Chapter 2: Halfwish Mechanics

The Game Mechanics section of the Halfwish whitepaper will provide a detailed overview of the gameplay systems and mechanics that make up Halfwish

Gameplay and rules

Unpacking the game

Separate the cards into the following piles

  1. 1.
    Basic Actions (Strike, Long Strike, Heavy Strike, Defend, Evade)
  2. 2.
    Map Cards (1 Deck)
  3. 3.
    Powers (1 Deck for each player)
  4. 4.
    Basic Powers (1 set for each player)
  5. 5.
    Upgrades (1 Deck)
  6. 6.
    Hero Classes (Total 6)

Preparing to Play

Step 1: Both players select a Class to play. Each player builds their 10 card deck with basic actions by following the composition of cards stated on their Class Card.
Step 2: Shuffle Upgrade and Location decks thoroughly.
Step 3: Each player will select 3 powers from their Power Deck in secret.
Step 4: Place “Halfwish” and “Feint” Cards beside action card deck (as shown below)
Step 5: Deal 5 random cards from the Map Deck and place them face down in the map zone (as shown below)


We highly recommend first time players to both play a few rounds with the Mirror Deck to familiarise with the game’s basics before moving on to classes.
Mirror Deck composition: 3 Strikes, 2 Defends, 2 Evades, 2 Long Strikes and 1 Heavy Strike

The Board Setup

The Gamemaster
Halfwish is an intuitive game to learn once you start playing, but it can get tricky to teach. But once everyone gets the hang of it, prepare to have an overnighter!
So the best way to get ready for game night is to have a gamemaster read the rules prior and conduct the game for all new players, prompting them on the actions they can take and to help with math (gasp) during duels. If no one wants to be Gamemaster, or if people don’t mind learning, you all can watch this quick 6 minute video tutorial with our beautiful genie.

Click below to watch:

Playing the game

Halfwish is played over 3 rounds of 5 turns each. Every turn is represented by 1 location. The goal is to score more points than your opponent at the end of the game or reduce their health to zero. Players have 25 health, whoever runs out of health loses the game immediately.
Decide who starts the game then follow the following steps for every turn in the game. If conducted by a gamemaster, the GM should prompt players for their action at each step.
1) Both players roll a pair of dice but don't reveal it to their opponent. That roll is their Dice Value (DV).
2) Both draw cards and discard extras until 4 remain in hand. (See Card Drawing Section)
3) Play progresses from left to right on the adventure map. The starting player decides to Duel, Scout or Parley (See Encounters Section)
4) If a duel occurred and no players were reduced to 0 HP, end the turn and go to Step 5. (See Duels Section)
4b) If a parley was accepted, both players can choose to keep their DV instead of rerolling. DVs can only be kept for 1 turn. The turn player chooses first.
5) If it is not the last turn in the round, start again at Step 1 with the other player starting the turn. If it is the last turn of the round, proceed to Step 5b.
5b) Discard all map cards and proceed to Step 6. If that was the end of round 3, skip to Step 8.
6) Deal 5 cards from the Upgrade deck. Players select their upgrades to modify their action deck with. Discard all unpicked upgrades. (See Upgrades Section)
7) Start a new round with 5 new map cards. Both players heal 3 HP and remove any negative effects on them (e.g. Ignite, poison etc). Both players shuffle their newly upgraded action decks and go back to Step 1. The starting player is now the other player that didn’t start the game. Whoever is losing at the start of Round 3 starts that round.

Winning conditions

The player with the most points wins the game.
If points are tied, the tie is broken in the following order:
i) The player with the most lamps won
ii) The player with the most health
iii) The player who scored the first point

Card Drawing and the Action Deck

You draw a different amount of cards on each turn of each round. You must draw every turn. Since your action deck has 10 cards, you should always draw out your deck by Turn 5 each round.
Turn 1: Draw 4 Action Cards
Turns 2-3: Draw 1 Action Card
Turns 4-5: Draw 2 Action Cards
You can only have up to 4 cards in your hand. Excess and used cards will be discarded face up. Your opponent can check your discard pile at any time to gather info.
Players can use the following actions during their turn:

Aggressive Actions

Heavy Strike
Long Strike


Strike for DV (Dice Value).

Long Strike

First Strike. Strike for DV-2.
First Strike is a special ability of the Long Strike action card that allows the player to strike first, before damage calculations are done. Damage from a long strike is only calculated once.
Example: Player A rolls 10 and plays Long Strike, Player B rolls 12 and plays Strike. Setting aside point scoring, damage would be as follows: Player A deals 8 damage to player B. Player B does 12-8=4 damage back to Player A.
First Strike only works against offensive actions.
In the event both players have First Strike, its effect cancels out.

