Lords of Hell

The Card Game of Unholy Politics, 4th edition

©Kalle Marjola 2004

This is updated fourth version, with some drastic modifications to prior versions (including earlier fourth edition). You can also check out earlier 4th edition if you that interested. See also funny statistics.

See development fixes if you have played some older version of this new version.

Lords of Hell is a card-game for 4-6 players. Gaming time is 2 hours, more or less.

Generic Rules

Game Cards

The game has several kind of cards. Some of them are always kept face-up on the table: Devil cards, one for each player kept in front of the player, Home realms, place controlled by the Devil, with no more than one for each Devil and one or more as free ones on the center of the gaming table, and Artifacts, mighty items acquired during the game.

Of those kept face-down or in hand these is Game turn events, a random event for each turn, Devil Favors and Devil Powers, and hordes, rituals and politics. Of these, all but game turn events have identical back.

Main deck: 90 cards drawn from. Can be populated with Devil Favors later on. Any discards are done on the top of the main deck. If any effect allows a player to seek cards from the main deck, that player has 20 seconds to do that.
The main deck originally has three kind of cards: hordes, rituals and politics. Hordes are tabled in the drawing phase and fight in combats. Rituals are mighty magics, tabled in the trading phase and have their effect in the combat phase. Politics are various dirty tricks played as stated in the card.

Devil Favors: a special politics card, originally in the hand of corresponding Devil. Favors cards are always linked to certain Devil and can be used to gain favors from that Devil. Own favors never do anything. If favors are played, they are returned to original owner.

Devil Power card: each Devil has one special personal power card. This card works as a politics card but cannot be played by any other Devil except the original owner. When the card is discarded (as discard or after being played), it is removed from the game.

Other Components

Other components are: Bets (5x6), Souls, Alliance and Safety tokens, and Vote markers. Most of them are explained in appropriate part of the game rules.

Alliance token: each Devil has one Alliance token resembling that Devil's forces. If any other Devil controls this tolen, it means that this Devil is in alliance with that other Devil. Following rules apply when moving alliance tokens:

In alliance, the leader of an alliance is the Devil still with its own alliance token (there is always one and one only!), and this Devil decides where this entire army attacks and gets first shares in a combat.

Safety token: a bit like Alliance token, except that each Devil has several those. If any Devil gains a safety token of an other Devil, that other Devil cannot invade the home realm of this Devil. Following rules apply to Safety tokens:

If an alliance invades a home realm and the main defender has Safety tokens against some Devils in the attacking army, those Devils drop from the attack but the remaining can still attack. Even if the defender has a Safety token against the leader of an alliance that leader can still send the remaining Devils to invade that home realm.


  1. Put the High Palace of Hell on the center of the table, as a free home realm available for claiming
  2. Deal a random Devil and a random home realm to each player. Remove the remaining Devils and home realms from the game
  3. Give each player corresponding Alliance token, Safety tokens (one less than number of players), Devil power card and Devil favors (4 each). Remove other tokens, Devil favors and power cards from the game
  4. Remove from the game bets of those Devils not partaking the game
  5. Shuffle the Bets and deal one Bet to each Devil, face-up. Each Devil must end with a Bet of some other Devil and no two or more Devils can have a bet on same Devil. Re-deal and shuffle until this is satisfied
  6. Give each Devil an initiative marker. The youngest Devil (smallest number in card) gets the smallest initiative and so on.
  7. Shuffle the game turn events (5) and put aside, face-down.

The game is then played in game turns. A total of four (4) game turns are played and then the winner is determined.

Game Winner

First, the new Overlord is determined: the Devil currently with the most victory points is the new Overlord. If tied, the oldest Devil of the tied ones.

If any non-Overlord Devil has 3 or more bets on the new Overlord, that Devil wins immediately. Otherwise extra victory points are then scored:

  1. The Devil with most hordes (on table plus on hand) scores 1 victory point. If tied, they all get
  2. Artifacts on table score 1 victory point each to controller
  3. The Devil with most Souls gains 2 victory points, and the Devil with second most gains 1 victoy point. If first position is tied, they all get one victory points and no further points are divided
  4. Power favor of the Overlord scores 1 victory point for any other Devil than the Overlord
  5. Bet on itself is worth 1 victory point each
  6. Bets on other Devils score 2 victory points each if that other Devil is the new Overlord. Bets on other Devils score no points.

The Devil with most points is the winner! If tied, use following tie-breakers:

  1. The Overlord
  2. Most Favors in hand
  3. Smallest initiative

Game turn

The game has four (4) game turns and each game turn has four (4) phases. Each phase then has steps, done in given order.

1. Drawing phase

1.1 Shuffle the deck and deal cards

Shuffle the main deck. Deal 10 cards to each player. If there is not enough cards in the deck, deal less but the same number to each player. For each card less than 10 dealt, each player has to discard one less in the phase 1.4.

1.2 Turn event

Turn over the top turn event. Unless it affects directly some other phase or step, handle it immediately.

Leviathan auction: in the initiative order, each player either passes or bids Souls for the Leviathan; this bid must be higher than any previous bid. Start a new round after all have given their bid until all other players have passed. A player who once passes cannot bid anymore. Then the Leviathan is moved next to winning Devil and the winning bid is marked down as it must be paid by the controller of the Leviathan at the end of the combat phase (see 3.3).

1.3 Discard exceed cards and table hordes

Each player tables, face-down, hand cards that she is going to discard. Each player must discard 6 cards normally. Each player also tables, face-down, any number of horde cards and politics that are played as a horde. Other cards can also be tabled as a decoy but have no other effect.

1.4 Reveal tabled hordes

All discarded cards are put aside, still face-down. All tabled cards are turned over. Mistimed cards are returned to hand. Then any politics are handled in the initiative order.

Initiative order: several things are done in the initiative order. This means that the players do actions one by one, using their initiative number (in marker), lowest first (not the sitting positions!). If the same player has several activities, the player is free to choose the order between them.

1.5 Soul gathering

Every Devil gains 2 Souls, plus one extra for each Fiend and Diabolic Fiend they have on table. Turn event and various cards and powers can modify this number.

Souls: these reflect vasts hordes of lost Souls in Hell. These are gathered from Earth and marked with some counters. Discarded Souls are removed from the game. Souls are used to pay for various effects and they are used to determine initiative for the following game turn.

2. Trading phase

2.1 Trading and table rituals

Players are free to trade almost anything. Only following rules apply:

  • Devils and initiative markers cannot be traded
  • Home realms can only be switched
  • Players must stick to combat token and bet generic rules

Players also table, face-down, any rituals. When everybody is ready, end the phase by turning over any rituals.

Ritual limit: each Devil is limited to one ritual, plus one extra for each Diabolic Fiend. If at any point the Devil has more rituals tabled, any exceed ones must be returned to hand.

3. Combat phase

3.1 Open combat

Any Devil can challenge all other Devils by joining the open combat. To join that combat, the player must discard one tabled horde or ritual or any one card from hand. If a Devil in alliance joins an open combat, all other Devils in the same alliance must join also!

When no more Devils want to join the open combat, the army of highest strength wins (if tied, no one) and every Devil in that army gains one Vote (see phase 4.2). That army can then invade a home realm of a Devil which is not in this winning army. In alliance, the leader decides which home realm is invaded. If the leader does not select any, other Devils in the same alliance can then decide, in the initiative order, and the leader must accept this.

Army strength: Each horde count as one strength point. Some cards and powers give extra strength points. Highest strength wins. If two armies have equal strength, the army with highest power strength point wins. If tied, compare powers until difference found, so army with strength points of powers 5, 5 and 2 win army with strength points of powers 5, 4 and 3 but loses to army with powers 5, 5 and 3. If still tied, oldest Devil wins.

3.2 Invasion

Home realm invasion is handled as open combat, but Devils do not discard cards anymore. If the defender is part of an alliance, all Devils of that alliance help to defend. Army strengths are compared normally.

If attackers lose, they all lose one Vote (if have) and half their Souls (rounded up for each), and each defender gains a Vote.

If defenders lose, they all lose half their Souls (rounded up) and the main defender must take all tabled rituals to hand. The attackers also have a possibility to get the home realm of the defender and a spoil.

All lost Souls are piled tigether and divided evenly to winning side. In alliance, any odds are dealt as evenly as possible in the following order: main defender, leader of the alliance, rest in the initiative order.

