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Virtue Signal is a bucket of cannibal maggots in which only the most psychotic survive. Players in Virtue Signal role-play as activists on the Social Justice Left. Through activism, journalism and personal acts of progressive virtue you attract NPC followers to your cult of personality.

House Rules and Local Variants

The rules in this book (and on the cards) are guidelines only. If you and your gaming quorum can think of better ways to play, for heck’s sake do it. House rules are strongly encouraged. If everyone agrees, of course.

Every card in the deck is optional. As the size and complexity of the deck expands exponentially and the hand-strain from shuffling this behemoth becomes a serious health hazard it may be in your interest to configure the content of the deck to your liking. Take out whatever you want. Maybe stick some Exploding Kittens® cards in there too. Why the heck not right?

A list of popular house rules will be curated here. When it's ready.

Overview

The first player to assemble a coalition of followers worth a total of fifteen (15) points is the winner. Players can hamper the progress of other warriors by using various special cards, and by accusing them microaggressions. Microaggressions can be removed by virtue signaling.

Setup

Separate the character cards from the rest of the deck. Shuffle the deck and deal seven cards to each player. Place the remainder of the deck in the center of the play area. This is the draw pile. Discards will be placed face-up to one side of the draw pile. Each player selects a character and places it on the play area in front of xem. The character card is the center of what will become the player’s coalition.

Coalitions can become quite large and take up a lot of space, so do ensure that you are playing at a table of size.

Plot cards will be placed in the center of the game area next to the draw pile. More on plots in a later section.

CHARACTERS, FOLLOWERS, AND COALITION-BUILDING

The colored dots on the sides of a follower card indicate the card’s alignment(s). These determine how followers connect to your character and to each other. Followers may only be played if there are open (unused) dots on the edge of a card already in play that has the same alignment as a follower card in your hand. Green connects to green, red to red, and so on.

Follower cards connect to each other end to end or end to side, but never side to side. Follower cards may never overlap.

If a follower card would be played in such a way that dots of different colors would connect, this action is disallowed.

NPC Followers

Follower¹ cards come in three types:

¹ The words "NPC" and "Follower" are used somewhat interchangeably. These two words both refer to the same thing.

Level One

Represents individuals. These are very simple single-issue people with only one alignment.
They are worth one point.

Level Two

Represents activist groups.

They have two alignments and are worth two points

Level Three

Represents large institutions such as corporations. These are particularly woke, and have three alignments. They are worth three points.

EXAMPLE COALITION

In the example below, Captain Fedora by default can only play followers with blue and red alignments. (Henceforth referred to as his core alignments). Playing the level two and three groups Comet Ping Pong and League of Homely Skanks enables him to begin playing yellow.

END-OF-CHAIN

End-of-chain is a game concept that refers to follower cards to which no other follower card is attached downstream (away from the character card).

Generally speaking (unless otherwise specified) attacks that steal or destroy NPC follower cards may only target the ends of chains.

NPC followers that are orphaned (i.e., not connected to the character card by a chain of other followers) are automatically destroyed. For this reason special cards that break chains are particularly powerful and rare².

2 You Didn't Build That is an example of a chain-breaking card.

Alignments

Microaggressions, virtue signals, characters and followers have one or more of the game’s four alignments.

Alignments govern how NPCs can connect, which microaggressions can be played on which NPCs, and which virtue signals can be used to remove what kind of microaggressions.

You don't necessarily need to remember what these mean, just match the colors. Red for red, blue for blue, etc.

The alignments are as follows:

Politics (Blue)
Economics (Red)
Diversity (Green)
Identity (Yellow/Orange)

Order of Play

Player left of the dealer goes first (obviously) and play proceeds to the left in perpetuity.
A player may then make take one of the following actions on his turn:

  • Play a follower card to xir coalition
  • Play a microaggression card against another player
  • Play a virtue signal card
  • Play a plot card
  • Play a special card (special cards sometimes allow additional actions to be taken.)
  • Discard one card (take no other action)

At the end of xir turn each player will draw their hand up to seven cards (unless you are The Burnout. More on him later.)

