Lords of Hell

The Card Game of Unholy Politics, 4th edition

©Kalle Marjola 2004

Note: this is the fourth version, with some playtesting already done. The game is for 4 to 6 players, playing time is something like 2 hours when rules not well known.

Drastic ideas (26.9.):

Changes (14.9.), marked with (x) to text:

Changes (11.9.):

Changes (30.8.):

Major changes to old (3rd) version:

Generic Rules

Basic Concepts

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

Resource deck: 84 cards drawn from. If the deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile to form a new deck. If still runs out, bad luck.

Force card: ritual, artifact or horde card. However, if the player must discard one or more force cards, this can also be a Soul or any non-favor card from hand (even events and reactions). If the player cannot perform the entire discard, she must discard as much as possible and show her hand to prove that cannot discard any more. Same applies to any other similar effects like some events.

Favor cards: Devils can make promises that they must keep. These are reflected with favor cards. Favors cards are always linked to certain Devil. Each Devil originally has its own favors but later on can tarde or lose them to other Devils, which can then use them to get favors. Own favors never do anything, but they can be tabled as a bluff. Favors are never put to main game deck; instead when used and discarded they are returned back to the original owner. Favors are used and timed as events or reactions, as marked to favor card.

Events: these are handled either pre-trading (in the drawing phase) or post-trading. Some events have different effect depending on the timing.

Reaction cards: these cards are played as a reaction to certain game event like looting (spoils), voting or announcement of a ritual target. There is not many reaction cards but sometimes they may give surprises. The card must be played before the effect has been resolved but can be played after possible target has been announced.

Destroyed: as discard, but only from the table.

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. Whenever any force cards can be taken from a player, Souls can be taken instead.

Vote: a support for a Devil to become a new Overlord. If one Devil gains more than one Vote during one turn, that Devil gains victory points and the Devil with most at the end of the game becomes the new Overlord.

Bet: a bet on certain Devil, to gain power especially if that Devil becomes the new Overlord. Bets are kept in one pile, of which the top one must be visible.


Each player gets:

High Palace of Hell is put on the gaming board and remaining Devils, their bets and Favors, and Home Realms are removed from the game. Shuffle one bet of each Devil partaking and deal to Devils. No Devil can get its own bet so do appropriate reshuffling until each Devil has a bet of some other Devil.

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

The game is played for six (6) turns after the winner is determined. First, the new Overlord is determined: the Devil with most victory points is the new Overlord. If tied, the oldest Devil of the tied ones.

Then extra victory points are scored:

  1. Power favor of the Overlord is counted as an appropriate bet
  2. If some non-Overlord Devil has 3 or more bets on the Overlord, that Devil wins regardless of any victory points!
  3. Overlord gains 1 point from each bet on itself, other Devils gain 2 points from each bet on the Overlord
  4. Bets on other Devils than the Overlord have no point value

The Devil with most points is the winner! If tied, the Devil with smallest initiative number at the end. (x)

Game turn

1. Drawing phase

Deal extra cards to players with less than 10 cards (resources and favors, in hand and/or table) to make player card count to 10. Then deal any other extra cards plus 6 cards to each player. Six players: in a six player game, the deck might run out. First deal all extra cards and then these normal 6 cards, one by one, in the initiative order.

On the turn 2 and later, take one bet of each Devil. Then, in the initiative order, each player (secretly) selects on of these bets and passes remaining to the next player. Note that one of the bets must be always visible, but is normally the one gained at the start of the game.

Each player then tables any number of hand cards, face-down, except for reaction favors which are not own. When everyone is ready, these cards are turned over. Any events are handled in the initiative order and any own favors returned to hand.

2. Trading phase

Players can freely trade tabled forces, souls, bets and any hand cards. Realms can also be traded but must be switched. Players cannot trade initiative, victory points or Devils. Any immediate deals must be kept but no other. Already tabled cards stay tabled even if traded.

As a normal rule, all trading must be done around the gaming table. No whispering or secret marks are allowed, but players can communicate with passed cards like 'you get this one if you give me one similar in exchange'.

Players also table any number of own favors and non-reaction hand cards, face-down. Up to three (3) of them can be put aside as secret forces. These secret forces are not turned over normally but instead whenever the player wants to. Events (except own favors) cannot be put into secret forces. Before secret forces are turned face-up, they cannot be moved or targeted.

