Expanse Rules


Realm of Magic:


The Pestilence 

An insect like hive mind that is extremely aggressive and focuses on hurting their opponent over making any progress themselves. Has elements of disease and undeath. 

Unique Mechanic: Plague Counters

The Stampede

A group of rampaging giant monsters led by powerful forces of nature that focus on big stats and powerful locations. 

Unique Mechanic: Overgrown
The Cult

A mysterious cult that worships dead gods and wins the game not through destroying the opponent but by completing powerful rituals. 

Unique Mechanic: Captive 

Council of the Arcane

A group of mages of epic power who slowly advance to greater strength through the game as they research and gain lore.

Unique Mechanic: Lore

The Great Cities

The great traders and prophets of the world the great people assemble armys, raise divine champions, and provide versatile benefits. 

Unique Mechanic: Faith

The Keepers

The secret underground race of the dwarves have developed some of the highest technology, using mass amounts of Aether to summon and construct some of the biggest creatures the world has ever seen. Strong defensive tactics and difficult to raid bases. 

Unique Mechanic: Artifacts


Creatures – 

Creatures are the bread and butter of expanse being the combatants of Expanse. They have stats in the bottom right hand corner representing the amount of health they have and the amount of damage they deal when attacking. 

  • General fair stats are one Aether 1/1 worth of stats

  • Creatures normally take up one out of four spots in a location

  • Creatures can take with them well moving one treasure, and any combination of 4 lore/Aether

  • Creatures can move one space or make one attack. They cannot move and then attack. 

Locations –

  • Can be played in any open location grid spot.

  • If destroyed they are permanently removed from the game and all creatures inside of them must retreat to adjacent locations. If there are none or there is not enough space then the creatures are destroyed. 

  • Locations hold resources. Each location can hold up to 4 creatures, 3 treasures, 5 Resources, and 10 lore.

  • The stats in the bottom right hand corner of a location are its militia rating and health (not all locations have a militia rating). Locations do not regain health at the end of a turn and take damage when attacked by creatures equal to the creature's power. The militia rating is like power for a city. Each city deals damage to its attacker equal to its militia rating them removes that amount from its militia rating until the start of the next round

Capitals – 

  • Capitals can hold half as much lore as normal and only 1 treasure.

  • Capitals cannot be played or added to a deck but rather each player chooses one to start the game with

  • If your capital is destroyed you lose the game

  • Every capital has a base militia rating of 10

Spells – 

Sudden –

  • Like normal events but can be played during combat and during the turn of the other player


  • Spells are one time effects that cause one time affects.

  • They are immediately discarded after playing unless otherwise noted

Ongoing Events – 

  • Ongoing events are played onto the battlefield and are not removed ever in the game unless a specific condition is met (like Fade X) or ended through a different card

  • Their text is applied to all situations where it is applicable as though it was a constant until end of turn affect  

  • Some ongoing events are applied directly to a specific player, region, or creature and in that situation only applies to their target. 


  • Treasures must be played in locations and can be stolen and moved around

  • Treasures can be carried 1 at a time by a unit moving, or 2 at a time by a giant unit moving.

  • Treasures can be brought with attackers as they move into the encampment zone.

  • Treasures provide bonus affects to either the overall game or specific location or encampment they are currently located in. 


  • Played like ongoing events

  • Have an objective, once completed they offer a reward in some form. 

  • For The Cult they are replaced by rituals. Except for major rituals they are functionally the same as quests.. 


Rarities/Creature Types/ Legendary Cards:

  • A deck cannot contain two of a legendary card with the same name

  • Some creatures have creature types, others don't. Creature types can provide synergy/benefits

  •  Rarities go in the following order from least rare to rarest. Raritys have no effect on gameplay:

  • Common

  • Special

  • Rare

  • Epic

  • Mythic

The Battlefield: 

  • The Battlefield is a 2 by 4 grid of possible spots for locations.

