The game board is a medieval landscape built by the players as the game progresses. The game starts with a single terrain tile face up and 71 others shuffled face down for the players to draw from. On each turn a player draws a new terrain tile and places it adjacent to tiles that are already face up. The new tile must be placed in a way that extends features on the tiles it touches: roads must connect to roads, fields to fields, and cities to cities.
After placing each new tile, the placing player may opt to station a piece (called a "follower" or "meeple") on a feature of that newly placed tile. The placing player may not use a follower to claim any features of the tile that extend or connect features already claimed by another player. However, it is possible for terrain features claimed by opposing players to become "shared" by the subsequent placement of tiles connecting them. For example, two field tiles, each having a follower, can become connected by another terrain tile into a single field shared by each follower's player. If a shared feature is connected to yet another feature of the same type claimed by one of the same players, said player, now having more followers in that feature, gains full claim over the feature.
When a feature is completed, the meeple of the player who had claimed it is returned to the player, and can be reused.
The game ends when the last tile has been placed. At that time, all features (including fields) score points for the players with the most followers on them. The player with the most points wins the game.
During the players' turns, cities, cloisters, and roads (but not fields) are scored when they are completed—cities and roads when they are completed (i.e. contain no unfinished edges from which they may be expanded), and cloisters when surrounded by eight tiles. At the end of the game, when there are no tiles remaining, all incomplete features are scored. Points are awarded to the players with the most followers in a feature.
If there is a tie for the most followers in any given feature, all of the tied players are awarded the full number of points. In general (see table), points are awarded for the number of tiles covered by a feature; cloisters score for neighboring tiles; and fields score based on the number of connected completed cities.
Once a feature is scored, all of the followers in that feature are returned to their owners.
|Feature||Completed during play||Game end|
|City||2 points per tile + 2 points per pennant||1 point per tile + 1 point per pennant|
|Road||1 point per tile||1 point per tile|
|Cloister||1 point + 1 point per surrounding tile||1 point + 1 point per surrounding tile|
|Fields||(Not scored)||3 points for each completed city bordering the field.|