The winner is the first player to accumulated 200 kilos of Neptunium, a rare, silvery metal required to complete construction of The Apparatus.
Mines will produce Neptunium for you over time. You can drill mines at outposts you own, or try to take them by force using your drillers, your specialists, and your wits. Devise the right strategies, use the right tactics, and always stay one step ahead of everyone else!
The game also ends if only one player remains.
Note: There is an alternate game mode in which the goal of the game changes from mining to domination. In domination mode the first player to control a specified number of outposts wins, which depends on the number of players in the game. There are no mines in domination mode.
Diplomacy. Being a good strategist will greatly increase your chances of winning, but no matter how great a strategist you are, if other players join forces against you and you don't have allies, you will likely be decimated. Subterfuge is a social game played with other human beings. Talk with your fellow players, make plans together, create trust and good will, and forge friendships and alliances. Or betray them. As in real life, success is heavily influenced by who your friends are and what help they are able and willing to offer.
Each player starts out owning 5 outposts. Players can expand easily at first by taking over outposts that are not owned by any other player. These dormant outposts can be taken without any resistance.
Once all dormant outposts are accounted for, there are only two ways to expand further:
Outposts are the foundation of your strength, and come in three types:
Of your 5 initial outposts, 4 will have drillers (40 each) and one will have your Queen. Your Queen is another source of great strength. She can periodically hire specialists, which are powerful units that influence how the game plays out.
Subterfuge is built atop 8 simple systems that interact with each other in interesting ways. Understanding these systems is essential to being an effective strategist.
Factories produce drillers with which you can defend your outposts, attack other players' outposts, or drill mines. Each factory will produce 6 drillers every 8 hours.
Your electrical output caps the number of drillers your factories will produce for you. If your electrical output is 350, your factories will keep producing drillers as long as you have fewer than 350 drillers. Your Queen gives you a base electrical output of 150 and each generator you own adds an additional 50 to your electrical output.
Outposts have shields that help protect it against attacks. There are two types of shields: weak shields have a maximum charge of 10, and strong shields have a maximum charge of 20. Shields take 48 hours to fully charge. The combat section below has more details on how shields affect combat. Shields may also be disabled and re-enabled, which can be useful if you are trading or gifting outposts.
Subs can transport drillers and specialists. You can try to conquer others players' outposts by launching subs at them, or shift your forces within your territory by sending subs between your own outposts. Subs are created on demand, so they are not a resource you need to worry about.
Subs launch 10 minutes after you issue the launch order. During those 10 minutes you may modify the contents of the sub or cancel the launch entirely. Once the sub launches you will not be able to change its course or recall it.
Subs can also be used to send gifts to other players. Any sub can be turned into a gift at any time. When a gift sub reaches an outpost, all drillers and specialists aboard are transferred to the owner of the outpost. If a gift sub encounters another sub in transit, the other sub's owner takes control of all drillers and specialists aboard and the sub is sent to their nearest friendly outpost. Like sub launches, gifts can be canceled within 10 minutes of the gift order being issued.
Subs encounter in transit if they pass each other while traveling between the same two outposts.
Combat occurs when a sub reaches an outpost owned by another player, or when two non-gift subs owned by different players encounter each other in transit. Combat is resolved in 4 phases:
If a sub wins in combat against an outpost, the owner of the sub becomes the new owner of the outpost.
Mines produce 1 Kilo of Neptunium per day per outpost you own. If you have 7 outposts, two of which are mines, you will gain 14 Kilos of Neptunium per day (7 * 2 = 14). If you lose control of a mine, you also lose 20% of your Neptunium, and the production timer of the mine is reset. Note that the player taking the mine from you does NOT gain any Neptunium, only an increased mining rate.
You can drill a mine at any factory or generator that you own. The cost of drilling a mine depends on how many mines you've already drilled:
The required number of drillers must be present at the outpost where you intend to drill
Each outpost is equipped with sonar and its owner can see everything happening within a certain radius of it.
You can see a sub (i.e. its position, number of drillers it's carrying, and any specialists aboard) if one of the following is true:
You can see an outpost (i.e. its type, and the number of drillers and any specialists present) if one of the following is true:
The location of all outposts is known to all players. The one exception to the outpost visibility rules involves mines. All players can see the location of all mines, in and out of their outposts' sonar range.
A player may fund another player if they have at least 20 Kilos of Neptunium more than that player. Funding costs the funder nothing. The player being funded, however, gets +50 to their electrical output, and each of their factories produce 2 additional drillers per production cycle. Funding can be withdrawn at any time and is automatically withdrawn if the Neptunium gap between the players drops below 20.
Specialists are powerful units that break and change the rules of the game. They change the way the systems described above interact with each other, giving rise to a surprisingly large number of possibilities. They are the main source of strategic depth of the game.
The Queen may hire her first specialist 4 hours after the game starts and an additional one every 18 hours thereafter. A newly hired specialist is placed at the Queen's outpost. The queen may only hire a specialist when she is at an outpost.
Some specialists may be promoted. You may choose to promote a specialist instead of hiring a new one. A specialist may only be promoted while at an outpost.
Here's a schematic explaining some of the relationships between the different systems described above.
There are three ways you can get eliminated from the game:
If you are eliminated, the following things happen:
Everything else is unaffected. An eliminated player's factories will still produce drillers, their shields will keep charging, they will still be able to chat and see everything within their outposts' sonar range, etc.
This rulebook has everything you need to know to get started, but there's a lot more to learn and master beyond these basics. The best way to learn is from other players, both friends and foes, so go play some Subterfuge!
If you'd like to dig deeper before diving in, there are a number of resources available to you: