This guidebook outlines how to play the 2-player version of culturecapital as played during our tournaments.
Note: It has been formatted for smartphones to be used while you play.
If you’re more of an audio-visual learner, check out our Video Tutorials.
2. LET’S PLAY
What is culturecapital?
culturecapital is a special place where the line between culture and capital has disappeared.
More specifically—culturecapital is a trading card game and live art performance that reflects upon how value is determined and shifted within performing arts industries.
The game is based on two sets of data:
municipal, provincial, and federal public funding data for performing arts companies across a specific province or region, and,
interviews with artists about their experiences working in the performing arts.
What do you need to play?
You will need need:
- your own deck of 70 culturecapital cards
- an Opponent who also has their own deck
- 1 die
- 1 pen or pencil + paper to keep track of your scores OR we recommend downloading this awesome app Carbon: iOS or Android.
In culturecapital, there are four basic card types: COMPANY, GRANT, PROJECT, and STRATEGY
At the core of the game, Players play these different cards in that order.
You play Companies, which allow you to roll for Grants, which allow you to play Projects—and then you play Strategies to shift the values of your Projects and those of your Opponent.
More valuable Projects are able to take points—which we call Communities—from your Opponent. And the Player with the most Communities at the end wins the game.
Companies are the foundations of the game. Without a Company, you really can't do much.
Each Company card has three pieces of important information on them:
Grant Power, or GP is represented by the number of colour die on the face of the card. This number tells you which die faces you must roll in order to receive a Grant for this Company. A Company with 6 coloured die faces receives Grants 100% of the time. A Company with only 2 coloured die faces receives Grants only 33% of the time.
Keywords are written in blue in the bottom left. These Keywords boost the value of specific Projects by the number in the yellow circle above them. (See below for more on Keywords.)
The Company's Project Limit is in the bottom centre. This number tells you how many Projects a Company can play before burning out and being sent to the Graveyard.
Keep an eye out for Partner Companies that change the GP of other Companies. These can be placed under any active Company or alone and have a Company played upon them later.
Grant cards form the bridge between Companies and their Projects. They are rolled for using the die and reside in the centre of the playing field, in the Government. Each Player must contribute 10 Grants to the Government at the start of the game.
Each Project has a different value. Use these cards to protect your Communities, steal your Opponent's Communities, and to overpower your Opponent’s Projects forcing them to go to the Graveyard. A Project with a higher value is likely to outlast those with a lower value, but they will require more Grants to develop.
Each Project has three stages: IN DEVELOPMENT, OPEN, and CLOSED. The value of a Project, represented by the number in the yellow circle, changes depending on what stage it is in.
Strategy cards are played at different times throughout your turn, depending on their colour and function. Don't let the variety of Strategies overwhelm you. Their different symbols will help you play more fluidly once you become familiar with them.
- Yellow Strategies come in two forms: + or -. These cards directly affect the value of Projects and are played during competitions between Projects. All cards marked with a - symbol are also able to be played as Trap Options. (For a detailed breakdown on how/when to use a Trap, see FAQ below.)
- Grey Strategies can only be played during the Strategic Planning. Some of these cards directly affect targeted Communities. Others introduce new possibilities and limitations into the game.
- Orange Strategies can be played at any time. To help you remember that, all of these cards are marked with the word 'Instant' at the bottom. These cards can dramatically change the flow of the game.
If you need a short hand, just remember that, Yellows all relate to the value of Projects, Greys only get placed during Strategic Planning. And Oranges can be played any time.
Keywords are written on both Company cards and Project cards. They allow specific Companies to increase the value of specific Projects. ANY Company can play ANY Project; however, some Companies can do some Projects better than others. By matching Companies and Projects via Keywords, you can turn even your least valuable Project into something of pretty awesome.
There are currently 18 different Keywords, including:
TRADITIONAL, MULTICULTURAL, SITE-SPECIFIC, ATHLETIC, NOSTAGIA, DIASPORA, TRAUMA, POLITICAL, TECH, ENVIRONMENTAL, MUSICAL, and more.
Before playing a match, decide on one of the two game formats:
Timed-Match: The Player with the most Communities at the end of a predetermined time wins!
All or Nothing: The Player who collects all their Opponent's Communities wins!
Where to begin
- Both players begin the game by contributing 10 Grants each to the pool of funding. Those 20 cards are to be placed in the middle of the playing field, called The Government.
- Shuffle your decks and place them face down on the right of the table, then draw your first hand of 7 cards.
- The Player who pays the highest taxes in real life always goes first. If neither Player pays any taxes, they must use the die to decide. The Player who rolls the highest number goes first.
How to set up your playing area
Your Turn: FOUR PHASES
One turn is defined as the movement through the four game phases for ONE Player:
- Concept Phase
- Application Phase
- Production Phase
- Strategic Planning
Your Turn: CONCEPT PHASE
During your Concept Phase, the Player discards any cards they don't want to keep in their hand. They then can pick up up to 7 new cards.
Note: On your first turn, you cannot discard unless you are using your Mulligan, also called Milligan, which allows you to return all your cards to the deck, shuffle, and draw 7 more. You can only use your Milligan if you don't have any Companies in your first hand.
At this point, the Player can then play any Companies they have in their hand to maximum of 5.
Your Turn: APPLICATION PHASE
Once the Player has at least 1 Company on the table, they can use their Application Phase to try to get Grants.
The Player can roll the die for each Company in play by declaring who they are going to roll for.