Microaggressions and virtue signals

A microaggression is an accusation of some progressive infraction against another warrior.
Microaggression cards are played on top of a follower card in a player’s coalition. Only one microaggression card can be played on a follower at a time.

When a microaggression is played on a follower that follower is rendered inert. That follower cannot have other followers added to them, and they do not count toward the player’s point total.

Unless you are the Antifa Crusader, the alignment of the Microaggression must match one of the alignments of the targeted follower. So level three followers (having three alignments) are vulnerable to three different kinds of microaggressions.

Unless otherwise indicated, followers with a microaggression card played on them are immune to being stolen or destroyed. Is microaggressing yourself for protection a good idea? Maybe.

To remove a microaggression, one must play a virtue signal card of the same alignment (color) as the microaggression card. Red for red, blue for blue, etc.

When a Microaggression is removed, both it and the Virtue Signal card are moved to discard.

SELF-HARM

It is not forbidden to play a harmful card (such as microaggressions) against yourself. There may be strategic reasons for doing this. On other occasions you may be forced to do this.

Virtue signaling on behalf of other players is also permitted. If you are Captain Fedora your strategy will revolve around this.

Stealing and Destroying

There are several special cards that allow a player to either steal or destroy followers in another player’s coalition. Unless otherwise indicated, the following rules should be observed:

This is dense but we gotta get through it.

  • Only end-of-chain followers may be targeted. i.e., you cannot attack a follower in the middle of a chain (You Didn’t Build That is an exception).
  • For a card to be stolen the attacking player must have open spaces of the appropriate alignment (color) in xir own coalition. If there are no such openings this action is disallowed.
  • If multiple followers are stolen by a single action the attacking player may reorganize the captured followers in xir own coalition as xe pleases. If they cannot all be connected to the attacker’s coalition the action is disallowed.
  • If multiple followers are destroyed or stolen in a single move these attacks are considered to take place sequentially. i.e. when the first follower card is stolen or destroyed the follower it was attached to may become end-of-chain and thereby become vulnerable to a subsequent attack.
  • Followers that have a microaggression played on them cannot be destroyed or stolen unless otherwise specified. Orphaned cards are an exception and will be destroyed regardless.
  • If an attack is global (affects multiple players, e.g. Toxic Masculinity or the Elder's sonic boom), the defending player may choose which of his cards get destroyed.

    If the attack is personal (targeted at one player individually) what gets destroyed is at the attacker's discretion.

Alignments

Microaggressions, virtue signals, characters and followers have one or more of the game’s four alignments.

Alignments govern how NPCs can connect, which microaggressions can be played on which NPCs, and which virtue signals can be used to remove what kind of microaggressions.

You don't necessarily need to remember what these mean, just match the colors. Red for red, blue for blue, etc.

The alignments are as follows:

Game Gender

In the base game some plots, specials and character powers are affected by a character’s gender. Future expansions will develop this concept further. These will each be explained individually.

For purposes of gameplay the following characters are considered to be male by default.

  • The Antifa Crusader
  • The Marxist Academic
  • Captain Fedora
  • The Soy Boy
  • The Venerable Elder
  • The Burnout

And the following are considered to be female. By default.

  • Miss Problem Glasses
  • The Lipstick Lesbian
  • The Twiggy Wiccan
  • The Trustafarian
  • Azn Riot Grrrl
  • The Brood Matriarch³

3 The Brood Matriarch may can choose to identify as male or female. More on her later.

Plots

Plot cards are universal modifiers that change the manner in which the game is played. Up to two plot cards may be in play at one time⁴.

If you desire to play a plot card and two plots are already in play, you may choose which of the two existing plots will be replaced.

Just a Normal Monday cancels all plots currently in play. Deprecated plots are moved to discard.

4 S.C.U.M/Mansplaining and Vicious Cycle/Patriarchal Oppression are mutually exclusive and may not be in play simultaneously. Playing one automatically removes the other.

Race To the Bottom

While Race to the Bottom is in play any successful microaggression attack destroys one end-of-chain follower from the target’s coalition. The destroyed follower need not be the same follower that was targeted in the attack.

