The MMO genre is known for offering a spread of content. Storylines, challenging dungeons or raids, PvP, crafting, and hunting achievements are just the most popular activities MMO fans expect in their favorite titles. So, it was not surprising when Elder Scrolls Online announced that its High Island expansion would add a completely original competitive card game.
Tales of Tribute allows players to face off against NPCs or one another to claim rewards, upgrade cards, and gain access to new decks. But Tales of Tribute can take some time to get used to, so here is everything you could need to know about it.
The Basics of Tales of Tribute
Tales of Tribute is a two-player card game inspired by competing stories being told in a tavern. It can be played with NPCs spread throughout the world of Elder Scrolls Online or against other players. While playing against others, players can play ranked matches with a global leaderboard or casual games that do not impact their rank.
Tales of Tribute Resources
Like most card games, Tales of Tribute revolves around gathering and managing resources. There are three total resources in Tales of Tribute, each described below.
- Gold: Gold is accumulated during a player’s turn and is then used to purchase cards to add to their deck or in patron interactions. At the end of each player’s turn, they lose any gold that has not been spent.
- Power: The Power resource is gained by playing cards or interactions with patrons. It can be used to damage an opponent’s active agent cards or be traded in some patron interactions. Unlike Gold, the Power that a player has left at the end of their turn is not lost but is instead converted into Prestige.
- Prestige: Prestige is effectively a player’s score. It is primarily gained from converting Power into it at the end of one’s turns, but it can also be achieved through patron interactions and some cards. Prestige is not impacted by the end of a player’s turn, but players can use some cards to decrease their opponent’s Prestige.
Tales of Tribute Rules
At the start of each game of Tales of Tribute, the two players are randomly chosen to be the first and second players.
Each player then picks two decks from those available, and all four decks are combined to create the selection of cards available to players for that game. This includes the cards placed in each player’s starting deck as well as the cards available in the Tavern.
The first and fourth decks to be included in the game are chosen by the first player, while the second player picks the second and third decks. Then, the first player takes their turn first, with the second player getting an extra gold for free during their first turn.
During a turn, each player draws five cards from their deck. These can then be played in any order and have various effects. At the start of the game, five cards will also be randomly drawn from the Tavern and placed at the center of the board.
These cards are sold and can be purchased by players during their turn using Gold. During their turn, players can also interact with the patrons of the decks active in the game for unique effects.
There are two ways to win a game of Tales of Tribute. The first is to have every Patron favoring you at once, after which you instantly win the game. Patrons favor you if you are the most recent player to have interacted with them.
The second path to victory comes in the form of accumulating 40 Prestige. Once that is achieved, your opponent will get one more turn to try and get a score higher than yours. If they don’t, you win the game. If they do, you continue to play until one of you cannot pass the other’s score or reaches 80 Prestige. If you get 80 Prestige, you instantly win the game.
Card Types in Tales of Tribute
Each card in Tales of Tribute belongs to a particular type. The type of a card determines how it behaves on the board. After playing most cards, they are taken from the player’s hand and placed in a played pile.
Those cards are moved to a separate cooldown pile at the end of the player’s turn. When the player no longer has cards left in their deck, the cooldown pile is shuffled and used as the deck. Most cards purchased from the Tavern are sent directly to the cooldown pile.
Many Tales of Tribute cards can also be used to combo with other cards from their deck. This lets players play multiple cards from one deck, including activating Agents, on a single turn. Cards that can be part of a combo have different effects once the combo reaches a certain level.
For example, the card Plunder from the Duke of Crows deck allows the player to draw a card when it is played. When the player plays a second card from the Duke of Crows deck, they can draw a second card and a third when they play the third Duke of Crows card.
The combo effects of cards can still be activated while in the played pile, and they do not have to be played sequentially.
The card types and how they behave are below:
- Action: Action cards have a specific effect on them that occurs when they are played. After the effect is done, they are placed into the played pile before moving to the cooldown pile.
