What is Shovel Knight: King of Cards?

King of Cards is a regal prequel to Shovel Knight – a new adventure starring King Knight, the gilded goon! If you’ve played any of the Shovel Knight games before, you’ll have a leg up here, but there is a whole new world to learn! So, study this manual, as any King knows that knowledge is true power!

If you’re looking for a primer on how to play Joustus, check out the Joustus Instruction Manual.

Need an instruction manual for another game? Head to the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove Instruction Manuals page.

The Legend Begins!

Long ago, the lands were untamed, and roamed by legendary adventurers! By all appearances, peace has flourished, and carefree new pastimes have taken hold.

A card game called Joustus has swept the land, and with it, word of a grand tournament. Presiding over the contest are three Joustus Judges. These wise kings have been chosen to spread joy and unity.

This contest is of great interest to King Knight. For though some call him a fool who merely plays at king, even fools know this: whoever defeats all three Joustus Judges will win an incredible treasure, and be crowned King of Cards!

Competing for the Joustus Crown is no simple matter, but King Knight schemes, undeterred, toward a kingdom of his own.

Starting a Game as King Knight

To start as King Knight, create a new profile and choose “King of Cards” from the game select menu.


Control Pad


Press left or right and King Knight will run!

Climb Ladders

If King Knight is standing in front of a ladder, press Up and he will climb up. If King Knight is near the top of a ladder, climb Down by pressing Down. Note: King Knight can Bash while holding onto a ladder! Just press B and the direction you want to Bash.

Talk / Examine

If a friendly entity is near King Knight, press Up to talk to them.

A Button


Press A to make King Knight jump!

Tip: Hold the A button to make King Knight jump as high and as far as possible!

B Button

Shoulder Bash

Press B to use King Knight’s trusty Shoulder Bash. You can Bash along the ground or through the air. Try bashing against enemies, objects, walls…everything you see!


During your bash, press B again to roll. You can roll through dirt or enemies without stopping or going into your spin!

Tip: You need a little bit of runway before rolling, so make sure you have some space.

C Button

Use Heirloom

Press C to use whichever Heirloom is equipped. You must acquire one first!

Tip: Heirlooms deplenish your Vigor, so use them wisely!

More Basic Moves


Bashing into most enemies, walls, or objects will cause King Knight to pop up into his Spin. When spinning, King Knight can damage enemies and destroy blocks beneath him!

Tip: When you bounce on an enemy, you regain your ability to Bash.

Advanced Moves

Stop on a Dime!

During your bash, press in the opposite direction. King Knight will skid to a stop instantly, even in the air!

Quick Select Your Heirlooms!

Press L and R to scroll through your Heirlooms without pausing the game. How convenient!

Save Yourself from a Pit!

If you Bash a wall when you’re falling, you can catch the side and save yourself. Don’t lose your cool!

Chain Bashing and Spinning

After you bounce on an enemy or object, you’ll be able to bash again. This lets you bash and spin over and over without touching the ground!

Know your Items!

Gems / Wall Gems

Winning the Joustus Crown requires a great deal of coin, so gather as much as you can! You can release Wall Gems by Bashing into them.

Merit Medals

Merit Medals can be found scattered around the world, stashed in Treasure Chests, or given as rewards. Use them to purchase items when gold just won’t do!

Tip: Platform Stages contain 3 Merit Medals each. Houses of Joustus contain 5 each!


Pass by a Checkpoint to ignite it. If you fall in battle, you’ll return here. Most checkpoints can be broken to get the treasure inside… but that destroys the checkpoint!

Health and Platters

Restore your Health Hearts by finding apples, carrots, and turkeys. They can be in dirt piles or stashed in platters! 

Vigor Vials

Collect these vials to restore your Vigor for more Heirloom Usage! Small vials restore 10 Vigor, while large vials restore 30 Vigor.

Rat Rope

Reach the ring at the end of each stage to complete it!