Thermidorian Reaction

When this plot is in effect only the current game leader may be the target of microaggressions. The game leader is determined by total number of followers, not including followers currently disabled. Thus the position of leader may change several times before the Reaction is finally over.
In the event of a tie, all players tied for first place are considered the leaders.

Vicious Cycle

While Vicious Cycle is in play any player who holds a microaggression card must play it on xir turn.
In the event that there are no viable targets in the coalitions of other players, the player must target xirself.

If there are no viable targets in any coalition or if the player does not hold a microaggression card the player may play normally.

If you are the Antifa Crusader you must play all the microaggression cards you are able to play on your turn. Live by the molotov, die by the molotov.

SPECIALS

Safe Space

The safe space card is unique in the game in that it can be used to cancel any action that targets you personally. To cancel an action the player need merely announce that xe is using xir Safe Space card. The action is then considered never to have happened, and both the Safe Space and the cancelled card are discarded.

Plots, other safe spaces, and cards that affect all players cannot be cancelled by a safe space. Some things are beyond the ability of coloring books to fix.

Note that the safe space can cancel any action that targets them. This includes actions that are technically not considered attacks.

Safe Spaces do not protect against Gaslighting.

Jobs

A job card is a skip card. Playing it skips the turn of the player specified. The job card is placed on top of the targeted player’s character card and can be removed by that player on xir next turn.

Multiple job cards can be played against a single player concurrently, and must be removed by the affected player one turn at a time. It's a real drag, and it sucks that your friends would do that to you.

You Didn't Build That

This special destroys any level three follower card (that is not protected by a microaggression or other means) regardless of its position in the target’s coalition. Any cards orphaned by this action (that is, no longer connected to the character) are destroyed, regardless of their status.

Gaslighting

When the Gaslighting card is played the attacker may look at another players hand and then immediately take xir turn as if xe were that player. For gameplay purposes that player’s turn is not considered to have been skipped, but to have been taken out-of-sequence on that particular round.

Since the target’s hand is out of xir control, and because the attacker’s serpent wit is so beguiling, of course cancelling the action with a safe space would be quite impossible.

Triggered!

Players who have been triggered discard their entire hand and may re-draw at the end of their next turn. Players who self-trigger may re-draw immediately.

Trigger Cascades: If you trigger a player who is holding a Triggered! card, the hysteria will spread to another player of the initial target’s choosing. If that player is also holding a Triggered! card it spreads to another player specified by the second targes, and so on, etc.

Cards are not physically discarded until the cascade is complete. Thus players holding multiple Triggered! cards (it happens) can spread the hysteria multiple times.

DISPUTE MEDIATION

Conundrum. In your hand you hold a Go Viral card which tells you you are able to play all the followers in your hand. At the same time, S.C.U.M. is in play (and you are male) which means you are not allowed to coalition-build. What do you do and to whom do you listen?

If there is a conflict between a plot, a special or a character power/artifact, (it happens) the plot will take precedent over the character power/artifact and the special card will take precedent over both. Like so:

Special > Plot > Character power/Artifact

Since Go Viral is a special and S.C.U.M. is a plot you may play your followers no matter what S.C.U.M. says.

CHARACTERS AND CHARACTER POWERS

Almost done, hang in there.

Miss Problem Glasses

Superpower: Verbal Armageddon

Whenever a Race to the Bottom plot card is in play your attacks do double damage.

Miss Problem Glasses may destroy two follower cards with a microaggression attack during this phase rather than the usual one. The first victim is the follower targeted by the microaggression but the second may be any end-of-chain follower she chooses. This counts as a single attack.

The Antifa Crusader

Superpower: Burn it Down

There is no limit to the number of microaggression cards the Crusader can play on his turn. His microaggressions may ignore follower alignment.

If the Vicious Cycle plot is in play the Crusader must play all the microaggressions in his hand.

The Marxist Academic

Superpower: Resource Redistribution

During his draw phase the Academic may blind draw ONE card from another players hand. This counts as his draw for that turn, even if after redistributing resources he is still below seven cards.

