Cardinger Rulebook

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Cardinger (“card harbinger”) is a customizable card game for two players adapted from Card Games vs Literary Characters at the End of the World. Cycling through their personalized deck of 20 unique cards, each player will try to build their hand, score points, and attack the other player's cards to obstruct their progress.

The 80 card set contains one copy of every card - everything a player needs to build a single deck. It is recommended, but not mandatory, that each player builds their deck from their own complete 80 card set.

You can play Card Games vs Literary Characters at the End of the World for free, or buy a physical set of Cardinger cards from the Game Crafter.


The first player to score 20 points wins the game.


Each player needs a deck of 20 unique cards. You may not have more than one copy of the same card in your deck. Players may either create decks at will before playing, or they can create decks randomly by any method.

A recommended random deck creation method for first time players is as follows. First, remove any cards with a cost of 8 from the collection of cards. Then, create two face-down piles of cards: the first with cards with 0 cost, and the second with cards of cost of 1 or more. Next, draw cards from the second pile of cards until the total cost of all cards you have drawn is 10 or more. These cards will be the start of your deck. Then, draw cards from the 0-cost pile until you have 20 cards in your deck.

If both players are making decks from the same 80-card set, then you may run out of 0-cost cards before fully forming the decks. In that case, complete the deck by adding cards from the remaining pile of cards.

Besides the decks, players will need some way to keep track of score and some way to track changes to the health and defense of cards in play. You can use pencil and paper, dice, coins, tokens, or anything else to do this.

The Cards

All cards in Cardinger have the same format.

Name: Sea Dragon; 4 HP; Cost: 4; ATK: 0; DEF: 1; DRAW: 2; SCORE: 1; Keyword: PROSPERITY(When this card scores, it scores an extra point for every five cards in your hand.); Flavor Text: sacred spirit of the deepest crevasse

The name of the card.

HP, or health points, represents the number of attacks a card can endure before it is destroyed. Each printed heart icon represents one HP.

The cost of a card represents how many cards you must discard from your hand to play the card. If you don't have enough cards to play the cost, you can't play the card.

ATK, or attack, represents the strength of a card's attack action. If a card has an ATK of 0, it cannot attack other cards.

DEF, or defense, represents a card's resistance to other cards' attacks. If a card's DEF is equal to or greater than another's ATK, it cannot be attacked by that card.

DRAW represents the number of cards drawn from the deck when this card takes a draw action. If it has a DRAW of 0, it cannot take a draw action.

SCORE represents the number of points earned when this card takes a score action. If it has a SCORE of 0, it cannot take a score action.

Cards may have up to three keywords printed on them with special rules for the card. There are currently 8 keywords in Cardinger: READY, DOUBLE, FRAGILE, OMNI, STEAL, DECAY, PROSPERITY, and DEVOUR.

Flavor Text
The italic flavor text printed on a card has no bearing on the game itself.

The Play Area

Cards should be arranged in front of each player as follows:

Cards are played in a line in the 'field.' The deck is next to the field, and the discard pile is next to the deck.

The field contains all cards that a player currently has in play. There can be at most 5 cards in each player's field.

Discard Pile
Cards that have been discarded are placed face-up in your discard pile.

Each player's deck is placed face-down next to their discard pile.

Game Play

Starting the Game

Each player places their deck in front of them. Choose a player to go first. Both players then draw 4 cards from their respective decks into their hands.

A turn is split into 4 phases: “turn start,” “playing and retiring cards,” “taking actions,” and “turn end.”

Phase 1: Turn Start

Score a Point if you Replenished your Deck

At the very start of your turn, if you replenished your deck at the end of your last turn, score one point.

Draw a Card

Next, unless you are taking the very first turn of the game, draw a card. The only times you don't draw a card from your deck at the start of your turn is when you are taking the very first turn of the game or when you already have 10 cards in your hand. You can never hold more than 10 cards. In other words, the player who goes first will start with four cards in their hand, but the player who goes second, at the start of their turn, will draw a fifth.

After you've drawn your card (if able), it's time to play any cards from your hand that you wish.

