How to Play Achroma

Gather your friends, pick up your cards, and prepare to do battle.

What you do matters. With each step, you influence the power of Achrom or Chroma, and the future of characters inside the Realms. 

Spend Shards – your life energy – to  battle with heroic Characters, equip them with Objects, harness vital Locations and unleash cunning Actions. 

Begin your adventure.

Digital Download

Here's a handy PDF Rules Reference with the most up to date rulings, keywords and glossary:

Version: 2.0.1

Canvas Rules: 2.0.1

Game Setup

Achroma is a fantasy card game for 2-6 players. Battle to shape the future of the Five Realms where the ravages of a dark energy called Achrom is spreading, diminishing the magical life force known as Chroma.

During a game of Achroma, you'll spend Shards – your life energy – to Deploy and battle with heroic Characters, equip them with Objects, harness vital Locations and unleash cunning Actions. Doing so will enable you to gain, drain and steal Shards in return. To win, gather 30 Shards in your bank or reduce other player's banks to 0.

  • Your Canvas

    The game area in front of each player is called a Canvas. A Canvas should have an area to Deploy cards and a space for a player’s Palette, Shard Bank and Dregs.

    A player’s Palette and Dregs sit in a non-play zone on the Canvas, meaning they’re unaffected by game abilities that target cards on the Canvas. Some game abilities do however allow you to affect a player's Dregs or Palette.

  • Your Palette

    Each player needs a deck of 30 Achroma cards called a Palette. Achroma box sets contain ready-to-play, pre-constructed Palettes, but you can also build your own Palettes from your Achroma card collection. You can purchase pre-constructed Palettes from our web-store.

    A Palette in the Canvas game mode has the following restrictions:

    • Up to 1x Legendary card
    • Up to 4x Rare cards, but no more than 1 of each unique card
    • Any number of Uncommon and Common cards, but no more than 2 of each unique card
    • All cards in the Palette need to share the same Realm symbol in the top left. However, this restriction does not include Realmless cards which are cards with no Realm symbol and can be included with cards from any Realm.
  • Your Shard Bank

    Each player starts with 10 Shards in their Shard Bank. Players spend these Shards to Deploy cards from their hand. Deployed Achroma cards have abilities that allow a player to Gain, Drain, and Steal Shards from other player’s Shard Banks.

    To keep track of your Shard Bank, we recommend using the free Achroma app for iOS and Android, but tokens or dice also work, you could even use a pen and paper!

  • Your Dregs

    Your Dregs are where your Erased and discarded cards go. Each player has their own Dregs and cards placed here should be face up. Your Dregs will be empty when you start the game.

  • Your Hand

    Your hand consists of cards drawn from your Palette or obtained through other ways that are not yet in play. Your hand shouldn't be shown to other players unless stated by an in-game effect. During a game of Achroma, you will be likely to Deploy, TRADE and discard cards from your hand.

    Each player starts the game with a hand containing 5 cards. There is no limit to how many cards you can have in your hand during the game. If you do not like your first hand of 5 cards you may shuffle them back into your Palette and draw 5 new cards. Your second draw of 5 cards is final and must be used as your opening hand.

How to Play Video


Achroma is played over a series of player turns, each consisting of four steps that must be completed in order. If possible, the active player completes all four steps in their turn before play is passed clockwise to the next player. Play continues to go round until there’s a winner. Our companion app determines which player starts first. If you are not using the app then decide the first player randomly by another means; Flip a coin, Rock Paper Scissors etc.

Taking Your Turn

Start Step

In the Start step, you may do one of the following: Draw or TRADE.

To draw, take a card from the top of your Palette and place it into your hand.

To TRADE discard one card from your hand, sending it to your Dregs. Add that card’s Shard value (the number of filled Shards in its Hex) to your Shard Bank. There is a 6 Shard overall TRADE limit for how many total Shards you may receive from Trading in your Start and End steps combined. Any cards with abilities allowing you to TRADE additional times in your turn or gain extra Shards for trading do not count toward this TRADE limit. You may still TRADE cards that have a greater Shard Value than the remaining amount of Shards in the TRADE limit, for example if you have already TRADED for 5 Shards and decide to TRADE a card with a Shard Value greater than 1, you may still TRADE it but you will only get 1 Shard due to the 6-Shard limit.

If you are playing a two player game, the first player should skip their first Start step and go straight to their Main step. If at any point in the game you run out of cards to draw from your Palette, you may either TRADE or skip the Start step. Furthermore, if you run out of cards in your hand as well as your Palette, you must play with what you have left on your Canvas.

Main Step


You may Deploy up to three cards during your turn, this does not include cards Deployed for free* due to other card abilities. Deploy cards from your hand by placing them face up on your Canvas and taking away Shards in your Shard Bank bank equal to the Deployed card’s Shard Value.

