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Start Tantalus!
Press the "Start Tantalus!" button to access the tutorial and game!
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There are 4 phases in each round of Tantalus.
  • Plan
    Plan your actions each round. Don't forget to hit "Commit"
  • Threaten
    Threaten other players. If they ignore you, you pay less to retaliate
  • Revise
    Revise your planned actions if they violate a threat
  • Execute
    Execute to see the fruits of your labors; how were metrics and victory points impacted during this round? Were threats acted on?
Welcome to Tantalus, the three-player war game in which you play as the leader of a country and win through the development of key, national-strategic capabilities. Please refer to the Reference Sheet for key concepts in the game. For a more detailed walk-through of the game including the rules, please refer to the Manual. Both items are at the top of the page.


Actions enable you to influence resources and satisfy goals in order to win
  • Attack
    An Attack will decrease another player’s metric.
  • Invest
    Raise your metric of choice by a certain amount; does not directly affect other players.
  • Steal state secrets
    Espionage! Lightly damages the other player’s initially highest metric. Stealing state secrets is different than other actions.
    1. It costs you 1 resource, you will reduce the other player’s initially highest metric by 2, and…
    2. If you steal 3 state secrets (they can be stolen from the same or different states), you are guaranteed 1 Victory Point
    3. If you have been threatened by another player, stealing a secret from them will always trigger their threat. This means that they will get to retaliate against you for a discounted resource cost

Victory Points (VP)

There can be more than one winner; if you accumulate 3 or more victory points, you win!

  • Highest Metric VP
    3 VPs available: 1 per metric (Manufacturing, Mining, and Infrastructure). Compete to win a VP for each metric; the player must have the highest metric value, and it must be greater than >14.
  • State Secrets VP
    3 VPs available; 1 per player (you don’t have to compete with other players for this one!). Steal 3+ secrets from any state.
  • Not-Last VP
    1 VP available. Compete to not have the smallest value in any metric. Ties are won by the player with the greatest sum of metrics (Manufacturing + Mining + Infrastructure)
  • Balance VP
    1 VP available. Win this VP by having all metrics > 12. Ties are won by the player with the greatest sum of metrics.


  • Cost
    Cost is the amount of resources you commit to an action. You can choose to commit zero, one or three resources to actions, which will increase the amount gained from investments or lost in attacks.
  • Resources
    Your currency. Spend them on Actions and Threats.
  • Round
    The number of rounds in Tantalus will be randomly selected, and you will not know how many rounds your particular game is.
  • Timer
    The countdown timer tells you how much time you have in a given phase. Keep track of the time because if you do not "Commit" before it runs out, a default decision will be made for you.
  • Target
    The numbers after "Target" reflect the range in damage that you can expect for a given action.
  • Threats
    Warn other players against attacking you or stealing state secrets. If they violate the conditions of your threat, you can retaliate for a discounted resource cost
  • Active Threats
    Active Threats are threats that a player has made that have yet to be primed or acted upon. You can have an unlimited number of Active Threats in Tantalus, though you can make only two per round.
  • Primed Threats
    Primed Threats are threats that have been primed, or ignored. The other player has seen your threat and decided to do what you warned them against. You now have the choice of retaliating against them as you specified in your threat.
  • Triggered Threats
    Triggered Threats are threats that you have followed through on.


The points-based measure of how well a country is doing in one of 3 areas: Infrastructure, Manufacturing, and Mining


Sustain your country with its deposits of valuable minerals


Your industrial productivity


The structures and technology to operate your country


  • Kinetic
    Has the least variation in potential damage of the attack types, with no damage to the third player and minor damage to the attacker.
  • Nuclear
    Damages all 3 metrics of the targeted player and permanently lowers the maximum value of the targeted metric. Does a small amount of damage to the third player and attacker in all 3 metrics. Has greatest damage to the attacker.
  • Cyber
    Has greater variation in damage than kinetic, but less than nuclear. No damage to the third player, and slightly more damage to the attacker than Kinetic attacks. Anonymous until 2 rounds after initiation.
  • Blowback
    Damage to the attacking player.
  • Collateral Damage
    damage to the other, non-targeted metrics that occurs only with nuclear attacks
  • Fallout
    Damage that occurs to the third, ‘non-targeted’ player