- Agent: When an Agent card is played, it is placed on the player’s side of the board. Each Agent card has a life value that can be attacked by the opponent using their Power. Until the Agent’s life value is decreased to zero, they remain active on the board. While active, they can be activated by their controlling player during their turn to have an effect, and some also have a passive effect that is permanently active.
- Contract Action: A Contract Action card goes directly from the Tavern to the played pile. When it is purchased, it has an effect that will occur immediately. At the end of the player’s turn, it is removed from the game rather than going into the Cooldown pile.
- Contract Agent: A Contract Agent is played directly to the board when purchased from the Tavern. Once the card’s life value is reduced to zero, it is removed from the game.
How to Start Playing Tales of Tribute
Before you can start playing Tales of Tribute, you must have purchased Elder Scrolls Online‘s High Isle expansion. Once you have that expansion you can begin playing Tales of Tribute by traveling to the region’s capital, Gonfalon Bay.
Once in Gonfalon Bay, you’ll need to head to the southernmost part of the town, where the Gonfalon Gaming Hall can be found. At the gaming hall, players can talk to Bargas. Bargas is a wood elf that will give the player their starting decks and take them through a game tutorial.
After completing the tutorial, you’ll have open access to Tales of Tribute. At the Gonfalon Gaming Hall, you can find two daily quests. One will task you with playing against three NPCs spread across the entire game world, and the other will task you with winning three games against other players.
You can also matchmaker into games against other players from wherever you are by navigating to the “Group” tab of the menu. There you can choose to participate in ranked matches or unranked matches. You can also find other players in the world or friends and challenge them to friendly games.
Tales of Tribute Decks
Duke of Crows
- Unlocked by: Tutorial completion
- Patron Ability (Favored): None
- Patron Ability (Neutral): Allows you to pay one Gold and have the remainder converted directly to Power. Also makes the Patron favor you.
- Patron Ability (Unfavored): Lets the player pay one Gold to have the rest turned into Power and make the Patron return to natural.
The Duke of Crows deck is all about building combos. Its combos focus on allowing the player to draw more cards, potentially even letting them draw their entire deck in a single turn if they focus on the deck especially hard.
Grandmaster Delmene Hlaalu
- Unlocked by: Tutorial completion
- Patron Ability: Allows the player to sacrifice any card they have to receive a Prestige equal to one less than the card’s Gold cost. If possible, the Patron moves one step closer to favoring the player interacting with it.
The Grandmaster Delmene Hlaalu deck is all about acquiring wealth. In Tales of Tribute, this is done by generating massive sums of Gold, using cards that allow the player to directly take cards from the Tavern without paying, and even interact with more than one Patron per turn.
This helps make the deck incredibly versatile, mainly when used in conjunction with another deck like the Duke of Crows.
- Unlocked by: Tutorial Completion
- Patron Ability: Saint Pelin can be interacted with whenever the player has an Agent card in their cooldown. In exchange for two Power, Saint Pelin will then most the Agent from the Cooldown pile straight to the top of the player’s deck. The Patron moves one step closer to favoring the player if it can.
The Saint Pelin deck is all about raw might. It has two focuses: building Power and denying the opponent Power. It builds Power by playing cards with massive Power values that can frequently be worked into combos. It denies Power by playing Agents with the Taunt ability, which forces your opponent to use Power to kill them before converting it to Prestige.
Psijic Loremaster Celarus
- Unlocked by: Tutorial Completion
- Patron Ability: As long as your opponent has one Agent active on their side of the table, you can pay Psijic Loremaster Celarus four Gold to instantly remove it from your opponent’s cooldown pile. The Patron will move one step closer to favoring you if it can.
This deck focuses on controlling the game and removing as much as possible random chances. It does this by enabling players to decrease the number of cards their opponent draws and look through the top of their deck and move cards around.
This allows players to either find the exact card they are looking for or to set up powerful combo maneuvers.
Ansei Frandar Hunding
- Unlocked by: Collecting five deck fragments found across High Isle. They are found from delve drops, completing the A Chance for Peace quest, from sealing volcanic vents, are dropped from public dungeon bosses, and are dropped by killing group bosses.
- Patron Ability (Favored): None
- Patron Ability (Neutral): Allows the player to pay two Power in exchange for one Gold and the Patron’s favor.
