Last updated 8 April 2002

(artwork copyright 2001, Fantasy Flight Games)

Vortex Variants

I'd like to make this page the place to go for rules variants on Vortex. Vortex has an unusual and wonderful property that a lot of other games don't have; it can be treated as a "piece set" for creating other games with similar themes but much different play strategies. So, here, I would like to explore some of the rules variants that other players and myself have used during play.

Initially, I'll categorize them as follows;

1. Rules options. Basically the same game, but with "house rules".
2. Game variants that play as a different game, but include the use of the Vortex.
3. Game variants that don't use the Vortex at all, and thus, don't use "essence counters".

Comments and new rules or variations are encouraged! Please submit them to me, I'll be happy to post.

I'm sure other categories will pop up over time, but this is a good start. If you have rules questions about certain tiles, go check out FFG's site. I'm sure they'll have a FAQ section and a rules listing.

Rules Options

1. Multiplayer Rules

Tile Ownership; Use colored tokens to indicate whose tiles are whose. Good/Evil alignments are irrelevant, but all other tile limitations are still valid.

Multiplayer layouts; Initial Vortex layouts (multiple) are made with the contingency that all initially played Strongholds must be exactly 2 spaces from each other. For 3 players, a triangle of 3 hexes works. For 4 players, there are a few different configurations, the one I like uses 6 tiles arranged in 2 rows of 3 each.

Multiplayer Burn; If a player has the least number of tiles touching the mega-Vortex at the end of his turn, he loses an Essence. You could also play that the two lowest lose an Essence, or that only the player with the most touching doesn't lose a point. That would speed the game up a lot. Of course, in that case you could use more Essence counters.

2. Ignore colors of Cost Points. Use any colors you want. All "cost points" become generic (requires use of optional Tile Ownership rule above).

3. To the last man; play until there are no creatures left, or if there creatures owned that can't be killed by either player, then the highest "buy" value wins.

4. Play for kill value; first player to reach XX creature-buy points wins.

5. Floating Strongholds option; Player may sacrifice all 3 actions for the sake of moving a Stronghold one space. This is handy when a creature is "locked" due to the fact it's in between 2 separated Strongholds.

6. Use of a common "deck"; Players are dealt a hand of creatures from a common deck of 24 tiles (that the owner of the game puts together...great way to introduce new players). If players don't have XX creature points, then they discard or draw up to the right number. Ignore colors of Cost Points.

7. Same as #6, but ignore Cost Points. Whatever you get is what you get. This is much like getting dealt a hand in Poker, there may be no balance at all. In a 3 player game, this isn't nearly as important, as the weaker players can always gang up on the stronger one.

Game Variants with the Vortex

The Vortex Generators

1. This variation is set up just like normal, but the Vortex, while in play, does nothing except separate the initially played Strongholds. The Essence counters are not used. The difference is that the initially placed Strongholds (the Vortex Generators) require 8 points of damage before they are destroyed. Whoever loses their first Stronghold is out of the game. This would work well in a multiplayer mode, too.

Game Variants without the Vortex


1. In this version, don't use the Vortex at all, or the Essence counters. Use adjacent 10 pt. Strongholds as two starting tiles. Whoever loses their starting tile, is out of the game. Optionally, you can kill all of the other player's creatures.

Monster Melee

2. Don't use Strongholds or the Vortex. Monster selection for your "army" is based on the Cost of the total Monsters. Use a 20 point army, or whatever you can both agree on. Creatures are played adjacent to each other, monsters can't attack the turn they are brought into play. Just a straight out monster mash! Winner kills all of opponent's creatures. No essence counters used.

Tom Jolly

April 8, 2002