  • Each spot is adjacent to every location that it is exactly one location away from, up, down, sideways, or diagonally

  • The encampment zone, combat zone, and afterlife are all different zones. 

  • The afterlife is where creatures, locations, and treasures go when destroyed and normally have no impact on gameplay unless specific card text says they do. Discarded cards do not go to the afterlife zone. 

  • Cards that were destroyed/removed from the deck and do not qualify for the afterlife zone are removed from the game entirely to the eternity zone. 

Game Start:

Each player chooses a deck of 60 or more cards that are neutral or of their respective faction. Each deck may only contain 2 of each normal card and one of each legendary cards. Then flip a coin to decide who goes first and each draw a hand of 5 cards. Then each player chooses a capital from their respective faction and puts it onto the battlefield in any location in the back row. Then start of game affects trigger and the first player starts their turn. 

Ending a game:

  • A player loses if they have no cards in their deck or hand and no creatures or locations on the battlefield other than their capital. 

  • A player loses if their capital is destroyed

  • Players can win or lose based on other conditions printed on cards

Stages of a Turn:

Start of Turn: 

  • Start of turn affects trigger.

  • If it's your first turn and you are playing second your first location costs 4 less


  • Draw up to your knowledge level (base of 5)

Resource Collection:

  • Put 5 Aether in a location of your choice, if there is not enough space Aether must be set aside and placed at a location in the control 1 phase or it is lost forever. 

  • If it is your 5th turn or later instead collect one aether for every turn you have had. 

Control 1: 

  • Basically the main phase of Expanse.

  • This is when you can play cards that don't have special abilities that allow them to be played at abnormal times

  • Each creature can move up to two locations carrying up to one treasure and/or 4 lore/Aether. 

  • You can activate abilities of your cards that can be used during this phase 

  • You can attack a location. To do this order one of your creatures to move into the encampment zone of an enemy location. The encampment zone has a max of 8 slots and whoever is in the zone is who is participating in the fight. Note that once launching an attack the battle does not happen until after the end of the entire Control 1 phase meaning that creatures from multiple different locations can converge on a single one but only up to a max of 8. An encampment zone can hold a max of 2 treasures within it. 


  • See the combat description after stages of a turn

Control 2: 

  • Same as control 1 except creatures can't attack

End of Turn:

  • End of turn affects trigger

  • You discard down to your knowledge level


  • Each location that exists and is being attacked is now declared a battle zone

  • The person whose turn it is decides the order in which the battles take place 

  • Ranged units always attack after all melee units attack in a second combat round

  • The attackers have a max treasure pool of one for every creature that is attacking in combat, they cannot enter or leave with more treasures then that amount. If a creature is Giant they can hold two. 

  • Creatures may also bring up to 4 Aether/Lore with them.

Setting up a battle:

  • A two by four grid is created resembling the normal location field is created

  • The attackers may place all of their creatures however they want on the battlefield after which the defenders do the same

  • Starting with the attackers and alternating to defenders each player chooses an action to take. This repeats until one side wins or retreats. 

  • Sudden spells do not take up a combat turn to cast

  • If combat lasts more than 10 rounds each then it ends and is treated as though it was an Attacker retreat. 

Possible Attacker Actions:

  • Use a treasures ability or creatures ability that takes an in combat turn to activate

  • Attack. Each of your creatures starting from the left and moving right may make an attack against one creature right in front of them or at a diagonal to them. Each creature deals damage equal to its power to the other. Creatures with a clear line (no creatures in the two spaces in front of them) may attack the location, taking damage equal to the defenders militia rating and dealing damage equal to their power. Any ranged creatures controlled by the attacker have their attack round delayed until after their opponents take their turn. 

  • Move: All creatures may move in the same way they could out of combat

  • Steal: One creature that has a clear path to the location may attempt to steal something located there. The militia rating for the city must have been reduced to 0 this round or the creature must have special abilities which allow them to steal otherwise. This can only be done if there is space within the attackers to steal

  • Retreat: 

End the attack, all creatures go back to the location they attacked from if that location still exists, otherwise they go to an adjacent location.