- Patron Ability (Unfavored): Players can pay two Power to Ansei Frandar Hunding to be given one Gold and the Patron’s favor.
This deck is about dichotomy and adaptability. Most cards in the deck have two possible effects that the player can choose from when playing the card.
This allows the player to combine the focuses of the Psijic Loremaster Celarus, Saint Pelin, and Grandmaster Delmene Hlaalu decks all in one. It makes the deck extremely adaptable, allowing it to pair well with almost any other deck in the game.
Rajhin, the Purring Liar
- Unlocked by: This deck is unlocked by finishing the Flower of Chivalry achievement that requires the player to complete a handful of quests and kill High Isle’s group bosses.
- Patron Ability: Rajhin can be paid three Gold by the player to spawn a Bewilderment card and add it to their opponent’s cooldown pile. When the player does so, Rajhin moves one step closer to favoring them if it can. The Bewilderment card has no effect, and when the player draws, it automatically goes from their hand to their played pile, effectively wasting one of their draws at the start of their turn.
Rajhin, the Purring Liar, is a deck that plays dirty. Its cards all focus on punishing or restricting your opponent, making it very frustrating. Its cards feature effects like killing your opponent’s Agents, making your opponent draw fewer cards, decreasing their Prestige, and outright destroying cards.
It is a very combo-heavy deck that lets players completely shut down their opponent if they get enough cards.
Red Eagle, King of the Reach
- Unlocked by: This deck is unlocked by finishing The Tribute Champion achievement, which is done by completing Tales of Tribute quests.
- Patron Ability: Red Eagle allows players to exchange two Power for the opportunity to draw an additional card from their deck. When a player does so, the Patron moves one stage closer to favoring them if possible.
The Red Eagle, King of the Reach deck, is similar to the Saint Pelin deck in that it focuses on raw might. However, in exchange for that might, the deck’s cards frequently demand sacrifices in the form of destroying cards in the player’s deck.
This can be used to one’s advantage, as it allows the player to slim their deck down to guarantee that they only get the strongest cards or can consistently pull off combos.
- Unlocked by: Once the player reaches the Tales of Tribute rank of Master, they will be able to duel five founders of the game to collect the fragments of this deck.
- Patron Ability (Favored): In exchange for three Gold, the player creates a Maormer Boarding Party card and places it in their cooldown pile. The player also receives one Power for every four cards they own at that point in the game.
- Patron Ability (Neutral): A player can pay three Gold to receive one Power for every six cards they own at that time. The Patron then favors them as well.
- Patron Ability (Unfavored): A player can pay three Gold to gain two Power and have the patron return to the neutral position.
This deck is best used by the player hoarding as many cards from it as they can. Many of its cards have lower effects, but the majority grant Power or even just Prestige to the player and can be used in combos to increase their potential significantly.
- Unlocked by: To build this deck, the player has to collect five fragments from the Galen region added in the Firesong DLC. They are found by finishing the achievement of The Best of Friends, the quest The Dream of Kasorayn, ending volcanic vents, and from both world and delve bosses.
- Patron Ability: The Druid King’s ability is unique in that it can be part of a combo. If the player reaches a combo of four and activates the Patron, they get a Chimera card added to their cooldown pile. On top of that, the Patron’s standard ability allows players to pay two Power to remove one or two cards from the Tavern. It then also moves one step toward favoring them if it can.
The Druid King deck is a unique set of cards in Tales of Tribute. Many of its cards are built around being used in combos and play exceptionally well with the Psijic Loremaster Celarus deck. This is because while most of its cards give the player some Gold, Power, or even Prestige, their uniqueness stems from their ongoing effects.
Many cards in this deck have a unique feature that rewards the player with more resources for the rest of the turn after they are played whenever a card enters their cooldown pile. The best way to do this during one’s favor is to use the Psijic Loremaster deck’s ability to search the top of their deck, which allows you to place them directly into the cooldown pile instead.
