Learning Orendao is Exploratory.
This rulebook is a survival guide. It’s designed to get you essential information, quickly.
I like to imagine I’m stranded in nature. I scramble for basics, like fire and water, to survive. I’m clumsy, but I persist. Eventually I master the elements, and encounter others who have.
And, to pass the time, we duel.
— Jared and the Hidden Hands
Nature is an imagined 3x3 space with: 3 planes, 3 spaces per plane. Each duelist has the plane nearest them, with Nature’s plane between them.
There are 12 tiles: 3 of each Element. Each element will hop, swap, cover, or destroy the other elements.
To Duel: take control of elements in your plane. Then outmaneuver your opponent to remove their control.
The direction an element points determines it’s control: Horizontal ↔ neutral, Vertical ↕ controlled.
An element is either Neutral, Controlled by You, or Controlled by your Opponent. In this example: you control 3 elements; your opponent controls 2; can you spot them? Can you spot the 4 neutral elements?
To win: remove your opponent’s control of the elements, if their turn ends and they can’t move OR control any elements you win.
The Duel begins in Day — When there’s a gap in Nature’s plane: fill it from the Day Stack — face-up, predictable.
When the Day Stack empties — cycle to Night: fill Nature’s plane from the Night Stack — face-down, bringing Void.
When both stacks empty — Storm: Destroy all elements in both duelists planes. If both duelists lose control, the Duel is a draw.
Sort all 12 tiles by element. Stack up, one at a time, in order: Water, Wind, Earth, Fire… Repeat to complete the Day Stack.
Fill all three spaces of Nature’s plane. Start nearest the draw stack.
Duelist 1: Choose your opponent’s first element. Move it to an adjacent space in their plane. Fill the gap in Nature’s plane.
Duelist 2 : Choose your opponent’s first element. Move it to an adjacent space in their plane. Choose an element to discard (into the Night Stack). Fill the gaps in Nature’s plane.
Who goes first? First round: whoever doesn’t own the deck, decides. Following rounds: the player who lost last decides.
Take control of an element: point a neutral element, in your plane, at your opponent. You now control it. Elements remain under your control unless they are destroyed or covered (see Elements).
or, Move an element: forward, backward or diagonal, to an adjacent space. Interactions can trigger more moves (see Elements); when the last element finishes moving your turn ends.
or, Take control, then move an element:
Nature’s Response — check for the three Nature events: Fill when there’s a gap in Nature’s plane (common). Cycle when the draw stack empties (periodic). Storm when both stacks empty (uncommon).
If can’t take an action, you lose. If your turn ends and you don’t control an element you lose. (Void and covered elements don’t count towards control.)
Matched elements hop: Moving element taps the target; then continues moving to the next plane.
Allied elements swap planes: Moving element takes target’s space; then target moves back toward the plane moving element came from.
Balanced elements cover: Moving element is placed on target; target is covered. Cover is powerful (see Elements: Void and Cover).
Opposed elements destroy: moving element takes target’s space; then target is discarded.
Cover affects control example: When a controlled element covers a neutral element: take control of target.
Cover affects Control
Void covers: Moving Void is placed on target; target is now covered — all cover rules apply.
Void lose: the moment your plane is filled with Void, you lose.
When there are gaps in Nature’s Plane:Fill them with elements from the draw stack. Always fill the gap nearest the draw stack first.
Cycle to Night — When the last element is placed from the Day stack:
Cycle to Day — When the last element is placed from the Night stack:
Storm — When there are no elements in the draw or discard:
The only direction has been to create a game that feels alive and timeless. Not tedious. Not frivolous. One that rewards reflection and exploration, rather than the endless pursuit of novelty.
These conversations have spanned several years among a fluid, multidisciplinary group of fascinating individuals defined by their commitment to meaningful work.
Many of them have never met.
Jared has dubbed them the Hidden Hands.
More at jaredcc.com