The Gist

Win: The game is over when you or your opponent's fortitude bar goes to 0 (or below). If you have a higher fortitude, you win the match. For instance, at round end, if you are at -5 fortitude and your opponent is at -6, you win the match. If you are both at -6 and tie, you get an extra tiebreaker round.

Forum: You interact with your opponent by playing your tactics in the debates forum; the center strip consisting of two rows and seven columns where tactics can be played.

Rounds: You and your opponent take turns going first each round. Each round has two phases plus a short POTUS phase.

Board Setup

When players match, they enter the game board. Factors such as crowdstate, starting hand, and player turn order are randomized. Players then take turns playing arguments until round end, then alternate going first each new round until someone wins the match.


There are no hard limits to the number of rounds possible per match, but typical matches last three to four rounds. Rounds are broken down into phases in which which both players take a turn.

Rounds begin with "round start", in which up to five cards are drawn. If you already have some cards in hand, you will draw until you have five cards.

Round End is when all abilities and damage calculations are resolved. Cards in the forum are sent to the discard pile. Some special tactics (see Bully) may return to hand.


The first player sets the tone of the debate by playing arguments to create threads. These represent the opening arguments of a debate. When that player runs out of time or passes the turn, the second player may play counter-arguments. Each player must play a minimum of one argument in phase one, and can play any amount of RD.

Cross examination: Once the second player passes the turn, the first player gets a chance to cross-examine their arguments. Arguments can be played in emptied threads (if your argument got destroyed). RD and POTUS abilities can be used. The first player passes the turn. The second player then gets the last word, and may take final actions on the threads. This was their Phase 2. POTUS Phase: Finally there is a ten second window where both players can use their POTUS abilities. We do not have separate POTUS phases, so both players can use their abilities at the same time (which can get chaotic, but real life debates can be chaotic as well!). After the POTUS Phase comes round end. Then, if neither player has won, a new round begins.


Tactics can be played in the forum. Tactics contain two types of cards: arguments and rhetorical devices (RD).

Strength: The top left of your tactics display "strength"- this is subtracted from your opponent's fortitude bar if the argument is unblocked or unmitigated (Example: assuage).

Cost: The top right of your tactics display the cost. When played, the costs of your tactics will be subtracted from your own fortitude bar, unless the tactic has been removed. Abilities: Most argument abilities technically resolve at round end, so destroying that argument reverses its ability, whereas, most RDs resolve instantly. Destroying "instant" RD's will not reverse the Rd's abilities.


Arguments are tactics which can be played to create threads or to block other arguments. Argument Abilities: Some arguments also have an ability, but they typically cost more than regular arguments. Most argument abilities are reversible if destroyed.

Alignments: Arguments with a Bad Faith (BF) alignment are red, while arguments with a Good Faith (GF) alignment are blue. If a POTUS has an alignment it will add bonus strength to arguments of that alignment.

Rhetorical Devices

RDs are purple-colored tactics that can only be played on top of existing arguments in threads. They have no inherent alignments.

Abilities: All RD have abilities and are usually nonreversible. Passive Crowd Work: In a real life debate, RDs are particularly persuasive elements which help shift the opinions of the crowd. In the game, if an RD is played on a BF argument it shifts the crowd 1 % towards Irrational Mob. If an RD is played on a GF argument, it shifts the crowd 1% towards Enlightened Citizen. Since this ability technically resolves at Round End, destroying or removing an RD reverses the shift by 1%.


When the first player plays an argument on the debate forum, it creates a thread, which is a column where both players can play tactics (typically on your own side). In the top/center of your thread is a number which shows the thread totals. This number is the net strength and cost of that thread after all the RDs, crowd buffs/nerfs, alignments, and abilities have applied. First player privilege: During the first turn of the game, the first player can create threads. They must play between one and seven arguments in the forum.

Overage: When a thread blocks another thread, it only blocks as much as it has strength- just subtract the strength thread totals. The strengths of the 2 threads are compared, and the greater strength thread deals its leftover damage as overage to the defending player's fortitude bar. Example: You attack with Shouting Match (8/5) and a Ruffle Feathers (2/1), while I block with a Strategic Communication (6/4). Your thread total is 10, while mine is 6, so I will be losing 4 fortitude.

Replace: If an opponent takes control of, or destroys one of your arguments, leaving you with an empty thread, you may play another argument to fill the gap on your next player phase (if you have an extra argument in hand).

