Here is the raw text of the full color English rulebook also available as a GoogleDoc:
Welcome to the Steampunk world of Cobalt.
For centuries, Cobalt has been ruled by corporations seeking to enhance their wealth and influence through Brass. Brass doesn’t just fuel the economy but literally fuels the technology and transportation of the world through its unique thermodynamic properties. Every day these companies compete and battle to expand their territory and authority. Companies work to optimize their labor force and resources to mine the most Brass in each territory using corporate espionage, technology, security, and even sabotage. You work for such a company and have been tasked with expanding into a new region by constructing new corporate buildings, hiring employees, and battling other companies in the region. The player who earns the most Brass will lead his company to victory in the region.
Each turn, you will play Employee cards from your hand to gain resources. These resources will allow you to acquire new Employees, Buildings and Units for your deck. Along the way, you will acquire buildings to enhance your hold on the region and command units to attack other companies or mine for Brass. At the end of the game, the player with the most Brass is the winner.
The goal of Brass Empire is to be the player with the most Brass Points when the region’s Mining Pool is depleted. When the Mining Pool is depleted, finish the current round ending with the last player and then the player with the most points wins. Players can still earn Brass even when the set number of Brass tokens in the Mining Pool are gone. Use any extra or leftover Brass tokens to track any additional Brass earned in the final round. In case of a tie, tiebreakers are (in order):
- Total Brass Value of a player’s faction cards
- Least amount of cards
- Most Brass Tokens
The Corporations of Cobalt
Harlem Electric Works (Blue)
The progressive Harlem Electric Works company was founded by Harlem Redmond to provide an alternative energy source to Brass. Harlem was not born into wealth and luxury. His father worked long hours on the Windcraft Enterprises assembly line until he was killed in an accident on the job. The official story was that he died when some of the airship fuel accidentally ignited and the Redmonds were paid handsomely to support the story and keep quiet. This tragedy provided Harlem with the financial opportunity to attend college, but more importantly it has shaped his beliefs and motivations. Harlem believes that society’s complete reliance on the fossil fuel, Brass, will eventually lead to its destruction. He also harbors a deep resentment and distrust for Windcraft Enterprises.
While at University for his electrical engineering degree, Harlem was taught by then graduate student, Quentin Edison. Quentin Edison shared Harlem’s vision for alternative power and together they have discovered several new ways to harness electricity and improve its efficiency and power output. These discoveries coupled with their patents on piezoelectric crystals, batteries, and photovoltaic cells have vaulted this young company’s wealth into the stratosphere.
Harlem Electric Works is plagued by gossip. Rumors abound that the company sabotages and steals from their competition. Despite these unsubstantiated rumors, Harlem Electric Works continues to be one of the most profitable companies on Cobalt and is aggressively expanding into new regions.
Stock Reserve Deck:
- Volt Militia (3)
- Battery Turbine (2)
Frontier Rail (Orange)
No company is more dependent on Brass than Frontier Rail. Their business is all about transportation and there’s only one thing that fuels their trains – Brass. With hard workers like Bennett Ironside, Frontier Rail has been able to expand its rail network across Cobalt and has a clear monopoly when it comes to shipping and public transportation. No one can get something across the planet cheaper than Frontier Rail, and the company prides itself on being the first to settle new regions along the frontier. In addition to shipping, Frontier Rail and its subsidiaries produce and transport medical supplies, prosthetics, mining machinery, and some consumer electronics.
Today the company is led by Elizebeth Boyd, a tough gal whose father raised her on the frontier while he worked as a railway contractor. Despite starting at the bottom rungs of the company, her cool demeanor and hard work ethic quickly moved her up the ranks until she was promoted to Chief Executive Officer before her thirtieth birthday. Under her leadership, Frontier Rail has expanded its banking business, increased the protection services for Brass shipments, and doubled its revenue. Despite the accomplishments, or perhaps because of the, there are persistent rumors of thieves roaming the railcars and pilfering from passengers.