Heavy Strike

Strike for DV+2. Ignores block. When revealed, gain 2 Exposed.
Heavy Strike action card ignores block, if a player plays Heavy Strike, and their opponent plays Defend, the Defend action will not block any damage, resulting in the player who played Defend taking full damage.
Keyword: Exposed. A player takes x more damage from all sources for each stack of Exposed.
Example: If a player takes 2 damage, the player takes 2+2=4 damage.

Defensive Actions



Block DV+2 damage.


Evade the opposing action if your DV is 8 or higher.
If DV is 7 or lower, Evade fails and the player takes full damage.

Hero classes

Class Deck List

If you are new, we recommend:
Mirror Class: 3 Strikes, 2 Long Strikes, 1 Heavy Strike, 2 Evades, 2 Defends
If you have played before, try our competitive ruleset:
Assassin Class: 4 Strikes, 1 Long Strike, 2 Defends, 3 Evades
Knight Class: 4 Strikes, 1 Heavy Strike, 3 Defends, 2 Evades
Vanguard Class: 4 Strikes, 2 Long Strikes, 3 Defends, 1 Heavy Strike
Titan Class: 4 Strikes, 3 Heavy Strikes, 2 Defends, 1 Evade
Ranger Class: 4 Strikes, 3 Long Strikes, 1 Evade, 2 Defends
Rogue Class: 4 Strikes, 1 Long Strike (Innate), 1 Long Strike (Basic), 2 Defends, 2 Evades
Note: Innate means that the Action Card starts in the first 4 cards that you draw on turn 1.

Location Cards



Adventures are exciting events that offer players the chance to make strategic choices that can change the course of the game. These neutral cards can have a variety of effects, from healing to gaining extra upgrades, or making you make decisions.


Hazards are dangerous cards that can impose negative effects on players, such as taking damage or being unable to use powers. Not all hazards are harmful, but most are.


Treasures are coveted cards that offer valuable benefits to the player who triumphs in a duel, such as healing or scoring points. However, not all treasures are as they seem - some may be traps that cause harm to the player who reveals them.

Powers and Basic Powers

Powers are powerful (heh) trump cards meant to swing the tides of the game. Most powers in the game cost Mana to play. Players gain 1 mana on game start and at the start of Round 2.
Both players begin the game with Halfwish and Feint, which are classified as basic powers since they cost no Mana to play.
- Players select 3 Powers secretly at the start of the game after seeing their opponent’s class
- Powers can only be played during duels. They can be played during the preparation or showdown phases. The current turn player will always have initiative to play a power during the start of each phase.
- Powers have to be played one at a time. After a player plays a power or passes initiative, their opponent is given the opportunity to respond with a power before the initiative is passed back. If both players pass initiative, move on to the next phase of the duel or resolve it.
- Only 1 non-basic power can be played per turn.
- Certain map cards grant extra mana to players, allowing them to play all 3 powers in a game.

Basic Powers

Basic powers are simple abilities that have a straightforward effect in the game. These powers include Halfwish, which allows players to set their Dice Value (DV) to 7 or reroll their DV, and Feint, which transforms one of the player's face-up actions to an Evade if the player's DV is 5 or less.


Here are some examples of the Powers that you can use:
Trickster Powers
Avarice: Steal a treasure immediately, gaining its duel reward and lose a point, or steal 1 point from your opponent at the end of the turn.
Scry: Check your opponent's DV and all the face down locations. If your DV is lower, gain 4 DV. If played during preparation, you can choose to cancel the duel and offer a parley instead.
M'nka Giga: Pay 5 HP to challenge your opponent during preparation. DVs cannot change this turn and if you win or tie the duel, steal 2 points and 5 HP from your opponent. If your opponent concedes, you gain 2 points instead.
Defensive Powers
Restore: Heal 15 HP and draw any 2 cards from your discard pile. Refresh your Halfwish.
Bubble: If you are losing, you cannot take damage this turn. Otherwise, both players gain 5 Toughness.
Taunt: You gain 3 Toughness. If played during preparation, your opponent becomes the aggressor.
Offensive Powers
Roar: You gain 1 DV. Your actions strike for 2 more this turn.
Ignite: Deal 2 damage. Your opponent cannot heal for the rest of the round.
Earthquake: Your opponent has -1 DV this turn. If played during the showdown, swap the position of their actions.
Ice Beam: Your opponent loses 2 DV and keeps this new DV value for the next turn.

