#refugee is a multiplayer, strategy card game in which players assume the role of countries that affect and/or control the destiny of refugees fleeing their respective homelands.

The game includes:

  • 40 refugee cards (black backed)
  • 40 action cards (red backed)
  • 80 vetting cards (white backed)
  • 1 special 6-sided dice
  • 1 rules booklet

Final packaging design is not 100% finalized, but the above list is going to be pretty darn close to what the end product will contain.


Object of the Game

#refugee card game is a 2-4 player, turn-based strategy card game in which players assume the roles of countries attempting to address an acute global influx of refugees. Players take turns discovering certain facts and pieces of information about each refugee. Leveraging this knowledge, players then make choices on how best to manage the effects that these refugees will have on the security of their borders and countries. #refugee card game affords players flexibility the form of alternate win-conditions as well as ad-hoc collaboration in games with more than 2 players. Will you try to allow as many refugees as possible into your country or will you try to eliminate your opponents by redirecting “undesirable” refugees away from your borders?

The game ends when any player has successfully accepted 8 refugees.

The winner is then determined by which player accumulated the most points. In the event of a tie, the player that accepted more refugees is the winner. If the is still a tie, the game ends in a tie.

If the Refugee Deck is exhausted and there are no refugees left in play, the game ends before any of the standard win conditions are met, the winner is the player that accepted the most refugees.

What's Included

The first step in playing a game of #refugee is to get the Refugee, Action, and Vetting decks ready.  These should be place in the center of the table so that they are easily reachable by all players. Typically, for 4-player games, it's best to designate a dealer.

Alternatively you can assign one player to be the dealer and set the three decks off to the side. This method seems to work better as it clears the middle of the table for easier movement of refugees.

Refugee Deck

Refugee CardRefugee cards have black backs. Shuffle and place the Refugee Deck face down on the table.

Read more about Refugee cards.

Action Deck

Action CardAction Cards have red backs. Shuffle and place the Action Deck face down on the table.

Cycle: At the start of each players turn, that player may discard one Action Card that has the Cycle keyword and draw a new Action Card.

Read more about Action cards.

Vetting Deck

Vetting cards have white backs.  Shuffle and place the Vetting Deck face down on the table.

If the Vetting Deck is exhausted, gather and shuffle all used Vetting Cards to replenish the Vetting Deck.

Read more about Vetting cards.

Initial Player Setup

Roll the 6-sided die to see who goes first. Marks are worth 1 and bolts are worth 1/2. The player following the highest number of marks goes first. If there are any ties, tied players roll again until the tie is broken. Game play is clockwise from the starting player.

Initial Hand & Refugees

Each player is dealt, face down, five (5) Vetting Cards and one (1) Action Card. Then a Refugee Card is dealt, face-up, in the In-Country Zone in front of each player. Depending on personal preferences, players may choose to hold their Action Cards in their hand or keep them face down on the table in front of them.

It is important to note here that the context in which the refugees are placed in front of a player represents that they are in-country, but undergoing whatever vetting process each respective country has. They have not formally been accepted into any country.

Player Turn Sequence

Each player follows three basic phases as as a part of their turn: 1) Roll & Draw; 2) Vetting & Action; and 3) Resolution.

Roll & Draw

  1. Roll the 6-sided die to see how many Vetting (white marks) and/or Action (bolt or a red mark depending on which die you have) Cards to draw.
  2. If you have less than 3 Refugee Cards in front of you, draw another refugee from the Refugee Deck and place it, face-up, in front of you in the In-Country Zone. If you already have 3 Refugee Cards in front of you, do you NOT draw another Refugee Card. This does not mean you can't have more than three refugees.
  3. For each white mark, draw a Vetting Card and put it into your hand. For each bolt/red mark, draw an Action Card.

Vetting & Action

On your turn, you must play the same number of Vetting cards that you drew in the Roll & Draw phase (this corresponds to the number of white marks on the die). To play a Vetting Card, simply declare which refugee you are vetting and place the card on top of the corresponding Refugee Card.


  1. You may play Vetting Cards on any refugees (yours or those of your opponents) in play that do not already have 3 Vetting Cards assigned to them.
  2. A refugee may not have more than 3 Vetting Cards unless effected by an Action Card that allows more than 3.
  3. Origin Bonus (matching region color) is worth +1. You can play cards that have an origin bonus on any refugees. If the region color does not match, the refugee does not confer the Origin Bonus.

    Example: If a refugee has three origin bonus matching Vetting Cards, then that refugee has a +3 bonus that is added to it's Vetting Score.

  4. If all refugees in play have 3 Vetting Cards assigned to them and you have not played all of the Vetting Cards you needed to, you must discard until your hand-size is 5.

All Vetting Cards must be played before any Action Cards are played.

Once all Vetting Cards are played, move on to the Action step of this phase. Starting with the current player, players take turns (clockwise) playing as many Action Cards as they wish. Each player may respond to any previous Action Card played until no players wish to play any more Action Cards. This is similar to how betting and raising works in Poker.


  1. You have the first option to play as many Action Cards as you wish.
  2. Declare each Action Card one at a time, clearly identifying targets as required by the text on each Action Card.
    1. If an Action Card does not explicitly specify which player chooses the targets, the player that played the Action Card chooses the targets.

      Open Borders: Each player chooses one of their own refugees to flee to the target country.
      War: The player controlling the target country chooses the two targets refugees.

  3. If a refugee is already the target of an action that has caused him/her to flee, the refugee is no longer considered to be in a Country Zone, but rather the refugee is considered to be in the Fleeing Zone.
  4. The Action Card phase ends when all players have had a chance to respond (clockwise) to Action Cards played by other players.


After all Action Cards have been played, the resolution phase begins.

  1. Resolution begins with the current player and proceeds clockwise.
  2. Any refugees that are fully vetted and is not the target of an action are resolved first. These refugees enter their respective host countries and player scores are updated.
  3. Any refugees that are the target of an action are resolved, one at a time.
  4. After each refugee that is fully vetted and the appropriate players score is updated.  If a player has accepted 8 refugees, the game ends.
  5. Continue this process until every refugee is resolved.

When there are no more action cards and fully vetted refugees, the next player starts their turn.