When attackers retreat defenders get one more turn before they retreat. 

If there are not enough creatures to carry back all the resources/treasures gathered/brought then they must leave the excess at the city. 

Possible Defender Actions:

  • Use an activated ability 

  • Move: All creatures may move in the same way they could out of combat

  • Attack: Each of your creatures starting from the left and moving right may make an attack against one creature right in front of them or at a diagonal to them. Each creature deals damage equal to its power to the other.

  • Retreat: After attackers have had at least 2 rounds of combat the defender may call a retreat. All active units may move to adjacent locations and bring with them 2 resources and or one treasure. Once this action is chosen the attackers get one additional action before retreat is final. 

  • Hide: Any number of creatures leave the battle zone but are destroyed if the city is destroyed and cannot re-enter the battle unless this action is taken again.

Attacker Victory:

  • Achieved upon defender retreat or destroying the location

  • The location is destroyed

  • Remaining creatures must retreat to adjacent locations

  • The attacker gets all resources/treasures of the location. They are taken back to the locations like they would be in a retreat.
    – Anything that cannot be taken back is destroyed or put into an adjacent location

  • Alternatively the winning attackers may establish a foothold in enemy grounds. They forfeit all winnings from the battle if they do this. If this option is chosen no location can be played in the spot where the location was defeated and all attacking creatures adjacent to the foothold may attack as though they were located at the foothold. This foothold however can be contested by enemy creatures moving into them. If that happens and you decide to attack a location through the foothold you must first have a combat with the enemy troops that lasts until they are all killed or one person retreats. If you are victorious then you may continue with your attack or not. Footholds disappear at the end of your next turn so there is only one turn to capitalize on the advantage. 

Defender Victory: 

  • Conditions, all attackers are destroyed

– All resources/ treasures that were stolen or brought with the attackers are put into the city, if there is not enough space they may be put in adjacent location or destroyed. 

Extra Rules/Clarification (More to be added): 

  • Creatures cannot move through locations they could not occupy 

  • Diagonal moves count as one move 

  • To clarify most of the mechanics in the game work mainly for an online card game due to the high numbers that have to be tracked

  • Running out of cards is NOT an instant loss

  • All creatures cannot move or attack the turn they were played unless otherwise noted 



Nothing here yet but as i develop example cards/more info I will post them in this section

KEYWORDS(Just some mechanic ideas not all of them):

Fade X (All) – This ongoing event gets a time counter at the start of your turn. Then if it has fade counters equal to or higher than X remove it from the game. 

Value X (all) – This treasure can be destroyed at any time in your control phase to gain X aether. 

Volley X (all) – This location may deal x damage to any creature every time you take the attack action in a combat this location is defending. 

Thief X (All) – The enemy locations militia rating only needs to be below X in order to steal from it.

Overgrown(Beasts) – Certain locations are overgrown and others can become overgrown, beasts gain unique benifits in these locations

Tunnel(Swarm and Dwarves) – Links two locations together to allow instant movement 

Walking Fortress (all, mainly Beasts)- As its out of combat action in a turn a creature with Walking Fortress can become a location in an adjacent location spot. Its health is equal to its normal health and it has no militia value but rather deals damage equal to its attack whenever it is attacked. It can switch back and attack with creatures still inside of it. Creatures that are inside of a walking fortress in creature form can only exit once it becomes a location again, if a walking fortress is destroyed in combat all of its creatures are placed however the player wants on the field. If a walking fortress is destroyed within a location creatures are placed within the location and excess ones are destroyed (which one is destroyed is the choice of the controller). 

Giant (all) – A creature with giant takes up four spaces inside of a location, encampment zone, or any other size based location in the game (besides combat) and can carry twice as much as normal creatures.

Major Ritual (The Cult)-  Major rituals are created by some of the The Cult’s capitals and cannot be played or added to decks

Lore (All, mainly Mages Guild) – Lore is made to track research into the arcane arts and is stored within cities and can be stolen. Certain cards require lore to play and others provide bonuses if you have lore/allow you to spend it. 

