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Knowing what has been discarded already can be beneficial to both players.

Is the rulebook maybe going with a standard definition of "discard pile" that I'm not aware of?

This sponsored how-to video shows it as having the top card visible. But I'm thinking that might just be for the sake of the camera frame, and conciseness. (i.e. Rodney didn't feel a need to explain this.)

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EDIT: I posted the question on BGG here and game designer Eduardo Baraf has clarified. Discards are face up and both piles can be reviewed by either player at any time.

A discard pile is almost always face up. (this is based my own experience over last 15 years so so of attending UK based games clubs and conventions)

If a discard pile was face down then you run the risk of a player drawing a card from discard pile by mistake. If a discard pile was meant to be face down and its contents secret I would expect this to be specified by that games rules

However, there is an argument that Skulk Hollow should be played with a face down discard even though this isn't explicitly stated.

The Prepare action allows a player to discard a card a draw two cards. It might be the intention to not let your opponent know what card you discarded. Also the recall ability says:-

A hero unit with the RECALL ability may spend one power to allow the hero player to examine the contents of their discard pile, choose one card, and return it to their hand.

Even though the rules don't explicitly state you may not examine your discard pile this ability explicit states you may when taking that action. You could infer from that that normally you would not be able to.

The difficulty here is the the rules are not specific about this. Personally I would play with a face up discard as that's what I'm used to in other games but in your situation I would suggest agreeing with who you were playing against first how you play it.

  • Many of my rulebooks specifically point out that discard piles may be freely looked through at any time, and by which players. I don't discount your anecdote, but I'm not convinced by it without some kind of biblical reference. – Jessy Nov 22 '20 at 16:45
  • A discard pile is almost always face up - citation needed. In my experience it's the other way around. – Andrew Savinykh Nov 23 '20 at 20:06
  • I've posted a twitter poll as I'm interested now. Maybe this kind of a regional/dialect thing but with boardgames. I was at a Ticket to Ride tournament once where a play from out of region placed cards face down in the discard pile and was quickly corrected by another player as it was "not a rule". but looking jus now the rules don't say. All I can go by is my experience of gaming, games clubs and games conventions and only ever seen face down discards when the rules specifically state it to be (this is primarily in UK/Northern England). – StartPlayer Nov 23 '20 at 20:34
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    twitter.com/StartPlayer/status/1330971909257879560?s=20. I've stuck a poll on twitter to discuss this as its probably to opinion based for here. – StartPlayer Nov 23 '20 at 20:44
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    Ive added edit on this games discard pile following clarification from the designer for this game. I've been asking around a lot about if a face up discard in normal. my Twitter poll with 218 votes showed most people seem to default to a face up discard pile. However about 1 in 6 people say they would default to a face down if rules don't say. so whilst I don't think I can give a citation other than my own experience it does seems some people default to face down discards which id never come across before. – StartPlayer Nov 24 '20 at 21:13

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