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Raid Trade, a card game designed in one night

What can’t be done with a deck of cards, dice and tokens? Yes, you can’t solve world hunger or translate Hungarian, but you can make a game.

I felt an impulse one night to design something using just these elements. Raid Trade was the result. It’s a two player experience that shares a few fundamentals with Steve Jackson’s Munchkin, but the similarities are minor at best. It incorporates gameplay you’d see in Legend of the Five Rings or Magic: The Gathering, minus the deck-building.

I believe the early game needs tweaking, but otherwise it proves interesting in late game. Hand management is perhaps most important, and keeping a stock of both high and low-numbered cards is vital.

Anyway, the rules do a good job of explaining everything. As much as I like repeating myself, I don’t.


Game design by Logan Booker


You are an aspiring space trader, looking to advance in the cutthroat galactic economy. To do this, you must be willing to transfer contraband from one planet to another while avoiding your competitors.

The objective of Raid Trade is to reach level 10 before your opponent. Levels are gained in the following two ways:
1) Attacking your opponent
2) Trading in white tokens

A player cannot ascend to level 10 via token trading. He must win a fight against his opponent.

Two decks of regular playing cards
Tokens, two colours (black and white)
One six-sided die (two is preferable)

Each player takes a deck, removes the Jokers and any extraneous cards and sorts the suits into four piles. Each player then combines his Diamonds and Clubs piles.

This new pile is the player’s Utility deck. It should be shuffled and set aside.

Each player should then take the Two of Hearts from his Hearts pile and place it to his left, face-up. He should then take the remaining numbered Hearts – Three through to Ten – sort them into descending numerical order, and place them face-down to the left of the Two of Hearts. This deck and the Two of Hearts represent the player’s current level. The Two of Hearts, and any card that replaces it, will henceforth be known as the Level card.

In this way, a player should be able to flip the top card of the Hearts-only deck to reveal the Three, the Four, the Five, and so on.

Each player should locate the Ace, King and Queen of Spades. The Ace should be placed face-up to the player’s right, the Queen face-up to the right of the Ace, and the King face-up below the Queen.

Going forward, the Ace will be known as the Trip card, the Queen the Cargo card and the King the Bank card.

Any remaining Spades or Hearts cards should be removed from play. Raid Trade does not make use of these cards.

The Utility deck that each player organised earlier should be placed near the three Spades cards. Space should be allotted for a discard pile.

Place two black tokens on the face-up Two of Hearts and two black tokens on the face-up King.

Finally, each player should draw four cards from his Utility deck. To decide who starts first, simply roll a die. The player with the highest number begins play.

Playing the game

Players may occupy one of two locations:
1) Orbit of a planet
2) Travelling through space

A player is considered in orbit if there are no black tokens on his Trip card. Otherwise, he is in space.

If the current player has just begun his turn, and another player has not caused him to miss his turn, he should draw from his Utility deck if his hand contains less than four cards. This step should occur before any other actions are taken. The drawn card may be used immediately.

Both players begin the game in orbit. Transitioning between these locations will be explained later in this document. For now, here are the actions a player may take, depending on his location.

In orbit
While a player is in orbit, he may perform any of the following:
1) If the player removed a black token from his Trip card at the end of his last turn, and there are no tokens on his Trip card this turn, all black tokens on the Cargo card should be exchanged for white tokens and placed on the Bank card.
2) Discard a card from his hand in exchange for one black token, or two in the case of an Ace, King, Queen or Jack (henceforth known as “a royal”). This token may be placed on the player’s Bank card. If the player has less black tokens on his Level card than the number printed on that card, the token can be placed here instead.
3) Play a royal for its out of combat effect. See “Playing Utility cards” for more information.
4) Discard any number of white tokens, in groups of two, from his Bank card to advance one level, if the player is level eight or below. See “Advancing in level” for more information.
5) Move any number of black tokens from his Bank card to his Level card, as long as the amount does not exceed the printed number on the Level card.
6) Raid another player. See “Combat” for more information.

Once the player has finished performing the above actions, he may end his turn. Alternatively, the player can initiate a trip. A trip allows a player to convert the black tokens on his Bank card to white tokens for levelling.

To initiate a trip, the player should do the following.
1) Allocate any number of black tokens from his Bank card – and only his Bank card – to his Cargo card.
2) Determine the length of his trip. To do this, the player should select a card from his hand and play it directly in front of him. Then, the player should allocate an amount of black tokens onto his Trip card equal to the number on the played card. Royals are considered a Two for this purpose.
3) Discard the played card and end his turn.

In general, it is better to play lower cards than higher ones, as there is no benefit in longer trips.

In space
1) Play a royal for its out of combat effect. See “Playing Utility cards” for more information.
2) Raid another player. See “Combat” for more information.

Once the player has finished performing his actions, he may end his turn by removing a black token from his Trip card.