Stock Reserve Deck:
- Jetpack Courier (3)
- Passenger Station (2)
Windcraft Enterprises (Red)
Windcraft Enterprises was originally founded by the royal Tarleton family during the Brass revolution. While the company started off catering to the upper class with luxurious sailcars, it quickly became apparent that the real money would be in catering to the masses, and that more efficient manufacturing techniques would be required for doing so. The Tarleton’s were the first to introduce methods for large-scale manufacturing of vehicles with moving assembly lines. While their factories are known for their deplorable working conditions, Windcraft Enterprises is also praised for their quality craftsmanship and superior design. Orville Threepwood deserves much of the credit for current public sentiment of the Windcraft brand. His zeppelin and airship designs are both elegant and deadly.
The transportation market is controlled by Windcraft Enterprises and their chief competitor, Frontier Rail. Both corporations have become enormously wealthy through their joint monopoly. While Frontier Rail serves the common man, Windcraft holds the patent on airship technology and most of the necessary technology and techniques for developing a proper consumer vehicle. Windcraft’s business has extended well beyond manufacturing flying contraptions and vehicles. Through their aristocratic roots, Windcraft Enteprises has also been able to secure major government defense contracts and manufacturing deals. Their weapon designs are said to be even more sophisticated than their sleek new SteamCycle.
Stock Reserve Deck:
- Pester Hound (3)
- Parts Silo (2)
McGlynn Clockwerks (Green)
The McGlynn clan has long served the aristocracy and royalty of Cobalt and continue to serve as policemen today. When Brass was discovered, the family was recognized for its long service and given an earldom. Despite their new patent of nobility, the clan used this windfall to provide an alternative by creating the Cobalt’s first union at a newly created watch manufacturer. That humble watch company has since grown into one of the largest research and staffing firms in the world. McGlynn Clockwerks may be known for its ornate watches and timepieces, but its strength is its people and insight.
McGlynn continues to win lucrative government contracts. They have practically privatized the police force and profited off of the power that comes with enforcing the law. Inspector Harlowe may appear to be a good chap, but it’s rumored that his thirst for knowledge has led to the development of a brutal automated weapon. People whisper that employees from McGlynn’s staffing companies remain loyal and continue to feed the mysterious McGlynn Tower research facility with information even as another company pays their salary. It is said that all knowledge flows through Earl Hildebrand at the Tower, where lies engraved the motto: “Knowledge is power.”
Stock Reserve Deck:
- McGlynn Gumshoe (3)
- Clockworks Factory (2)
Omni-Edo Corporation (Purple)
The conservatively run Omni-Edo Corporation is currently helmed by Chairwoman Himiko Edo. Ms. Edo may have inherited her position, but she is known to run the company with the ruthless efficiency that Omni-Edo has become synonymous with. While Himiko may come off as demure, she has made some of the most cunning financial investments and acquisitions of the past decade. The shadowy Omni-Edo Corporation owns or invests in other corporations, leveraging their wealth and assets to buy and sell smaller companies at an alarming rate.
For the past several decades, Omni-Edo’s obvious specialty has been construction, a legacy of the Edo artisans that crafted building materials and weaponry for the emperors of old. Many of Omni-Edo’s subsidiaries are construction companies and suppliers. By some estimates, up to sixty percent of the parts and materials of every Windcraft Airship and Frontier Rail SteamEngine are supplied by an Omni-Edo-controlled company. Cunning accounting and business practices ensure that even when the client companies fold, Omni-Edo still comes out ahead. Given the company’s tendency for ruthless layoffs, it should be no surprise the corporation is comfortable playing hardball. While little has been proven, some mysterious deaths and espionage have been blamed on elements within the corporation. Omni-Edo favors efficiency above all else and a brute-force approach to most problems, using its vast resources to get its way.
Stock Reserve Deck:
- Corporate Ninja (3)
- Sorting Facility (2)
This game is designed for 1-5 players. Each player has a starting deck of 7 Clerks, 3 Union Workers and a Mining Platform. The Mining Platform starts face up and in play. Take the remaining 10 cards and shuffle them to create each player’s starting deck.
Each player should select a corporation’s Reserve Deck (5 cards) that they should set to the side. Only that player may purchase from their Reserve Deck.
Our recommended corporate starting cards are marked with an R.
Take all of the building and unit cards and shuffle them face down to form the Design Deck.
Take all of the employee cards and shuffle them face down to form the Labor Deck.
From the Design Deck, flip six cards face up in a row between all players to form the Design Department.
From the Labor Deck, flip six cards face up in a row between all players to form the Labor Market.
Place 25 Brass tokens on the table for each player in one large Mining Pool. (The length of games may be shortened or lengthened by reducing or increasing, respectively, the size of the Mining Pool.) The Mining Pool represents the available resources in the region.
Number of Players 2 3 4
Brass tokens 50 75 100
Each player draws 5 cards from their deck to form their starting hand (leaving 5 cards in their deck).
Randomly determine which player goes first and proceed clockwise from there.
GAME LAYOUT GRAPHICS
Employees represent your company’s workforce. Their hard work helps you hire new employees or acquire new buildings and units, among other actions and effects. When you play an employee from your hand, you immediately apply the effect listed on the card. At the end of your turn, it goes into your discard pile.
Buildings are permanent structures that give your company an advantage in the region. When you play a building from your hand, place it facedown to signify that it is under construction. On your next turn, you construct your buildings by flipping over the cards. You will gain the effects on the card as long as it remains in play face up.
Some buildings require you to demolish them (destroy them and place them in your discard pile) to activate their ability or gain resources.
The Mining Platform is considered a building. If it is destroyed, flip it over; it is not automatically rebuilt at the beginning of your next turn. Instead, the Mining Platform can be rebuilt at any time for 1 Construction ().
Units represent the security forces, soldiers, weapons, vehicles and more that you will acquire throughout the game. When you play a unit from your hand, you gain any effects listed on the card if they apply. The units are considered in play and dispatched, but cannot attack or mine on their first turn. On subsequent turns, units can sabotage and attack other units and buildings or spend their time mining and acquiring Brass.
If your personal deck is empty when you need to draw or reveal a card from the top of your deck, shuffle your discard pile to create your new draw deck and continue drawing cards as needed. If both your deck and discard are empty, you are unable to draw any cards.
Employee cards played during your turn go into the discard pile at the end of your turn. Cards played on the current turn are not in the discard pile until the end of the turn, and therefore may not be shuffled into the deck or shuffled to form a new deck until the end of the turn.
Cards you acquire during your turn are placed into your discard pile.
Whenever a card leaves the Design Department or Labor Market, replace it immediately with the top card of the corresponding deck. This always happens before anything else occurs. Any time a player is making a decision, the center rows should be full.
Many cards will have text that contradict these rules. If a card text ever conflicts with these rules, follow the card text. Card text always takes precedence.
At the start of your turn, flip over all of your buildings under construction and resolve any “when built” actions. Any building effects and enhancements on these cards will be available to the player for this turn.
Play employees from your hand to gain Labor (), Construction () and Brass (). Spend these resources to acquire new employees, buildings and units from the center rows. You can purchase any cards from the center row regardless of their corporate faction. Players may also look through and purchase any cards from their reserve deck. Place acquired cards in your discard pile for use in future turns.
Play unit cards face up in front of you. They cannot attack on the turn you place them, but can be attacked by other players during their turns. Play Building cards face down in front of you to signify they are under construction. Buildings are not considered built until they have been flipped over. They cannot be attacked by other players while they are face down. Once constructed (face up), Buildings remain in play and can be used every turn as long as they remain face up.
Some cards have other effects such as drawing cards or dealing damage to units. Simply announce these effects and resolve any damage or actions as you play each card. Any choices required by the card must be made at that time and any conditionals must be met for additional effects, though any Labor () and Construction () generated can be spent until the end of your turn. You do not have to pay any costs to play cards from your hand.
You are free to discard any cards that you do not want to use at the end of your turn.
Units that were played on a previous turn may take one of the following actions each turn:
Mine for Brass: Acquire Brass from the Mining Pool equal to the attack power of the unit. Your Mining Platform does not need to be constructed (face up) to mine with units.
Attack another Unit or Building: Announce what unit or building your unit is attacking and resolve any damage that is dealt. Units and buildings involved in combat deal their damage to one another at the same time. If a unit or building has less than 1 health, it is destroyed and placed in the owner’s discard pile. The player that destroyed that unit or building acquires 1 Brass () from the Mining Pool for every unit or building destroyed.
Example: My Unit has 2 attack and 1 health. I choose to attack my opponent’s 1 attack and 2 health constructed building. I destroy the building and acquire 1 Brass, but my Unit is also destroyed. My opponent acquires 1 Brass.
Use a Unit’s ability, if it has one.
To end your turn, place all of your played employee cards into your discard pile. Any cards that remain in your hand are also discarded. Draw five cards from your personal deck to replenish your hand. Plan out your strategies as other players take their turns.
Ending the Game
The game ends when the available Brass from the Mining Pool has been exhausted. Our recommended pool sizes are based on the number of players:
Number of Players 2 3 4+
Brass tokens 50 75 100
When the final Brass token is acquired, the game ends at the end of the current round (after the last player takes a turn). This way each player will have an equal number of turns during the course of the game. Players can still earn Brass even when the set number of Brass tokens are gone. Use any extra or leftover Brass tokens to track any additional Brass earned in the final round.
Cards purchased through the course of the game also have a Brass Value. This value is represented by a number in the bottom left corner. When the game is over, players need to count up their Brass tokens and the total Brass value of their Deck. Add these values together to get your total score. The player with the highest score has successfully conquered the region and won the game.
Overview: Play against an imposing AI that devours Brass exponentially.
Number of Players: 1
- Set up the game as normal with the labor and design decks on your left, 40 Brass in the Mining Pool and six cards from each deck placed out to make the starting center rows.
- When a card is acquired, all cards shift from left to right and add the new card from the center deck on the leftmost spot of its row.
- At the end of your turn, the AI opponent takes its turn. The cards the AI acquires should be set off to the side and scored at the end of the game.
- Play until the last Brass token is taken from the Mining Pool and if you have more total Brass than your opponent, then you win!
- For an added challenge, play with an equal number of turns.
TURN START: At the start of the AI’s turn, it acquires 1 Brass token plus an additional Brass token for each building it currently has in play.
ATTACK OR MINE: The AI then determines what to do with its units. Units attack in the order that the AI acquired them (left to right).
- If you have more Brass tokens than the AI opponent, its units attack your Mining Platform until it is destroyed.
- If your have fewer Brass tokens than the AI and/or if your Mining Platform is already destroyed, the AI mines with each unit.
If the AI opponent has less than 7 Brass, they acquire the employee at the end of the Labor Market row (the rightmost card). This employee is placed in the AI’s score pile set off to the side and added to your opponent’s score at the end of the game.
If the AI has 7 or more Brass, they acquire the right-most employee card and the right-most design card. The employee is placed in the AI’s score pile and the design department card is put into its play area face-up and considered in-play.
- When an AI controlled building or unit is destroyed, the card is placed in its score pile.
- Once destroyed, AI units and buildings do not reenter play.
Reserve Deck Customization
Overview: Advanced Players may enjoy adding even more deckbuilding mechanics by customizing their company’s starting Reserve Deck.
Number of Players: 2-6 Players
- Players may customize their starting Company Reserve Deck instead of selecting the designated reserve decks associated with their chosen corporation.
- Each player may build their own Corporate Starting Deck from any of their company’s color coded cards. This deck should not consist of more than 10 cards.
- Player Reserve Decks must have the same total Brass value.
- You may opt to include any Corporation Starting cards to the Design/Labor pools or simply remove those cards from the game entirely.
- We recommend a total Brass value of between 8 and 12.
Overview: Work together to conquer the region
Number of Players: 4 or 6 Players (Teams of 2)
- Your teammate is never harmed from your actions or card effects.
- Teammates should sit across from one another and alternate turns with the other team(s).
- You may spend 1 extra labor to place a card acquired from the Employee pool into your teammates discard pile instead of your own.
- You may spend 1 extra construction to place a card acquired from the Design pool into your teammates discard pile instead of your own.
- During your Action Phase, you may attack either player on the opposing team, but not your teammate. Each unit may attack any valid target owned by either player on the opposing team.
- At the end of the game, combine your total score with your teammate’s score to determine the winning team
Overview: This is all out war! Resources and Deck value don’t matter anymore!
Number of Players: 2-6 Players
- Each player should take 20 Brass tokens to represent their corporation’s economic health.
- Cards that normally generate Brass or take Brass from the Mining Pool, now restore these economic health points to the player.
- Units may attack units, building or the company/player itself – they cannot mine for Brass
- Destroying Units/Buildings does not generate any Brass or Life for a player.
- When a unit attacks a player/company, the player loses Brass Tokens based on that unit’s attack power.
- When a player runs out of Brass tokens, their company has gone bankrupt and they are eliminated from the game.
- Last player standing wins.
- Units always attack back even if they were just built this turn and are attacked by another player.
- Damage is persistent – use hit tokens to keep track of how much health a unit has left. Units do not heal at the end of a battle or turn.
- There are currently no cards that heal damage (perhaps in a future expansion).
- Buildings cannot mine for Brass with their attack power.
- Units (such as the Vanguard Mercenary) that generate resources, only generate resources when they are played from your hand – not every turn that they remain in play.
- When you use the “dismiss a card from your hand or discard pile” effect, you cannot play the card you are dismissing to gain it’s effect and then dismiss it. A card used to gain resources is not considered in your hand or discard pile until the end of your turn.
- For the most part, actions can only be taken on a player’s turn. A card must explicitly state that it can be triggered at any time in order to disrupt the current player’s turn or actions. Some exceptions include actions that are triggered when buildings and units are destroyed (i.e. when Chroniker is destroyed you may draw a card).
Brass – Brass is the most valuable commodity in Cobalt and the key to victory in the game. In the world of Cobalt, a few chips of Brass can pay for a month’s worth of expenses or be used to fuel your steam powered vehicle for a year. This valuable resource can be harvested from deep from within the planet’s crust in its liquid molten form. Brass exhibits unique thermodynamic properties making it an incredibly efficient fuel source. In its liquid metallic form, the shiny substance pulses out heat and has been known to burn for years. Corporations often force freeze the substance to cool before molding it into small coins for currency. Brass can always be “reignited” and will burn before melting back into its thick dense liquid form.
Buildings – Buildings are permanent structures that give your company an advantage in the disputed region. When you play a building from your hand, place it facedown to signify that it is under construction. On your next turn, you flip your building faceup and gain the effects on the card once per turn as long as it remains in play.
Design Department – The six face up cards from the design deck that are available to purchase by players represent the design pool. The design deck and pool contain blueprints for Units and Buildings.
Demolish – Many cards have abilities that are triggered by destroying/demolishing them. When a card is demolished or destroyed, it is placed in its owner’s discard pile.
Dismiss – When a card is dismissed, it is banished from the game and set aside in a trash pile. Players cannot interact with any cards dismissed from the game unless they have a card that explicitly says otherwise. Dismissing weaker cards from your deck will make your deck more efficient so your more powerful purchased cards will be in your hand more often.
Employees – Employees represent your company’s workforce. Their hard work helps you hire new employees or acquire new buildings and units among other things. When you play an employee from your hand, you gain the effect listed on the card. It goes into your discard pile at the end of your turn.
Labor Market – The six face up cards from the labor deck that are available to purchase by players represent the labor pool. The labor deck contains employees for corporations to hire.
Reserve Deck – Each player may build and start with a reserve deck based on the company that they have selected to represent. A reserve deck must contain cards of the same faction. These cards may be purchased by the player that the deck belongs to at any time as an alternative to purchasing from the center rows.
Units – Units represent the security, soldiers, weapons, vehicles and more that you will acquire throughout a game. When you play a unit from your hand, you gain any effects listed on the card if they apply. The units are considered in play and dispatched, but cannot attack or mine on their first turn. On subsequent turns, units can sabotage and attack other units and buildings or spend their time mining and acquiring Brass.