Ortus Regni - Thanes Variant
Additional struggle variant for 2+ players, best with 3-4 players
This world is not only made up of nobles and their ilk. The vast majority of the Anglo-Saxons lived in the common villages of the land, where most of the resources of the kingdom also resided. This is the often overlooked heart of Anglo-Saxon society, and you can take advantage of it by sending out strong and capable commoners to hold sway in the shires on your behalf.
Normal Ortus Regni victory conditions apply.
Thanes (colored cubes):
Each Earl starts the game with 10 of their colored cubes. These are their Thanes. Anglo-Saxon bully-boys who can control the villages of the Kingdom's shires.
Earls can send them out into the shires of the kingdom to further their efforts to rule the land.
Overview of Thanes gameplay
- Earls push out or pull back their Thanes as a free action during their turn.
- Earls can choose to Attack (target) the Thanes of another Earl that are out in the shires.
- At the start of your turn, if you have more Thanes out than any other Earl you control the shires and may use the special Thanes Action, if you wish.
- When using the Thanes Action you can pull any card that is left in your full Earl card set (your tray) into your Hand. This costs you your Action that turn.
Thanes usage rules:
All Earls start with 10 Thane cubes. Thanes can be killed in battle when targeted.
You cannot push Thanes out on your very first turn. This is similar, and related, to the rule that you also cannot Attack on your first turn.
During your turn you can push out or pull back Thanes as you wish. This does not cost you your Action; this works in a similar fashion to Towering, or placing Army cards in Garrison slots.
If at the very start of your turn you have more Thanes out than any other Earl you can choose to use the special Thanes Action.
Note that even if you are lucky enough to take advantage of this power you can still pull back all your Thanes, after using the Thanes action, before the end of your turn. They are not stuck out there, even if you take advantage of their control at the start of your turn.
There is no penalty if you lose all 10 of your Thanes. But you cannot create more Thanes either.
Thanes battle rule:
A new Attack type is available in this variant.
You can now target another Earl's Towers, or Raid one of their Fiefs, or Siege one of their Castles or Palaces... and now you can also declare an Attack on the Thanes of another Earl that are "out in the shires."
After declaring an attack on an Earl's Thanes, and fielding your attacking forces, the defending Earl can then field their own forces in defense.
But Thanes are not protected by your Towers.
A Thanes Attack is similar in practice to attacking an Earl's Towers. Each point that gets beyond the fielded defending forces will remove a Thane from play: 1 damage point removing 1 Thane cube.
An Earl can direct the Vikings to attack another Earl's Thanes!
Thanes special Action rule:
If at the start of your turn (i.e before you can use your free Action to push more Thanes out) you have more Thanes out than any other Earl then this special Action is available to you. Even if you only have a single Thane out, when no other Earl has any out, you win the struggle in the shires that turn and have this action available to you.
To utilize this power you must spend your single Action that turn.
You can go to your wooden card tray and select any single card you wish, and place it into your Hand.
Keep in mind that the cards that you built your 24 card Earl Deck with will not be available to you, as they will not be in your tray.
You can simply push Thane cubes out into the center of the table, when pushing them "into the shires." And you can store your pool of available Thanes in a pile to the right of our Earldom.
When Thanes are removed in battle, you can allow the attacker to keep those cubes as a trophy.
Tactically, your total number of available Thanes is important. So long as everyone has an equal number of cubes this serves as a potential veto, to any other Earl who pushes Thanes out. But having a single Thane less than other Earls means that you cannot block them by simply pushing all your Thanes out.
The Thanes variant is also interesting because Earls who are in a corner, whether facing Bequeathing problems, or desperately in need of an Allies card, have an avenue that allows them to solve this problem... if they can pull it off with their Thanes. Additionally the added target on the table that Thanes presents can be used to distract or misdirect strong Earls from your homelands.
In practice you will still have plenty of colored cubes left - the remaining 10 that are not Thanes - for use as Emissaries in the Viking Bag.
Free Mulligan rule
All Earls may reject their 5 card starting hand and reshuffle and redraw their hand once. This occurs just before play begins, in turn order, with each Earl taking a Mulligan, or not.
Fold and Play Mat
We originally made this type of printable mat for Knight-errant and King, Archbishop, and Duke - to provide game functionality - but for this variant it offers some thematic ambiance to the rules.
This is not at all required for gameplay, but for those who like the concept, each player would print out their own mini mat and place it in front of their Earldom tableau, and in front of any Towers.
This is a PDF file that you can print out and then fold corner to corner - the long way - and provides each player with a personal mini mat to place cubes along the top of.