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How To Play Sleeping Gods

Sleeping Gods

After its very successful Kickstarter run in 2020, Sleeping Gods has established itself as a truly immersive experience. Up to four players take control of the crew of the Manticore, a ship that has been stranded in a strange, unknown world in 1929. With nothing but your ship and a handful of clues, you travel this alien world in search of adventure and a way to wake the sleeping gods, in the hope that they will return you home. With almost endless fun to be had, let’s learn how to play!

Setting Up Sleeping Gods

For a game that’s quite complex, the setup is relatively simple. First, place Captain Sofi Odessa’s player board and the Ship board (turned to the correct side based on player count) within reach of all players, with the Ship Action token placed on the Ship board. Place 3 coins and 1 grain on the bottom of the Ship board, this is a communal supply that belongs to all players.

Then take the three Event Decks and shuffle them independently, taking six from each to form a central Event Deck. This goes face down on the indicated space and will have deadly Events at the bottom and mild at the top. Now place the Atlas, open to page 2 with the figure of the Manticore in the region with the number 2 location. This Atlas contains all the areas you can travel to and explore.

All players will now divide up the remaining player boards as evenly as possible, taking the ones they want. These represent the crew members they will be controlling for this campaign. Someone should now take the starting adventure cards from the market deck. These are Gloria, Soup, Gear, and Flapjacks.

Then, the market deck can be shuffled and placed face down near the board. Next, shuffle the ability deck, giving one card to each human player along with one command token. Place the Quest, Adventure, and Enemy cards nearby, but do not shuffle these. They will appear in numerical order and should remain hidden until the story requires them. The level cards should be placed near the board. These can be looked through as they are add-on abilities unique to each character that can be bought with XP later in the game. Now all you need to do is start a new log sheet, decide if you want to play Normal or Brutal difficulty, and you’re ready to go!

Sleeping Gods - Gameplay

Sleeping Gods has an introductory scenario to help get you into the swing of playing. While it doesn’t use all the rules, it does give you enough to get playing independently, and so I strongly recommend you play this before getting into standard gameplay. To avoid spoilers, I’ll give you enough information to get you up to speed and playing the basic scenario, so as to avoid ruining any surprises.

Turn Taking And Actions

Before taking a turn, you must take a ship action. This involves moving the Ship Action token to one of the six different areas of the ship. This will grant you an extra benefit, which could be either healing wounds, gaining ability cards, or removing fatigue. Each space also grants a certain number of Command tokens. These tokens can be spent to use unique crew abilities, equip Ability cards to crew boards, or activate items you have bought from the Market deck.

These tokens are limited, and so if there are none left in the supply you cannot take any. Also, if any one area has two damage tokens, that ability is removed and you cannot use it, but we’ll cover ship damage later. Now, you must take an Event card and read it aloud. These cards will either have a challenge that you can complete or a choice of actions. This must be completed whatever the challenge. If the Event deck ever runs out, follow the instructions on the Ship board for what to do and how to generate a new one. Now, you are free to take your turn.

Each player gets two actions per turn. The first action you can take is Move. To do this, you can either use a character who has the Craft skill, placing one fatigue on their board and drawing for Fate. Fate is shown by the number in the top corner of an Ability card and ranges from 1 to 6. Add together fate and the number of Craft icons shown on the characters you used for your total. This determines how many spaces you can move the Manticore and is how you seek new adventures. Some spaces contain hazards. These require a skill challenge to be passed displayed on the hazard themselves and can lead to ship damage or other issues if failed.

The second action you could take is Explore. To Explore, the active player chooses one of the locations in the ship’s region and turns to that scenario in the storybook, reading aloud for the others to hear. This may lead to choices and challenges that the active player must face to continue the story. The challenges are displayed by a skill and a minimum requirement, for example, STRENGTH 5. Completing this is the same process that is used to move the ship.

The active player in Sleeping Gods chooses which characters to use and adds the total skill icons displayed to a Fate value. Players can modify their characters abilities by adding Ability or Level cards to their characters. These add an additional ability and some even offer other positives. Once a character has been used for a challenge, they gain a Fatigue token. The first fatigue doesn’t change anything, but if they get two then they can’t participate in any more challenges, and they are also less effective in combat.

The third and fourth actions require you to be in specific places, as they require your location to show either the Port or Market symbol. These are scattered across the map and can be a real lifesaver. Port allows you to do a range of actions, including spending coins to heal and rest your crew, repair the ship, or buy Level cards. Going to Market allows you to draw 7 cards from the Market deck. You may use your coins to purchase any number of items from the Market, with each showing a price in their bottom corner.


The final thing that needs to be covered is combat, which will crop up throughout the game. To begin combat, players distribute the four grey attack cubes evenly and then must draw the listed Enemy cards from the deck. These cards are then shuffled and placed face up in a row, so all cards are touching at their sides. These cards will list a defence value, attack value, and show a grid containing hearts and other icons. Players will then take it in turns attacking with one of their characters, using the weapon displayed in the bottom right of their board or one that they have found and equipped from the market or a quest.

Before dealing any damage, players will have to see if their attack hits. To do this, they check the accuracy value of the weapon, and add a Fate role to it. If this is higher than the required accuracy, as displayed on the Monster card, then the attack hits and they can deal damage equal to the weapon’s value. This damage must be placed orthogonally to any other damage, not diagonally. Also, the attacking player may choose to deal ‘splash’ damage. This is when players place under half of the damage they do on an adjacent Monster, provided the damage placed is adjacent to other damage.

While that may not sound that simple, once you get into playing Sleeping Gods, gameplay becomes incredibly natural, and you’ll be flying (well, sailing). There are other rules that will be uncovered throughout gameplay, but you’ll learn these as you go so don’t worry about those yet.