Secret Rat Rope 

If you take a Secret Rat Rope, you’ll open up a secret red path on the Level Map!

Tip: Secret Rat Ropes can be well hidden. Keep an eye out and look for red signs pointing the way.

Bonus Ring

Grab this ring and you’ll be whisked off to a bonus area! You may find great treasures, but take heed: bonus areas can be tougher than the regular path.

Plotting Your Path

Move King Knight along the path by pressing any direction. Press A over a location to visit that area.


You can move along solid paths. Dotted paths are currently blocked. Complete stages to unlock more paths!

Secret Paths

Some stages have red secret paths. You can see red secret paths on the map!

Info Panel

This displays your health, gold and merit medals totals. If King Knight is standing over an area he can enter, the name and details for that area will appear.

Markers on the Map Screen


Most of the Markers on the map are stages. Clear stages to open new paths!

Joustus Judge Stage

At the end of each map awaits a Joustus Judge! Play their stages and defeat them to become King of Cards!

Heirloom Stage

These stages let you trade Merit Medals for powerful one-of-a-kind Heirlooms!

King Knight Icon

After you beat a stage, it will be replaced by a King Knight icon. If that icon is still flashing, there is another path to discover by replaying that stage!

House of Joustus

Enter here to play some Joustus! Each House of Joustus has a different set of opponents to face and cards to win!

Bonus Chests

These little stages are jam-packed with loot! You can find loads of gold and maybe even other things!

Wandering Encounters

Watch out! If you cross paths with a wanderer on the map, you’ll have to battle.

Bonus Gem

These bonus areas are loaded with gold, but can be really dangerous! Try not to lose your stuff by being too greedy!

Other Areas

The map has all sorts of interesting stuff on it. Don’t worry too much, just try everything! What could go wrong?

Tip: You don’t need to complete every stage to beat a world’s Joustus Judge. Explore however you want! You can always return later.

The Glidewing

A robust airship with a fearless crew, the Glidewing serves as King Knight’s transitory residence on his quest to become King of Cards. Visit often to purchase upgrades, practice Joustus, and rally your loyal subjects!


The steadfast navigator Doe pilots the Glidewing. He can help you quickly travel between Kingdoms. He enjoys a nice chat, too!


This cocksure airship captain guides the Glidewing’s crew with a steady talon. Cooper will give you the lowdown on whatever area you’re currently flying over.

The Bard

The ever-excitable Bard is Cooper’s partner in seeking the Joustus Crown. If King Knight can gather enough Merit Medals to impress the Bard, he’ll reward King Knight with song and coin alike!


King Knight’s doting mother cooks up power-enhancing meals to raise your maximum health or vigor. An avid reader of King’s Weekly, she’s positive and encouraging towards the monarchical goals of her shining son.

King Pridemoor

As the first Joustus Judge, King Pridemoor is a shining example of Kingliness. A disciplined leader, strategist, and combatant, he’s also a formidable blacksmith!


In addition to keeping the Glidewing flying, the mechanically-inclined Hengineer can upgrade King Knight with permanent abilities.

Vicar of Vigor

Haunting the engine room of the Glidewing, the Vicar of Vigor must bequeath his heirlooms unto a worthy person. He might have some sage advice for King Knight, too!


What better way to celebrate your monarchy than to commission a grand portrait? Gouache can accommodate your request, but fine art is expensive and time-consuming!


Need to get the upper hand at Joustus? Chester’s your guy. Speak with him to reclaim your lost cards, buy Mystery Cards, or maybe acquire something even shadier…


Cardia is a mysterious traveler who has great interest in this land’s diversions. She promises to reward those who can defeat the Champions at each House of Joustus.

Joustus Table

The Glidewing’s upper deck always seems to have another Joustus challenger waiting. Maybe if you cross paths with someone, they’ll appear here for a match?

House of Joustus!

In each world, you may happen upon a House of Joustus.