For example, "I'm going to roll for Hong Kong Exile. They need a 1... [rolls a 2] Damn... Now I'm going to roll for Company 605. They need a 1,2,3 or 4... [rolls a 3] Hooray!"
Your Turn: Production Phase
In order to keep the Grants you receive in your Application Phase, you must play a Project right away. If not, you must return your Grant to the Government.
If you have projects in play but they are not fully funded, leave your Projects in their IN DEVELOPMENT position and skip to Strategic Planning.
If your Project is fully funded, turn the card to its OPEN position and prepare for a Competition with your Opponent. (If your Project only requires 1 Grant then it should already be in its OPEN position.)
During a competition, you pit one of your Projects against one of your Opponents. The Project with the highest value at the end of the Competition wins and turns to its CLOSED position. The Project that loses the competition is sent to the Graveyard and its funding is returned to the Government (#taxation). If the Company that lost their Project has reached their Project Limit, they too must go to the Graveyard.
When you have all the Grants you need to realize a Project, you must choose which of your Opponent’s Projects to compete with.
After declaring your target, you lead the Compeition by playing the first Yellow Strategy card.
After that, your Opponent has the chance to respond by playing Yellow Strategy cards of their own. You and your Opponent now can take turns playing Strategy cards for as long as you want. However, once one of you decides to pass, the competiiton is done. In other words, you cannot play two Strategies in a row.
If you have multiple Companies in the OPEN position, you must compete with each of them, one at a time, each time declaring a new opposing Project. If your Project is OPEN and your Opponent has no Projects in play at all, declare that you are going for your Opponent's Communities directly.
As in the rest of the game, you may also play any Orange Strategy cards at anytime.
Your Turn: Strategic Planning
During Strategic Planning, a Player can perform two actions:
- You can place, face down, 1 card that is labeled as a Trap Option.
- You can play 1 Grey Strategy Card.
To help you remember what you can play during this phase, just remember to look for Grey symbols. If it's Grey, it can only be played during Strategic Planning.
Playing Orange Strategy cards does not count towards either of these options.
How do I get more Communities?
Great question. Wise Players will remember that in order to win the game you need to have the most Communities. You can take Communities from your Opponent through competitions between Projects—taking the difference between the value of their Project and the value of yours.
There are also specific Grey Strategies that inject and eject Communities from the game.
What happens during your Opponent’s turn?
Your Opponent will play through the same four phases as you.
When their Production Phase comes into play, you will have the opportunity to participate in their challenges by playing Yellow Strategy cards, including those you laid as Traps during your Strategic Planning.
You may also, of course, play any Orange Strategy cards at anytime during your Opponent's turn.
What if I don't get any companies on my first hand?
If you don't get any companies in your first hand, you are permitted 1 Milligan (a bad pun on Mulligan named by Milton Lim) whereby you can reshuffled your hand into your deck and re-draw 7 new cards.
Can I attack on the first turn?
Yes. Such is the luck of the draw.
What is a Trap and why should I use it?
Specific cards labelled with Trap Option can be placed face down on your side of the table as an extra layer of defence against an attacking Opponent.
When can I play them?
Traps can only be placed during YOUR Strategic Planning (hence why their symbol is Grey.)
When can I use them against my Opponent?
Traps can only be activated during your Opponent's Production Phase and only when they are competing with one of your Projects. However, you do not have to activate a Trap during a competition.
Can I get rid of it once it is placed?
If you wish to replace a card already in the Trap position, you may do so during your Strategic Planning. The previous card must go to the Graveyard.
Can I ever get cards back from the Graveyard?
While some Strategy cards exist that allow for Companies to be resurrected and Projects to be remounted, for the most part the Graveyard—short for Graveyard of Forgetton Culture—is inescapable.
How do “Closed Projects” work?
A Closed Project is a Project that successfully competed against your Opponent. Once a Project is turned to CLOSED, they are eligible to be reopened at the beginning of your subsequent Production Phases. They may also be re-opened when targeted by an opposing Project.
To re-open the Project, you must roll Odds or Evens, depending on what is called for by the card. If you are not successful at re-opening your Project, you can choose to try again at the beginning of your next Production Phase.
How can I remember points against my Project Limits more easily?
When a Project has been defeated during a competition, but your Company has a Project Limit of 2 or 3, we recommend placing the defeated card face down under the Company. Feel free to come up with your own system if that doesn't work for you.
What happens if 2 Projects end up being of equal value?
In the event of a tie, both Projects are sent to the Graveyard and their respective Grants return to the Government.
What happens if my Project has a negative value at the end of a competition?
All Projects that finish a competition with a negative value, even if they are still higher in value than the other Project, must go to the Graveyard.
We’re not really gamblers, but we recognize that culturecapital is ripe for integrating real money.
One way you could do this, we suppose, is by replacing Grants with real money, such as loonies, or $5 bills, etc. Rather than place Grants in the Government, Players fuel their projects with money from their own pockets.
Game play remains the same as the official tournament rules, but when you defeat one of your Opponent’s Companies, take the money powering their Company. And keep it. Or use it to fuel another Company of your own. You'll likely need to keep putting money into the Government as the game goes on.
Note: We don't have enough money to try this ourselves, but in theory we think it could work. Figure it out yourself.
When everyone you know gets a grant but you, it can be hard not to turn to the bottle.
So if you want to make culturecapital your favourite drinking game, try adding one of the following rules:
- drink every time your Opponent receives a Grant
- drink everytime you fail to receive a Grant
- drink everytime you receive a Grant
Please remember to drink responsibly.
We're currently in the process of making a full adaptation of the game for 3 or more players. It's going to be awesome. Stay tuned.