- There are 5 suits: yellow, blue, white, green, and red.
- Each suit has 12 cards: numbered cards from 2 to 10, plus three "investment" cards marked with a handshake symbol.
- The entire deck is shuffled and used in each round.
- On the board is a separate discard pile for each suit.
- Cards you play go to your side of the board, below that color's discard pile. A group of one or more played cards in a suit is called an "expedition".
- To the side of the board is a shared draw pile.
- You hold 8 cards in your hand.
- Each turn has two steps: first, either play or discard a card. Then take a card, either from the draw pile or from the top of any discard pile.
- For each expedition of a separate color (suit): If you have an investment/handshake card, it can be played first, but is not required. Numbered cards are played in increasing order, but do not have to be in perfect sequence. Once you've played a numbered card, you may no longer play any lower-numbered card or investment card. Cards must match the expedition color.
- When the draw pile is empty, the round ends instantly.
Each of the (up to five) expeditions in front of you is scored separately and the results totaled. (Skip scoring a suit where you played no cards.) For each one:
- Add up the values of all numbered cards played.
- Subtract 20. (You might get a negative number.)
- If there were N investment cards played, now multiply that result by (N+1).
- If the expedition has eight or more total cards, add 20 points.
The basic idea is: if you start an expedition then you need to reach 20 just to break even. Investment cards magnify your winnings OR losses relative to that target.
Since BGA displays a running total as you play, this alternative (equivalent) scoring explanation might seem more fitting:
- When you begin an expedition (play your first card of a suit), lose 20 points.
- When you play an investment card, lose 20 points.
- When you play a numbered card, gain that many points, plus that many points again for each investment card present (total: number x (investmentcards + 1)).
- If that was the eighth card of the expedition, gain another 20 points.
A game may last either one or three rounds. If three, the round scores are all added. In rounds two and three, the player with the higher score plays first.