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Lords of Hell

A card game of unholy power struggle


Index - Background - Rules - Cards - Prints

Game Entities


Different areas of Hell are represented with Realm cards. Each Devil can control one Realm at the time, so-called home Realm, while rest are uncontrolled and put in the middle of the gaming board. A Devil can be without home realm, but that limits its powers. If Devil has no home realm, its 'home' is a wandering army somewhere in Hell.

Each realm has different powers which affect gameplay during different phases. Refer to realm cards for details. One of the Realms is the High Palace of Hell, and the Devil who controls it is more probable elected as new Overlord.

Changing home realm

Home realm can be changed during trading or combat phase. In trading phase, the Devils can switch home Realms if they so agree. Uncontrolled realms cannot be occupied, however, during trading phase. The Devil can abandon old home realm if it so chooses.

In combat phase, army can occupy any realm without defender where they currently are. If a new realm is occupied, move all remaining forces in old home Realm into new one.

Devil with no home realm

A devil without home realm:

  1. Cannot keep any prisoners
  2. Cannot cast rituals
  3. Draws less cards


Each player controls one mighty Devil of Hell, and has corresponding Devil card. Each Devil is an immortal being of great power.

Devil state

Each Devil has 3 possible states in game:

  1. Devil in Hell. The Devil is able to trade with all other Devils, and can cast rituals or lead an army
  2. Devil on Earth. The Devil is on Earth trying to recruit new hapless Souls to join his or her army in Hell. Devil can trade normally, but cannot cast ritual nor partake in any combat
  3. Imprisoned Devil. The Devil is kept as prisoner by other Devil or Forces of Heaven. The Devil cannot cast rituals, fight nor trade, except with the captor. The captor can permit the Devil to trade with other Devils, however. Note that even if Devil is imprisoned its lackeys can still control the Realm of the Devil.

Imprisoned Devil is never counted to be 'in Hell' or 'on Earth', regardless who is helding it as prisoner. If imprisoned Devil is released, it returns to Hell.

Imprisoned Devil can be freed at will by the captor, whenever normal (limited) trading is allowed. Otherwise the only way to get prisoner freed is by special card or conquering realm wherein prisoner is.

Oath Cards

Each Devil can make number of promises and Oaths about future, when the new overlord for the Hell is found. These promises are represented with Oath cards.

There is 6 Oath cards for each Devil. Following rules apply to them:

  • Oath cards are never shuffled with resource cards, but they have identical back and they are kept in hand with resource cards. No other players have right to know, how many of these cards are reource and how many Oath cards.
  • Oath cards cannot be normally discarded, played or stolen. Thay can only be traded to other Devils (or other powers of Hell, see trading. In addition, some special cards require that Oath card is handed at the same time.
  • When the game ends, Oath cards might be worth victory points. See ending the game.

Resource Cards

Resource cards represent various things that Devils control, from hordes of fiends to mighty rituals. They are drawn from resource deck and kept in hand until played, tabled, traded or discarded.

Resource cards fall into 4 classes: hordes, artifacts, rituals and special cards. Of these, all but special cards are tabled during trading phase and after that cannot be taken back to hand. Special cards are played in various phases of the game, and usually has immediately effect and are then discarded.


Horde cards represent various creatures under Devil's influence. Following rules apply to horde cards:

  • Horde cards are tabled during trading phase. Once tabled, they can only be traded or discarded during trading phase

Unless noted, each card has power of 1 in combat, and is killed when takes a hit. Some hordes have special powers explained in card.


Artifacts are items of great power carried by the Devil. Following rules apply:

  • Artifacts are tabled in trading phase. One tabled, they can only be traded or discarded during trading phase
  • Artifact can only be tabled if the Devil is in Hell or on Earth, as the artifact follows the Devil wherever it goes.
  • If the Devil is captured, captor immediately confescates any artifacts of the captive.