Read up on how to play Joustus in the Joustus Instruction Manual. 


The banners hanging from the ceiling show the Joustus challengers in that House, including the champion.

Joustus Challengers

You’ll see challengers sitting at Joustus Tables. Speak with them and see if they’ll play Joustus with you. Finding and defeating the challengers may not be as simple as it seems!

Tip: A little flag will appear at each Joustus Table next to a defeated challenger.

House Champion

You’ll need to defeat the 3 challengers in each house before you can challenge the champion. If you can beat them, you’ll be the new champ.

Croaker and Toader

These affable amphibians are struggling with Joustus puzzles. Maybe you’d hand them a heaping help of strategy? You’d surely be rewarded!

Building a Joustus Deck

If you’re looking to learn the basics of playing Joustus, head over to the Joustus Instruction Manual! Curious collectors, read on for more info about making your Joustus Deck. A true King of Cards needs a legendary deck!

Joustus Deck

Deck Info (left) lets you compare your balance of arrow types. Your deck (right) displays your whole deck at a glance.

Every Joustus Deck has exactly 16 cards. The Deck Menu shows all the cards in your deck at a glance. You’ll want to make a deck that has a good tactical combination of arrows and card abilities, and you’ll have to develop that strategy as you learn!

You can get more information on a specific card, like its abilities and arrows, by cursoring over it and choosing Card Info.

You can see the balance of arrows in your deck by choosing Deck Info.

You have an unlimited supply of the most basic cards, but you’ll soon want to acquire better cards. Earn new cards by beating Joustus opponents, buying them from Chester, and finding them tucked away in hidden places.


The library shows you the cards you’ve collected. The number in the corner of each card indicates how many you have. You can freely move cards back and forth between your deck and your library. Fill up your deck with your best cards!

You must always have 16 cards in your deck, but worry not- you have an endless supply of the four most basic cards.

Deck Info

Removing Beeto cards is reflected on the Deck Info.

The Deck Info Screen shows your deck’s arrows and their types. Each column corresponds to an arrow direction, and different arrow types are color coded. You can use the Deck Info screen to try and balance out your deck – or heavily use only one type of arrow! Give it a look before you call your deck “done”.

Card Info

The Card Info pane shows detailed information about each card, including its rarity. Also has descriptions for the arrows and special abilities for that card. Make sure to check it when you win a match, so you can fill out your collection with cards you’ve not yet acquired!

Card Info shows you all of a card's attributes. Educate yourself!


The filter will only show cards with the chosen attribute. More filters will be shown as you discover more card and arrow types!

Choose a selection to filter the library by cards of that type. This should let you find the abilities and arrows you want when building your deck.


Throughout your adventure, travelers will entrust King Knight with an assortment of handy Heirlooms. They deplete some Vigor upon use, so make sure you’ve got enough to spare!

Dueling Glove

Vigor Cost: 2

A fast and reliable slapping attack. Attack in quick succession for massive damage!

Rat Bombardier

Vigor Cost: 8

Release a rat with a safety bomb attached. It will run and jump on its own until it hits an enemy.  While it’s running, press again to reverse its direction.

Scepter of Swiftness

Vigor Cost: 14

Slash over great distances and even run across water! Cut through enemies with ease, but be careful where you’ll end up at the end of your slash!

Scorching Saber

Vigor Cost: 14

Spin through the air in a vortex of flames. Great for hitting enemies above or below you!

Horns of Heralding

Vigor Cost: 20

Play the horns to shower enemies with a barrage of dangerous confetti! The confetti can also reclaim any dropped gold bags they touch.

Gyro Boots

Vigor Cost: 5

Become a damaging tornado that climbs walls! When it starts to fade, spin again to keep the tornado going continuously.

Turn Coat

Vigor Cost: 6

Absorb damage and turn it back onto your enemies with a powerful energy blast! While absorbing damage, King Knight is invulnerable – even to spikes! The energy blast has 3 levels of power depending on how much damage you absorb.

