Last updated 3 Jan 2015
(artwork copyright 2001, Fantasy Flight Games)
Vortex is a tile-laying game, that is, the game board is made up of creatures and strongholds that you play during the game. The creatures can move around the edge of the hexagonal melee, the strongholds stay in place and generate energy ("Output") with which you can create more creatures and strongholds. The object is to control the Vortex, that big red tile shown above, by having more of your tiles adjacent to it than the other player AT THE END OF THE OPPONENT'S TURN. This gives the other player a whole turn to mess you up. If you control the most adjacent spaces, your opponent loses an "Essence" counter at the end of his turn. If you lose 3 Essence counters, you die.
There are four different types of tiles. Three of them are shown above, which are Minions, Strongholds, and Events. The missing one is called a "Relic". It's basically an Event you can use over and over; a permanent object you put in front of yourself during play. The tile with the lightning bolt on it is an Event. You use it once and discard it. Note that the layout above is not a normal game layout; you wouldn't ever have an Event tile played in the melee, and the Stronghold would be the same color as the Minions created (there are 8 different colors you can get). This is just a rough visual sample of what the tiles look like and what the symbols mean.
Minions have a little helmet in the upper left corner. They are your army of creatures in the game. In the case of the Nkalla Pillager, the "2" in the star-shaped area is an Attack number. The "1" in the shield-shape is a defense number. The "2" in the blood-drop-shaped area is the number of life-points the creature has, and the "2" inside the green-arrow is how far it can move on its turn. Movement consists of moving along the outside edge of the melee, along the hex-sides of each tile. In the upper-right corner, there are two purple dots; this is the cost in Stronghold Output to bring the creature into play. The yellow bar on the upper left edge is the range; this means it has a range of "1", that is, it can only attack adjacent Minions and Strongholds.
Strongholds provide the power to create creatures. They have the little tower symbol in the upper left corner. The one shown produces one Output per turn, indicated by the single blue ball on the left-hand side of the tile. The "1" is its defense, and the "2" is its "life". Strongholds can be killed just like creatures. However, they can't attack or move.
Of the three small tokens shown above, the biggest is an Essence counter, the blood drop is a damage counter to show that a creature has been hit, and the white energy-ball is an Energy Counter; you can get these by eating dead creatures, and spend them on various things during the game.
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 PDF listing of all the rules.
April 8, 2002