Advancing in level
As has been mentioned, a player can gain new levels by trading in white tokens or defeating his opponent.

White tokens must be traded in pairs. Excess white token can be kept on a player’s Bank card indefinitely, until he is able to pair it with another token.

When a player successfully levels, he should temporarily move any tokens on the Level card, flip over the top card of the Level deck, and place it on top of the Level card. Do this a number of times equal to the levels the player has gained. For instance, if the player traded in four white tokens, he would flip over two Level cards.

Once a player has finished levelling, he should move his Level tokens back to Level card. A player does not gain Level tokens equal to his new level, but he may stockpile additional tokens up to the printed value of his Level card.

If a player defeats his opponent, and his current level is 9, he immediately wins the game. Not even an Ace can prevent this (see “Playing Utility cards”).

Playing Utility cards
Numbered cards are used to initiate trips and combat, and to determine a defender’s defence value.

Royal cards can be used in place of numbered cards. However, if played for their “Utility” value, they can affect gameplay to the owner’s advantage.

Card Attacking Defending Out of combat
Ace Automatic hit Escape Lose a level
King Double damage Evade Reduce/increase trip time
Queen Double damage Evade Miss a turn
Jack Draw two cards Draw two cards Draw two cards

Here is a detailed description of each effect:

Automatic hit: The attacker automatically scores a hit against the defender. This hit does not count towards his allocated rolls. This effect may be used in conjunction with Double damage.

Escape: Allows the defender to avoid combat. This card should be played in place of a defence card. The attacker must then discard his attack card and the defender his Ace. The attacker cannot initiate combat again that turn.

Lose a level: The affected player instantly loses a level. This cannot be used reactively when a player gains a level – the effect will always take place after the fact.

Double damage: Used when a successful hit is scored by the attacker. The defender must place two black tokens on his defence card rather than one. This effect may be used in conjunction with Automatic hit.

Evade: Negates a successful hit. This card must be played between attack rolls. In this way, it can be used to negate a Double damage card.

Reduce/Increase trip time: This card may be played against an opponent or the owner. When the card is played, the owner must declare which effect he wish to use and roll a six-sided die. The value of the roll is then added to the opponent’s travel time, or subtracted from the owner’s travel time, depending on which effect was declared. This card cannot be used on a player that is in orbit.

Miss a turn: Your opponent misses his next turn. He do not remove any tokens from his Trip card or draw a card from his Utility deck.

Draw two cards: The player may discard this card and immediately draw two cards from his Utility deck. These cards may be used straight away and are not subject to the four-card hand limit.

A player may initiate combat against his opponent at any time during his turn. To start combat, a player should do the following:
1) Announce that he are attacking
2) Select a card from his hand and play it in front of him. This is his Attack card.

The defender must also select a card to play from his hand. This is placed in front of him, and becomes his defence card. If the defender has no cards in his hand, he must play the top card from his Utility deck.

If the attacker plays a royal, it is equal to the value of the card the defender plays, and vice versa. If both players put down royals, they both equal five.

Once both players have selected cards, the attacker makes a number of attack rolls equal to the value on his attack card. In this way, it is better to play higher cards than lower ones.

If the player rolls a 1, 2 or 3 on the die, the roll is counted as a miss. If the player rolls a 4, 5 or 6, the roll is counted as a hit. The defender should place a black token on his defence card to track the hit. If the defender has any tokens on his Level card, he may choose to discard one of these instead.

If the number of black tokens on the defender’s card exceeds its printed value, the attacker has won. The defender must give the attacker all the tokens on his Cargo card and remove all tokens on his Trip card. The attacker also gains a level.

If the attacker fails to defeat the defender with his allocated rolls, his attack has failed. The attacker can choose to discard a token on his Level card to add an extra roll to his count.

If the attacker has insufficient rolls to achieve victory, he may end the combat before its natural resolution. For instance, the defence card is an 8, and the attack card is a 10. If the attacker fails three rolls, has no Level tokens and no useful Utility cards, he can withdraw from combat immediately.

Regardless of the outcome, both players should discard their attack and defence cards after combat.

If a player expends all of the cards in his Utility deck, he should take the face-up discards, shuffle them, and place them face down. This is his new Utility deck.

Optional rules

Faster game: During space travel, a player may, once per turn, choose to discard a card and roll a six-sided die. If he roll a 5 or 6, he may remove two tokens instead of one at the end of his turn. However, if he roll anything else, he must discard a card.

Vicious combat: Threes on the die are considered hits. This variant favours the attacker and a more aggressive game in general.

Complex combat: If the attack and defence cards are of opposing colours, then the attacker may not use Level tokens for additional roles. However, if the colours are the same, then the defender may not use tokens to mitigate attack rolls. This variant favours the defender, as the defence card is always played after the attack card.

~ by Logan on August 23, 2008.

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