Phase 2: Playing and Retiring Cards

Count the Cards in your Hand

Count the number of cards in your hand. Divide that number by two, then round up. That number is the number of cards you can play during this turn. If you start your turn with 10 cards in your hand, you can play 5 cards from your hand to your field. If you start with 3, you can play 2. If you start with 1, you can play the 1.

Play Cards

If a card has a cost of 0, you can play it directly from your hand to the field. If it has a cost of 1 or more, then, when you play the card, you must discard a number of cards from your hand equal to the cost. If you don't have enough cards in your hand to pay the cost, you can't play the card. For example, if a card has a cost of 2 and you have at least 2 other cards in your hand, you play the card, and then send 2 cards from your hand to the discard pile. If you only have 1 other card your hand, you can't play a card with a cost of 2.

You can only have up to 5 cards in play in your field at a time. You cannot play a card if your field is full.

Retire Excess Cards

If you have 5 cards in play, you may choose to retire a card from your field, sending it to the discard pile. If you're still able to play cards from your hand, you may then continue to do so. If you have 5 cards in play again, you can choose to retire another card, and so on.

Once you are done playing and retiring cards, it is time for you to take actions, if possible.

Phase 3: Taking Actions

Declaring Actions

A card may make one of three possible actions: attack, draw, or score. Attacking allows you to damage and destroy your opponent's cards, drawing adds cards from your deck to your hand, and scoring adds points to your score, advancing your victory.

You cannot take an action with a card you played this turn. Otherwise, each of your cards may take one action per turn. You do not need to take an action with every eligible card. Once you declare an action, you may no longer play any cards from your hand or retire any cards from your field for the remainder of the turn (you cannot go back to the previous phase).

To indicate that a card has taken an action or is otherwise unable to act this turn, you may rotate the card sideways (or “tap” the card). If you do, return all cards to the upright position at the end of the turn (“untap” the card).

Cards that cannot take actions may be rotated horizontally.


When you take an attack action, compare the ATK value of your attacking card to the DEF of the target. If your card's ATK is greater than the target's DEF, the target takes one point of damage. They lose one of their HP, or hitpoints. If a card runs out of HP, it is destroyed and sent to the discard pile. The targeted card never loses more than one HP from a single attack, no matter how high the opponent's ATK value is.

A card cannot declare an attack if it cannot damage any of the opponent's cards.

Consider the following example. Let's say you decide to attack one of the opponent's cards with “The Chef.” “The Chef” has 1 ATK. The opponent's “Bumblebee” has 1 HP and 0 DEF. “The Chef” attacks and damages “Bumblebee,” so “Bumblebee” loses its only HP. Because its HP has gone to 0, it is destroyed and sent to the discard pile.

The opponent's “Big Bee” also has 0 DEF, meaning it is an eligible target, but it has 2 HP. When it is attacked, it loses 1 HP. It remains on the field with 1 HP, so it will be destroyed if it is attacked again.

The opponent's “Armor Bee,” however, has 1 DEF. Since its DEF equals “The Chef's” ATK, it cannot be attacked by “The Chef.”

The Chef destroys 'Bumblebee,' damages 'Big Bee,' and cannot attack 'Armor Bee.'


When you take the draw action, you immediately draw a number of cards from your deck to your hand equal to the card's DRAW value. If there are not enough cards in your deck to draw the full amount, draw as many cards as you are able. You can have no more than 10 cards in your hand at a time. You cannot take a draw action if your deck is empty or your hand is full. If your hand reaches 10 cards, do not draw any more cards.


When you take the score action, score the number of points indicated by the card's SCORE value. If you have 20 or more points, you immediately win the game.


Be sure to follow the instructions given by a card's keywords when you take actions! More information on keywords is given later.

Changes to HP and Defense

Whenever a card takes damage and loses an HP, place a token on it to signify the change. I personally keep loose coins on hand and place a penny on a card to show that it has taken damage. Buttons, dice, pieces of paper, or anything else is acceptable as long as you have some way of keeping track of damage.

If a card gains HP or loses defense because it has the DEVOUR or DECAY keywords, use different tokens to signify those changes in a similar manner.

When you are done taking actions, your turn ends.

