Defending Da'Bu Deeps

An asymmetric strategy game for two players, played with a standard poker deck.

In this game, each player will take turns re-enacting the Battle of Da'Bu Deeps, a great battle fought for control of an ancient dwarven fortress concealing a hidden cavern.

The defender's cards represent the strength of each section of the fortress's walls and their defense team. The defender also has a king that the attacker desperately wants to capture, as well as women and children to defend! The goal of the defender is to protect their king, women, and children. The goal of the attacker is to find the king, women, and children before their army gives up, exhausted.

The attacker's cards represent the strength of that section of their army which gets exhausted in trying to break through Da'Bu Deeps's walls with military might and if that fails, bombs! The attacker also has a pair of carefully selected spies which can return with mission-critical information about an area of the fortress's defense.

In Defending Da'Bu Deeps,the defender's king is represented by the King of Spades.

The defender's women and children are represented by the Queen of Hearts.

The attacker's clever spies are represented by the two jokers.

The attacker's main army is represented by the suit of clubs.

The attacker's bomb division is represented by the suit of diamonds.


Setting up the First Round

  1. Decide which player is going to take their first turn as the * attacker*.
    • A good way to decide is with a quick game of rock, paper, scissors!
  2. Split the deck into two parts by giving
    • the attacker all the diamonds, clubs, and jokers
    • the defender all the spades and hearts

Preparing a Round


  1. Shuffle your deck and place it face-down in front of you.
  2. Draw 5 cards from your deck.


  1. Go through your deck secretly (don't let the attacker see your tactical positioning!) and place them in a 6 card wide, 4 card deep grid pattern between you and the attacker. Place also two cards in your cave below your bottom row of cards.
    • Remember that your ultimate goal is to protect your king (represented by the King of Spades) and your women and children (represented by the Queen of Hearts). All of your other cards are representations of how strong you have built your walls and how well you've garrisoned the walls.
      • Your king, women, and children are very vulnerable and can be captured with any attack except a spy!
    • The attacker has to clear a way through your walls to get to your cave, so it is naturally well protected. It is also an obvious target for the attacker!
    • Once you finish placing your cards, play begins and you can no longer move cards around. Be sure you are ready to begin play before inviting the first attack.
  2. Invite the attacker to begin attacking.

