Blazon – Design a Heraldic Shield

Blazon game an components

Heraldry refers to the design, display, and study of armorial bearings, a shield used to identify a person or family. The concepts and systems of regular heraldic designs were developed by heraldic officers between 1000 AD and 1300 AD during a period known as the High Middle Ages.

Blazon game

I’ve always been a fan of the medieval time period for its astonishing castles and Arthurian lore. Blazon focuses on one aspect of medieval history; heraldry.

In this game, up to four players blazon shields to gain the most prestige points. Blazon was designed by David Conklin with art by Ian O’Toole, and was published by 25th Century Games.

4 player set for Blazon

Element Cards

There are two types of Element cards to add to your shield in Blazon: Tinctures and Devices. Tinctures are marked with a circle icon, and Devices with a square. Each card also has three other symbols:

  1. Augmentations – A modification to a coat of arms. (Example: fleur-de-lis, castle, or swords)
  2. Prestige Value – Some number of points, awarded when placing the card
  3. Shield Position – Locations where the element can be placed on the shield board


The aim of Blazon is to earn the most Prestige and be crowned the Master of Arms. Score Prestige by strategically placing Element cards on shield boards and by earning Distinctions.

Blazon is played in sequential turns. On your turn, you must either take an Acquire action or Blazon action, along with an optional Herald action.


When taking the Acquire action, draw two Element cards from the Device or Tincture decks, or one from each. Keep these cards or exchange them for cards of the same type from the face-up display. If at any time three cards in the display have an identical Element, you may discard and refresh them. You can only do this once per turn.


Take the Blazon action to play Element cards from hand onto your Shield board. Discard any number of cards from your hand with a combined Prestige Value equal to or greater than the Prestige Value of the chosen Element card to place it. You may overpay, but it doesn’t carry over to a second Element card. Play as many Elements as you can pay for, one at a time, following the placement rules.

All Element cards in a row must share the same alignment (top or bottom).

Additionally, the Device/Tincture symbol on the board must match the card played.

Finally, you may play new cards on top of old cards to replace them. You can even use this to change the alignment if the row is otherwise empty.

Tincture cards have some additional location placement restrictions, pictured on the board.

Tincture card on purple shield board in Blazon
A Tincture card played to the top row of the shield, played by spending a 2-point card.

Herald Actions

Once per turn, you may discard one Herald token to take one Herald Action:

  • Play one Element card from your hand for a cost of only one Prestige.
  • Draw one Element card from either deck or the face-up display.
  • Take the top card from either discard pile.
  • Clear and refill the Device and Tincture face-up displays.
Blazon Herald actions listed on Centerpiece board
Key to the Herald actions


Score points when placing Element cards onto your Shield board and track them with your Shield’s Prestige track. If you are first to land on or pass a milestone (10,20,30,40,50), take an Animal achievement token. These award two Prestige points during final scoring.

Blazon shield board and animal achievement token

End your turn after taking your action(s). Discard down to seven cards in your hand.

Next, if your Shield Board matches the requirements of a Distinction card (at the top of the centerpiece board), place a Distinction marker on the leftmost award space on the card. Players score points for these at the end of the game.

You may only place one Distinction marker per turn, and can only have one marker of your color on a Distinction card. When you are the first player to complete a Distinction, all other players receive a Herald token.

End Game

Gameplay proceeds clockwise until any of the following happen:

  • A player lands on or passes 50 Prestige.
  • A player fills every space on their Shield board.
  • A player claims their final Distinction award.

Once this happens, all other players take one final turn and proceed to final scoring. Each player adds to their score:

  • Prestige for their distinction markers placed during the game.
  • One Prestige for each unused Herald token
  • Two Prestige to the player with the most of each Augmentation symbol on the board
  • Two Prestige for each Animal achievement token
  • Two Prestige if every space on their shield is filled

The player with the most Prestige wins!

Purple Shield final scoring in Blazon
The purple player scored a total of 60 points

Abatement Tokens

Blazon includes an optional ruleset that allows you to break placement rules by spending an Abatement token.

After scoring Prestige for the Element, place an Abatement token on the card. If this token remains on the card at the end of the game, you lose eight points. To prevent this, play another Element card in the correct position over one with an Abatement token. Take the token back to use on a subsequent turn.

Green player uses an abatement token to place a Device misaligned.
Middle Device is misaligned (should be bottom to match the others in the row). Place an Abatement token.


Blazon stood out to me because of its unique theme and gameplay. You’re not pushing cubes or minis around trying to conquer one another. Instead, you’ll construct a colorful shield with different augmentations and devices; it’s very satisfying to look at when the game ends.

Turns usually move quickly, because you can do some planning while waiting for other players. But the ever-changing display of cards will force you to change as you go.

I enjoyed the puzzle of managing my hand, drafting, and figuring out how to place cards on my Shield board within the given parameters.

Herald tokens are a welcome addition to Blazon‘s rules. While not infinite, they allow you to snag an extra card or even replace the whole display when you really need it.

Distinctions force you to race against opponents to score extra points, making them my favorite aspect of the game.

Each player in Blazon focuses on their own board, but the points race provided plenty of interaction for me. In some games, someone did reset the display to try and thwart another player’s race for a Distinction, but you really need to keep an eye on other boards to do that.

The solo mode for Blazon challenges you to score all 25 of the Distinctions before the deck runs out, with some modified rules. You’ll need to shift cards a lot and plan ahead to make things work. It’s one of the harder solo games I’ve played.

Blazon centerpiece board and cards

Fun For Families?

For family play of Blazon, interest level will depend on your kids. The box states 14+, which seems right. This theme will mostly attract teens and adults that really dig the medieval time period. I had a hard time getting it to the table with my 14-year-old daughter and ended up playing it purely with adults.

I loved the historical information included throughout the rulebook. Not only was I learning how to play, a history lesson was included!

My biggest critique is that I needed a reference sheet for the Distinction cards. While some are simple, I had to use the Board Game Geek forums for some clarifications. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the game and so did my gaming group.

Ready to blazon your own heraldic shield? Pick up a copy of Blazon from 25th Century Games or your friendly local game store.

Blazon Device cards

The Family Gamers received a copy of Blazon from 25th Century Games for this review.

  • 7/10
    Art - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    Mechanics - 7.5/10
  • 6.5/10
    Family Fun - 6.5/10


1-4 players
30-60 minutes
Ages 14+