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Thunderstone Variant: Wandering Heroes

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Thunderstone Variant: Wandering Heroes

This is a variant for the deck building game Thunderstone. The basic premise of this variant is that, rather than a single village and dungeon, there are a number of villages and dungeons which the brave adventuring parties may go between.

I’ve playtested this variant once. The game lasted about an hour for 4 players. Final scores were 54, 49, 37 and 28.


In addition to a copy of Thunderstone, you’ll need a pawn for each player to represent which village their party is currently visiting.

Village and Dungeon Setup

Shuffle the monster randomizers and deal out 6 randomizers, 2 each in 3 rows. The rows will represent the different villages.

For each village, take the two sets of monsters featured on that city’s randomizer and shuffle them together. Important: These monster piles are not the dungeons!

To form the dungeon for each city, take the top 10 cards from each monster pile from the other two cities. In this way, each city’s dungeon will be built from monsters whose randomizers are in other cities. Deal out 3 monsters from each dungeon as normal to form the hallway.

Now, for each village randomly choose one of the two randomizers to be the current bounty, and place the other one face down beneath the current bounty.

If you only have the base game, shuffle the remaining monsters to form a random encounter deck and set it aside. If you have expansions, use the monster randomizers to pick 4 types of monsters for the random encounter deck.

Finally, use the village and hero randomizers to assign 2 sets of hero cards and 4 sets of village cards to each village.

Player and Deck Setup

In turn order, each player chooses a home village and places their pawn there. The players then create their starting decks as follows:

  • 4 Militias
  • 1 Dagger
  • 1 Torch
  • 1 Iron Rations
  • 1 of each level 1 hero available at their home village
  • 3 different village cards available at their home village


Except as noted here, the game plays as normal.

In addition to visiting the village, entering the dungeon, and resting, players may also travel on their turns.

Visit the Village

When a player visits the village, he may only buy cards available at the village he’s currently at.

Leveling up Heroes

A player may level up militia only into level 1 heroes available at the current village. All other heroes may be leveled up as normal regardless of which village they’re normally purchased from.

Collecting Bounties

In addition, the player may reveal a monster card in his hand matching the village’s current bounty. For example, if the current bounty was “Doomknight – Humanoid,” the player could reveal Lord Mortis, Darkness, or any other monster with that type. When a player does this, he takes the randomizer and keeps it in front of him to show he’s collected the bounty. The bounty is worth 3 points at the end of the game.

If there was another randomizer under the collected bounty, turn it face up to become the new bounty. If this was the last bounty, then the village no longer offers any bounties.

After a player turns up a new bounty, if they turn up a new one and can fulfill that as well they may.

Enter the Dungeon

When a player enters the dungeon, they must battle a monster from the dungeon of the village they’re currently at. If defeated, the monster is replaced as normal from the village’s dungeon. If the player is defeated, the monster is placed at the bottom of the village’s dungeon and replaced as normal.


If you have a spoils ability, you may only buy items from the local village.


The player reveals the top card of the random encounter deck and fights it. This is treated exactly as if the player had entered the dungeon, with the following exceptions. If the player is successful at defeating the monster, he may move his pawn to any other village. If the player is defeated, his turn ends and his pawn stays in the same spot. Regardless of the outcome of the battle, the monster is placed at the bottom of the random encounter deck. A player may never under any circumstances add a monster to his deck as the result of a random encounter.

For all purposes including light and other card effects, the monster is treated as though it were in rank 2 of a dungeon’s hallway.


If you have a spoils ability during a traveling turn, you may only purchase your item from the village you’re traveling to.

Game End and Victory

The game ends when one of the two following conditions are met:

  • Any dungeon is completely exhausted (i.e. no cards left in the deck and all monsters in the hallway killed).
  • Any two villages have no bounties left.

If the game ends because of a dungeon deck becoming exhausted, the player who killed the last monster there gets the Stone of Mystery thunderstone, worth 3 victory points.

Tally up victory points as normal. Each collected bounty is worth 3 points. The winner is the player with the most points. In case of a tie, the player with the most collected bounties and thunderstones wins. Further ties should be broken with fisticuffs.

Posted in Game Variants Tagged with ,

4 Responses

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  1. That's interesting... I only have the base Thunderstone, and I've played a few times with 1 other person, and I tried to play the 'solo variant' once, but it wasn't as fun (felt like moving cards around by myself - which is what it was :P ) So I haven't played with more people, but this sounds like its meant to extend the game play... Does the normal game go a whole lot faster with more than 2 players? SeiferTim´s last blog ..Episode 17: The part of Fargus will be played by Asmor My ComLuv Profile
  2. Asmor said
    I've never actually played it with only 2 players. The normal game does have a fairly constant time, though; the dungeon deck is a timer. With more players, it lasts about the same amount of time but there are fewer turns and fewer resources for each player, so it might feel a bit more cutthroat. It sucks when other people grab the level 3s of the hero you've been trying to upgrade, for example, but just haven't been able to draw.
  3. Chris D said
    Have you tied the variant where you put the heroes you leveled up on top of the deck when you level them? That helps keep people from buying heroes outright. Trashed heroes go to discard as normal. I like this way very much
  4. Asmor said
    I haven't tried that. Seems like it would take a bit of the tension away, as you frequently find yourself having to make a decision about upgrading or buying a hero because it will expose the next level, not to mention making more heroes available and thus less competition for them.

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