Rituals represent mighty spells vast by Devils (and sometimes Critters). Following rules apply to ritual cards:

  • Devils and certain hordes can onyl cast rituals
  • Rituals are started in trading phase by tabling them next to caster. Each caster can only cast one ritual per turn (except for Glasya), and if new one is started, discard old one.
  • Caster must be in home realm to cast a ritual. If caster leaves home realm or caster is destroyed, immediately discard the ritual.
  • Rituals never last longer than ritual phase, when they are handled. They can be discarded at will, however.

Special Cards

Special cards are always played from hand to affect the game directly. Unelss noted as 'trading phase only' with special symbol, special cards can be played whenever trading is allowed, but prohibited during draw, init and award phase (and combat round resolution)

Other Game Pieces


When a Devil or fiends on Earth get hapless humans to sign treaties, they get eventually Souls, which arrive Hell to wander around its endless plains. These soul hordes are then used as fodder in combats between Devil's.

Each 'soul' is represented with appropriate counter. It has no power in combat (in normal case), but can take hits. If destroyed, the Souls scatter and are removed from the game. There is no limit how many Souls the Devil can control, and they can be traded normally in trading phase.

Victory points

Devils (players) earn so-called victory points which represent general fame and name of the Devil and make it easier for the Devil to become a new Overlord. Moreover, when the game ends, the Devil with most fame and followers is the real winner, even if he (or she) isn't the new overlord.

Victory points should be marked with some counters and are awarded in following situations:

  • Looting a home realm
  • Capturing a Devil
  • Recruiting at least 3 Souls in same Soul phase

Other Counters

Rest of the counters used in game:

  • Starter is a counter which marks the player who starts each phase. It is passed clockwise in draw phase
  • Army counters can be used to mark where army is currently moved to
  • Proclaimed counter can be used to mark that this Devil was proclaimed as new Overlord.

Game Mechanics


There is no any kind of action stack in Lords of hell. When an effect is announced, it immediately happens and other players cannot interrupt the action (except with Double Cross). If your action somehow affects other players, tell other players to stop trading and playing for w hile and when they are ready, do your action.


Trading means excanhe of promises, resource cards and Souls. All Devils can trade with each other (unless imprisoned), although things on table can only be moved between players in trading phase.

If trade includes some kind of promise, it never lasts longer than until end of next turn. Until that time, however, the Devil must keep its promise, and if not able, loses all its Souls, hordes and victory points.

Typical promises are:

It is each player's responsibility to ensure that promises are such that they can be kept. Unless players state otherwise, all promises include 'if able' condition, but Devil must make its best to be able. If need to, player must show her hand to other player, to show that her Devil cannot keep its promise.

Trading with Other Powers of Hell

Once per turn a non-imprisoned Devil (or imprisoned with permit) can trade with Other Powers of Hell: The Devil trades away one Oath card (it needs not to be the Devil's own). This card is put away, and the player can immediately draw 3 cards from resource deck.


An army is a group of hordes, souls and possible the Devil itself. Each army has a location where it is. The Devil can have following armies at the same time during combat phase:

The last army can only exist if the Devil itself is not in Hell. During other phases than combat phase, each Devil has only one army: the army in home (realm, or if the Devil has no home realm, one wandering army in unspecified place in Hell)

Splitting army: during combat movement, if the player wants to split her army, she may do so providing above limitations are not exceeded. If these armies later arrive to same location, they are automatically merged.

Army power: In normal case, each horde (or Devil) in army is worth 1 power while souls have no power. Thus, an army of 6 Souls and 2 fiends has power of 2. Some hordes and Devils have greater power than 1; this is noted in card. Note that higher power does not make unit any more tougher against damage.

Game flow

Starting the game

Deal one random Devil to each player. Give 5 corresponding Oath cards to each player, and shuffle the sixth card of each Devil together and deal one to each player, without revealing them.

Put 'High Palace of Hell' realm in the middle of the gaming table. Deal one random Realm to each player, as initial home realm for their Devil. Put rest of the realms away.

Deal 6 resource cards to each player. Give 'Starter' marker to random player. Start with the first turn, with card drawing.

Ending the game

The game ends when a new overlord (or overlords) are elected at the gathering phase. Then total victory points are calculated:

  • Each overlord gains one victory point for each own overlord Oath they posssess
  • Oath card of overlord (not own) are worth 3 victory points if there is only one overlord, 2 if 2 overlords and 1 if three (or more) overlords. These points are only given per each Oath card more the Devil has than the target has of that Devil's

Add any victory points collected to this total. The player with most victory points is winner, and if tied, tied victory. For example: Asmodeus is elected as new Overlord, and he has 3 of his own oath cards, 2 Baalzebub's and 1 of Belial. Total extra victory points are 3. Baalzebub has 1 Oath of Asmodeus (and list of other Oaths), which is worth 0 points as Asmodeus has more Oath cards of Baalzebub. Belial has 2 Oath cards of Asmodeus, they are worth of 3 victory points (the other is worth 0 as Asmodeus has one Oath card of Belial)

Example 2: Asmodeus and Mammon are together elected as new overlords. Asmodeus has 2 Oath cards of Mamon while Mammon has one of Asmodeus. Asmodeus gains 2 VP from that extra Oath.

Game Turn

Turn order

Every game turn consists of 6 different phases:

  1. Draw phase (no trading or effects)
  2. Trading phase
  3. Combat phase
  4. Ritual phase
  5. Soul phase (no trading or effects)
  6. Gathering phase

1. Draw Phase (no trading or effects)

On second and subsequent turn, move Starter marker one player clockwise.

Each player, regardless if their Devil's state, draws cards according to table below. Realm size is total number of resource and Oath cards the player has, plus number of tabled cards (hordes, artifacts, the devil itself and any home realm). Souls are not counted. Cards are drawn in clockwise order, starting from Starter.

Realm size 1-1112-1415-1718-2021+
Cards drawn to 154321

Devil's without home realm draw one card less (or to 14). Any other modifiers to number of cards drawn are then added (Mammon, for example).

Some effects happen during draw phase, and are handled after cards are drawn. No trading, playing special cards or using any effects is allowed while drawing takes place. Any Devils or fiends on Earth return to Hell.

2. Trading Phase

This is free-flow phase which ends when every player is ready. This is easily signaled by putting cards on table, although the player can then continue trading if some other player does something. Possible actions during this phase are:

3. Combat Phase

Each combat phase has several combat rounds, of which each has three segments:

  1. Movement segment
  2. Fight segment
  3. Capture segment

The phase lasts until nothing happens anymore - no one wants to move and there is no outgoing fight anymore. Following other things do happen when phase ends:

Movement segment

Movement segment is completely free-flow, as with trading phase. Any player can move one or more of her armies, but after moved, the move cannot be taken back. If no one wants to move army, then just skip this segment.

Following rules apply when player wants to move her armies:

  • Each army can move only once per combat round, and once it has moved, cannot move or split again (except with special card and retreat move, below)
  • Army cannot move if any other army in same location denies that. The only exception is that army can always return to home.
  • Army can be split to parts in certain conditions. See army rules
  • Army without leader (Devil or Fallen Angels) can only move to realm without armies to occupy it, or to attack realm wherein their master is kept as prisoner.

Retreat move: army that just moved from home to other location can return to home for free if any hostile army moves there. The army is still counted as moved one. This retreat move is not available for armies that did not start the same combat round in home.

Note that player can only move whole armies - she cannot move one horde from army to another without first bringing them together.

Fight segment

Whenever there are more than one army in same location and they want to bash each other, fight occurs. Each location which has combat can be handled separately; if there are any debate of the order, Starter chooses. During fight segment, trading and playing of special cards is not permitted. However, some special effects happen only (and only) during combat round. Fight segment is handled in following steps:

  1. Each army has one attack dice (d6) per 3 total power (or part), plus 1 dice. Thus, army with power 7 has 4 dice.
  2. Attack dice are divided among any targets as attacker chooses. This selection must be done before dice are rolled. After everyone in same fight has chosen, everybody rolls dice.
  3. Each roll 4+ is a hit, rest are misses. Add any defense points of the target army to the hit-number needed. Assign hits next to target army
  4. If army takes any hits, it may reroll as many attack dice as it takes hits, minus the number of hits it caused. All rerolls are made at the same time, and results do not entitle for more rolls. If there is more rerolls than needed, rest are lost - same dice cannot be rerolled twice.

For example, power 7 army is attacking power 5 army. The first army rolls 4 dice, while second rolls 3. Dice are 1,3,3,4 versus 4,4,5 for one hit by power 7 army and 3 hits by the other. However, the power 7 army can now reroll two dice (as it caused 2 hits less), and get 4,5. So the final result is 3 hits to both.

After all rolling is done, each army must take these hits. Each hit destroys one Soul, one horde or knocks Devil out. The army taking the hits decides which unit takes which hit.

Any extra hits caused by Realms or other cards are added to hits dealt before any assignment is done. Any post-hits caused by Juggernauts and Mammon, for example, are handled after normal hits. Loss of Souls (by Night critters or realm) is handled last.

Capturing devils

Whenever any Devil is knocked out, the winner of the combat can take all knocked out Devils as prisoners, gaining 1 VP for each. If several armies agree to stop fighting, they have to decide who gets the prisoners. If there is no army to capture knocked out Devils, they are out of game until end of combat phase, and cannot be target of any effects or attacks.

Any captured devils accompy the army that caught them. Prisoners can be moved between armies in same location if they so agree. If the army keeping any prisoners is destroyed, the destroyer gets any prisoners (if multiple choices, they have to choose or fight over it)

Realm defense

Most realms have fortress and possible other powers. These defense points and other powers are controlled by the controller of the realm, and if the realm is uncontrolled and unoccupied, no one gets the benefict of them. If powers affect only 'hostile' armies, the controller decides, which ones are classified as hostile.

Capture Segment

If a home realm is emptied of any defenders, any armies therein can loot it if they so agree (if they do not, combat continues). When looting is done, looters draw total of 4 cards from the player whose home realm it was - how the attackers divide this 4 cards is up to them. Any drawn resource cards are returned and no replacement is drawn. Whenever army loots any realm, the controlling player gets 1 victory point.

After that the realm is now uncontrolled and moved in the middle if the gaming board. If the looting is not done, the realm stays as home realm of the defender.

Any army in uncontrolled realm can now occupy it, providing there is no hostile army. The controller may then immediately announce that realm as her Devil's new home realm, and cards are moved accordingly. The old home realm is switched to middle of the table, but remains as occupied by the old controller.

4. Ritual Phase

Start from Starter and proceed player by player, clockwise. Any tabled rituals of that Devil are handled, providing the Devil is still in Hell and not imprisoned. Otherwise just discard them.

Normal limited trading is allowed during ritual phase, but not in the middle of handling any ritual. For example, you can trade about targets before handling Chain Catalysm, but not during it.

5. Soul Phase (no trading or effects)

Roll a d6 for each fiend or Devil on Earth, starting from Starter and proceeding clockwise, with any order chosen by the controlling player. The Devil can reroll the result, but must then accept the second result.

Any Souls gathered are added to Devil's home. If any Devil and its fiends gather total of 3 or more Souls this turn, immediately award 1 victory point to that Devil.

6. Gathering Phase

This is the phase to determine if any Devil is the new overlord. Possible new overlords are:

Each of these Devils are suitable if not enough Devils arrive to gathering to say that they are not fit to rule. There must be at least objecting the Devil, plus one more for the each thing:

Any Devil with 10 or more victory points is automatically elected as new overlord, in addition to all other possible overlords. Any Devil which is possible new overlord and is not objected enough is a new overlord and game ends.

Only Devils currently in Hell can arrive to object (or to proclaim) Devils - those who are on Earth or imprisoned are unable to attend.

As soon as Devil has objected some Devil, the decision cannot be taken back. Any Devil can object as many Devils as need to.

If no Devil (or Devils) are elected as new Overlord, the game continues to next turn. However, any Devil able to attend gathering can proclaim any Devil (or Devils) as new overlord. Voting of these Devils are made next turn.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] 23.02.2001