Tabled face-down cards can be returned to hand for trading etc. until everyone is ready. After all trading is done, all face-down non-secret cards are turned over and any events are handled, in the initiative order. Non-lasting events are immediately discarded, as are any own favors returned to hand.

3. Combat phase

Any Devil can send its armies to challenge all other Devils in open combat. To do this, the player must discard one force (see generic rules). There is no order in sending the army, but as soon as the army is sent and the payment done, this decision cannot be taken back.

After no more Devils want to join the open combat, the most powerful Devil is determined. Any player can challenge the combat to be resolved and if no other player does anything in response to that, the winner is dtermined (see below). The winner (if any) then drives all other Devils back to their home realms and can then invade one selected Devil at its home realm. In this home realm combat, the defender always has some extra advantage from the home realm. This advantage is one or more extra sets of zero (0) power. As earlier, the army power of both sides is determined and compared with following resuls:

Army Power

When armies are compared, sets of creatures are compared. A set is 3 or more similar creatures. A set can be fulfilled with joker cards. 6 or more creatures of the same type are not 2 sets but just one long one. Then the winner is determined by the following rules:

  1. Most sets
  2. Highest power set
  3. Longest (highest power) set

If the armies are tied, nothing happens (open combat) or the defender wins (invasion).


Alliance is a joint army operation of 2 or more Devils. The only way to create an alliance is with appropriate favor, tabled before or during the trading phase. Leader of an alliance is the Devil which is not "forced" into alliance via favor card, or if there is none like that, the one with lowest initiative. The leader chooses where the army attacks if they win the open combat and is the first to gain spoils. Any gained Souls are divided evenly among the alliance but any exceed ones are divided in the same order as spoils would be.

When any Devil part of an alliance joins open combat, everybody else in the same alliance must do so. All sets of the alliance are then used as one for comparing, but indivivual hordes are not counted together. Thus is one Devil has 2 fiends and so does the other one, they together do not have one fiend set!

Alliance stays even when a home realm is invaded. However, if the defender has safety favors, those Devils cannot attack there and are dropped from the alliance, including any spoils. If the defender has safety against the leader, the leader cannot send the remaining army there either.

Loot (Spoils)

Spoils are gained after a successful home realm invasion (and no Escape played). Each attacker gains one share of spoils (plus Belial gets one extra). The order of choosing the spoils in alliance is 1) the leader 2) the initiative order. Any spoils favors must be played before the spoils are divided and these spoils are taken when the original Devil would have gained them. If the defender gains spoils from itself (with favors), these spoils are taken aside so that no other Devil can take them.

One share of spoils is 3 cards from the defender's hand, after tabled cards are returned or discarded. The attacker simply takes the entire hand cards of the defender, selects spoils and returns the rest. No more than one favor can be taken as part of one share of spoils.

4. Ritual phase

Discard all events in play. All remaining secret forces are turned face-up and any own favors are returned to hand.

Then handle all tabled rituals, one by one, in the initiative order. If the same Devil has several rituals, the player selects the order. Each Devil can finish one ritual; each diabolic fiend one extra each. Any exceed rituals are just discarded as are any handled rituals. Effects are applied immediately.

Any drawn hordes and artifacts can be tabled immediately or after a Devil has finished casting its rituals. (x)

5. Gathering phase

First, initiatives are re-dealt. Lowest number goes to Devil with most Souls and so on. If several Devils has equal number of Souls, use reversed order from the last turn between those Devils. Then give extra votes from following positions:

Then, in the initiative order, each player does following things:

After all Devils have given their votes, any votes exceeding one (1) result in victory points to that Devil. So, if a Devil wins a combat, is number one, has High Palace of Hell and was voted by 3 Devils, that Devil gains 5 victory points. Votes are then discarded.

After voting, unless it is the last turn and the game ends, comes final clean-up: all lasting events are discarded (favors returned to owners) and each Devil must discard hand and table cards to 15 (do not count the Devil, realm or bets). Favors cannot be discarded. Then shuffle the deck and start the next turn.