Arcane X (All, mainly Mages guild) – Apply the effect after Arcane if the player has lore in total equal to or greater than X. 

Ambush (all) –  Can be played directly into combat

Ravager (all, The Swarm mainly)-  Excess damage dealt to creatures is dealt to the location

Ranged (all)- Can attack from the back row and does not receive retaliation damage but does not retaliate to melee attacks. Attacks after melee units. 

Siege engine (all)- This creature deals double damage to locations

Artifact (all)- Artifacts are exceptionally powerful treasures and can be used for specific effects, sacrificed for benefits to certain cards, and sometimes have special requirements to be played. 

Faith (the Great City)- WIP mechanic i would love ideas on this one

Tiny (All) – Cannot carry treasures, does not take up space in a location or an encampment zone

Enchanted (all) – Cannot be targeted by spells or abilities 

Flying (all) – Can attack directly to the city or back row in combat, attack cities out of combat in the back row directly, and move over cities that are occupied to the max. 

Sanctuary X (all) – At the start of your turn all creatures in this location are healed by X

Protective X (all) – Defending creatures in this territory get +x/+x

Captive (The Cult) – Taking an enemy creature captive does not actually kill them but rather turn them into a docile captive for use in rituals. Each location can hold 4 and capitals can hold up to 10. Creatures can carry up to two captives at once but are reduced to one movement well holding more than one. They provide no affect other than to be used for other cards or rituals. 

Diplomat (all) – This creature may move into enemy locations without starting combat and may not be attacked. However if they are in a friendly location or enemy location when a battle starts they must participate.

Difficult Terrain (all) – Your opponents cannot attack adjacent non difficult terrain locations

Hidden (all) – 

On a location: 

All creatures within that location are face down and may move to other hidden locations face down. The same is true for treasure and the movement of resources in between two hidden locations.

On a creature:

Movement is a secret to your opponent (made for a online game but on paper could be secretly tracked) Cannot overreach the max of four units in a city and must inform your opponent of all movements of treasure/resources as those are not secret. In addition hidden creatures set up after defenders when attacking and hidden creatures on the defends set up after hidden creatures on the offense. 

Vault (all) – Nothing can be stolen from this location

Huge (all) – This location can hold twice as many resources, twice as many treasures, and twice as many creatures 

Fast (all) – This creature can move 3 spots inside or outside of combat instead of 2.

Walls(all) – Creatures in this city cannot be attacked and cannot attack unless they are ranged. However the city can always be attacked even if there are creatures blocking the path. 

Pray X(all but mainly the great city) – Gain one faith at the start of your turn

Rush (all)- can move on the turn it was played

Moat (all)-This location can only be attacked by creatures from the location directly in front of it

Plague Counters (The Swarm) – The swarm adds plague counters to creatures and locations. Certain cards have synergy with Plauge Counters. 

Resilience X – Takes X less damage 

Regeneration X – Restores X health at the start of your turn

Leadership X – Other allied creatures in the same location have plus X plus X


Notes(for reddit post): 

I cannot take complete credit for this game as a large portion of it was designed by one of my friends who actually laid the groundwork for what most of this game is based off. When I looked at the card games that exist today they seem to be focused on one thing, face damage. This idea that you can aggressively attack and destroy your opponent. However due to the fact that in Expanse locations are generally much stronger than creatures for their cost but can't attack it encourages defensive and disruptive gameplay, with small creature decks instead focusing on disrupting the opponents as no resource is truly safe. In the end though the game certainly has some flaws and im questioning many of the balance decisions. For example having cards not be an issue (up to 5 every turn) and Aether starting at 5 seem like they could lead to some serious balance issues. This however is done to make small creatures viable even in a more defensive game as they waste they provide by using up more cards is simply replaced. That all done and said I would absolutely love any feedback you can provide to help make this game better or anything that you see that you think I should make sure I continue. 

Thank You!


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