Dragon Quest Card Game - How to Play


The Dragon Quest card game is a card game for two players. Each player must have a deck of exactly 50 cards. You will also need counters for gold pieces, and a few extra tokens for things like poison.

During the game, you play character and monster cards (collectivley referred to as Party Cards) and they battle the party cards of your opponent. As your party takes damage, cards from your deck are placed face-down under your party cards. When a party card is defeated, that card and all cards on/under that card are discarded and the player defeating the card gains experience. Party cards can have items equipped to increase their strength and give them extra abilities, and there are Quest cards which add more interesting gameplay elements like allowing you to draw extra cards, or recover cards from your discard pile.

The moment a player's deck has no cards remaining, that player loses.

Card Types

Monster and Character Cards

Character cards and monster cards are the same for most gameplay purposes. Monster cards come in 4 colors (green, purple, blue, or black). All character cards are white. The color impacts some special abilities. For example, an ability may say 'Deal 1 damage to all non-green opponent party cards,' or 'poison one character (or white) party card.' Each of these cards has the following items printed on the card:

Name: The name of the character or monster.

Attack: Damage done when attacking or counter-attacking.

GP Cost: The cost, in gold, to play the card, heal the card, cure the card, or ready the card.

HP: The hit points of the character or monster, or the amount of damage the card can take before it is defeated.

Level: The level of the card.

Speed: When battling, the card's speed can influence the battle's outcome.

Fast (???) Average (???) Slow (???)

Type: This represents the class of the character card (A-F) or monster card (always M). The letter indicates which type of Items may be equiped on this card.

Ability Name and Text: Most cards have a special ability which is described here. Sometimes, the ability will have a name.

Hand Cost / Closing Cost: The cost to use the card's special ability. Hand cost is paid by discarding a number of cards from your hand equal to the number of icons present. If the card has a (C), it means the card is closed (rotated 90 degrees) when the ability is used.

Ability Phase: The gameplay phase where the card's special ability can be used:

Automatic (??) Preparation (??) Start (??) Action (??) Determine (??) End (??)

Serial Number: The number of the card, for collecting purposes.

Rarity: The rarity of the card, measured in stars. In common CCG terms, 1 ? is a common, 2 or more ?s are rare (1 rare card per booster pack).

Item Cards

Item cards attach to party cards of the same type (A-F, M). They generally cost gold to play, and give the card they are attached to additional attack, defense, or some special ability. If the item gives special abilities, the Hand Cost must be paid if the special ability is used. If the item has a closing cost, the item and the party card it is attached to are closed once the ability is used. If the party card the item is attached to is defeated/discarded, the associated item is also discarded.

Quest Cards

These cards introduce other gameplay elements, like providing bonuses for a turn, allowing you to retrieve cards from draw/discard decks, make additional attacks, etc, etc, etc. Most quest cards have a Hand Cost, which must be paid in order to play the quest.

Play Area

The play area consists of 7 different areas for each of the two players.

Party cards are played into the front or rear lines. Each line may have a maximum of 3 party cards. The rear line may not have more cards than the front line. For example, if there are 2 cards in each line, and a front line card is defeated leaving 1 in the front, 2 in the rear, then a rear line card must be moved to the front line.

Party cards in play are ready (right side up), or closed (turned on their side).

The discard pile contains trashed cards placed face up. The draw pile consists of the player's remaining used deck and is face down.

Defeated party cards are placed in the experience pile and keep track of the opponent's experience. Each defeated card is worth experience equal to the level of the card. A level is gained for every 5 experience points.

The gold pile contains the player's current gold. At the start of each turn, the player gains gold equal to their current level +1.

The cards in a player's hand are hidden from the opponent. These cards are available to be placed into play or to be discarded to activate abilities or quests.

Levels and Gold

Players start at level 1, and earn experience when defeating opponent party cards. When an opponent party card is defeated, the defeated card goes into the opponent's Experience Pile. It is worth XP (to the defeating player, not the card owner) equal to the card's level. Every 5 XP causes the player to level up, with a max level of 5. At the start of each turn, the active player gets gold equal to their level +1.


Each player must have a 50 card deck. A deck can have a maxumim of 4 of any given card. Both players start by drawing 6 cards, and if they do not like their starting hand, they can draw 6 more, and re-shuffle the original 6 into their deck. This can only be done once. Flip a coin to determine which player will go first.

Each turn has an active player, however, both players can take various actions on any given turn whether they are the active player or not. The phases on each turn consist of:

Once all battles are finished, the other player becomes the active player and a new turn begins.

As soon as any player's draw pile is exhausted, the game immediately ends, and that player loses.

Reset Phase

The active player (and only the active player) readies (un-closes) all party cards of their level or less. For example, if you are level 2, and have party cards of levels 1, 2, and 4 in play, the level 1 and 2 party cards are readied.

Income Phase

The active player collects their gold for the turn. Gold earned is equal to the player's level + 1.

Draw Phase

The active player draws to fill their hand to 6 cards, or less if they do not want to draw that many. If they have 6 (or more) cards at the start of the turn, they draw 1 additional card. There is no hand size limit. Preparation Phase (??)

The active and non-active players alternate taking actions in the preparation phase. The following 8 actions may be taken in any order during a turn. Once both players are finished, the turn continues to the Battle Phase.

Call a Friend

Play party cards from the hand. The first party card for each player is free to play each turn. To play a second party card, the player must pay gold equal to the card's cost. To play a third (4th, 5th, or 6th) party card, the player must pay gold equal to the card's level.

If a party card has a level greater than that of the player playing the card, the card comes into play closed.