Conducting a Round

  1. Attacker, indicate an area of the wall to attack.
    • You can only attack exposed areas of wall. At first, this will be the cards on the leading edge of the grid created by your opponent. As you destroy wall segments, you will expose more areas of the wall.
      • Spies are the exception to this rule. Spies can reveal any of your opponent's cards but cannot destroy them. They give you information but cannot help in battle.
    • Wondering if an area of wall is exposed or not? It needs to be north, south, east, or west of a blank space. Diagonals do not count, nor do the spaces beyond the sides of the grid. If needed, ask the defender to straighten their card grid to make it more clear.
    • In order to reach the cave at the center of Da'Bu Deeps, you must have a clear path all the way to the cave cards at the back. This path does not need to be straight but it needs to be at least one card wide. Diagonal spaces do not count.
  2. Attacker, select a card from your hand to play and show it to your opponent.
    • From high to low, the strength of the cards go: Joker, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, King of Spades, Queen of Hearts. In order to destroy a section of wall (represented by one of your opponent's cards), your card's strength must meet or exceed theirs. The attacker wins on ties.
      • You can capture the defender's king and women and children with any card except a spy.
    • You have three forms of attack available to you: standard army (clubs), bombs (diamonds), or spies (jokers).
      • Jokers can reveal a card but cannot destroy it
      • Bombs can destroy a card, and the explosion always reveals one of the wall segments around it, so use them wisely!
        • Bombs always reveal and adjacent card if there is one, whether they win or lose against the card they attacked.
        • Bombs cannot reveal cards across blank spaces. They can only reveal the cards directly adjacent north, south, east, or west to the card they targeted.
          • If there are no cards directly adjacent to where you planted your bomb, nothing gets illuminated and only the card you planted your bomb on gets flipped face-up
    • Remember that your goal is to capture your opponent's King of Spades and Queen of Hearts, representing their king and their women and children. Destroy sections of the fortress to find them.
  3. Defender, reveal the card your opponent has targeted.
    • If the defender's card is the King of Spades or the Queen of Hearts, the attacker has found and captured one of their goals! Defender, hand the attacker the card they just captured. Attacker, place that card face up beside your deck.
      • Be sure not to confuse the captured pile with the discard pile!
    • If the defender's card is of a higher value than the attacker's, the attack did not succeed. The defender's card remains flipped face up.
    • If the defender's card if of equal or lower value than the attacker's, and the attacker's card is not a joker, the defender's wall segment has been destroyed.
      • If their card is a joker, your card only gets revealed.
  4. Attacker, did you just use a bomb? If so, designate one wall segment to the north, south, east, or west of where you planted your bomb to be revealed!
    • Remember, it is the defender's job to reveal their cards and resolve battle. Be polite and don't touch their cards.
  5. Defender, did you just get bombed? Reveal the card indicated by the attacker. This card does not get destroyed, even if it would have lost against the bomb. The bomb was not placed on that section of your wall.
  6. Bring out yer dead! Defender, discard the card the attacker used into a discard pile for their cards. If the section of wall that got attacked was defeated, clean up your fortress by discarding your card to a discard pile for your cards.
    • Remember that the King of Spades and Queen of Hearts do not belong in a discard pile. They go in a separate capture pile.
  7. Defender, it's time for your revenge! Your forces automatically destroy some of your opponent's army. Without being able to see what your opponent's hand holds, select one card from their hand to discard!
  8. Attacker, replenish your hand by drawing one card. Your army dwindles, but another platoon has come to you for orders.
  9. Repeat steps 1 through 8 until either
    • The attacker has found and captured both the King of Spades and the Queen of Hearts
    • The attacker's hand and deck are empty, even if they have captured one of the two cards.
  10. Scoring the round.
    • The attacker gains 1 point if they managed to capture the King of Da'Bu Deeps (represented by the King of Spades)
    • The attacker gains 2 points if they managed to capture the women and children of the kingdom (represented by the Queen of Hearts)
    • The defender gains 1 point if they successfully hid the King from the attacker until their army got tired (and the attacker was out of cards)
    • The defender gains 2 points if they successfully hid the women and children from the attacker until their army gave up (and the attacker was out of cards)

Setting up Between More Rounds

  1. Once you've written down the score, swap jobs! Last round's defender is now the attacker!
  2. Collect the deck and sort as needed, giving the spades and hearts to the defender and all the other cards to the attacker, as when setting up the first round.

Flow of Play

A quick guide is provided here for reference:

  1. Initial set-up
    • Pick who is the defender and who is the attacker
    • Separate the deck, giving the attacker the diamonds, clubs, and jokers and giving the defender the spades and hearts.
  2. Prepare for a round
    • Attacker shuffles deck, placing it face down and drawing a hand of 5 cards.
    • Defender prepares their defenses, hiding the King of Spades and Queen of Diamonds strategically in a 6 card wide, 4 card deep grid of face-down cards with two additional face-down cards below the last row as the cave.
  3. Conduct a round
    • Attacker targets an exposed area of the defender's wall (unless using a spy)
    • Attacker selects a card to use
      • Clubs attack normally
      • Diamonds are bombs that also reveal an adjacent defender's card
      • Jokers are spies that only reveal any one of the defender's cards
    • Defender reveals their face-down card
      • If it is the King of Spades or the Queen of Diamonds, attacker captures and it is placed face-up on the attacker's side
      • If the attacker ties with or beats the defender, simply proceed
      • If the defender beats the attacker, the defender's card remains flipped up
    • Resolve bomb illumination if a bomb was used
    • Clean up the field after the skirmish
    • Defender selects a card from the attacker's hand (unseen) to discard
  4. Finishing a round
    • Play continues until both of the defender's special cards are found or the attacker runs out of cards
  5. Scoring a round
    • Attacker gets +1 if they captured the king and +2 if they captured the women and children
    • Defender gets +1 if they kept the king safe and +2 if they kept the women and children from harm
  6. Swap roles and repeat, returning to step 1.


Game Design
Andrew Bowers
Anna Bowers
Andrew Bowers
Anna Bowers
Andrew Bowers

Revision History

Version Changes
1.0.0 Initial game design, writing, and publishing completed

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