Equinox is another brilliant game from one of my favourite designers Reiner Knizia. It is essentially a betting game but one where you have a large control over the outcome. It is an aggressive game and can feel very ‘in your face’ but as long as you know that going in then you will enjoy the experience. Read on to find out how to play this creature tournament betting game.
Out of the 14 different sets of Equinox creatures choose 8 sets and place the other 6 back in the box. Find the 8 champion cards that match the chosen sets and place them in a row at the top of the table. Then you place the row cards in a column starting with the secret prediction card (5 points) at the top next to the champion cards, followed by the 1 sand timer card (4 points) all the way down to the number 5 sand timer card (0 points). Shuffle the creature cards together with the chameleon cards and tree cards to form a deck which you place face down on the table. Each player is then dealt 8 cards together with 5 stones of a single colour each.
How To Play
Equinox is an elimination game where as each row is completed the creature with the lowest value is knocked out of the game. The game continues until either all rows are completed or the deck of cards runs out. When the game ends players calculate their bet winnings and the player with the highest value wins.
On your turn you carry out the actions as follows:-
- Make or Reveal a Prediction – In this phase you can make a regular prediction, a secret prediction, reveal a secret prediction or skip this phase entirely.
Regular predictions are completed by taking one of your stones and placing them on a space in the current row at the space where a creature card is or will be and who you think will survive to the end of the game. You cannot place a stone on a space where another stone has already been placed.
Secret Predictions can only be played in the first round (the first round is from the start of the game until the first row is completed). When you do this you take a creature card from your hand and place it face down on the table with 1 of your stones on it. When you make a secret prediction you do not play any more cards this turn and therefore skip phase 2 play a card. You can only make 1 secret prediction in the whole game.
Revealing a secret prediction in Equinox means you turn over your card and place it in its correct place in the current row and then place your stone on the corresponding champion card at the top of the table. During this turn you still play another card in phase 2.
- Play a Card – When you play a creature card you place them in the current row in the column indicated by their champion card. You cannot place a creature card of a creature that has been eliminated. If there are already cards in the space you place your card on top and if there is a stone here you make sure it remains on top after you play the card.
If you are the controller of that creatures special power you take the action immediately. To become the controller you must have the most points from your stones on that creature. The points range from 5 (revealed secret prediction) to 0 depending on which row the stones are placed. If 2 or more players have equal points no one has control over that creature.
The special powers override the rules and are only activated by the controlling player placing one of the creatures cards (not the chameleon or tree cards).
When you play a chameleon card you can play it on any creature spot in the current row (that has not been eliminated). This does not activate the creatures special power. In addition the next creature card to be placed on top of the chameleon also does not activate that creatures special power.
You can play a tree card and then follow its instructions. For the Ancestor card you select one creature still in play and all players must now confirm if they have made a secret prediction for that creature. The Dryad card allows you to take a visible creature card from anywhere on the table back into your hand.
If you have no valid cards that can be played (because your hand is full of creatures that have been eliminated) you may skip playing a card.
- Discard Cards from your hand – You may now discard up to 3 creature cards from your hand (of creatures that have been eliminated) showing all of the cards discarded to the other players.
Draw cards back up to your hand limit of 8 – If you have less than 8 cards in hand draw more cards until you have 8. If this causes the deck to run out then the game ends immediately.
Elimination of a creature if applicable – As long as the game hasn’t ended you check to see if a row has been completed (a creature, chameleon or disappearance card in all spots) and if there is only 1 creature with the lowest number (if there is a tie you continue playing until only 1 creature has the lowest number). In which case this round ends and you place a disappearance card on the next row in the spot for the eliminated creature. You then prepare the next round by placing disappearance cards in the spots for any creatures previously eliminated.
End Of Game & Scoring
Equinox ends on the completion of the fifth round or when the draw deck becomes empty. Players reveal their secret predictions and place the stones on the equivalent champion card. Points are then allocated to each player depending on where their stones are placed (5 to 0 points) on all of the creatures that remain at the end of the tournament. The player with the highest number of points wins. Ties are broken by the winning player whose secret prediction was correct and then the most stones in the first row and so on. If it is still a tie by the fifth row then the victory is shared.
Each creature has a secret power which is fully explained at the back of the rule book. The cards also have good iconography which are very easy to read and understand. Some of these powers allow you to draw more cards, retrieve a previously placed stone, make another player temporarily lose half their cards, place a second stone in a turn, play a second card, steal a card from another player, discard creatures still in the fight, use a creatures power who has been eliminated, retrieve cards that have already been played, exchange cards between the rows, discard cards already played, have extra strength, take a chameleon and add it to your hand. Gaining and knowing when to use these powers can really swing the game into your favour.
I hope this has helped you to learn the rules and how Equinox plays. Obviously I would always recommend people use the official rule book to learn the rules in depth but this blog should give you a really good flavour of how the game flows.
I really enjoy the game and if you want to find me on twitter to discuss how brilliant Equinox is please do @boardgamehappy.