Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Welcome to the Game Zombies' realm!

Game Review

Dueling Nobles

Ages 8 and up
3J Games
Game © 3J Games
Date reviewed: 1/10/2005
game setup

2 Players 30 minutes


Noble courts duel for supremacy using one on one duels -- supply your own 52 card deck & 6-sided die to play.


The deck of playing cards is separated into two piles: Jacks, Queens & Kings in one pile (Noble Deck) and numbers in the other pile. Each player receives six cards from the Noble deck -- and chooses three nobles to keep.  Remaining nobles are reshuffled and kept in a separate stack.  The nobles are placed in front of each player (courtyard). Each player is then dealt six cards from the number deck as their hand.  Players decide who goes first.

Each player's turn has five phases:

  1. Beginning of turn

  2. Generate resources

  3. Spend resources

  4. Announce a duel

  5. Combat

At the beginning of your turn, you may place a 2 or 3 card on a noble -- signifying a weapon or permanent strength boost (+2 or +3 depending upon the card). If one of your nobles is a King, you may wound the King to gain an extra resource.

Each turn, you automatically generate one resource in phase 2.  After generating the resource, you may spend them or save them for later.  Spending 1 resource allows you to draw an additional number card -- limit 3 card draws per turn. However,  you must draw all cards at one time -- you can't spend, draw and spend again.  If you spend 5 resources, you may draw a new noble for your courtyard.

There are a few special actions that may be taken at the beginning of your turn only: Discarding cards of certain suits will allow you to perform a special action -- but you can only do them once per game. (Read the full rules to find out more.)

If you choose to duel, you push one noble to the center of the playing area and specify which opposing noble you wish to duel.  Your opponent may choose to spend 2 resources to change the dueling target -- either way, combat will follow.

Combat is performed by adding the noble's strength to several bonuses and a die roll.  High score wins the duel -- with a special case is an ace is played.  Combat strengths are calculated as follows:

  1. Starting noble strength (Jack = 11; Queen = 12; King = 13)

  2. Add any permanent modifier (+2 or +3 from beginning of turn phase)

  3. Roll 1 6-sided die and add the number to the total (Kings roll 2 dice)

  4. If your noble is a Queen, add 3 for each other noble in your courtyard.

  5. Players announce the strength of the noble.

  6. Attacker may play one number card to boost strength (add the number on the card)

  7. Defender may play one number card

  8. If your noble is a Jack, you may play 2 number cards at step 5 or 6.

  9. Compare total strengths.

If either player played an Ace in steps 5 or 6, this is an automatic win. (If the attacker plays an ace, the defender may play an ace to tie the duel.)

The winner of the duel is awarded one resource, and the loser's noble is wounded. (In ties, both nobles are wounded -- no one gets a resource.) All non-permanent boost cards are discarded. If the losing noble has reached their wound limit, they and their permanent boost cards are discarded. (Jacks and Queens can take 2 wounds, Kings can take 3.)

To win you must eliminate all of your opponent's nobles.


Winning Conditions:

  • Eliminate all of your opponent's nobles.

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up!This is a decent one-on-one dueling card game.  It contains many of the nuances of the popular CCGs, while maintaining the simplicity that a standard 52 card deck requires.  It requires a bit of learning to remember some of the special suit-specific rules, but overall the game is easy to remember and is very balanced.

If you are interested in one-on-one card games, this is a good starting game.  It's price is great (free!), the rules are brief, and it contains the concepts that most games use: For instance, each noble has a separate starting strength that may be modified permanently and boosted in the heat of battle and resources are generated each turn and may be used to perform special actions; Because nobles can withstand multiple losses when dueling, you can refine your strategy based upon card counting or how your opponent appears to be attacking.  In addition, it's a card game that doesn't try to sell booster packs, so it won't put you in debt to learn to play it well.

We are still debating which noble is best to use in a duel strategically. The Jack's ability to use two power boost cards in battle is a huge advantage if you have high cards in your hand -- whereas, if you use a Queen, and you have many nobles her bonus counters many powerful hands -- and if you roll high numbers, the King is strong enough to hold off a solid attack.  Which is better? It depends upon the current game condition. This flexibility in design is very good for keeping players thinking as the play.

In our initial game, we did find that the game favors defense for a long time.  Attacking and losing duels thoroughly weakens your position in your opponent's next turn. Study some Sun Tzu to fully understand the tactics.  This game can really punish over-aggressive players.

Overall, we found these rules to be fairly solid -- we only had one minor question arise, which was solved by an in-game decision-- as long as we played consistently, the answer didn't unbalance the game.  The format of the rules could be adjusted a little for quick reference, but as they are only 3 pages, it doesn't take long to refer back to the rules when you forget what comes next.  Although there are so many numbers to add up while actually dueling we tended to forget the special case bonuses when number cards of the same suit as the noble were used -- again, as long as we played consistently, this didn't affect our game too much.  We missed this primarily because the paragraph describing the duels obscures this particular bonus from someone who is scanning the text quickly.

CCG fans... check this game out -- you can't argue the price!

Where to buy:

Free rules download from 3J Games. (You supply the cards & dice)

Other Reviews
Zombie Main page