Upgrade Cards

At the end of Rounds 1 and 2, players enter the Upgrade Phase. Deal 5 random upgrade cards face up for both players to see.
Then the player who is currently losing the game can choose first or second. Upgrades replace basic action cards in a player’s deck, maintaining the total deck size at 10 cards.
A player cannot select an upgrade if they do not have its corresponding basic action that it replaces.
- The player who upgrades first will choose 1 card from the 5 upgrades publicly.
- The player who upgrades second will pick from the remaining in secret.
- Players can opt to skip an upgrade to heal 7 HP.
- Cards stay upgraded for the rest of the game.
If there are extra upgrades granted during the round, they must be spent here. After both players have picked their first upgrade, discard all remaining upgrades face down (so as to not reveal second picker’s choice) and deal 5 new upgrades face up.
The player who picked first will then choose from this new 5. The other player will then pick from the remaining cards. This carries on until both players are out of extra upgrades. Extra upgrades will not be hidden from either player.


There are three options for a player at the start of their turn: Duel, Scout, or Parley.


This option instantly starts combat with the opponent. The turn will end after the duel is resolved. (See below more information on duels below)


This option allows the player to offer their opponent the choice to reveal the current location to both players.
If the opponent agrees, the card is revealed and its effect is applied.
If the opponent disagrees, they initiate a duel with the other player.
The location is revealed and its effect is applied at the start of the showdown, regardless of the outcome of the duel.


This option offers a truce to the opponent.
If the opponent agrees, the turn ends without a duel and the location is revealed with its effect disabled (unless otherwise stated).
After the parley, both players have the option to keep their DV for up to one turn or reroll it for the next turn.
If the opponent disagrees, they must initiate a duel with the player. The location is revealed and its effect is resolved at the start of the showdown, regardless of the outcome of the duel.
It's important to note that every time two parleys are accepted in a row, the player with the lower points will score one point as compensation.
As a GM, it's important to remind players to reroll or keep their DV if a parley is accepted, and to warn players about the potential for parley points during the turn if applicable.


In Halfwish, duels are the primary way for players to score points and damage their opponents.
Players can initiate duels as the aggressor or defend against them as the defender. The aggressor and defender score points differently, and locations, powers, and other effects can also affect the outcome of a duel.
The player who scores the most net points during the duel wins.
It's important to remember that players can play any type of action during a duel, as long as it helps them score points based on their role as the aggressor or defender.
The Game Master should remind players if they are the aggressor or defender before the duel and how they can score points.

Duel phases

Duels are broken into 2 phases: Preparation and Showdown.
Preparation is when players decide which action cards they wish to commit from their hand.
During this time, powers can be played. (See Powers section) Once both players are ready to move on, they can agree to proceed to the showdown.
Upon entering the showdown, committed action cards can no longer be swapped out with cards in hand. Reveal the following in this order:
I) Map card (if it's face down), resolve its effect before moving on
II) All action cards, apply any reveal effects before moving on
III) Both DVs
Afterwards, calculate the outcome of the duel based on what has been revealed. After the calculations, players can take turns to play Powers to try and alter the outcome or lock in the result to progress.
Once both players are out of plays or agree to progress, apply all combat damage, action effects and point changes before ending the duel.
The turn ends after a duel resolves. Whoever scored the most net points wins the duel.

Point Scoring

Duels are the primary way for players to score points and damage their opponents. When a duel is declared, the player who initiates the duel is the aggressor and the other is the defender.
During a duel, the aggressor scores 1 point for every time the defender takes damage.
The defender scores 1 point if they take no damage during the duel, and scores an additional 1 point if the aggressor takes damage once during the duel.
Aggressors and Defenders score points differently during duels.
Score 1 point for every time the Defender takes damage during the duel.
Scores 1 point for taking no damage during the duel.
Scores 1 point if the aggressor takes damage once during the duel.
IMPORTANT: Map cards, powers and reveal effects can sometimes cause players to gain or lose points during the duel by dealing damage or with special effects, take these into consideration when tallying the final net gain of points.
The player who scores the most net points during the duel wins the duel.

Damage Calculations

There are aggressive and defensive actions. Actions that strike are aggressive actions and those that do not are defensive actions.
To calculate duels, always determine how much actions are going to be striking for.
When two aggressive actions strike each other, the lower striker will take the difference as damage. Blocks do not strike and do not do damage.
Actions with the first strike (FS) keyword will strike against other non-FS aggressive actions before calculating the difference.
If the target survives, they will retaliate by striking against the FS action. Here, the lower striker will take the difference as damage, but the FS action cannot deal damage again even if it's striking for more.
Duels are fought with ONE action on Turns 1 and 2, and TWO actions on Turns 3 to 5.
In two action combat turns, actions clash with one another individually. For clarity, refer to the example below:
While actions clash separately, point scoring is determined by the overall outcome of the duel.
In the case of an action with ‘Ignores block’ (e.g. heavy strike) clashing with a defend card, the player that played defend will receive damage equal to full the strike value of the action with ‘Ignore block’.
This also occurs in the event an Evade action fails to meet requirements or if an Evade action faces up against an unevadable action.

Luck and probability in gameplay

Luck and probability play a role in Halfwish gameplay through the use of randomisation mechanics such as dice rolls, action and upgrade card draws.
These mechanics add an element of chance to the game, as players may not always know what actions they will be able to take or what outcomes will result from their choices.
Probability can be managed and influenced through various means in the game, such as by choosing certain heroes or powers that have a higher likelihood of success, or by using items or abilities that manipulate the probability of certain events occurring.
Overall, luck and probability add an element of unpredictability and excitement to Halfwish gameplay, as players must adapt to and make strategic decisions based on the random elements that they encounter.

Extra Rulings and Tips

Unless otherwise stated (e.g. Reveal effects), combat damage, action card effects and points scored from them only apply after a showdown is resolved.
Powers and Reveal effects occur immediately, which can cause points to be altered or kill a player before a showdown is resolved.
Point gains or losses (except pay effects) that occur from card effects will go towards the total tally of points that determine who wins the duel. (e.g. Cheap Shot, Feint Strike, Diamond Hands)
As a rule of thumb, the current turn player will always get initiative for choices regarding map cards, rerolling DV after a parley or playing powers.
Attacking every turn is not necessary. Defending smart and luring your opponent into bad plays is a viable strategy to winning.
Try to play powers as late as you can to give you the most information about your decision. (e.g. scouting first, waiting for the showdown etc.)


Whether a player's DV is odd or even.
Both players bid any amount of points they can afford in secret. The higher number wins the bid and pays with the points they bid.
Cards with Challenge can only be played during preparation. It gives your opponent the option to concede the duel immediately to negate the challenge effect or proceed with the duel and trigger a concede effect.
A player who concedes the duel automatically loses the duel without entering the showdown, ending the turn and triggering duel rewards or penalties if any. DVs will reroll in the next turn.
Cards that are downgraded are permanently transformed for the rest of the game.
Duels are fights between players. Whoever starts the fight is the aggressor and the other becomes the defender.
A player takes 1 more damage from all sources for each stack of Exposed.
First Blood
First blood is scored by the first player that gets a point. First blood is the final tiebreaker.
First Strike
Will deal damage first against offensive actions without first strike before clashing strike values. Then if the target survives, they will get a chance to retaliate with their strike value.
Innate actions always start in your hand at the start of a round. An upgraded innate action will retain innate.
An action or power that ignores something renders it completely ineffective versus itself. (e.g. Ignoring blocks or evade makes the blocker or evader take full damage from the ignoring action)
Lamps are the first tiebreaker after points, 2 lamps grant a player a wish. Lamps do not get spent after use. A wish can only be claimed again by scoring 2 seperate lamps.
The current loser/winner is the player that will lose/win the game if the game were to end now.
Lower/Higher (DV)
Reroll until a lower/higher DV from the current roll. (Min 2, Max 12)
Location cards make up the location map. They can be Adventures, Hazards or Treasures.
Pay (HP/Points)
Paying HP/points is not considered as taking damage/point loss with regards to scoring. Paying is unaffected by damage reductions and will not activate damage checks (Hyper Beam, Point Scoring etc) You cannot pay with what you do not have.
Precise actions cannot have its strike or damage increased.
Poisoned players take 1 damage at the start of every turn and cannot heal for the rest of the round. If already poisoned, they
take 1 damage immediately instead. (This second effect can affect point scoring)
The preparation is the phase before the showdown after a duel has been started. Players can still swap out the actions they wish to commit to the duel and play powers here.
The person who scouted or causes the location to flip because they started a duel.
A card is revealed when it flips up during the showdown phase.
Set (Points/HP)
Set the points or HP of a player to that number. Setting does not count healing or scoring points during duels.
The showdown phase occurs when both players agree to lock in their actions in the preparation. Flip the location if its face down and apply its effects before revealing all action and DVs. Players can play powers here but actions are locked in.
Take something for yourself. You cannot steal from 0.
Stunned players cannot start a duel. i.e. They can't deny scouts or parleys.
A turn is represented by 1 location. A round is 5 turns.
A player takes 1 less damage from all sources for each stack of Toughness.
Cards that are transformed become the new card only til the end of turn.
True Damage
True damage cannot be blocked or reduced. But can be evaded.
This action cannot be evaded.
+/- X DV (this turn)
Passive bonus or reduction of X DV. Rerolling will not remove this bonus/reduction.
Gains/Loses X DV
One time bonus or reduction of X DV. Rerolling will remove this bonus/reduction.