Joustus Instruction Manual

If you want to become the King of Cards, you might need to learn how to play Joustus, too. This guide will explain the mechanics of how to play Joustus.

Shovel Knight Joustus instruction manual

Calling all Joustus Jockeys!

If you want to become the King of Cards, you might need to learn how to play Joustus, too. This guide will explain the mechanics of how to play Joustus.

Making your deck and navigating the menus is crucial, but you won’t find that in this guide! For info about Joustus menus, building your deck, conquering the Houses of Joustus, as well as the rest of your regal adventure, check out our King of Cards Instruction Manual.

Or check out any of the other cool Instruction Manuals for Shovel Knight!

OK, neophytes. Time to study up!

How to Play Joustus

The goal of a Joustus match is to claim more gems than your opponent. After a coin toss to determine who goes first, players take turns placing or pushing cards until no more moves can be made.

Blue places Divedrake into an open (lighter colored) square on the board.

If your card covers a gem, you’ve claimed it! But you can’t just place cards directly onto gems, you have to push them on.

The arrows on each card indicate which direction that card can push. You may push your own cards, or your opponent’s cards.

Boneclang's right arrow pushes Propeller Rat to the right and onto the gem, claiming the gem for Blue.

Pushing cards around is not always simple, because arrows are blocked by any other arrows in the opposing direction!

Blitzsteed cannot push Fleeto to the left because Fleeto's right arrow blocks Blitzsteed's left arrow.

You don’t have to place a card directly onto an empty square. You can place it onto an occupied square if you’re able to push that card out of the way!

Beeto is inserted between Boneclang and Propeller Rat, pushing right and claiming the gem! Propeller Rat is pushed into the graveyard.

Even if you’ve claimed a gem, your opponent can always push you off and claim it for themselves. Stay vigilant until the match is over!

You may not pass a turn – if you can make a valid move, you have to make a move, even if it is disadvantageous. The match ends when the open squares are full. Whoever has the most claimed gems wins! If both players have the same amount of gems, it’s a draw.

Red cannot push any cards out of the way, and must place Blitzsteed in the only valid spot, ending the game.

When you defeat an opponent, you may choose one of their cards from the board! But if you lose, you will lose a card…

If you win, take your opponent's card!

TIP: You can press the Card Info button to check whether you own the currently highlighted card. This can help you fill out your collection.

Card Info shows you all the properties of a card, and displays how many you own. Convenient!

Move Preview!

Novices and pros alike may often ask: why can’t I push this card? Why can’t I place a card? In a complicated match, what order will all of the card events occur?

Fear not – the move preview shows exactly what will occur.

Just move your card over a spot to preview what will happen. Here, you can see that Propeller Rat and Blorb would be pushed right.

If you can't move a card, the preview will explain why. In this case, Blitzsteed's arrow is opposing Beeto's arrow.

In addition to giving you a preview of the effects of your card’s current position, a readout along the bottom of the screen explains it too. If you check the gems on the sides, you can even see how the move will affect the current score.

Feel free to experiment with the move preview to see all of your possibilities!

Know Your Joustus

There’s lots happening on the Joustus board. Here’s a breakdown of the basics:

The Joustus board! The most common dimensions are 2x2 and 3x3 boards, bordered by graveyard squares.


You and your opponent are displayed in the corners.


A coin toss determines who starts, and also shows whose turn it is. Convenient!

Deck & Hand

Your remaining deck and hand are displayed. Joustus hands always consist of 3 cards. The number below each deck indicates your remaining cards. If you run out of cards, you lose!

Gem Holes

The holes on the sides of your hand show your claimed gems at a glance.


Win by claiming gems! To claim a gem, push a card onto it. You cannot place a card directly onto a gem.

Open Square

Any card can be placed here. The game ends when all open squares are filled.

Graveyard Square

Cards in the graveyard become inactive. Cards cannot normally be placed directly in the graveyard – cards can only be pushed into the graveyard.

Special Arrows Types and Card Properties!?

Unique "foil" cards, different arrow types, and special card abilities await!

During a Joustus match, you may see new types of arrows, card properties, and more! We’ll leave these abilities a surprise and let you discover them on your own.

Always be ready – check Card Info to see what these abilities do as you encounter them, even your opponent’s hand!

Gem Sweep!

If you win the match by claiming every single gem on the board, you Gem Sweep your opponent!

Blue claims all 3 gems, ending the game and earning a Gem Sweep. Blue can now take 3 cards from Red!

Instead of stealing just one of their cards, you get to take as many as there are gems on the board! Payday!

Note: Gem Sweep does not occur if there’s only 1 gem in play. And luckily, your opponent can’t gem sweep you!

Joustus Secret Tips!

Weary traveler, I am Cardia. But don't look over at me. Pay close attention to the tips you're reading.

Master Your Deck!

Make sure to add your best cards to your deck, and seek out good cards! Sometimes the best way to beat an opponent is to just overpower them with a better deck.

Read Their Moves!

Look at your opponent’s hand to see what arrows they have, then make moves you know they can’t counteract! Use Card Info to see what they can do. Knowledge is power!

Push ’em Off!

Push your opponent’s cards off the board or the gem just like a sumo match! It’s a good strategy!

Block ’em!

Sometimes, blocking out the opponent with opposing arrows is just as useful as pushing them around. It’s a good strategy too!

Reclaim From Chester… and More!

If you lose a card in a Joustus match, you can reclaim it from Chester for a fee. You can also buy cheater cards if you feel like being a scoundrel. Who knows- it might be worth it if your opponent is really tough!

Obey the Order?

Each world’s House of Joustus is tougher than the last. Play them out of order at your own peril!