Phase 4: Turn End

Draw an Extra Card when Nothing Happened

If you did nothing during your turn, meaning you did not play any cards or take any actions, draw another card from your deck, assuming your deck is not empty and your hand has less than 10 cards.

Passing Turns

In either case, the turn then passes to your opponent.

Replenish your Deck

If your deck has been depleted by the end of your turn, you must replenish it by recycling your discard pile. You may shuffle your discard pile into a new deck during your opponent's turn. You must finish shuffling your new deck before you start your next turn. Any cards that are destroyed by your opponent during their turn are placed in your discard pile, not your new deck.

(Note: this is presently the only difference in the rules between the digital and tabletop versions of the game – when playing the digital version, the deck is replenished and reshuffled at the start of your next turn instead of the end of the current turn. The rule is changed here to speed up play.)

Game End

As soon as a player has 20 points, they win, and the game immediately ends.


While basic explanations of each keyword are printed on the cards, here are full explanations and clarifications of their workings:


A card with the READY keyword can take an action on the turn it is played, as opposed to most cards which can't take actions until the following turn. If it also has the DOUBLE keyword (as is the case with “The Lion” and “Gun Imp”), then it can take two attack actions during the turn it is played.


A card with the DOUBLE keyword can attack twice per turn. It can attack two different targets or the same target, and it does not need to make both attacks at the same time. If a card with DOUBLE declares one attack, it cannot take a score or draw action, and if it takes a score or draw action, it cannot attack.

As noted above, cards with both DOUBLE and READY can make two attacks on the turn they are played. If a card has FRAGILE, DECAY, or DEVOUR, then the change to HP or DEF from those keywords happens both times the card attacks in a turn, so a card like “Demon Spawn” with DOUBLE and FRAGILE would lose 2 HP if it attacks twice. A card with STEAL (like “Pirate Twin”) that destroys two cards during the same turn scores a point for each destroyed card.


An attacking card with the OMNI keyword targets all of the opponent's eligible cards at once. All of the opponent's cards with DEF less than the attacker's ATK take damage, without exception. If all of the opponent's cards have DEF equal to or higher than the attacker's ATK, then the attack cannot be declared. No matter how many cards are damaged by an OMNI attack, it always counts as a single action.

If a card has both OMNI and STEAL (such as “Raids”), then the attacking player scores a point for each card destroyed by the OMNI attack.


Whenever a card with the STEAL keyword attacks and destroys another card, its owner scores a point. As mentioned previously, a card with STEAL and the DOUBLE or OMNI keywords that destroys multiple cards in the same turn scores a point for each destroyed card.


When a card with the PROSPERITY keyword takes a score action, it scores one extra point for every 5 cards in its owner's hand. If the owner has less than five cards, only the base SCORE value is scored. If they have 5 or more cards, they score an extra point, unless they have 10 cards, in which case they score 2 extra points.


When a card with DEVOUR takes any action, that card gains 1 HP. Cards with DEVOUR cannot have more than 4 HP total at any time. If a card cannot legally perform an action, it cannot gain any HP that turn. For example, if a card can normally only take the draw action, but the deck is empty, it cannot declare that action, and therefore does not gain HP.

A card with DEVOUR and DOUBLE (such as “Blood Lance”) recovers 1 HP each time it attacks.


When a card with FRAGILE takes any action, that card loses 1 HP. If a card loses its last (or only) HP this way, it is destroyed. Resolve any other effects from the card's action before destroying it. For example, if an “Elder Beetle” takes a score action but destroys itself by doing so, the score action is still completed.

As mentioned, a card with FRAGILE and DOUBLE loses 1 HP each time it attacks.


When a card with DECAY takes any action, that card loses 1 DEF. A card cannot have less than 0 DEF.

As mentioned, a card with DECAY and DOUBLE loses 1 DEF each time it attacks.

“Classic” Rules

The rules here have been modified from those in the original release of Card Games vs Literary Characters at the End of the World. For those looking for a more traditional experience, make any or all of the following rule changes:

“Classic” rules are generally not recommended.

Card List

The 80-card set contains all of the cards from Card Games vs Literary Characters at the End of the World's first four expansions. While cards from the Starter Deck and first Booster are fairly balanced relative to each other, cards from Booster 2 and 3 are generally stronger. You can try removing the later Booster sets from the card pool for a different experience!