Home realm: each home realm has one or more defense points. Each defense point of the main defender's home realm count as a strength point of power 0 for the army strength. If the defender loses, the attacker can either take control of the home realm, discarding old one, or the defender's home realm is returned to free ones, ready to be picked in the gathering phase.

Spoil: the winning attacker can take any one card, including artifacts, from the defender. First the attacker takes a look at defender's hand cards and then either takes one card from those or one tabled horde or artifact. Alliance: if an alliance wins, each attacking Devil gains its share in the above order (leader, then initiative). Each Devil has choice to switch the home realm if the previous one did not, and each one can take the spoil. However, in alliance, everyone must pay one hand card or horde to get a spoil. The Devil can first check the hand cards of the defender before deciding if gets any spoil. If any spoils are stolen with Favor card, the stolen spoil is taken when the target Devil would take it, and the stoling Devil must pay the price.

3.3 Rituals

In the initiative order, handle all rituals on the table and apply effects immediately. Handles rituals are then discarded.

Artifact: a mighty item created with Forge ritual. Once gained, keeps on the table but can be traded and stolen as a spoil. Cannot be discarded or destroyed.

Leviathan: after rituals have been handled, if the Leviathan is in play, its controller must pay the winning bid in Souls. If cannot, loses all Souls and must discard 4 cards from hand or tabled hordes. In any case, the Leviathan is then discarded.

4. Gathering phase

4.1 Re-deal initiatives

Initiative markers are re-dealt so that the Devil with most Souls get the smallest number and so on. If tied, they use previous order, reversed.

4.2 Award votes and shuffle the bets

The Devil with High Palace of Hell gains one Vote, as does the Devil with smallest initiative (if has at least one Souls). If it is not the last game turn, each Devil loses half its Souls, rounded up, and one player shuffles any remaining Bets and deals aside two times the player count of them, face-down.

Vote: a support for a Devil to become the new Overlord. Use special provided markers.

4.3 Gain bets, give votes and switch home realms

In the initiative order, unless it is the last game turn, each Devil secretly selects one Bet from those dealt. The Devil also gives a Vote to some Devil, and can also switch its home realm with any free one. A Devil without a Home Realm takes a new one from the free ones. Order of these actions is free.

Last Devil: if it is not the last game turn, after selecting her own Bet, the last Devil selects 2 Bets less than player count (2 in 4 player game, 3 in 5 player game, and 4 in 6 player game) and reveals them. Each Bet is a Vote to corresponding Devil. These bets are then returned to remaining bets.

Bet: a bet on specified Devil, to gain power especially if that Devil becomes the new Overlord. Bets are kept in one pile per player, of which the top one must be visible. However, the player can change this top one as need to.

4.4 Award victory points

Each Devil gains one victory point for each vote exceeding one, i.e. one victory point less than Devil has votes. Then discard all votes and return any Alliance and Safety tokens to original owners.

Card Listing

Devils (6)

Asmodeus (age 6): an army led by Asmodeus has +1 strength of power 6 for each 3 hordes it has

Mephistopheles (age 5): After invasion you partook, gain an extra share of Souls. Even if you were on the losing side.

x Baalzebub (age 4): you can keep tabled hordes face-down and return them to hand at will until you use them or someone gets a spoil from you. You can always table decoys, i.e. illegal cards as hordes. You can even table face-down hordes tabled in combat phase via effects like Recall or Forest of Hanged Ones. Effects like Soul Gathering, Summon, Conjuration or Infernal Plague do not affect face-down hordes, they are basicly 'still in your hand'

Mammon (age 3): in the trading phase, you can draw 2 card less and then discard 3 cards less

Belial (age 2): once per trading phase, discard a Soul to seek and table a Tormented One from the deck. If not found, Soul lost. Normal 20 second rule applies.

Glasya (age 1): can cast any number of rituals each game turn

Realms (8)

Dis (def: 1) If invaded, you can force each attacker to discard one horde from the table, if has any.

The High Palace of Hell (def: 2) You can discard 1 card less in the trading phase. Gain an extra vote each gathering.