*Cards deployed ‘for free’ include cards Deployed as a result of other cards with abilities that explicitly state that a card may be Deployed onto a Canvas for free. Cards Deployed for free due to Shard reduction do still count towards the 3 card limit per turn.

Characters, Locations and Objects may only be Deployed in your Main step. Actions may be Deployed any time during your turn, not just the Main step, but still count towards your three card total for each turn. Action cards may even be deployed before your Start step or after your End step.

Some cards have a gameplay ability that becomes active when it arrives on the Canvas. If the gameplay ability has the keyword ‘ACTION:’ before it, this ability triggers and concludes just once immediately after the card is Deployed. Otherwise, the ability may be activated every turn the card is on the Canvas if possible. ‘ACTION’ effects on cards have priority over other active gameplay abilities on the Canvas and therefore trigger first.


At any point during your Main step, each Character on your Canvas may make one attack against a Character on another Canvas. Characters cannot attack the turn they are Deployed, but can attack from the turn after.

To attack, select one of your Characters (called the attacker) and declare their target (called the defender, not to be confused with the keyword DEFEND). Attackers and defenders deal Shard damage to each other at the same time equal to their Strength, which is displayed in a circle at the centre of their Hex.

For each ‘point’ of Shard damage a card takes, its Shard Value (the number of Shards in its Hex) is reduced by 1. When a card is reduced to 0 Shards, it is Erased and sent to its owner’s Dregs.

If a Character has any attached Objects, the Objects add their Strength on top of the Character’s. Objects also take Shard damage, and do so before their attached Character does. If an Object is Erased, any remaining points of Shard damage is carried over and applied to their attached Character. If a Character has multiple attached Objects, their controller chooses in which order they take Shard damage.

Characters and Objects that survive an attack but have sustained Shard damage remain damaged until the active player ends their turn, as more damage could be dealt from further attacks and Actions.

Resolve Step

In the Resolve step some cards on your Canvas may allow you to Gain, Drain or Steal Shards, this is referred to as a card's 'Achroma effect'. To resolve a card, check the top right corner of a card (where a card’s Achroma effect is located) and the resolve abilities of cards on your Canvas. Resolve 1 card at a time.

[+1] means you Gain that many Shards in your Shard Bank.

[-1] means you Drain that many Shards from another player of your choice's Shard Bank.

[±1] means you Steal that many Shards from another player of your choice's Shard Bank.

A player’s Shard bank can't be affected by another player’s Steal, Drain or any other effects or abilities until everyone has had their first turn. For Steal and Drain, you must resolve each card’s Achroma effect fully against one opponent; you may not split the Steal or Drain on one particular card. E.g if a card has Steal 2, you must choose 1 opponent to Steal 2 from, you may not split it and Steal 1 from 2 different opponents.

[Ø1] means Prevent. When other players are attempting to Steal and Drain from you, Prevent allows you to stop a number of Shards leaving your Shard Bank each turn. As the target of a Drain or Steal, you can choose which Shards to prevent from leaving your Shard bank. If you Prevent a Steal attempt, you don’t lose a Shard and the player attempting to Steal doesn’t receive one.

Your Resolve step ends when you choose to enter your End Step.

End Step

In the End step, you can Draw or TRADE, just like in the Start step.

Pass Turn

After the End step, the player’s turn is over when they verbally pass the turn. This allows for the Deploying of Actions even after your End step, provided you have not already played your 3 total cards for the turn. Once a player’s turn has ended all cards that received Shard damage return to their full Shard Value, then the next player begins their turn and continues until there is a winner.

Winning The Game

Play continues clockwise until one player reaches 30 Shards in their Shard Bank or all other player’s Shard Banks have been reduced to 0 Shards.

Leaving The Game

When a player’s Shard Bank reaches 0 Shards, they’re out of the game. A player who is out of the game removes their cards from all Canvases. Any cards on their Canvas that belong to other players are sent to their original owner’s Dregs.

Any RESTRAINED, CLAIMED or SECRET cards are also sent to their original owner’s Dregs.

How to Read an Achroma Card

Card Type fundamentally defines how you can play the card.

There are four card types:

Character | A hero, villain or creature that can attack other Characters and wield Objects. To play a Character, Deploy them onto your Canvas. Characters are Deployed on the top row of your Canvas.

Location | Depicting landmarks and iconic areas that can provide powerful benefits. To play a Location Deploy it on your Canvas. Locations are Deployed on the row below Characters on your Canvas.