Propeller Blitzsteed

Vigor Cost: 4

Send forth a flying lance that pierces through enemies! It will continue to fly until it hits a wall.

Bubble Frog

Vigor Cost: 10

Hide in a bubble and float to safety or secrets. While bubbled, King Knight won’t receive any damage. You can even Shoulder Bash out of the bubble!

Healing Hammer

Vigor Cost: 5

Swing this big hammer to pound free health hearts out of your enemies! But make sure to grab the hearts before they disappear!


Decrees are single-use Heirlooms with tremendous power! You can hold two at once. Decrees can be found in chests, and could maybe be acquired in other ways as well! Use them wisely, but don’t hoard them!

Decree of Destruction

Summon a friendly Griffoth to attack your enemies for 20 seconds.

Decree of Rejuvenation

Summon a friendly Troupple to restore health and vigor for 25 seconds.

Decree of Soaring

Summon a friendly Birder to carry you over pits and obstacles for 35 seconds. Steer carefully, as you can still take damage while riding. You can also hop off or on at any time by jumping.

Field Screen


Your current amount of money. Gold is used to buy things, so search for treasure everywhere!

When you fall in battle, ¼ of your gold will be dropped in that spot! You can try to recover this lost treasure by returning to the point where you were defeated!

Tip: Try using the Horns of Heralding to easily reclaim your lost gold bags!

Merit Medals

Your Merit Medal count.

Heirloom Icon

Shows your currently equipped Heirloom or Decree.

Vigor Counter

Shows your current Vigor. When it’s full, the display will change to yellow. You can permanently increase your Vigor by consuming a Vigor Cream Pie!

Health Hearts

The very essence of King Knight’s vitality! If you take damage, you’ll lose a heart. Collect hearts or find food to get your health back. You can permanently increase your maximum health by eating a Hearty Meat Pie.

Boss Health

If you face a strong foe, their health will appear here. Each bubble requires 2 damage to be depleted!

Sub Screens

Pressing Select will bring up your Sub Screens where you can see and change your Heirlooms, Gear, and Joustus options!

Heirlooms Tab

Choose your Heirlooms and Decrees on this tab.  You can also read some information about them, including their Vigor costs.

Joustus Tab

Examine and edit your Joustus deck from this screen!

Deck Builder

Edit your Deck with the Deck builder! Press Confirm to enter.

Cheat Cards

You can also view your Cheat Cards here. You can purchase Cheat Cards from Chester!

Gear Tab

Here you can examine your collected equipment. Consult this tab to see the permanent upgrades you’ve collected!

Tip: Not sure you’ve collected all the Merit Medals mid-stage? Select the Merit Medal icon to see how many you’ve found in total, as well as in that specific area!

Secret Tips

Careful with that Roll!

Don’t mash the attack button! King Knight’s roll is great for platforming and combat finesse, but if you roll into a wall, you will bonk instead of spinning!

Keep an Eye Out for Secrets!

Look for conspicuous spots everywhere – King Knight’s domain is filled with secrets! Bash any suspicious walls and who knows what you’ll find?!

Recover Gold with Your Horns of Heralding!

Lose your bags over a hard-to-reach area? Just play your Horns of Heralding (If you’ve managed to discover them!). If the confetti touches your bags, you’ll recover your riches.

Play Joustus for Fun and Profit!

Joustus can net you Merit Medals and gold! Clear out the land’s various Houses of Joustus to get more resources for secret paths, heirlooms, and equipment!

Use Chester!

Chester sells you cheat cards and booster packs that can help a ton if you’re having Joustus trouble. He can also help you reclaim cards that you lost in battles!

Know when to quit!

Sometimes a challenge just seems too tough to do right now. That’s ok! Take another path or go back to clear out some previous areas – and when you return, you’ll be better prepared.