POTUS: Some POTUSes (like Jackson) have special abilities which affect the thread column rather than specific arguments. These effects will remain with the thread even if the tactics are removed.


In the deckbuilder screen, you can build a new deck by selecting one of the available POTUSes and 15 tactics. Click on your POTUS icon on the right side to see your alignments and abilities. In game, the POTUS info will be displayed on the bottom left in the "POTUS abilities" token.

Alignments: The POTUS will show you his alignments, which are passive buffs (or nerfs). These buffs will add to the strengths of their GF and/or BF arguments. These bonuses are added after the crowd bonus has been factored. For example, Truman has a 1/1 bonus alignment, so both GF and BF arguments will have +1 strength, while Bush has a 0/1 alignment, so only BF tactics will get +1 Str.

POTUS Abilities: Some are passive, while some are targeting and therefore need to be clicked to activate them, during your turn.


In your hand are the tactics you can play during your turn. At the beginning of each round, players draw enough cards to bring their hand total to five cards.

Card Draw: There are other special abilities which can allow you to draw more cards. You can draw as many cards as you are able. When you draw past the limit of your deck, your discard pile will recycle so you can draw additional cards.


Your deck consists of the fifteen cards you assembled before the match. There are icons showing hand, deck, and discard near the bottom right of the debates screen, which shows the allocations of your cards. Recycle: At Round Start, you draw up to 5 cards from your deck. If there are not enough cards in your deck to draw up to 5, the discard pile is recycled by shuffling it into a new deck before new cards are drawn.

Discard Pile

The discard pile holds all the cards you have played, destroyed, or discarded. Certain abilities such as "pause for reflection", can actually retrieve tactics from your discard pile back into your hand.

The Crowd

The crowdstate is the current mood or disposition of the crowd. At match start, the crowdstate is randomized to be somewhere between 0-10% Irrational Mob or 0-10% Enlightened Citizen. The crowdstate can be shifted by player actions to reach up to 30% towards either alignment. Crowd Alignment: an Irrational Mob percentage will buff BF aligned arguments by that same percentage, and will nerf GF arguments by that percentage, rounded to the nearest whole number. Conversely, an Enlightened Citizen percentage will buff GF aligned arguments by that percentage, and will nerf BF arguments by that percentage, rounded to the nearest whole number. Crowdwork: Certain POTUSes or tactic abilities can shift the crowd. Also, all RDs shift the crowd 1% in the direction of the argument alignment they are played on. Since this is a Round End passive ability, removing the RD reverses the shift. Example scenario: The crowd is at -7% (Mob). Your opponent plays the "Crack a Joke" RD on a BF (red) argument. Crack a Joke instantly shifts the crowd 2% with it's instant ability, bringing the crowd to -9%, plus 1% from its RD passive, making the crowdstate -10% Mob. On your turn, you use "Identify Non-Argument" on a GF argument to destroy their "Crack a Joke". Since you played an RD, the crowd shifts down 1%, and since you removed a BF aligned RD (Crack a Joke), the crowd shifts down another 1%. The final crowdstate is -8% Mob at Round End.

Round End Order of Operation

Crowd Strength: At Round End, all abilities and the crowdstate will resolve. The crowd buff or nerf is applied to all arguments according to their alignments before anything else. Example Crowd Calculation: A 2-star Shouting Match argument has a strength of 9 and a cost of 5 (aka, a 9/5 BF argument). If the crowd is at, say, +10% Enlightened Citizen, then the crowd calculation is as follows: 9 - (9 x .1) = 8.1 ~ 8. Remember, the crowd nerfs BF arguments, so that extra .9 was subtracted by the crowd, rather than added. Therefore, the final crowd strength of that 2-star Shouting Match will be 8. But lets say there's also a 2-star Socratic Questioning (aka, a 9/6 GF argument). Assuming the same crowd, 9 x 1.1 = 9.9 ~ 10. So the crowd strength of your 2-star Socratic will be 10.

Alignments: After the crowd has had its way, POTUS alignments and special abilities apply to the strengths and costs of the tactics. The thread totals are the combination of your tactics, crowd, alignments, and abilities, and even though they appear on the threads in real time, the number is not technically resolved until Round End.

Overage: Once the threads are totaled, the bigger thread "tramples" over the weaker thread, dealing its leftover strength to the defending player. Costs: The net costs are also totaled and subtracted from the fortitude bar.

Discard: All the tactics on the board are then discarded. If both players are above zero fortitude, the game will start a new round.

Welp those are the basic rules! Be sure to watch the videos for more.

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