Debt (represented by the symbol ) is an alternate cost for some cards and Events in Empires. It allows the buyer to take tokens instead of paying the full cost of the card. Players who have tokens may not buy cards or Events. tokens can only be removed from a player by paying per token at any point after playing Treasures or spending Coin tokens during the player's Buy phase, unless otherwise specified (e.g. allows paying off tokens during the Clean-up phase). A player cannot play any more Treasures or spend any more Coin tokens once they have begun to pay off . may not be paid off when allows you to buy a card from the Black Market deck.
A cost in
is orthogonal to a cost in a ; cards with in their cost do not cost less or more than cards with a cost. and are similarly not comparable.
Empires comes with 40
tokens, but the mechanic is not intended to be component-limited.
List of Debt cards
does not incur debt when it is bought, but when it is cleaned up from play—in effect, allowing you to buy other things for instead of that turn.
List of Debt events
Tax allows players to add to any Supply pile and all Supply piles start with .
is a Landmark where players bid with for 8 and take the that they bid if they win.
Okay so Debt. That reddish hexagon means you don't pay for City Quarter or Royal Blacksmith up front. Instead you take some tokens that say how much you owe. While you have the tokens, you can't buy cards or Events
. Those are the only things you can't do; you can still play cards, including the one that got you into Debt if you draw that one; you can still trash cards and get attacked and win the game and so on. You can pay off Debt tokens in your Buy phase, before and/or after buying cards, at per token. So, you have , you buy City Quarter, you get , you pay off 4 of it immediately, you have 4 debt left. In your next Buy phase, if you had , you could pay off the rest of your and then have left to spend. Get it? It's pretty simple. The one tricky thing is how these things work when cards compare costs. There it works like : apples and oranges. A reddish hexagon with an 8 isn't more or less than . There's a rulebook, okay? It covers all the tricky things. And uh why a hexagon, why that color? The physical tokens are reddish hexagons.