Devils (6)

x Asmodeus (age 6): always has one extra joker horde. After initiatives are re-dealt, you can force the last Devil to give you one favor if able If Asmodeus is last, no favor can be gained. If the last Devil has no favors, must prove that to Asmodeus, i.e. show her hand

! Mephistopheles (age 5): any Summon or World War events yield +1 Souls. Once each combat turn, can force one other Devil partaking the combat to give one horde of its choice to you.

Baalzebub (age 4): whenever any Favors are called back, the caller must also discard one extra favor of Baalzebub or the favor asked has no effect. You can have up to 6 secret forces.

x Mammon (age 3): draw 1 extra card each drawing phase. Your card limit is 20, not 15. If your home realm is successfully invaded, all attackers lose all their hordes. Card limit means at the end of the gathering phase

x Belial (age 2): your Souls can count as joker Tormented Ones, providing you have at least one Tormented One. When has change to get spoils, gets an extra share. Extra share is gained if either Belial is one of the attackers (even if his normal share is stolen with favor) or steals share of an other Devil (unless Belial is the target). If Belial gets several shares, he still only gets one extra share.

x Glasya (age 1): can cast any number of rituals and for each own ritual successfully cast, draw an extra card. When returning a favor of another Devil after being used, can instead give any her own favor. So, if Glasya uses Alliance of Asmodeus, can give to Asmodeus like Forces of Glasya favor at the start of the ritual phase and keep the alliance card.

Favors (6x6)

Alliance: event, lasts. Force this Devil to an alliance with you (see combat rules)

Safety: event, lasts. This Devil cannot invade your home realm not as a leader of an alliance send troops against your home realm.

Forces: event. Get tabled forces from this Devil. Pre-trading: get 2 of your choice or 3 of this Devil's choice. Post-trading: get 1 of your choice or 2 of this Devil's choice. You decide if it is your or target's choice. If the target has less forces, bad luck. Souls cannot be moved by this.

x Power: event. Name a card, exactly or broadly. This Devil must give you this card or show to you that does not have it. This card also count as corresponding bet on this Devil at the end of the game. You can ask generic like 'any alliance except mine' or for specific 'alliance favor of Baalzebub', but not conditionally like 'alliance favor of Asmodeus if you have, or any other alliance otherwise'. As a bet, Devil special rules are ignored

Spoils: reaction. Play after a successful invasion. Gain this Devil's original share of the loot. Only original share can be stolen, not a stolen spoil. If share stolen from Belial, he still gets his extra share.

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

Realms (8)

The High Palace of Hell (def: 1) Draw 1 extra card each drawing phase. Gain an extra vote at the start of the gathering.

! The Frozen Ocean (def: 2) Sanctuary has no defense effect here.

x The Forest of The Hanged Ones (def: 1) If this realm is invaded and the attacker loses, gain all hordes attackers lose. If you lose, do not lose your hordes. If losing attacker had the Staff of Undead, you only get those hordes finally discarded

The Mountain of The Ever-Rotting Corpses (def: 1) If invaded, you can turn over top 6 cards of the deck and table all hordes and discard rest. If Leviathan is tabled, forces must be discarded

x Dis (def: 1) If invaded, each attacker must discard 3 forces first.

The Valley of The Wailing Souls (def: 1) Whenever any external effect forces you to lose Souls, only lose half of them, rounded up. Effects include lost combat, Furnace of Souls (not own), and being the number one in the gathering

The Seat of Judgement (def: 1) Whenever any Devil receives Souls with Summon or World War, that Devil must give you one of those Souls, but no more than one each game turn. As a reminder, each Devil can turn some card a bit sideways after they have paid the tax

The Lake of Boiling Blood (def: 1) For each non-diabolic Fiend you table, draw a card This card is drawn when the Fiend comes into play, i.e. when face-down card revealed.

Resource Cards (84)

Hordes (40)

Fallen Angels (2): power 9, can act as a joker (any) horde to fill sets

! Fiends (10): power 2, 3 if the set has at least 2 non-diabolic Fiends. Jokers neither count for higher power

Diabolic Fiends (5): power 2, count as Fiends. Can cast one ritual each game turn. Count as Fiends for events and sets

Creation: Juggernauts (4): power 4, 8 on open or as a defender if the set has at least 2 Juggernauts Metal Beasts count to same set but like jokers do not help to gain this higher power

Creation: Metal Beasts (4): power 4, 8 as an attacker against a home realm if the set has at least 2 Metal Beasts Juggernauts count to same set but like jokers do not help to gain this higher power

Tormented Ones (8): power 5

Warriors of Darkness (6): power 6

Leviathan (1): power 7, counts as a set. When comes into play, controller must discard 4 forces. Leviathan is discarded at the end of the gathering. If used as a secret force, discard is done when revealed, i.e. at the start of the ritual phase if not earlier. If directly discarded or returned to hand, no force discard required.

