Players are merchants trading in the economy that has grown up next to the construction site of the temple dedicated to Sobek. There's a market, and the feluccas sailing up and down the Nile are bringing goods of all sorts. You have 3 rounds in which to acquire more money than your rivals, but try not to become too corrupt.
Game turns and actions
On your turn you must choose one of the 3 actions. Then play passes to the player on your left. The actions are:
- Take a card from the marketplace and add it to your hand
- Only the first four cards (starting from the left) are available. Taking the first available card has no consequences since the order of arrival of the feluccas is respected. However, taking one of the other cards causes corruption. All the cards that you skip end up in your corruption pile.
- Play a character card and apply its power
- See below for powers.
- Play a set
- A set is a group of at least three goods cards of the same type. A set can include one or more amulets which act as wild cards (jokers). A set can also include characters - each character is associated with a goods type; this is shown on the card. When a character is played as part of a set, its power is ignored.
- It is possible to add cards to a set that has already been played (in order to earn more points during scoring), but the same rule still applies: you must add a minimum of 3 new cards.
- When a set is played an event is triggered (provided at least 1 of the 5 event tokens remains). The player who played the set chooses an event from the remaining tokens and immediately applies its effect. The token is then discarded.
There are 12 event tokens with 5 randomly selected for each round:
- 4 x Guild - (one of each of snake, reed, ankh, scorpion). On the scoring track, move your scoring marker forward to the next space of that symbol and move an opponent's scoring marker back to the next space of that symbol.
- 2 x Flood - Take another turn
- 2 x Curse - Add a curse token to another player's corruption pile; it counts as 2 cards in that player's pile.
- 2 x Prosperity - add the token to one of your fish, cattle or wheat sets, thus increasing the score of this set.
- 1 x Embalming - return all the cards from your corruption pile to your hand
- 1 x Deceit - Score the number of cards in your corruption pile
- 1 x Queen Sobek Neferou (Ivory)- draw 3 cards and add them to your hand.
- 2 x High Priest/Priestess (Ebony/Marble)- discard all the cards of one goods type from your corruption pile. Characters of that goods type can be discarded. Amulets (wild cards) cannot be discarded.
- 2 x Scribe (Fish/Cattle) - your opponents reduce their hands down to 6 cards; the remainder are added to their corruption pile.
- 1 x Vizir (Cattle) - add a card of your choice to your hand from an opponent's corruption pile.
- 1 x Merchant (Wheat)- take a card of your choice from along the Nile.
- 1 x Courtesan (Wheat) - add 1 or 2 cards from your hand to an existing played set.
- 1 x Thief (Fish) - steal a card from an opponent. You can see the different coloured backs of the card so you know which type of card you are stealing.
There are 54 goods cards in total:
- 6 x Ivory
- 7 x Ebony
- 7 x Marble
- 9 x Cattle
- 10 x Fish
- 10 x Wheat
- 5 x Amulet
Nine of the cards have a different coloured back; the player's starting hand is dealt from these leaving 45 cards which are shuffled with the character cards to form the deck. In a two player game 9 cards are removed at random so there will be only 5 goods deliveries not 6 as normal.
End of the round
The round ends and is scored when the last card is taken from the marketplace.
Each player may play horizontal sets from their hand. These do not score as highly as sets played in the round proper but they do reduce the number of cards in the hand.
You cannot play character cards; you cannot add to existing sets.
All cards remaining in the players hand are added to their corruption pile.
Sets are scored by multiplying the number of scarabs in the set by the number of cards in the set (including amulets, characters and Prosperity tokens). Horizontal sets are scored by adding scarabs.
Then the corruption penalty is applied. The player with the most cards in their corruption pile (including Curse tokens) is the most corrupt. In the event of a tie it is the player with the most scarabs. If there is still a tie then all players receive the penalty. The size of the corruption penalty depends on the amount of points earned by the player through scoring sets. For every 10 points earned through sets the player will move back to the next symbol of the type they ended up on. For example if Kate earned 23 points and ended up on the Ankh symbol then this is 2 "lots" of ten and so she will move back 2 Ankh symbols.
The game ends after 3 rounds. The game can end early if one player gets more than 100 points.