Winston’s Archive Rules

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Winston's Archive rulebook title

Nobody’s sure who Winston was. The task of sorting their archive is a storied entry in the archives’ lore. The fact is, that collection contains some stunningly rare and valuable old books, books that if you sorted them out would make your life a lot easier. The problem is, anyone taking on Winston’s archive is going to have to take on the task of sorting out the unsorted manuscript pages, and it’s not a one person job.



This game doesn’t require multiple shuffles, nor do players need to hold cards in their hands in secret. You will need to be able to remember sets in your mind, and need a space players can all reach to put the cards.

And always: Remember to respect the players and their needs.


In your copy of Winston’s Archive, you should have the following:

  • 1 deck of 54 cards, composed of:
    • 27 book-face books
    • 18 manuscript pages
    • 9 Purple Special books


To set up, shuffle the deck of cards, then deal three cards from the deck face down in individual piles. These are the ‘stacks.’ Players will be taking these stacks and building new ones in a process called a Draft.

Winston's Archive cards laid out in a line as "Stacks"

Each Book card is part of a set of books. Sometimes they mark it obviously (volume 1 of 4) and sometimes they are a bit more obscure (first edition, second edition). Fortunately, some archivist has already marked each book in the top left with an indicator of what set of books they are, and how many books are in that set.

Play starts with the player who most recently borrowed a book from a library, or whoever is youngest.


On your turn, starting with the stack of cards furthest from the deck, look at all the cards in a stack and decide if you want to take it. If you do, take that stack and your turn ends. If you don’t, put the stack back, face down, and put a card from the deck on top of it. All players check the stacks in the same order.

If you check all three stacks, and decide you don’t want any of them, take the top card of the deck. If you can’t take a card from the top of the deck (because it’s empty), you have to take the cards you’re currently holding.

Whenever you draft a set of cards, turn all of those cards face-up so that other players can see them. When you do this, you have to include any copies of Implementing Product Over Process, so people can see that you’ve used them. If you later draft a card that Implementing Product Over Process is replacing, you don’t get it back!

Then, when you’ve turned over any sets you have completed, your turn ends.

Continue drafting until you run out of cards to draft, then everyone checks to see how they scored.

When you see a stack with a copy of Open Secrets of Archiving in it, you have to put it back face-up. The card that gets added to the stack is added face-down, but when the next player looks at it, they have to turn that card face-up when they put the stack back.


At the end of the game, turn up all your X-group cards, then count how many books you have that are face up and in complete sets. A book that’s not part of a complete set is a book that’s worth no points at all. Then, each player gets 1 point for every 5 Manuscript pages they’ve collected.

If there are two players, the player who drafted the fewest Manuscript pages is reprimanded, and gets -3 points.

If there are three or more players, the player who drafted the fewest Manuscript pages loses the game, regardless of their score.


Game, Rulebook, Art: Talen Lee

Some Icons from Game-Icons.Net

Special Thanks

To Bax and Ted, who love books and like people

To Ettin, who likes bad anime

To all my friends who love books, commas, being outrageously gay, and sorting things


  1. Hi there!

    We have been trying to play Winston, but am unsure on a few things in the rules.

    1- When you deal out the piles initially, are the only a single card?
    2- When you take one of the three piles, does it get replenished? Or can there only ever be three pickups in the game?
    3- When do the players perform a draft? Is it instead of picking up, or after as a second step?

    Please advise us on how to play, we have gone over the rules quite a few times now and am no closer on working out the flow of how to play the game.

    All the best,

    1. 1. Yep! They start out as a single pile!
      2. Nope, it becomes an empty pile that has to get added to the next time through. After all, nobody would take an empty pile, right?
      3. The picking up is the draft!

      Hopefully that clears things up a little?


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