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Rules focus: Essence - the source of all magic

Essence is a mystical and potent form of energy that flows throughout the world of Astira. While only a handful of humans among thousands are gifted with the natural talent to draw in ambient essence, this energy can also be stored in essence crystals of varying quality. The crystals themselves are formed through the crystallization of raw essence over long periods of time or by essence beasts that draw in the ambient energy and form crystals in and on their bodies to store the energy.

Let’s take a look at how essence will impact your Shroudfall games and how players who carefully plan their essence usage will come out ahead.

Essence in Shroudfall

On the battlefield, essence enables your units to use powerful abilities or to improve their combat abilities. Your army gathers all essence it produces in its essence reserve.

The Essence Reserve

Over the course of a game round, you collect essence in your army’s essence reserve. The most common way to do so is through unit activations: At the end of every unit’s activation, you may add the unit’s essence value to your essence reserve. All units in your army may use the essence from your essence reserve, and there is no benefit in hoarding too much, as the essence reserve is cleared at the end of each game round. In addition to this, some abilities and some scenarios allow you to gather additional essence.

Essence value on a unit card
You can find the essence value of each unit in the bottom right corner of its unit card.

Essence can be spent in various ways. Let’s take a look at essence abilities, essence infusions, and essence rerolls!

Essence Abilities

Essence abilities represent all kinds of magical abilities or talents that are empowered by essence. They are split into active essence abilities and reactive essence abilities. Active essence abilities may only be used during a unit’s activation, while reactive essence abilities may only be used when a certain trigger event occurs - this could be during or even outside of a unit’s activation. A common trigger would, for example, be if a unit is hit by an attack or suffers damage.

Sometimes, essence abilities are so powerful that they require you to sacrifice an action in addition to paying the essence cost of the ability. These essence abilities are marked with an A+, which is short for Action AND essence cost:

Not all active essence abilities have to be paid with essence crystals. Some can also be activated by drawing on the ambient essence of a unit. In the game this is represented by sacrificing an action of the activated unit. These essence abilities are marked with an A/, which is short for Action OR essence cost:

Essence Infusion and Essence Reroll

Instead of using essence abilities, you can also enhance the performance of your units in key moments on the battlefield. Every unit may infuse a hit or damage roll by removing one essence crystal from your essence reserve and adding a die of the same color as the removed essence crystal to the respective dice roll. Through essence rerolls, on the other hand, you may reroll a complete dice roll at the cost  of any essence crystal from your essence reserve. This will enable you to increase the likelihood of your key attacks, but it comes at the cost of precious essence that could have been used for abilities.

There is never enough…

You will quickly realize in your games that one statement holds true for all armies:  There is never enough essence. You will have to plan ahead and adapt to the ever-changing battlefield situation. Using an essence reroll now might mean you can’t use a key ability later. At the same time, being too conservative with your essence might mean that you will fall behind an enemy force which is cunningly applying its arcane resources.

We will continue our “Rules Focus” article series in the next weeks by taking a look at creating your army lists for Shroudfall games and why scenarios play a bigger role in this than you might expect.

Always remember: There is never enough…


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