Fifth Challenge
Designed by Jorge Arroyo
Players 2-4
Length 15m
Extra Material 6 sided die

A light adventure game.


Young ones coming of age in the wild elven tribes of the west part of the country have to pass a coming of age ritual when they reach adulthood. After years of training in the war and magic arts, when they reach the age of 200 years, they are sent into the dangerous savage lands of the north-west to complete five challenges. Those who complete the toughest challenges will be the most successful that year and will earn the recognition of their tribe and a chance to learn from the greatest masters.

Fifth Challenge is a light card adventure game where players have to complete five challenges of varying difficulty. As challenges are completed, players earn experience that will help complete tougher challenges later on. When a player completes the fifth challenge, points are tallied and the player that got the most points, completing the most diffcult challenges, wins.

Basic Concepts

Each player controls an elven youngster. The player's hand represents the resources the youngster has at any given moment but also their health. If at any point the player loses all their cards, the elven youngster is considered to be dead and the player has to start over with a new youngster (maybe a relative of the one that didn't make it).

Each suit represents a different aspect of a challenge. Moons represent a spiritual challenge while Suns represent a great physical one. Waves imply dangerous weather and Leaves a challenge in the layout of the land. Wyrms represent combat of a physical kind while Knots represent combat of a magical kind.

The suits available in a player's hand can help them complete challenges (by using them to increase their chances of success) but using them this way will mean health is lost. Also, as challenges are completed, players gain those suits in the challenge card as a permanent bonus, making future challenges of those types a bit easier.


Take the aces out of the deck and shuffle them. Deal one ace to each player. The aces are placed in front of each player, face up and up-right. This is the player's basic power, the type of challenge they handle best at the start of the game. The rest of the aces are out of the game.

Shuffle the rest of the Decktet (including pawns and the Excuse) and deal each player a hand of five cards.

Game play

On their turn, a player may take one or some of the following actions (depending on some restrictions) in any order. Then at the end of their turn it they've got less than 5 cards, they take one card from the draw pile.

Play passes then to the next player and the game continues until one player completes their fifth challenge.

These are the possible actions (the first two types, playing a card and attempting to complete a challenge can each be taken once in any order. They are both optional):

Playing a Card

Players may play one card during their turn either as a challenge or to modify an existing challenge:

  • Playing a Card as a Challenge:

A player may play a card as a challenge for themselves or for an opponent. The challenge is as hard as the number on the card. Crowns have a value of 10 and pawns can't be played as challenges.

If playing a challenge for an opponent, the value of the challenge card may not exceed the sum of the values from completed challenges in front of them. So, for example, you can play a 5 challenge on a player that has completed two 3 challenges, but not if they only completed a 4 challenge. Note that this limit only applies to challenges played on other players, not on yourself.

A challenge card is considered uncompleted when played, so it's placed sideways after the last completed (upright) card in front of the player.

Each player may only have one uncompleted challenge in front of them, so a second one can't be played until the current one is completed.

  • Playing a card to Modify a Challenge

Players may want to spend time trying to devise ways to make their current uncompleted challenge easier or harder. This may represent looking for an easier fight, or a harder path, etc.. and can be used to pass a challenge that is too hard or to increase the score of an easier challenge.

In order to do this, a player may play a card to substitute an uncompleted challenge card in front of them (never for another player). The card must share at least one suit and its value must be smaller or bigger by exactly one. This process can be repeated on later turns. The substituted card is placed on the discard pile.

Attempt to Complete a Challenge

To complete a challenge the player will first add the individual suits from upright cards in front of them that match the ones on the challenge card (including the initial ace). Then the 6 sided die is rolled and the result added to that number.

For example, if a player previously completed a suns-moons challenge, and now wants to attempt a moons-wyrms challenge, they'll add 1 to the die roll thanks to the moons suit from their completed challenges.

If the total number equals or exceeds the number on the challenge card, the challenge is automatically completed. The player turns the card upright and will be able to use the suits on it for future challenges.

If the total number is less than the number on the challenge card, then in order to succeed, the player will have to exert some extra effort. The player may discard cards from their hand with suits matching at least one suit from the challenge card to reach the necessary total. So for example if the total rolled was 4 for a 6 challenge, the player will have to discard 2 suits which can be from the same card or two different ones.

If the player doesn't have the necessary number of matching suits, they can use 3 any other suits as a substitute for 1 matching suit. For example, the player needs one sun or moons, but doesn't have any. They can discard 2 cards with any four suits to make up for the difference.

In any case, discarding the suits to complete the challenge is optional. If players can't or don't want to do it, they will just take some damage and fail the challenge. In this case they discard a number of cards equal to the difference between the challenge number and the total number rolled. They can reduce the damage by spending suits as described above before discarding cards if they want to. For example if their total roll is 4 and they needed 7 but have one card that has two matching suits, they can first spend those suits before taking damage, reducing the total number of cards they will discard from 3 to 2.

If at the end of the attempt the player has no cards in their hand, then their character dies and they have to start over next turn. Discard all the completed challenges (keep the ace) and get a new hand of cards. Note that even if the player completed their fifth challenge when they died, they still have to start over.

Discarding and Replacing Cards

This is a special action that can only be taken if the player chooses not to take any other action for the turn. In this case, the player may discard as many cards from their hand as they want and immediately replace them with cards from the draw pile. In this case the player is allowed to discard all their cards without danger.

The extended deck

Pawns are special because they can't be used as challenges. They can only played from a player's hand to help complete a challenge.

When the excuse is drawn from the deck, the discard pile is shuffled into the remaining draw deck to make a new draw deck.

Scoring and Winning

As soon as a player completes their fifth challenge the game ends. Each player adds the values of their completed challenges (any uncompleted ones don't count) and the player with the biggest score wins. Note that the crown scores 11 points even though its playing value is 10 (this is because the fact that it only has one suit makes completing it extra hard).

In case of a tie, the player with more completed challenges wins, and if still tied, the one with more completed challenges matching the suit from their ace card wins. If still tied, then they share the win.


This game was designed by Jorge Arroyo. The general idea was inspired by
Quest for the Faysylwood from David Shaw although the games have very little in common (just the fact that you have to complete 5 cards).

Thanks to P.D. Magnus for playtesting.



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