Seating order can be determined by whatever method the Methuselahs choose. Randomly determine a Methuselah to act as first Methuselah. For each Methuselah, the Methuselah to your left is your prey (1). They are the Methuselah you hope to oust from the game. The Methuselah to your right is your predator (2). They are the Methuselah who hopes to oust you from the game. When your prey is ousted, the next Methuselah to your left becomes your new prey.
Each Methuselah takes 30 blood counters to form their starting pool (3). The remaining blood counters are placed in the central area to form the blood bank (4). The number of blood counters in the blood bank can never run out, just use additional counters, coins, stones etc as needed.
The Edge (5) begins the game uncontrolled and is placed in the central area as well.
The area in front of each Methuselah is divided into two regions: the uncontrolled region (6), and the controlled region (7). The controlled region is further divided into two areas: the ready region (8) and the torpor region (9). Torpor is a special area for wounded vampires. As the game progresses, you will gain control of some of your minions, moving them to the ready region, face up.
To begin, separate your crypt cards (10) from your library cards (11). Shuffle both decks and allow your predator to cut both. Place both decks in front of you. Draw the top seven library cards to form your hand (12) and deal the top four crypt cards face down into your uncontrolled region (6). You can look at the cards in your hand and in your uncontrolled region at any time during the game.
IMPORTANT TERMS IN THE GAME
Burn: When a card is burned, it is placed into its owner’s ash heap (discard pile). The ash heap can be examined by any Methuselah at any time. When a counter is burned, it is returned to the blood bank. Sometimes, an instruction may say to remove a card from the game. While some cards and effects can retrieve cards from the ash heap, cards that are removed from the game cannot be retrieved or affected in any way. When a card is burned or removed from the game, any counters or other cards on it are burned.
Control: Vampires put into play by a Methuselah are controlled by that Methuselah.
A master card in play is controlled by the Methuselah who played it, even if it is played on a card controlled by another Methuselah.
A minion card in play is controlled by the controller of the minion it is on. If a minion card is just in play and not on another controlled card, then it is controlled by the Methuselah who played it.
Control can change through game effects and this is clearly noted when using those effects.
Locking and Unlocking: During play, you will turn cards sideways 90º to lock them, indicating that the cards have been used for some particular purpose or effect. Unlocking a card restores it to its original position, indicating that the card is reset and will be able to be locked again later. Only unlocked minions can perform actions or block the actions of other minions.
Rules of Card Ownership: The cards you start the game with are referred to as “owned”. Your cards can become controlled by other Methuselahs but are never owned by them. At the end of the game, the cards you own are returned to you. If you are ousted before the end of the game, any cards that you own that other Methuselahs control remain in play until burned as normal.
The Golden Rule for Cards: Whenever the cards contradict the rules, the cards take precedence.
“During X, do Y”: The “during X do Y” template is used in several cards. When this template is used, only one Y can be done per X with this card. For instance, you may move blood from your vampire to your pool with Vessel only once per unlock phase.
“Lock X to do Y”: These effects require an unlocked minion to be used, they cannot be used by locked minions.
“Search”: Some effects have you search your library or crypt. You do not have to announce the card you are searching, and searching can result in not finding the card. If you search your library or crypt, you must shuffle it afterwards.