Captain Fedora

Superpower: Le Chevalier Blanc

Virtue signaling on behalf of a female character entitles you to one of their followers.

If a follower in a female character’s coalition is affected by a microaggression card, and Fedora has a virtue signal with the corresponding alignment he may play it on her behalf. Both the microaggression and virtue signal cards are discarded, and Fedora may move an end-of-chain follower from her coalition to his.

Fedora may steal any unprotected end-of-chain follower, not necessarily the one he liberated.

The Lipstick Lesbian

Superpower: Sapphic Allure

Walk Away cards allow the Lipstick Lesbian to steal two followers rather than the usual one. Both followers must be from the same player, normal rules of coalition-building still apply. Attacks are considered to have taken place in sequence. (If, for example, stealing a dependent card makes the next card upstream end of chain it can be stolen too.) This counts as a single attack.

The Brood Matriarch

Superpower: Genderfluidity

Change your in-game gender as frequently and as often as you like.
At the beginning of xir turn The Brood Matriarch character may opt to change her gender. Genderpivoting does not count as an action.

The male/female marker supplied with the game is there to help players keep track of which gender Brood Matriarch identifies as currently. When xe wants to pivot, xe may simply turn the marker over.

The Burnout

Superpower: Spanging

On Burnout’s draw phase he may mooch a card off of another player. This works similar to the game Go Fish. He may beg for a virtue signal card, a microaggression card, or a level-one follower card. He must specify the alignment. If the targeted player does not have the requested card the Burnout gets nothing, and may not draw from the draw pile that turn.

It is possible for the number of cards in the Burnout’s hand to drop below the usual seven.

Azn Riot Grrrl

Superpower: Tit for Tat

Azn Riot Grrrl may instantly retaliate in kind against anyone who attacks her personally She may not retaliate against cards that affect multiple players even if she is the only one affected.

With the following caveats:

  • Microaggressions can be retaliated against with other microaggressions regardless of alignment.
  • If Riot Grrrl is subject to multiple attacks by one player in a single turn she may retaliate that number of times.
  • For any other kind of attack, Riot Grrrl must retaliate with the exact same card, provided she has one in her hand.
  • These action(s) is instantaneous and does not count as a turn.

For example if Riot Grrrl is attacked by You Didn't Build That, she may immediately retaliate with You Didn't Build That if she has one in her hand.

The Venerable Elder

Superpower: Age of Aquarius

Whenever either the Summer of Love or Flower Power plot cards are in play the Elder is impervious to microaggressions.

Superpower: Sonic Boomer

The Elder is not permitted to attack any other player personally until his coalition point total reaches eight. (Attacks refer to microagressions, walk away, you didn’t build that or triggered! Any other card is allowed.)

As soon as his point total reaches eight the Elder flips over his character card to reveal his final form. This transformation instantly causes every other player to lose one follower from xir coalition. Affected cards are at the discretion of their respective owners.

After his transformation the Elder may attack other players normally.

This change lasts until the end of the game, even if the Elder’s follower point total again drops below eight.

Note this transformation comes at a cost. When assuming boomer form the Elder's bottommost yellow alignment changes to red. If you had anything connected there those followers are now orphaned.

The Twiggy Wiccan

Superpower: Psychic empathy

Whenever a virtue signal card is played by any other player the Twiggy Wiccan may also benefit from its effect, removing one microaggression of the same alignment as the virtue signal card played. She may do this for herself, or on behalf of another player.

Twiggy Wiccan must respect virtue signal alignment even if the Flower Power plot is in play.
This effect may also be used when someone is virtue signaling on Twiggy's behalf.

The Soy Boy

Superpower: Estrogen Rampage

Whenever the Soy Boy is affected by three or more microaggressions he becomes able to play an unlimited number of cards of the same type on his turn. This includes multiple microaggressions, multiple virtue signals and multiple followers.

When he drops below three microaggressions again he loses this power and returns to normal. Soy Boy may microaggress himself in order to trigger his rampage.

If Soy Boy reaches three microaggressions by aggressing himself, his rampage will come into effect on his next turn.

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