Objects | Mighty weapons, tools and talismans. When held by a Character, they lend their Strength to attacks and defence and may offer unique abilities. To Deploy an Object, attach it to a Character on any Canvas, show this by overlapping the cards. A Character may have any number of Objects attached to it. Realm Relics are the most powerful Objects, and therefore a Character may only wield 1 Realm Relic at a time. They may still have other Objects attached and you may have more than one Realm Relic on your Canvas. When it is attached the Strength of the Object is added to the Character’s Strength as a modifier. If the Character attacks/is attacked, the attached Object will lose its Shards first. Should you have more than one Object attached to the same Character, you may choose which Object deals/receives damage first when attacking or defending. If you Deploy an Object onto an opponent’s Character and the Object has an ‘ACTION’, you get to resolve this effect, not the opponent. However once the ‘ACTION’ is resolved, the Object is now theirs to control and resolve. Objects cannot exist on the Canvas without being attached to a Character unless otherwise specified e.g. Objects that can attach to Locations.

Action | These powerful spells, events and resources are single-use cards that are Deployed onto your Canvas, resolved and then immediately placed in your Dregs. You can play an Action from your hand any time in your turn, but still counts towards your turn Deploy limit. An Action card is considered on your Canvas whilst you are resolving the effect. When deploying an Action card, you must resolve as much of its ability as possible, even if this has a negative impact on the player who deployed it. This is only mitigated if the ability is prefaced with ‘you may’, in which case you can choose not to resolve certain parts of the ability, or if you are able to resolve all effects on an opponent.

Heroic Cards | A special sub-type that appears on certain cards. These cards represent iconic and eventful Actions, Locations, Characters and Objects across the Realms, so you may only have one copy of the same Heroic card present on your Canvas at any one time. If a second copy of a Heroic card is Deployed onto a Canvas while the original copy is still on the Canvas, the original copy is Erased before any game abilities are triggered on the second copy.

Realm Symbol | Represents which Realm the card is from. When building your Palette you can only use cards with the matching Realm Symbol, or Realmless cards.

Card Name | The familiar name used for the card within the Realms. All cards have a name, and it represents the Character, Location, Object or Action in the best way.

Strength | The number at the centre of the Hex. When this number appears it means that the card has a Strength that can be used during the Main step of the game. The Strength of a card is taken into account during attacking and defending and represents the amount of Shard damage a card can deal in an attack. The Strength of a card cannot deplete or increase unless stated by certain card abilities.

Gameplay ability | The text found in the area in the lower half of a card representing a unique ability or action that some cards can perform. The gameplay ability area often contains keywords which you can find in the glossary at the bottom of this page.

Card ID | The unique number of the card within the set in which it was released in.

Lore | The italic text on the card that gives you a little bit of flavour as to what has been happening across the realms and an insight to the significance of a card. This has no effect on the in-game abilities of cards.

Hex | Represented by a hexagon in the middle of the card and has multiple functions. The colour of the frame tells you the rarity of the card:

  • White frame - common
  • Silver frame - uncommon
  • Gold frame - rare
  • Multi Coloured frame - legendary

Inside the Hex are 6 Shards represented by triangles. Empty Shards appear grey. A Shard is full when it has some Chroma or Achrom in it. A Shard can be defined as either Chroma or Achrom:

  • Chroma | A source of energy, power and life in the Five Realms. Each coloured Chroma Shard represents a different Chroma element. A card featuring at least 1 of these Chroma Shards can be considered a Chroma card.
  • Achrom | A corrupting dark energy. A card featuring at least 1 of these Achrom Shards can be considered an Achrom card.

A card which contains both Achrom and Chroma Shards can be considered as both an Achrom card and a Chroma card.

If the Hex of a card on the Canvas is rendered empty, then the card goes into its owner's Dregs unless stated otherwise. Actions and Attacks are the most common way for cards to end up with an empty Hex.

Achroma effect | A card’s Achroma effect appears in the top right hand corner next to a number, and can sometimes appear in the game ability section of a card. All Achroma effects impact the Shard Bank in some way. There are 4 Achroma effects:

  • Gain | Add the specified number of Shards to your Shard bank.
  • Drain | Choose another player. They must subtract the specified number of Shards from their Shard bank.
  • Steal | Choose another player. Subtract the specified number of Shards from their Shard bank and add the same number of Shards to your Shard bank.
  • Prevent | Stop the specified number of Shards from leaving your Shard bank when it is targeted.

Specific Gameplay Rulings

Some cards have gameplay abilities which grant bonuses when cards are Erased from specified Canvases. These abilities do not count for the card with the ability itself as the card is Erased before the ability can activate. These abilities will only trigger if the card with said ability remains on the Canvas after the Erase effect has been fully resolved.

Keywords and Glossary

For an up to date list of keywords and glossary terms please check out our Keywords page below: