Senshiai is a card game, with deck building strategy. It is a battle game. Each player builds his army by selecting the cards he will have in his deck. It is a strategy game. Each player moves his pieces over a board.

Each player needs to build his deck, just like in a collectible card game, but all players have access to all cards. It may be hard to build a deck unaided. You may download a Deck Builder Software that will help you study and choose your cards and will generate the printable file for you.

Senshiai is one of our earliest projects. It is been under development for a long time and has evolved a lot.

Learn the game

Basic Collection

The rules bellow were built to be played with armies using Senshiai Basic Collection. SENSHIAI 101

In Senshiai, each player takes control of a kingdom to wage war. They use cards to represent their troops, the land where they fight on and many events that can turn the tide on a battle.

The Deck

Each player must build a deck before the combat begins. They are free to decide ahead of time how many cards are to used, which is typically 50 and shouldn't go over 200. Each deck may possess as many cards of each Type (indeed, even the same name) as the player wishes, except that each deck must posses one Capital, no more, no less.

Setting the Game

Up to four players may battle at once. They must place together their boards, so that the distances between their Capitals are equal. Each player go through their deck to find his Capital and place it in the designated spot on his board.

The remaining cards must be placed in a pile facing down, and constitues your Reserve. As the game progresses, all discarded cards will be placed in a Discard Pile, facing up. In both piles, the order of the cards are relevant to the game. The players should decide the turn order, typically rolling dices.

The Player's Turn

One's turn is divided in two stages. The first is the Draw Stage, when the player may renew his hand. He may first discard any number of cards he possesses in hand, and then he may draw as many cards as needed to have up to 6 cards in hand (the card cap).

And then we come to the Main Stage, when he may play his cards and initiate battles. The effects in play expire between the Main Stage of a player and the Draw Stage of another.

A Game's Round

A round is just the collection of one turn of each player. It does not necessarily begins in the turn of the first player in the initiative order, but is counted from whatever moment inside one's turn to the last moment before his next draw Stage. It is hardly ever used for anything but the duration of some effects.

Winning a Game

The goal of the game is to leave your opponent with no cards in his Reserve. Though there are other ways to accomplish it, it is usually done by attacking his Capital and thus force his to waste cards (discard from the Reserve).

In a game with 3+ players, determining the winner is little trickier. When a player has emptied his Reserve, that last player who forced him to discard or waste a card is the winner. In other words, who beats the first opponent wins.

Playing a Card

To play a card, one must consider two factors: its Type and Cost. Each type impose a limitation on playing a card – troops must be recruited on a Terrain that has the Recruit ability, terrains must be played in an empty space near to one's realm, and events must be played upon their designated Targets. After these conditions are met, a player must then pay the card's Cost.

Paying the Cost

Every card has a Cost associated to it. To facilitated locating it, it is generally represented in roman numbers from 0 to 5 – the zero is represented by a 'N', which is short for 'nulla'. When you play a card, you must discard a number of cards equal to its cost.

CARD TYPES Cards come in three different Types: Events, Terrains and Troops.

A Terrain is a card on top of which Units may cross or station. It must contain the following information: name, Subtype, Cost, Paths, Limit and abilities. One can play a Terrain on any empty space on the board thet is near (in contact with) his Realm.

A Troop is a card meant to cross through the Terrains and wage war for you. It must contain the following information: name, Subtype, Cost, Paths, Speed, Power and abilities. A Troop may only be recruited (played) on a Terrain with the 'Recruit' ability, or on the same Terrain where a ally Unit with that ability is found.

Troops are a subset of Units, differentiated by the fact that they 'count for the Limit' of the Terrain they occupy, whereas other Units don't. Everything that affects Units, will then affect Troops.

An Event is a card meant to add dynamism to the game, and may represent, natural phenomena, social events, divine intervention and many other things. It alters the rules or characteristics for its Target, for a specified Duration (these are called, collectively, the Event's ???). It must conatins the following information: name, Subtype, Cost, Target, Duration and abilities. An Event may be cast (played) anywhere in the game, anytime – as long as it has a valid Target (beware that the 'contingency' ability might also limit when some Events may be cast).