Both the Active and the Other Player may each play 1 party card for free during the Preparation Phase.

Heal - Pay a party card's GP Cost to remove all damage from the card. Damage removed goes to the bottom of the draw pile, not the discard pile.

Cure - Pay a party card's GP Cost to cure poison and/or confusion from a card.

Ready - Pay a card's cost to ready a card. This would normally be done if a card of a higher level than the player's level is closed, and you want to activate it. For the active player, cards of level less than or equal to the player's level are activated for free at the start of the turn. However, the non-active player may pay a card's cost to ready a card on the active player's turn if they wish.

Equip - Pay a party card's GP Cost to cure poison or confusion from a card.

Line-up - Change cards between front and rear lines. At no point can there be more cards in the rear line than the front line.

Quest - Pay the hand cost and play a quest card from your hand.

Special Ability - Pay the hand cost and/or closing cost to use a card's ability, if the ability can be used in the Preparation phase (??).


Battle is divided into 4 sub-phases:

Start (??) Action (??) Determine (??) End (??)

There is one start phase in which both players may use card abilities if they can be used in the start phase. After the start phase, a sequence of Action --> Determine --> End occurs for each active player's party card. Battle - Start Phase (??)

In the Start phase, each player has the opportunity to use one Start phase ability. During this phase, the active player may select one Start phase ability to use. If the active player does not want to use a Start phase ability, the active player can pass. Then the other player may select one Start phase ability or pass. If both players pass, the Start phase ends. If only one player has used a Start phase ability, apply the effects of that ability and then move on to the Action phase. If both players have used an ability, the ability on the party card with the faster speed takes effect first. If both party cards have the same speed, then the active player's ability takes effect first. If the ability is on an item card, the speed is determined from the party card that has the item equipped. After both player's ability effects has been applied, move on to the Action phase.

Battle - Action Phase (??)

Only the active player gets an action phase. Each of the active player's party cards may take 1 action, either a basic attack (front line cards only), or Action Phase special abilities (either front line or rear line).

Basic combat always closes the card. Abilities close the card if they have a closing cost (C).

For example, a rear line card may have a healing spell, or even at attack spell (frizz, for example), that does not require closing the card to use. This would leave them ready for the other player's turn.

For basic attack, the defending player may choose a ready front line card as the target of the attack. The chosen card may close in order to counter-attack, or may choose to not counter-attack and not close. If the defending player has no ready front line cards to choose, the attacking player chooses one of the closed cards as the target of the attack. In this case, the defending card cannot counter-attack.

In either case, the attacking card does its Attack value in damage to the defending card, and if the defending card is counter-attacking, the counter-attacking card does its Attack value in damage to the attacking card.

For special abilities, follow the directions on the card.

If there is no card available to defend an attack, the defending player discards the top 5 cards of their draw deck. This is only done once per turn (not once per attack). If this occurs on either player's first turn, the penalty is reduced to 1 card. Battle - Determine Phase (??)

This phase is where the damage is actually applied. Some cards have abilities which say they are used in the Determine phase. Those abilities can be used by either player now with the speed of the card determining the order in which special effects are applied.

Damage is taken by placing 1 card per damage from your draw deck, and placing it face down under the damaged card. If the amount of damage equals the HP of the party card, the party card and all attached damage cards are discarded. Excess damage is not taken. (if your card has 2 HP, and I would do 4 damage, you only take 2 cards from the deck for discarding).

In the event either or both cards would take enough damage that its HP would be reduced to 0, check both cards' speed ratings.

Fast (???) Average (???) Slow (???)

If both cards have the same speed rating, apply damage to both cards. If a quicker card does enough damage in an attack or counter-attack to defeat a slower card, the quicker card does not take damage.

Example: A slow card with 1 attack and 2 HP attacks, and has 1 damage on it already. The counter-attacking card is fast, with 1 attack and 1 HP. Damage from the fast counter-attacking card is done first, defeating the slow card before it does any damage! If instead, both cards were the same speed, both cards would be defeated since damage would be applied at the same time.

Some abilities or items modify attack or defense values. Item cards that increase attack only apply to normal attack damage and not to ability damage. Item cards that increase defense only apply to normal attack damage and not to ability damage. Abilities that increase or decrease defense apply to normal attack damage and ability damage.

Any defeated cards are placed in their owner's Experience Pile granting their opponent experience equal to the level of the card. The defeating player also earns gold equal to the defeated card's level. Battle - End Phase (??)

Both players make sure their rear line does not have more cards than their front line. If the rear line does have more, move cards to the front line until that is not the case.

Keywords and Effects

Flying: Some party cards have the keyword flying. Different cards have different effects if they can fly which usually provide them a bonus against cards without flying.

Advantage [White/Purple/Green/Blue/Black/Flying/etc]: The advantage keyword is used to indicate that the party card gets a bonus to its attack value when attacking cards of the specified color or other designation.

Poison: Place a marker of some kind on a card if it is poisoned. At the end of the party card owner's turn, that card takes 1 damage. If defeated, place it in the Experience Pile as if it was defeated in combat.

Confusion: When confused, rotate the card 180 degrees (closed is 90, so this means upside down). The confused card does not activate at the beginning of its owner's turn (it remains rotated, and is basically considered closed). If still confused at the end of its owner's turn, it 'attacks' one of its owner's party cards (owner's choice) dealing 1 damage (not the attack value of the card). If this defeats a card, your opponent gets the normal gold and experience from the card.

Healing: Unless otherwise noted in an ability, damage cards removed from the Heal action in the Preparation phase, or by healing abilities are placed on the bottom of your Draw Pile.