Beyond the players being able to cheat fate and control randomization slightly, the crew masters have a limited ability to do so as well. This is where those soul stones come in to play. Soul Stones are fragments of pure magical power in the game world, and can be used to that effect in gameplay. Masters can spend a Soul Stone to flip an additional card on an action and add the value together. This is particularly handy when trying to clear out some beefier minions or when you are trying to get a specific suit to show up for a trigger effect. In most cases, the resulting value of your flip will be too high for anything other than your opponents master to contend with. Additionally, masters can spend a Soul Stone for an action point and make a healing flip. This allows them to heal between 1 and 3 wounds. As with damage, this is broken down into weak/moderate/severe or 1/2/3. 1-5 is 1 Wound, 6-10 is 2 Wounds, 11-13 is 3 Wound, a flip of the Red Joker heals any damage taken and a flip of the Black Joker heals nothing. This can also be done in reaction to damage taken due to losing a duel, allowing your master a certain extra layer of survivability.
Getting started is fairly easy as well, and fairly low cost. You will need a crew, and Wyrd sells crew boxes that are ready to play and a complete gang in the box itself. These are 25 soulstone crews and contain a crew master, models for the gang in the flavor of the faction as well as all stat cards necessary to play and as a selection of upgrade cards. These can be purchased from Wyrd for between $40 and $50 USD or you can try your favorite local retailer or online store for varying prices. The rules themselves can be purchased for $40 USD for the standard size book, or $15 for the miniature soft cover version of the rules book. Both contain the same information, but the larger book will have more artwork and background story for you. There are no faction books to purchase, but you can buy a complete deck of cards for your faction which include all current models and upgrades for your chosen faction and can be bought for under $10 USD. You will need something to act as counters for soulstones and in game effects, a tape measure for movement and ability measurement. You will also need a fate deck which can be purchased for under $10 USD or you can use a normal deck of cards with the jokers included as long as you have the suit conversion sheet handy. You will also want a dry erase marker to mark damage on cards during the game. As miniature wargames go, the price point to enter the game is very low, and the upgrade system allows you to use the same models in varying ways so a simple crew box will allow you multiple ways to play for a long time.
This is the most basic of overviews for the game itself, there are a lot of nuances to the gameplay. In a lot of ways it feels like chess, easy to learn the basics, but a lifetime to learn all there is to know. It has a medium learning curve and will take a little bit to get right, but the rules are very well written and relatively easy to understand. The skirmish aspect of it is quite engaging and the low model count makes games relatively quick. I've heard people refer to it as the spiritual successor to the old warband game Mordheim, and in a lot of ways it does feel like that only much more evolved. It is a very rewarding game if you are looking for small scale tactical combat, and it doesn't have nearly the same amount of downtime as other games. It feels very fast paced and that's a good thing, and the diceless aspect of it is surprisingly enjoyable. I feel it is well worth the time to seek out demo games at your local gaming store or club, and it is certainly a game we'll be discussing further in the future.