Events are a subset of Effects, differentiated by the fact that they don't need a source (an Unit in-game that casts it for you). Everything that affects Effects, will then affect Events.


Although all cards have Subtypes, they are generally used as a flavour to the game, and are mostly used just to check if a card is an eeligible target to Effects. One Subtype, however, do have an immensely important role in the game and must be explained in detail.

As mentioned above, every player must have one only Capital in his deck (which means, one only card with the Capital Subtype), and victory is usually achieved by attacking and destroying the opponent's Capital. These card are exceptional in the game, and as such they abide to a few special rules:

- each player must begin the game with one Capital already in place and may never play another one (all Capitals in the Basic Collection have a Cost of nulla, and as such you don't have to worry about paying for them); and - a Capital is immune to any Effects his master whishes it to be (he can make it immune to the enemy's harmful Events, even if his own beneficial ones remain valid). All Capitals will also have three important abilities that every player should undestand. They all: - act as Units, being able to engage in combat even when undefended by Troops (keep in mind that they don't take up their own Limits, and can never raise their Speeds above 0); - possess the Recruit ability, so you can recruit Units on top of them; and - possess the Maintenance ability, which means it is not Destroyed if it takes more damage than its Resistance trait. Instead you are forced to waste one card per point exceeded. DEPLOYMENT AND MOVEMENT Limit

Troops take up space and consume resources, so that each terrain cannot hold an indeterminate number of them. In fact, each Terrain possess a Limit characteristic, that tells us how many troops can station on it (if it is not explicit, a Terrain's Limit is 1). The Limit only applies when the Troop actually park on the Terrain, and not when they are just passing by it, or battling over it.


Every Unit is bound to one or more paths that it can cross, be it Air, Earth, Water or a combination of these three. It can only cross a Terrain, or station on it, if they share at least one common Path. If it is at all important to know which Path the Troop is actually using (for example, if a hippogriff is walking or flying), just let his master choose whatever is more convenient.

The Paths are most important in two other situations. You can only recruit a Troop on a Terrain if they share a Path – no 'buts...'. Also, Paths may limit what kind of battle the Troops may engage in (be it a close or ranged combat).


Each Unit has a Speed attribute that tells us how many Terrains it can cross in a given turn. But mind two things, attacking in close combat requires 1 move from the Units (after all, they must occupy the target's Terrain), while ranged combat does not. Also, Units can move their full speed in the turn they are recruited (which is a rule Senshiai does not share whith many other card games).


An Unit is forced to flee from a space if it cannot bear him any longer. There is a small number of ways this can happen, such as if the Terrain under his feet is destroyed, or has his Limit reduced to less then the number of Troops over it. In such cases, the Units are allowed one last opportunity to survive.

Fleeing means the Unit will perform an additional movement that does not count to his Speed limit (and thus can be performed even if the Unit has already moved). He may move to any Terrain near him that is not occupied by enemy forces. This forced march takes its toll, however, and any Unit forced to flee twice in a turn is immediately destroyed.

The most common reason for a Unit to flee, however, is combat aftermath. If he failed to take an enemy's Terrain in close combat but survived the battle, he must flee back to the same Terrain he occupied beforehand.


Effects can turn the tide of a battle in a blink of an eye, and having a decent collection of them in your deck might prove indispensable. Casting Effects require you find a suitable Target, and pay its Cost. You can do it even in your opponents turn, and even interrupting an action. Once an Effect comes into play, you leave it on top of its target until its Duration expires, and then destroy it.

In one case, however, handling Effect require a little more explanation. When an Effect is cast upon a company (as its Target), it affects each Unit therein indivudually, but these Units are bound to disband eventually, with each moving to different Terrains. When this happens, the master of the Effect decides which Unit is carrying it. Units that move to be away from the the one carrying the Effect no longer benefits from it, and those that join him become subject to its Effect. Note that you don't have to remember who was carrying what Effect, everytime an Unit move away from company, you may decide if he carries or not an Effect.

Please understand that the master of an Effect is the same master of its Target, not the player who casted it. It means that if you cast a harmful Effect on an opponent's company, he may free them by having a less importatnt Unit just carry it away (although that's easier said than done).


This important rule helps us maintain a balanced game and avoid the exploitation of some cards. It tells us that any target can only benefit from bonuses to a specific trait given him from cards of different Types.

Since rules are often better illustrated than explained, imagine that a Troop that receives a +2 bouns to his Resistance givem by an Event cast over it. If its master casted another Event that gives a +1 resistance bonus, the toal bonus would not stack, only the greater one being computed. If he castas yet another event, this time giving him a +3 bonus, the total bonus by the end of our experiment would only be +3 – the greater bonus provided by an Event card.

In the above example, note that the master could still increase the bonus using a supplier of another Type, like a Troop that enhances the Resistance of allies or if the Terrain that boosts Units over it. He could even use Events to enhance other characteristics of that Unit, like the attack traits or its Speed (and just to be clear, the Power bonuses +1/0/1 and +1/2/0 would stack up to +1/2/1, with each trait being treated separately).

And in the case of penalties, the greater penalty counts, stacking up with the greater bonus. So if a Unit ends up with both a penalty and a bonus for the same characteristic, let's say a +2/1/1 and a -1/1/2 modifier it its Power, they would stack, leaving it with a +1/0/0 bonus and a -0/0/1 penalty, at the same time.


There are two basic forms of battle in Senshiai – close combat (also called melee), and ranged combat. They are very similar, and due to their importance they will be explained step-by-step.

Step 1: Approximation

To engage in combat you'll need to position your company so it can reach its targets. For a close combat, this means moving it unto your oponent's Terrain. For a ranged combat, you'll need your company on a Terrain next to your target's.

Step 2: Calculate your Attack Power

You must add the attack traits of all the Units in your company, pooling them into a damage count (if you are initiating a close combat, you must use the first trait in your Unit's Power traits, and if it's a ranged combat, use the second one). You then roll the die and add the result to the damage. The die represent the chaos of the battle, so you just roll one dice no matter how many Units are in your company.

Step 3: Distribute the Damage

You must then distribute this damage between all the target Units, in any way you see fit. Every Unit that got as many damage points as its Resistance (the third trait in its Power) will be destroyed by the end of the combat.

Step 4: Counterattack

It is then payback time. Your opponent will now pool together the attack trait of the targets and add a die roll to it. He'll distribute the resulting damage amongst your Units as he sees fit, much like you did to him.

Step 5: Bury the Corpses

Every Unit that got damage at least equal to their Resistance traits are now to be destroyed (placed on top of the Discard Pile).

Step 6: Claim the Potatoes

If you engaged in close combat, there is one additional aftermath to deal with. Since you moved unto your opponent's Terrain and you two cannot share it peacefully, four results can be achieved. If all Units in both companies die, good riddance – and no more thought should be spent on it. It is also true if your company was anihilated, but your enemy's survived.

The third possibility is if you survived and your enemy didn't. In this case, your Units will now station in the Terrain where the battle took place (they will only return to their original space if the Limit of the new Terrain does not support them – which would make them flee). The fourth possibility is if both companies have surviving members. In this case all the offensive Units would have to return to their original Terrain, fleeing.

Battling and Paths

The Path a card occupy is quite important in battle, because Units can only engage in close combat against opponents in the same Path where he is. This means a all-terrestrial company cannot take by force a Terrain occupied by an airborne defender using close combat (unless the defender has the ability to walk on land and chooses to do so).

Handling Paths in a close combat is done at the moment you distribute damage: you can only assign damage to an Unit if any of your Units share a Path with it. Note that all damage is pulled together, so you don't have to keep track of how many points of damage is 'terrestrial' or 'aerial' – if you got at least you guy in the Path, it's fair game.


Although caring about your realm economy is not a necessary part of gameplay (some strategies we've seen really don't care at all for economics), most times it is important to find a way to recycle your discarded cards. Since Senshiai is usually played with a small number of cards and the main goal is force your opponent to discard and waste, your chances of survival will increase dramatically by employing some economic strategy.

In Senshiai, we loosely use the word 'economics' to refer to the ability to recycle cards so you don't run short of them easily. This can be accomplisehd through many ways, using abilities such as production and pillage, and some terrains may be activated to help you in your economy. Other cautions, like not refueling your hand in the beginning of your turn more than necessary, and to avoid playing high cost cards if you cannot use them to their full power, might prove useful.

