October 1, 2012


Espionage is a card game of connivery and deceit.  Player’s vie to bring success to secretly allied nations while subtly hindering others.

Your mission, if you decide to accept it is to work as a double agent. You must use your hidden power to manipulate politicians, foreign nations, investors, and media sources. While exciting, the mission is also dangerous, and as a wise spy, you know that in the end you must be rich to get yourself out of the game.  To achieve this goal, you must use your insider knowledge and manipulation. Act subtly to cause the rise and fall of whole nations towards your own selfish end. If you play your cards right, and your part convincingly, you may succeed while keeping your agenda shrouded in mystery.

Espionage™ Cover Art


Put the National Security Tracker middle of the game playing area.  Then shuffle and place piles for each countries Crisis deck, the Dossier deck, and the International Incident deck in reach of all players.

Each player takes a Spy, Portfolio, and Vault card and places it in front of them.

The group determines which player is goes first.  Then each player draws 5 dossier cards and chooses one to hide face down under their spy card.  The nationality of the card hidden is the player’s secret allegiance.  Each player, in turn order, also chooses a public allegiance token and places it visibly next to their spy card.  A player’s public allegiance may be the same or different than their secret allegiance.  

Espionage™ Set Up


Play begins with player one and then turns proceed clockwise around the game table.  

Order of play:

1. Current player draws Dossier Cards till they hold 5 cards

2. Play Field Agents if desired

3. Draw and read Crisis Card

4. Player’s contribute support or counter support if desired

5. Adjust the National Security Score accordingly

6. Invest Dossier Cards as Security Bonds if desired

7. End of player turn

1.  Current player draws Dossier Cards

The current player draws Dossier cards till they hold 5 cards in hand.  This is the case in every turn unless that player has a Field Agent card in play that modifies this ability.

2. Play Field Agents if desired

If a player has Field Agents they wish to play, they may do so at this time.  Field Agents are international special agents who work for you.  Each one has a different special ability that becomes active from the moment they arrive in play.

3. Draw and read Crisis Card

A turn begins by drawing a Crisis card from any country that player chooses.  That player should then read aloud the crisis. If the player chooses from the country of their own public allegiance, they start with +2 toward successfully resolving the crisis.

4. Player’s contribute support or counter support

The active player begins by drawing 3 cards face down without looking directly from the Dossier deck to the crisis challenge. This accounts for random support or counter support of interested nations.  Then that player may add any number of facedown Dossier cards of their own. All other players in turn may contribute as many facedown Dossier cards as they like to the crisis challenge as well. After all submissions are complete, the player in current turn displays all submissions and counts the value of cards to determine success or failure of the crisis. Any submitted cards that show the same country representation as is required for success on the Crisis card will aid in a successful resolution of the crisis.  The value of those cards should be counted positively toward the challenge goal and if the goal is met or surpassed then it is considered a success.  Any submitted cards from another country are counter support, subtracting their total value from number the player checks against the challenge goal.  If the number is lower than the goal number at the upper right corner of the Crisis card then the Crisis is failed.  

5. Adjust the National Security Score accordingly

If the crisis is resolved successfully, the National Security Score will be adjusted in the manner suggested on the cards success panel.  If the crisis is failed, the National Security Score will be adjusted in the manner suggested on the cards failure panel.

6. Invest Dossier Cards as Security Bonds if desired

The active player may invest any Dossier cards as Security Bonds if they wish.  To do so, the player places any cards they wish to invest face down under their Portfolio card.  The cards they invest are equal in value to the number on the card and count as an investment in the financial security of the nation represented on the card. This is the investment process that allows a player to eventually put value into their vault, bringing that player closer to victory.

7. End of player turn

That player’s turn is done and the turn begins with the next player in clockwise succession.

The Caledonian Games Developer Journal

Hello and welcome to the Caledonian Games Developer Journal.  This will be a regularly updated journal of progress on many of the games made here at Caledonian Games.

As games are conceived, discussed, organized, and created; Caledonian Games owner/developer, Scott Allen, will post notes and images to help visitors see the Caledonian Games Creative process in action.

Journal Posts

All Dossier Cards come in two varieties, The Field Agent cards and the Espionage cards

Dossier Cards

All player’s draw Dossier cards each turn.  Each Dossier card represents a nation which is notable by the flag printed on the upper edge.  The card also has a value displayed in the upper right. This value represents how many points it can contribute to a Crisis resolve check, how much potential value it holds as an invested Security Bond, or how much wealth it would represent in a player’s Vault.  Dossier cards also have special functions. Some of these cards are Field Agents that may be played in turn and remain on the board providing the services described on the card.  The majority of Dossier cards are Espionage cards.  These are special actions that may be used at any point in the game regardless of turn sequence. If a player wishes to use an Espionage card, they simply interrupt play to announce that they are playing an Espionage card, read aloud its function and take the necessary actions. Once the card’s action is complete play proceeds as usual.   

The Israel Crisis card back (left) and one example of Israel’s Crisis card challenges (right)

Crisis Cards

Crisis card piles are organized by nationality for players to draw from each turn.  These cards represent the challenges faced internationally by terrorism, meddling of governmental and independent institutions, freak accidents, and natural disasters.  Each active player chooses, during their turn, which country they wish to force a crisis upon.  This can serve various purposes.  A player may wish to choose a nation they wish to strengthen with hopes that they can make the nation pass the crisis challenge successfully.  Conversely, a player may wish to choose a nation’s Crisis card in hopes that they fail.  Player’s may also choose various nations simply to disguise the nature of their intentions and allegiances.

The player who chooses the Crisis card must be the one to account for the resolution of the crisis.  It’s their job to count all contributing support/counter-support from players and the random 3 card submission from interested nations.  Additional support may also come from the player’s Public Allegiance token. When a crisis is being resolved, the active player automatically assists resolution of a nation’s Crises by +2 if they are publicly allied to the nation in Crisis.  Support or hindrance may also be caused by Field Agents that are in play which modify a crisis check.

The International Incident card back (left) and one example of the International Incident challenges (right)

International Incident Cards

International Incident cards are global ‘super crisis’ cards that are only drawn when any nation’s National Security falls to zero (X).  At that time the international incident is immediately drawn by the currently active player and that incident must be resolved or failed.  A successful resolution of the incident results in a dramatic security improvement for the nation in peril and a modest improvement for other nations. The consequences of a failure are bad for all nations in play and also result in a purging of Security Bonds of that nation.  A purging of Security Bonds means that all players must display the contents of their Portfolio after the failed International Incident and immediately discard the Security Bonds of that nation with no compensation. After that nation’s suffered the failure and Bonds have been purged, its National Security is reset to 5.

In the case of failure, it is also possible for a cascade of International Incidents to occur due to more than one nation reaching zero (X) in the same turn.  If this occurs, resolve the International Incidents in the order of nations shown from left to right on the National Security Score Tracker (USA, CHN, GBR, ISR, GER, RUS, PAK, IND).  If 3 failures occur in the same turn, it is deemed a Global Security Failure and all cards, from all player’s Portfolios, are discarded and then all nations reset to 5 on the National Security Tracker.  

The Portfolio and Vault cards

Security Bonds

Security Bonds are a spy’s retirement investment.  By manipulating the National Securities of major nations, they are able to operate as shrewd investors, plotting the successes and failures of whole nations in the pursuit of their own wealth.

A player creates a Security Bond during their turn when they place Dossier Cards under their Portfolio card.  These Bonds are now held as investment in the nation that is represented on each card equal to the value printed on the card.  These investments only achieve their value when the player is able to sell them, effectively trading them in for credits their vault.  In most cases, the only time a player may sell their bonds is when a nation is at maximum security.  

Selling Security Bonds and Banking Credits in the Vault   

When a nation is a maximum security, any player may sell off Security Bonds during any turn as long as they have a Field Agent that says they may do so. They may also sell off Security Bonds of a maximum security nation if they are secretly allied that nation.  If a player wishes to do this, they must reveal their secret allegiance card, announce that are trading in Security Bonds, reveal them to the other players and then put them in their Vault.  Since that player successfully aided their secret ally, they also place their Secret Allegiance card in the Vault as well.  After they finish this process, they must choose another card from the Dossier Cards in their hand to serve as their Secret Allegiance and place that face down under their Spy Card.  If the player has no cards in hand, they must draw one immediately from the dossier deck, look at it to determine its nationality and place it face down under the spy card instead. This is now that players new Secret Allegiance.

In rare cases a player may have in play a Field Agent known as The Traitor.  The Traitor allows that player to capitalize on the failed security of a nation.  If a player has The Traitor in play, they may trade Security Bonds of that traitor’s nationality when that nation hits the minimum security mark.  This must be done before the International Incident resolution is completed.    


Victory is achieved when any player reaches a value of 50 in their vault.  


There you go folks!  Presented there in totality are the rules for my new game, Espionage™.  The game has been assembled and is currently going through play testing.  After a few playthroughs, I’ve noticed that the game is a little too difficult and that it would be more fun with a few more random reward/punishment elements thrown in to the mix.  The work on the game continues. Hopefully in time, I will have all the bugs worked out and the game ready for publishing.