Tales of Tribute Ranks
There are two independent systems for ranking one’s progress in Tales of Tribute. The first is their club rank, which acts as a general level. To raise their club rank, players have to play the game, for which they will receive RP to increase their rank.
As players progress through the ranks, they are given extra cards and unlock Tales of Tribute quests that see them playing in tournaments. These ranks are:
- Initiate: Unlocks the quest A New Venture and the player’s four starting decks.
- Trainee: Rewards the player with the Toll of Silver card.
- Novice: Gives the player the Ebony Mine card and unlocks the quest The Tournament Begins.
- Regular: Unlocks the Augur’s Counsel card and allows players to challenge Proficient-level NPCs.
- Adept: Gives the player the Imperial Plunder card and unlocks the quest Challenges of the Past.
- Expert: Gives the player the Prowling Shadow card and enables them to play Expert-level NPCs.
- Veteran: Rewards the player with the Pyandonean War Fleet card and unlocks the quest The Final Round.
- Master: Gives the player the Hel Shira Herald card, a Tales of Tribute Table furnishing, and Cardsharp Crimson dye.
Each month Tales of Tribute also has a competitive season that players can participate by completing ranked matches. This allows them to go through the following ranks, each giving the player better rewards at the end of the season:
Once the player reaches the Rubedite rank, they are added to a global leaderboard for the remainder of the season, with the top players receiving exclusive rewards.
Tales of Tribute Card Upgrades
Players are also able to upgrade the cards of their decks, allowing them to perform slightly better when the player is the one to choose it at the start of their games. Some cards are automatically upgraded by playing their associated deck enough times during matches.
Others require the player to randomly get a Card Clue from a reward box for finishing a Tales of Tribute game.
Card Clues are maps of a particular region that has a minor marking somewhere on them. The player can then travel to that area and search for a small metal box. Players interacting with the package will receive an upgraded card version for their deck.
Tales of Tribute Strategies and Tips
When starting Tales of Tribute, there are some general strategies and tips you should keep in mind while learning the ropes.
Every deck in Tales of Tribute can work well on its own, but they are even more vital when combined with other decks. Doing so ensures that you can continually get cards in the early stages of the game and will prevent your opponent from disrupting your strategy by taking one pivotal card from the Tavern. As you play, you’ll also remember what synergies work well.
Take advantage of Writ of Coin
Early in a Tales of Tribute game, you frequently won’t have enough Gold to purchase a card from the Tavern. To slowly ramp up your spending power, you should use the base patron in every game that looks like a small treasure chest.
Paying two Gold will allow you to sacrifice a card in your deck and replace it with a Writ of Coin card that gives you two Gold when played. This will enable you to replace all of your single Gold cards to start getting better cards later on.
Don’t be too stubborn
There is an element of randomness in Tales of Tribute that good players know how to account for. The best way to do so is to be flexible in your match approach. The cards from the Tavern can get in the form of your plans, as can your opponent purchasing cards you were hoping to pick. So, remember always to be flexible and adapt on the fly.
Patrons, patrons, patrons
It is also pivotal to remember to interact with the patrons throughout the game. It can be straightforward to forget about them and suddenly lose the game when they all favor your opponent. You should also incorporate them into your strategy for the game, as their abilities can be potent when used correctly.
Question: How do You Unlock Tales of Tribute in ESO?
Answer: To unlock Tales of Tribute you have to finish the tutorial mission at the Gonfalon Gaming Hall in Gonfalon Bay after purchasing the High Isle expansion.
Question: Do You Need High Isle to Play Tales of Tribute?
Answer: Only players who purchase High Isle can play Tales of Tribute.
Question: What is the Fastest Way to Level Up in Tales of Tribute?
Answer: The fastest way to level up is simply by playing the game. If you have a hard time beating players or are just starting you can instead play NPCs to get through games faster and learn the ropes.
Elder Scrolls Online Tales of Tribute: Conclusion
Tales of Tribute is a great way for players to switch gears and take a break from the more typical content in Elder Scrolls Online. It also offers some tangible rewards that can help players in other areas.
So, even if you don’t typically enjoy card games, jumping in and at least trying Tales of Tribute is more than worth your time.