Artifacts (5)

x Crystal Ball (1): you can return secret forces to hand without revealing them, and when events or remaining secret forces are revealed, you can then take back to hand any cards you just revealed. So, after you see what is going to happen, you can take back a bit of things not yet used in any way. The Crystal Ball can be used on cards revealed at the same time as the Crystal Ball, even on Crystal Ball, but not used if it was just stolen with Thief in the Night or Forces favor

Soul Stones (1): your Souls can form a set of power 1

x Staff of Undead (1): when your hordes are discarded or destroyed in the combat or ritual phase, only lose half, rounded up. You decide what to keep. Possible causes: Leviathan, Dis, lost combat, Infernal Plague, but not Steal Power or Mephistopheles

x Tome of Power (1): draw 2 extra cards each drawing phase.

Wand of Might (1): count as one joker horde

Rituals (15)

x Conjuration (6!): When cast, draw 2 cards and gain 2 Souls.

Drain Power (1): When cast, destroy all artifacts in play. Draw a card for each destroyed this way.

Furnace of Souls (1): When cast, destroy any number of your Souls. All other Devils lose as many, if able. Draw a card for each own Soul destroyed this way.

Infernal Plague (1): When cast, destroy one horde of each different name from each Devil. Gain a Soul for each 2 hordes destroyed this way. Diabolic fiends are different than fiends etc. Gain souls from all destroyed hordes, even enemies'

x Sanctuary (2!): When tabled, your home realm has 2 defense. Must be selected as cast in the ritual phase, if able, and when cast, draw 1 card. So if a Devil has 2 Sanctuaries and one Conjuration and is limited to 2 rituals, must select Sanctuaries. Sanctuary does not affect Frozen Ocean nor have multiple Sanctuaries extra defense properties.

x Steal Power (4): When cast, take one tabled horde or artifact of your choice, or draw a random hand card from one target Devil with a home realm.

Events (17)

Summon (8): gain 2 Souls, 3 if you have one or two Fiends, 4 if you have 3 or more Fiends. Diabolic Fiends count

! Forced Agreement (3): give target player one your own favors and name a single trade. That player must either give you the things requested or any 3 cards, of which one must be a favor. Tabled forces can also be moved. Named trade can be like 'any 2 favors', '10 souls' or 'your alliance favor and one horde' or an impossible choice, in which case the target must give that 3 cards. The target always has a choice to select either choice and can return the favor you just gave. Conditional trades are not allowed and the trade must be quite simple.

x Drunken Agreement (1): Each Devil in the initiative order either discards 3 forces or selects 3 favor cards. These favor cards are then shuffled together and then dealt back to those who selected favors. Only favors in hand can be selected. Favors are kept face-down and not revealed to other players.

Silence (1): Lasts until end of next phase. Pre-trading: no trading allowed this game turn. Post-trading: Sanctuary has no effect in combat this game turn.

Thief in the Night (1): take control of one face-up artifact of your choice.

Time of Virtue (1): Lasts this event handling and affects all (out of normal sequence). Any Devil with one or more Summons tabled loses one Fiend of its choice. All Summon and World War events yield one less Soul.

Treacherous Troops (1): take control of one face-up horde of your choice. Post-trading: you must have a horde of the same set type. thus you can take a Fiend if you have Fiends or Diabolic Fiends, but not otherwise. Fallen Angels are never of the same set type.

World War (1): every Devil gains 1 Soul for each Fiend they have. You also gain 2 extra.

Reactions (7)

Double Cross (3): play in response to Double Cross, Thief in the Night, Treacherous Troops, Military Intelligence, Escape or Magical Vortex. Target card is cancelled.

Escape (1): play after an invasion lost by the defender. No loot (spoils) are dealt.

Magical Vortex (1): play at any time to destroy target ritual.

Military Intelligence (2): play at any time during the combat phase to take a look at 2 secret forces of your choice.