The Forest of The Hanged Ones (def: 2) In defense, you can freely table hordes from your hand

The Frozen Ocean (def: 3) -

The Lake of Boiling Blood (def: 2) In defense, return your normal Fiend to hand to return one attacking horde to hand. Repeat as many times as needed

The Mountain of The Ever-Rotting Corpses (def: 2) For each your horde discarded from the table, you can take a Soul. Yes, you gain a Soul if you pay combat cost by discarding a horde from the table

The Seat of Judgement (def: 1) In Soul Gathering, you can take a Soul from the Devil who gathered most Souls. If tied, get a Soul from them all.

The Valley of The Wailing Souls (def: 2) In defense, you have at least as many strength points as Souls, each of power 0. As Soul Stones

Artifacts (5)

Crystal Ball: you can take a look at next game turn event at any time. Select tabled hordes and rituals after all others have revealed theirs. Discarded cards are selected normally

Soul Stones: Your army has at least as many strength points as you have Souls. Any extra points are of power 0.

Staff of Undead: whenever your horde is to be discarded from the table, you can prevent that by discarding a Soul instead. Possible causes: Time of Virtue, combat cost, Juggernauts, Dis, Infernal Plague

Tome of Magics: at the end of the trading phase, you can seek and table one ritual from the main deck. You have normal 20 seconds.

Wand of Might: +1 army strength, power 9

Game Turn Events (5)

Drunken Agreement: Each Devil either discards 2 cards or selects 2 Devil favors, face-down, from hand. Shuffle all selected Favors together and deal back to those who selected them.

x Leviathan: auction of Leviathan, in Souls. The winner gains control of the Leviathan, and the controller wins all combats. At the end of the combat phase, the controller must pay the winning bid or loses all Souls and must discard 4 cards (see main rules)

Silence: Devils cannot trade during the trading phase. Politics and other powers can be used normally.

Time of Virtue: in Soul Gathering, every Devil loses half their Fiends, including Diabolic Fiends, rounded up, of their choice, before gaining Souls. Also gain one Soul less than normally.

World War: every Devil gains 2 extra Souls during Soul Gathering, and an extra Soul for each Fiend, normal or Diabolic, they return to hand.

Devil Powers (6)

Ancient Allegiance (Asmodeus): play as a horde. Target Devil must give you all Alliance tokens it has. If you do not have your own Alliance token, must be targeted at Devil with yours. Yes, this breaks the main Alliance token rule if the target Devil already leads an Alliance

Whispering Talk (Mephistopheles): play at any time. Gain control of the target horde.

Twisted Words (Baalzebub): play at any time to get your Alliance or Safety token back, or play at any time someone tries to use your Favor. Counter the effect and get that favor back.

x Infernal Rage (Mammon): play when some Devil tries to get a spoil from you. Instead of looking to your hand, that Devil has to discard 2 cards, from hand or tabled hordes. In Alliance, that Devil then does not pay for its spoil.

Devil Torture (Belial): play after successful invasion, if you are winner or gained spoils of another Devil: gain an extra cards as a spoil. If your spoil was taken, gain this card before that one is dealt. Do not pay for that Spoil.

x Diabolic Seduction (Glasya): play in the trading phase. Give a Soul to any Devil to get Safety token. Repeat as many times as you wish.

Favors (4x6)

x Combat Favor: play as a horde or after a successful invasion by the target Devil. As a horde, gain an alliance or safety token of the target Devil, if legal. In combat, spoil gained by the target Devil. Only original share can be stolen, not a stolen spoil. You must pay the price of a spoil in alliance.

x Forces: play as a horde or in the combat phase. As a horde, gain 2 hand cards and/or tabled hordes of the target Devil's choice. In combat phase, gain target horde from that Devil. Yes, the target can return this Favor

x Power: play at any time to get 2 Souls from the target Devil, if able. Worth a victory point if the target Devil becomes the Overlord. If target has one Soul, get one

Vote: Play in the gathering phase, when this Devil is about to give its Vote. This Devil must vote as you command.

Resource Cards (90)

Hordes (40)

Fallen Angels (2): power 6. Once per combat, can be sent to fight in other army. Returned after the combat is over if still alive.

Fiends (10): power 3. Gain an extra Soul each Soul Gathering.

Diabolic Fiends (5): power 2. Gain an extra Soul each Soul Gathering. Can cast an extra ritual.

