taken)
Choosing this action the player may move and/or attack with each of the units in any order they choose:
a. Move their units into empty or friendly adjacent provinces.(friendly provinces are those with units of their own color)
b. attack enemy units in adjacent provinces.(enemy provinces are those with opponents' units)
c. Leave their units standing where they are.

A. Moving units
Soldier: Can only move into a province adjacent to its position (including their castle) after which they may no longer move or attack this turn.
Knight: Can keep moving from province to adjacent province(including their castle but never into Kilimandjora) provided they are empty or friendly.
Camp: Cannot move.
Catapult: Cannot move.

B. Attacking an enemy province
Any unit except a camp can attack an adjacent enemy.

If there are more than one opposing units in an enemy province: The attacks must be made in the following order: First against any soldier, then knight, then camp

Details of an attack
1. Place the unit making the attack on the border of the province it is attacking. That makes it easier to see and keep track of attacks.
2. The attacking player tells the defender their total amount of gold then hides a secret bid in their fist and holds it over the table:
The defender must now guess the attacker's bid:
A. If she guesses correctly the attack fails: The attacking unit is removed and returned to the attacker's supply
B. If she was wrong, the attack succeeds: The defender's unit is removed and returned to the defender's supply
Note: Double defense: Some provinces and special ability cards give a unit double defuse. Instead of a single guess a unit with double defense can make two simultaneous guesses at the attacker's bid. (eg, "I think you have a bid of 2 or 5 gold"). If either of the two guesses is correct, the attack fails.

Whatever the outcome of the attack, the gold bid by the attacker is always spent.

3. After an attack:
a. If there are enemy units remaining in the province, the attacker may continue to attack them one by one with the gold they have left. Or they may choose to stop the attack and fall back to their province. Knights that fall back may still attack/move. Soldiers may not.

Abilities of units in attacks
Soldiers: May only attack one adjacent province.
Knight: May make unlimited attacks. After a successful attack into an adjacent province it may continue to move or attack until it either fails in an attack or chooses to stop: Remember there are any enemy units in a province a knight may not move through them without attacking, and a knight may not move into or attack the Kilimandjora province.

Camp: May never attack, only defend. If it is defeated in an attack it is captured by the attacker.

Capturing a camp: When a camp is defeated it is immediately replaced by a a attacker's camp unit color, provided the attacker has one available in their supply. The captured camp will now give the new owner 1 gold in the income phase.

Catapult: May never defend, only attack. A Catapult may attack into one adjacent province (except it can never attack into Kilimandjora).
If the catapult is located in Kilimandjora it can attack up to 2 provinces away and thus directly into castles.

After a successful attack, a catapult destroys all enemy units in the enemy province.(they immediately return to the defender's supply and enemy camps and catapults cannot be captured). A catapult attack on a castle only destroys the units located in that castle; a catapult can never destroy the permanent garrison of a castle.

Important: each catapult may only be used once and is returned to the attacker's supply after attacking.

Capturing a catapult: A catapult on its own may not defend itself and is automatically captured by any attacking unit that moves into the province without the need for an attack. A captured catapult is immediately replaced by a catapult of the attacker's color, provided the attacker has one available in their supply. A captured catapult may not be used by the attacker on the turn it is captured.

Example: Yellow soldier attacks the blue knight their attack succeeds and the blue unit is removed then yellow attacks the camp their attack succeeds, the yellow solder enters the province the camp is captured and replaced with a yellow camp

Kilimadjora: Any soldier or camp that is attacked in the Kilimandjora province has a double defense.

Permanent garrison of a castle: Each castle has a permanent garrison that is not represented by a unit but is always present. Whenever a castle is attacked, it is the first defended by any units placed on it, and then finally after those have been defeated, by the permanent garrison.

Castle: If a castle is attacked, any soldiers or knights in the castle have double defense and once they are defeated, the permanent garrison of the castle then also have a last double defense. (catapults may never defend and are ignored in a castle's defense)

(if playing the standard game, don't forget any changes to the rules created by the special ability cards)

4. income

Once all the action cards have been played move to the income phase. each player recieves from the treasury
> 1 gold for each camp that have on the board
> 1 gold for each province marked +1 gold that they occupy.
(if playing the standard game, gain any gold from their special ability cards)

5. Change of the seasons

The season marker is advanced on the season card and starts the next season.


Unlike previous seasons, player now simultaneously select two action cards(instead of one).

Whoever holds the first player card reveals their two ation cards at the same time. They choose the order in which to play the cards. All effects of the first action card must be taken and finished before playing the second card. Mixing the efects of both cards is not allowed.

Important: The last player in Winter does not take their last turn if they cannot possibly win the game themself. (therefore they cannot act as a kingmaker and choose the winner)

End of the game

A game can end in two ways.
1. When a player captures any enemy castle, she immediately declared the winner. To take a castle, she must defeat its permanent garrison (which is the final step after destroying all units in the castle)
2. At the end of the winter season, if no player has captured an enemy castle, the player occupying the most provinces is the winner

In the event of a tie, the player with the most gold remaining wins, and if still tied the closest player to the current first player