Welcome to Malbio’s Lost Gold!

Malbio’s Lost Gold (“MLG”) is a card game from the folks at Stitch Gaming that strives to bring the fantasy, cooperative, dungeon-crawl experience from traditional pen-and-paper games into the fast-paced, competitive, and often simplified realm of a tabletop card game. MLG is currently only available through Tabletop Simulator, but hopes to gain its place in your home as a physical, boxed game sometime in the not-so-distant future. Come check us out on Facebook to stay updated on changes and additions to the game, and various plans for the future.


Overview & Game Phases

First and foremost, let’s get down to brass tacks. To win the game, you have to be dead. I know, I know… usually that’s not the way that works, but in MLG, he who dies with the most toys actually does win for once. The winner is declared as the hero with the most gold when either a.) everyone is dead, or b.) if everyone is alive and the game is called for any reason (cutoff time, new player, group hero apathy, etc).

MLG is divided into three main phases: Hero Draft, Environment, and Trade. They are explained in detail below.

Phase 1 – Hero Draft (or simply “Draft”)

At the very beginning of every game, players each draw a Class card. This will be their hero for the duration of the game. There is only one Hero Draft phase per game.

Heroes each have a special class ability that is available to them regardless of drafted abilities. This class ability is listed as the majority of the text on a card.

Each hero has a set of Ability Markers identified as a ring of colors in the lower-right corner of the Class card. These colors represent five concepts that will shape your hero’s abilities. The Ability Markers in MLG are as follows:

  • Force (red): Physical, kinetic force. Akin to strength/constitution in many games.
  • Skill (green): Precise, skillful action. Akin to dexterity/agility/charisma in many games.
  • Power (blue): Arcane, occult power. Akin to intelligence/wisdom in many games.
  • Good (yellow): Positive, benevolent intent. Akin to buffing/healing/light magic in many games.
  • Evil (purple): Negative, malevolent intent. Akin to debuffing/cursing/dark magic in many games.

Note: It is possible to draft and play as multiple heroes; just ensure that the heroes are drafted evenly as more heroes means more loot and could otherwise lead to an unfortunate imbalance and advantage for some players.

The hero’s health is also listed as white text in the Ability Marker ring.

Once players have their respective Class cards, the next step is for each player to draft a total of three (3) abilities from the Abilities deck. Here are a few things to keep in mind while drafting:

  • Heroes can only (and must) have three abilities.
  • Each player drafts all of their hero’s abilities together (not round-robin per ability).
  • The Ability Markers on an Ability card drawn must not exceed the amount of respective Ability Markers indicated on the hero’s Class card.
  • The circle in the middle of the four Ability Markers listed on the Ability card is not an Ability Marker itself, but a damage type indicator.
  • A single hero cannot have duplicate, though they can (and often will) have some duplicates among the party.
  • Players must take an available Ability card that matches the above criteria; they cannot choose to pass an ability in favor of a “better option”.
  • It’s easiest to simply flip the Ability deck (after shuffling) during the ability portion of the Draft.

Once heroes all have their Ability cards drafted, the Hero Draft phase is complete.

Phase 2 – Environment (or “Room” for short)

As soon as the Hero Draft is complete the party begins its adventures by turning an Environment card. These cards describe the various places the party will find themselves in throughout the game.

Environment cards will occasionally be uncontested areas where commerce and trade can occur. These are called Trade environments. Some Trade cards allow heroes to sell their unwanted items and equipment, some will allow players to buy items, and some will even give players the opportunity to exchange their heroes’ abilities. In commerce oriented environments, the exchange rate (buying or selling) of an item is listed on the item’s card as the number inside the gold ring.

Most, however, will not be so pleasant and will pit heroes against challenges that they must overcome to progress. These are called Challenge environments. These Environment cards will define the circumstances that the party will be facing their challenges under (e.g. positive and negative effects for the duration of the room, formations that heroes and challenges will use to battle, special class-based advantages and disadvantages, any available loot or “clutters”).

Here is a brief guide to the formations used in MLG and how their turns process:

  • Phalanx: Two heroes have an imaginary “hard wall” dividing them that prevents splash damage on either side and negates adjacency. All other splash damage is still valid. Combat is considered columnar. Turns begin at one end of the hard wall and end at the other. In this formation heroes will have their turn first with each hero/challenge processing their turns before advancing to the next hero/challenge set.
  • Circle: There is no “hard wall” dividing heroes as there is in Phalanx. Combat is considered round-table. In this formation all heroes will have their turns first, then challenges will respond.
  • Ambush: There is no “hard wall” dividing heroes as there is in Phalanx. Combat is considered round-table. In this formation all challenges will have their turns first, then heroes will respond.

Note: If formations are complicating your party’s game and making it hard to process turns, simply ignore them and choose a system that’s right for your group. This may be considered an “advanced” game mechanic.

Enemies simulate pseudo-random action by often containing a list of abilities that they will perform in a sequence defined at the bottom of their card. Each turn the enemy will use the next ability in the sequence before beginning the sequence again from the start.

In the unfortunate circumstance where a hero falls in combat, their respective enemies (but not traps) will each become the responsibility of an adjacent ally. If two allies are adjacent based on the formation, a coin-flip will determine the column the enemy will move to. If a Challenge trap card remains after an untimely hero’s demise, the round can end as though that trap was disarmed.

When a challenge is defeated, the original hero of the column will be awarded the amount of Loot cards listed on the Challenge card in the upper right (gold ring).

If a hero’s challenge column is defeated that column is considered unlocked. Once a hero’s column is unlocked, they can act as though they were in column with another adjacent hero, and can act with them to defeat their challenges. This pattern collapses infinitely with regard to adjacency. For example, in Phalanx formation Hero-A and Hero-C are not adjacent, though if Hero-B’s and Hero-C’s columns are both unlocked, they could both collapse into Hero-A’s column. Also note that since the cards on the table obviously indicate whether challenges are present, there is no need to move anything on the table to indicate your acting in a column other than your own.

If available, an amount of “clutters” will be defined on the Environment card (gold ring). These clutters will be drawn from the Loot deck and exposed (face up) in the room. Players can choose to loot a clutter instead of performing an action against a challenge if they choose.

Hidden cards are always available (endless deck) unless the Environment card dictates otherwise. Heroes can opt to use their turn to draw a Hidden card similar to the clutters, but be warned: not everything in the Hidden deck is loot. If a trap or enemy is found in the hidden, that card gets added to the drawing hero’s column. Once defeated, the trap or enemy Hidden card will not generate its listed loot, but also is not required to be defeated in order for the party to proceed.

Once all Challenge cards are defeated, the room is complete and the Trade phase can begin. At this time, no further clutters or Hidden cards my be sought.

Phase 3 – Trade (or “Res” if you’re unlucky)

In the Trade phase, players can choose to swap/barter their items and equipment. A good rule of thumb is to only charge players an item’s value, but of course, that part’s up to you. Items and equipment may be given freely, as well. We all want our tanks and healers to be happy with us after all. ;)

Assuming you died and others lived… we’re sorry, but there is hope! A hero can choose to resurrect a fallen ally at the cost of removing one quarter (25%; rounded down) of the gold of the hero doing the reviving, and half (50%; rounded down) of the gold of the hero being revived. No special items, classes, or abilities are required for this form of resurrection.

Once the party is contented and ready to face the next leg of the adventure the Trade phase completes and a shiny, new Environment card is drawn and the Environment and Trade phases continue… forever…