The cards from the fifth expansion, Booster Set X, were deliberately designed to be unfair and are therefore not included in this printed set.

Starter Set

Name Cost HP ATK DEF DRAW SCORE Keyword Keyword Keyword
Bumblebee * 1 1
Pick Boy * 1 1
The Chef * 1 1
Surprise Attack * 1 READY
Big Bee 1 ** 1 1
Armor Bee 1 * 1 1 1
Hammer Burt * 2
Tall Kick Woman ** 1
Twin Snail * 1 DOUBLE
Miner Bee * 3
Combo Miner 1 * 4
Princess Bee * 2
The Empress 3 *** 2
Surprise Party 1 * 1 READY
Holy Ace 1 * 1 1 READY
Snowball * 2 READY FRAGILE
Robo Bee 3 * 2 2 1
HDMI Cable 2 ** 1 2
Idealogue 3 * 4 2 READY

Booster 1

Name Cost HP ATK DEF DRAW SCORE Keyword Keyword Keyword
Passion Explode * 1 1 OMNI FRAGILE
Bee Sacrifice * 3 FRAGILE
Caravant 1 ** 1 1
Rollord 1 * 2 1
Sir Mantis * 1 1
Duke Bee ** 1
Elder Beetle 1 ** 1 2 FRAGILE
Hatching * 1
Wolf Spider 1 * 2 READY
Honey Harvest * 3 READY FRAGILE
Shell Eater 1 * 2 2 1 DECAY
Hired Muscle 3 * 2 3 STEAL DECAY
Furry Thief 2 * 1 2 STEAL
Evening Tears 3 **** 4 2 FRAGILE
Beautiful Rogue 3 ** 2 1 STEAL
Armadillian 2 ** 1 2 1
Pigore 2 ** 1 2 1
MugDrake 2 ** 1 1 STEAL
Trash Gremlin 1 * 2 1
Fallen Dragon 4 ***** 3 2 1 FRAGILE DECAY

Booster 2

Name Cost HP ATK DEF DRAW SCORE Keyword Keyword Keyword
Scallywag * 2 STEAL
Pirate Twin 2 ** 1 DOUBLE STEAL
Raids 1 * 1 OMNI STEAL
Scuba Pirate 1 * 3 1 STEAL DECAY
Sk8r Pirate 1 * 2 READY STEAL
Melting God 3 **** 2 1 PROSPERITY DECAY
Sea Dragon 4 **** 1 2 1 PROSPERITY
Whale Golem 1 **** 2 FRAGILE
Octoperfection 1 *** 1 READY
Shark 1 *** 2
Dolphling ** 1
Fish Golem *** 1
Jellyfish ** 1 DOUBLE
Am Sans Porpoise ** 1
Bladefish ** 2
Squid Golem ** 1 1
Shield Friend 1 * 2 1 1 PROSPERITY DECAY

Booster 3

Name Cost HP ATK DEF DRAW SCORE Keyword Keyword Keyword
Earth Witch 1 * 1 1 1 PROSPERITY
Ritual 1 ** 1 1 PROSPERITY
The Lion 8 **** 4 1 READY DOUBLE STEAL
The Tin Man 8 * 2 4 2 READY STEAL
The Scare Crow 8 **** 1 2 PROSPERITY FRAGILE
The Wizard 8 ** 1 2 5 1 READY STEAL
The Black Gate * 2 4 FRAGILE
Vampire Princess 3 *** 2 1 PROSPERITY DEVOUR
Blood Knight 2 ** 2 1 DEVOUR STEAL DECAY
Blood Mage 1 * 1 1 DEVOUR OMNI
Blood Lance 3 * 2 1 1 DEVOUR DOUBLE DECAY
Bomb Imp * 1 READY OMNI
Demon Spawn ** 2 1 DOUBLE FRAGILE
Demon Whiptail 1 * 1 1 DOUBLE OMNI
Demon Rot * 1 2 DOUBLE DECAY
Demon Furnace * 1 2 OMNI DECAY
Reaper Dragon 4 **** 3 1 1 STEAL DECAY
Lil' Vamp ** 1 DEVOUR

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