Experience will teach how to find a balance between an economic-oriented and a battle-oriented deck. Remember, however, that you might win the game without concern for economics, but you will almost certainly lose if your concern is only with the economical aspect of the game.


These are special rules that apply to a card or that it can make apply for others. It may be in a concise format, (some cards has the 'Recruit Ability', for exemple), or it can come in a long format (the card 'Open the Vaults', for example, has the ability description 'The target draws 2 cards.'). Although very common (and always present in Effects), not all Units or Terrains have Abilities. Check the Ability List for the meaning of concise abilities.
Card Function.
These are stub for rules of coming collections. A Unit is a fighting card, and in the Basic Collection they're almost always of Troop Type. Effects cause temporary alterations on rules or cards characteristics, and in the Basic Collection are always of Event Type.
A Unit carries an Effect when it leaves a Terrain, taking it with him. This allows a player to manage which Units are subject to each Effect.
The collection of all allied Units on a Terrain. When an effect (or whatever rule) affects a company, it affects every unit in it individually.
Destroy a Card.
To force the oponent to take one of his card and put it on top of the Discard Pile, facing up.
Discard a Card.
Take a card from your hand and put it on top of the Discard Pile, facing up.
Draw a Card.
The the card from the top of your Reserve to your hand.
A card function. It exceptionally alters the rules for a target for an amount of time equal to its duration. Events are a subset of Effects.
Or sometimes controller, is the player responsible for a card. The master of a Unit is the player who recruited it. The master of a Terrain is the player who played it (if it is empty), or the one controlling the company over it (the defending company, if combat in ongoing). The master of an Effect is the same as its target's master (if the target doesn't have any master, the player who casted the Effect is its master).
Senshiai uses the letter 'N', short for latin 'nulla', to represent a Cost of 0, since Cost uses roman numerals and those lack a digit for 0 . An 'n' is also used in some Unit's Powers to represent a trait that is worth zero, and cannot be improved (much like giving a crossbow to a falcon would not improve it's nonexisting ranged capabilities).
It is the fundamental trait for any Unit. It can be broken down into three different characteristics: Melee attack (for close combat), Ranged attack and Resistance, each sepparated by a '/'. The higher the numbers, the best the Unit handles that specific function on combat. Both attack traits can vary from 0 to 9, and may also be nulla (the difference between 0 and nulla being that a Power of 0 can be enhanced by Effects and other means, while a nulla cannot be modified). The Resistance varies typically from 1 to 9. If an Unit has his Resistance dropped to 0, it is destroyed.
Comprises of all the Terrains where a player has Units stationed, plus all the unoccupied Terrains he has played on the board. This concept is relevant because a player may only play Terrains on empty places near his Realm.
Take the card from the top of your Discard Pile and place it beneath your Reserve, facing down.
Sacrifice a Card.
Take a card that is active in the game, usually on the game board, and put it on top of the Discard Pile, facing up.
Tells us more specifically what a card represents. It is usually used just to check if a card is elligible as target to an Effect, but the Capital Subtype is enormously important even in the Basic Collection.
A card function. It is a fighting card, one that walks on Terrains, battles and must be recruited. Troops are a subset of Units.
Waste a Card.
Take the top card from your Reserve and put it on top of the Discard Pile, facing up.
BASIC COLLECTION'S ABILITY LIST Activate [number]: [effect]. A Terrain with the Activate needs the listed number of Units station over it simultaneously in order to produce the listed effect. A Terrain may only be activated once per turn. Acts as [function or Type]. Means the card, although retaining its original Type, behaves in some circumstances as a card of the listed Type or function (such as Unit or Troop). To illustrate this concept, let's take a look on the 'Native Barbarian' Troop. As an Event, it can be played anywhere on the board, but what it does is to simulate the presence of a Unit there (such Effects are called 'conjurations'). When you play it on a Terrain, you'll leave it there posing as an Unit, and when it is destroyed (either as a Unit or as an Event), it leaves the board. All Capitals 'act as Units', so you should check their explanation in this manual. Cards may 'act as a Unit', meaning they are not truly Troops, and won't count to the Terrain