FMA is easy to play, once you know the rules. Rather than just re-read the rulebook, we break it down, nice and easy. Read on to learn how to play!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: If you don't want to read all of this, we suggest the Flash demo on FMA-TCG.com, available here! It takes you through one turn, and the types of surprises and reversals you can expect in a game of FMA-TCG!)
First, each card type. Leaders are your main force for good (or evil, or just plain 'awesome' - your call!) in the game. They have Command, Faction, Keywords, Level, Strength/Wits/Alchemy, and Abilities.
Allies have Cost, Faction, Keywords, Strength/Wits/Alchemy, and Abilities.
Attachments have Cost, Keyword, Strength/Wits/Alchemy boosts, and Abilities.
Events have Cost and Effects.
Finally, Locations have Victory points, Battle Types, a Goal, and Other Stuffs. (Yes, Stuffs. )
Got it? Neither did we, but keep reading. ^^
Okay, so you start with three decks - your Main Deck (which is 60 cards of things other than Locations or Leaders), a Leader Stack (which has one of each level of the same leader - like a Level 1 Al, a Level 2 Al, a Level 3 Al, and a Level 4 Al), and a Location Stack (which has at least 9 Locations).
First, you flip up your Level 1 Leader. Then, you look through your deck, and get out Allies whose cost total up to your level 1 Leader's Command. These Allies cannot have a different Faction than your leader (which means if you had a 6 Command Elric, you could pull out, say, a 4-cost Elric and a 2-cost Unaligned). Flip them up and put them into play.
Now, shuffle your Main and Location decks, and draw four cards from your Main deck. Once - and only once, right now, this is your only chance - you can put those on the bottom of the deck and draw four more.
Now, the game begins! (dun dun dun)
The Game Turn
First, draw two cards.
Then, either A- take the top card from your deck and put it under your leader (this is an 'Experience'), or B- if your leader aleady has MORE Experience than its current Level, take all of the Experience under it and put that Experience in the discard pile (face-up), and get the next highest leader out of your Leader deck, replacing the current one.
Then, the person with the lowest number of Victory Points flips a Location. If people are tied (like in the beginning of the game), then those people all flip, and the Active Player chooses which one (the ones not chosen go to the bottom of their owner's Location Decks). The Stuffs on the Location card now come into effect - maybe it says that a certain type of card costs more to play, or that certain characters are more powerful this turn.
ACTIVE PLAYER: The player with the highest total Wits on the board. Inthe case of a tie, the Leader with the highest total Wits. If there is still a tie, flip a coin, or fistfight, or something.
Okay. Now, the Recruit Phase. starting with the Active Player, you can recruit one Ally, or pass. Play it from your hand, to the board - if it is a different faction than your Leader, then it costs you one more. Go around until all players pass. You can only recruit a total cost equal to or less than your Command each turn - so if you have an 8 Command, and recruit an out-of-faction 6 (which costs you 7), when it is your turn to recruit again, you only have 1 point yet.
Once everyone passes, you are on to the Main Phase. Starting with the Active Player, and going around until everyone passes in a row, you can:
- Play an Attachment: Take an attachment from your hand and put it on a character. You can only have one of each keyword on any one character - for an example, a character can only have one 'Weapon', one 'Item', one 'Armor'. 'Auto-Mail' is different - you can have two. If the Attachment you are playing on a character is a higher number than the Cost of the character, you have to discard one card for each point of difference - 'Equivalent Exchange' (or 'EE'). Note: Only in the Recruit phase do you 'use up' your points - you can use your 'Cost' and 'Attributes' as much as you want. For example, you can attach six 5-cost Attachments to a 5-cost Ally, one after another, without EE'ing.
- Play a Main Event: Play an Event card from your hand whose effect says something like 'Main Alchemy 5' or 'Main Strength 4'. Pick a character to play it, put the card in your discard pile, and do what it says. If the card mentions an attribute cost higher than the character has, you EE. (Say the character has Strength 3, and the Event says "Main Strength 5", you need to discard two cards).
- Play a Main Ability: Look at the Abilities on your cards. If one of them says 'Main', you can do it during this phase, paying whatever EE you need to. (Note - things that change abilities last until the end of the Main Phase - NOT the whole turn, unless it says so.)
Now, the Main Phase is over. On to the Search Phase!
The LEAST Active Player decides who of their Leader and Allies they are sending into the Search Phase. They can only choose un-set (turned sideways) people. Then everyone else does the same.
Now, the Active Player (but ONLY count the Wits of the people in the Search Phase - if it goes to a tie, and your Leader isn't there, your 'Leader Wits' counts as zero) takes the first Search Action, and around we go. As a Search Action, you can:
- Pass. How exciting.
- Play a Search Event: Same as above, but with the word 'Search' in the title. You can only play events from people in the Search Party, and can only target people in the Search Party, unless the card moves someone into the Search Party, or specifically says it can be played from / targets someone at 'home'.
- Play a Search Ability: Again, same as above, but remember that you can only use abilities from/to those in those in the Search Party, unless the Ability says otherwise.
- Attack: This is the meat of the game. Here's how attacking goes:
- 1. 'Set' turn sideways as many characters as you want (usually one).
- 2. Pick one of their characters. (The opponent can 'Block' at this time if they have the ability. This is in 'Crazy Stuff', at the bottom of this page)
- 3. Pick a Battle type listed on the Location (usually just one is available).
- 4. A Battle Phase begins.
In a Battle Phase:
- starting with the person who started the attack, you go back and forth doing Battle Actions and abilities. These actions do not necessarily have to come from the people in the battle. Go back and forth until both people pass.
- now, count up the attribute being used for the battle on each side. The side with the higher count 'wins'.
- Each side defeats (flips over) characters on the opposite side that total up to or equal to the count on their side ('Toughness' comes into play here - see 'Crazy Stuff', below). For example - a Strength 3 Ally and a Strength 4 Ally attack a Strength 6 Ally, and everyone passes in the Battle Phases. The 3+4 player defeats the 6 ally, and the 6 player can defeat either the 3 or the 4 - but not both.
Once both sides pass in the Search Phase, you check to see who won the Location. Look at the 'Goal' of the location - it will say something like 'Strength+4'. Count up the attribute listed on each side - in this case, if one side has 4 or more Strength than the other side, they win the location, and put it in a Victory Pile on your side. If neither side has enough to win, the Location goes to the bottom of its owner's location deck.
Now, the end of the turn. Everyone pulls back all their characters to their 'home', and flips one of them back over - a 'free heal'. We strongly suggest that if your Leader is defeated, you heal him or her - if you lose your Leader somehow, you lose the game. Everything else goes to the discard pile, unless you can recover them with a card from your hand. To recover a character, discard a card from your hand with the same main name. For example, if your Edward Elric, Researcher is defeated, you can discard Edward Elric, Self-Righteous to flip him back over. NOTE: If at any time, allyour people are defeated, you lose. Watch out.
Repeat until someone wins. That's it! Look below for a link to an example game you can click through, and for 'Crazy' rules that might come up.
Block- Set this Character: Attacking group now attacks this character.
Toughness X- This character costs X more to be defeated at the end of a battle. (If a Strength-3 character has Toughness 2, it will cost 5 damage points in a Strength battle to defeat it.)
Loyal X- This character cannot be brought into play unless you already have at least X characters in play that share a faction with this character.
XP Spending- Some abilities have a black circle with a '1' in it next to the cost. This means that you must discard one random experience card to play this event or ability.