Juggernauts (5): power 5. In open combat, Juggernauts count as two strength points of power 5, instead of just one. If you lose an open combat, Juggernauts is immediately discarded.

Metal Beasts (5): power 4. During invasion as an attacker, reduce defender realm defense points by one for each attacking Metal Beasts, to minimum of 0.

Tormented Ones (8): power 1. Your army has +1 strength of power 1 for each Tormented One exceeding one. Thus, 3 Tormented Ones give +2 strength of power 1. In alliance, each Devil counts bonuses separately.

Warriors of Darkness (5): power 7

Rituals (20)

Chaos of Time (1): When finished, gain your Devil Power card back to hand if already used. Then handle Leviathan payment immediately if Leviathan is in play. Finally, take all Game turn events and order them as you wish.

Conjuration (5): Special rules: all your Conjurations are finished together. For each Conjuration, name 2 hordes. Then seek and table those hordes from the main deck. If you do not get all, gain half the missing, rounded down, from other Devils, priorizing those with most tabled hordes. You have normal 20 seconds for the operation, and can opt not to take hordes from the main deck. Missing hordes are handled one by one, so that if the most hordes place is tied and you miss 2 hordes, you cannot take them both from the same Devil. You have to take whatever horde is available but as long as there is choice, you can decide which horde and from what Devil it is taken.

Forge (3): When finished, select and table one Artifact. If all Artifacts are already tabled, get your used Devil Power back.

Furnace of Souls (2): When finished, each Devil, including you, lose half their Souls, rounded up. Then gain 3 Souls.

Infernal Plague (1): When finished, each Devil must discard all hordes of the type that they have most. Gain as many Souls as most hordes discarded by one Devil.

Sanctuary (4): Special rules: if you join any combat except as the main defender, discard Sanctuary immediately. While Sanctuary is tabled, your home realm has +1 defense point, and you can discard Sanctuary to counter harmful effects of one ritual against you. You can leave Sanctuary on the table until end of the combat phase.

x Steal Power (4): When finished, gain a card from each Devil with more hand cards. If you gain less than 2 cards, gain missing cards from Devils of your choice. These cards are selected by the targets and can be either hand cards or tabled hordes.

Politics (30)

x Diabolic Strike (3): play in the combat phase. Return hordes of the most common type to hand cards of the owners. If tied, you select which most common horde.

Double Cross (3): play in response to any politics, except for Devil Favors and Powers. Target politics is cancelled.

! Escape (1): play after an invasion lost by the defender, but before any Favors are used to gain spoils. No spoils are dealt, but Souls and home realm switching is done normally. Cannot be played after Truce.

Extra Invasion (1): play before rituals are handled. You can start a new invasion after the current combat. In alliance, you select the target home realm. Devil targeted earlier cannot be targeted.

Forced Agreement (3): play as a horde. Give target Devil your own Favor. Take total 2 tabled hordes, Alliance or Safety tokens. For each less than 2 you take, target Devil must give you one card from hand or one tabled horde. All token moves must be legal. Yes, the target can return your Favor

Loophole (2): play at any time. Get back your Alliance or one Safety token.

Magical Vortex (1): play in the combat phase. Take any one tabled ritual to your hand.

x Non-Aggression Pact (2): play as a horde. Select target Devil not in Alliance with you. Both gain a Safety token of each other unless has it already.

Recall (3): play at any time. Table any number of horde cards from your hand.

Recycle (2): play as a horde. Take a look of all cards discarded in the drawing phase and put one of them to your hand. As usual, you have 20 seconds. You cannot table the selected card immediately.

Summon (3): play in the combat phase. Return all tabled normal Fiends to owners' hand, and each Diabolic Fiend not needed to cast rituals. Each Devil gains a Soul for each horde returned to hand. You gain an extra Soul.

x Thief in the Night (1): play as a horde. Gain target artifact. The original owner gains the artifact back if gains spoils from the new owner or joins same alliance as the new owner. Both apply this turn only.

x Treacherous Troops (3): play during a combat, when your army is partaking and is not currently going to win. Gain the target horde from one enemy army in the same combat.

Truce (2): play during an invasion as a defender, before the winner is determined. Neither side wins, but attackers gain spoils as if they had win. Rituals or Souls are not affected.