Limit. Annuls the Target. Means this card can be played alongside with its Target, forcing the opponent to discard it before it even comes into play, and can likewise be cast on a Target already in-game, destroying it instantly. Artillery: [power]. If an Unit with this ability engage in combat with an Unit with the Construction Subtype or against a company that is occupying a Terrain with the Construction Subtype, consider his Power as listed. Boarding. This Unit can engage in close combat with enemies in the Earth Path. Dive Attack: This Unit can engage in close combat with enemies in whatever Path, not only its own. Contingency: [condition]. Means the card may only be played if the listed condition is satisfied. Interrupt [event]. This card must be played just just before (or during) the event it intents to interrupt, but before its results are met (for example, you cannot interrupt a die roll after its result is known). The card will have an explanation of what happens instead of the event interrupted. Pillage. Every time a Unit with this ability survives a combat, his master restores a card, and his opponent wastes a card. Power Modifiers. Many cards offers power bonuses and penalties in the form of +(power) or -(power), and you just have to add this bonuses together. For example, a 'Warriors' card has a Power of 3/0/6, but after receiving a +1/1/1 from a 'War Veterans' and a -0/0/2 from 'Rotten Provisions', he should be treated as 4/1/5. Here the difference between a trait of 0 and a trait of nulla (N) becomes apparent, since a trait of nulla cannot be modified. With the same modifiers listed above, a 'Militiamen' card with a Power of 1/n/4 would become 2/n/3, not a 2/1/3. Check out also the Rule of Singularity. Production: [condition]. If a producer (a Unit that possesses the Production ability) can meet the listed condition, his master may restore a card. If no condition is listed, then consider it met. A Unit may only activate production once per turn. Tardy: [number]. When a player intends to move a Unit with this ability, he must roll a die an get a result equal or higher than the listed number. Take Away Attracts Attacks. When distributing the combat damage, all Units with this ability must be destroyed before other Units can be assigned damage. Bushido. A card with this ability is unusually powerful considering its cost. This is due to a code of conduct that also forces them to end their lifes if faced with a dishonourable defeat. If a Unit with the Bushido engage in a combat where he fails to destroy all opponents of equal or lower Cost, it must be sacrificed in the aftermath. Chaos [number]: [effect]. Anytime during the Main Stage of your turn you must roll a die, and check if it is equal or higher than the listed number. If it is, then the listed effect comes into play. Move Restriction: [path] [number]. This means an Unit coming in or out of this Terrain may not move more times than the listed number, even if it Speed would allow. If a path is listed, then it just apllies to that Path. Interrupts a Die Roll. Means this Effect must be cast instead of a die roll, so as to set an artificial result. The card must be played before the die roll and won't change a result already rolled. Advanced Collection ; and - the player may sacrifice his capital any time he wishes to forfeit a match (this is known as commiting seppuku and is considered an honorable defeat). If a player commits seppuku in a game with 3+ players, he is specially in a multiplayer match when the player's defeat would give the victory to an unworthy adversary). Company moves and castling Instead of moving only one Troops at a time, a player may, of course, move his whole company simultaneously. He may also perform a special move, nicknamed 'castling', to better deploy those units. This consists on moving two companies simultaneously so they swap Terrains. This is one of the two exceptional moments when more than one company may be moved at the same time (the other being 'flanking'). +1/0/1, +1/2/0, -1/1/1 and -2/0/0, his bonuses would be +1/2/1 and his penalties would be -2/1/1. These results would stack, resulting in a final bonus of +0/1/0 and a final penalty of -1/0/0, both in effect at the same time. Since rules are often better illustrated than explained, imagine a Troop with Resistance 3, that stations over a Terrain that improves it in +1. His masters than casts an Event on him that increases it further by +2, giving him a total Resistance of 6. If his masters wants to cast another Event that enhances his Resistance, even one with a different name, their bonuses wouldn't stack, only the greater one being computed. If the master casted yet another Event that gave him a +1 Resistance bonus, for example, it would still sum up to 6 only, and if he casted another one, this time with a +3 bonus, it would then sum up to 7.i Basic game set dice and board creating your deck How to play