A Preview of .hack//ENEMY

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Check out this description of how to play .hack//ENEMY. It's a two-player game of fast-paced and fun combat, full of surprises, with a lot of replay value.

Shuffle and play

Do you have to get some cards out of your deck before the game starts? Nope. No missions, no Hobbits, no starting location, nothing. Just shuffle your deck and cut for a destiny number to see who goes first.

What's a destiny number? Each .hack//ENEMY card has a destiny number in its upper right corner. That number is used during a fight to see who wins, among other things. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Both players cut for a destiny number, and highest goes first. If you cut to the same number, then both players cut again. Place your decks face down on the table, and then both players draw a hand of four cards. Now it's time for the first player to start his or her turn.

Draw a card, play a card

The first thing you do on each of your turns is to draw a card. Then, if your hand has less than five cards, keep drawing until you have five. If, after you draw to begin your turn, you have more than five cards in hand, you must discard down to five. (Sometimes you'll draw a card or two during your turn.)

We call this reconciling your hand to five cards. You should always have five cards in your hand when you're ready for the next step.

Now, you must play a card. Often, in the beginning of the game, players want to get a PC into play to defend against the opponent's monsters. After all, if you don't have a PC, then every monster your opponent can play will score.

For the first turn of the game, after you draw a card to start your turn, you can discard your whole hand instead of playing a card. That means that next turn, when you reconcile, you'll draw new cards to replace them.

We provide this option in case you get a bad draw to start the game, like a bunch of items and monsters you can't play. You can only do this on your first turn, though.

Usually, when your opponent sees you play a card, she knows your turn is over and it's her turn. That keeps the pace quick and the game moving.

Card types

There are six kinds of cards, and you play them all on your turn. The most important card type is monster, because that's what you use to score victory points to win the game. Monsters have strength and game text, and many have requirements for play. That usually means you can't play the big guys until you've played a few little guys. When your monster wins a fight, it goes to your score pile if it has any victory points. When you get seven points in your score pile, you win.

We already mentioned the PC, or player character. You can have up to three of them in play at once. You can't have more than one PC with the same name, but you can have a PC with the same name as one your opponent has. (You can't have two copies of Kite in play, but you and your opponent may each have one.)

Item cards are played on your PCs and come in two subtypes: weapons and armor. Both add strength to your PCs to help them win fights, and many items have game text that you use when you play them. Another benefit from armor items is tolerance, which helps protect your PCs from wounds.

Actions are cards that you play face down on your turn. Each action has flip text that tells you when you can flip it over and use its game text. Most of the actions in the first set help your PCs fight, and you flip them just before drawing destiny to add strength.

Events are cards that you play to use their game text, and then discard them. They have lots of different effects, and simulate things that happen in "The World" when you're not in combat.

The last card type is field, which provides an element and has game text that helps monsters. This represents the places that PCs warp to in "The World" to fight monsters and find treasure. Only one field can be in play at a time. If another field is in play when you play a field, that other field is discarded.

The fun part

Okay, so now you know how players get cards into play and how they work. It's time to talk about the attack step, where all the excitement happens. When you play a monster on your turn, one of two things will happen. Either you'll begin an attack with that monster, or you'll place it in your portal.

Some monsters have the word "storable" in their game text, which means you can play that monster to your portal. That's a place on the playmat where you can keep a monster waiting for a while. You might do this to provide an element in play so you can play a bigger monster. You can also use your portal to build up strength and attack with more than one monster in a single turn.

If you play a monster and don't play it to your portal, then you begin an attack. That monster must attack, and sometimes monsters you have stored in your portal can attack too. Game text on the cards in play will tell you when a monster in your portal can attack.

There are monsters on the attack now, so your opponent has some decisions to make. She can decide to avoid the whole attack, and let your monsters score. She might do this if your monsters are too tough for her PCs right now. She can't decide to fight some of your monsters and let the rest go... it's all-or-nothing.

If she decides to fight, then she has to assign one of your monsters to fight each one of her PCs. If there are more monsters than PCs, then you get to assign the extra monsters wherever you want. Each monster must be fighting a PC when all the assigning is done.

Then, your opponent selects one fight, and it's time to throw down. Both players draw destiny by revealing the top card of their decks. They add the destiny number of that card to their side's strength, and the highest total wins (monsters win ties). If there is more than one monster in the fight, they all add their strengths together. The cards you drew for destiny are discarded.

If the PC wins, then the monsters are all destroyed and placed in their owner's discard pile. If the monsters win, then several things happen. First of all, the PC is wounded (turn it sideways). If a wounded PC loses a fight, that PC is destroyed.

Also, every monster in that fight gets to use his reward. Most monsters have special game text called a reward that is used when that monster wins a fight (it also is used when that monster is avoided).

Then, you get to choose one of the winning monsters to put into your score pile. Most monsters have one or more victory points. Remember, when you get seven victory points in your score pile, you win.

When that fight is all done, your opponent picks another fight to resolve. This continues until all fights are resolved, and then the turn ends.

That's how to play .hack//ENEMY. The pace is fast and furious, and the game was designed with an emphasis on fun. Since it doesn't take long to play a game, you can easily play.

Chuck Kallenbach II, Senior Game Designer

14 Aug 2003