A game of Small Islands is played in maximum 4 Rounds.
A Round is divided into 3 phases:
- Preparation: set up for the new Round.
- Exploration: players place Tiles (Landscape or Ship) in turn.
- Reward: players place Houses on the islands and earn Prestige Points.
Phase 1: Preparation
- Draw 6 Landscape Tiles from the Reserve Stack without looking at them and place them face down on the Navigation Tile to form the Navigation Stack.
- Then, each player secretly draws 2 Objective Cards in order to have 3 of them, then:
- Choose 1 Objective Card for the Current Round.
- Put aside 1 Objective Card for the Next Round (place a House on it as a reminder).
- Return the remaining Objective Card face down onto the stack.
An Objective Card is composed of a Mission (left part) and a Reward (right part). During the Reward phase:
- The Mission determines the condition that an island must fulfill in order to place a House on it.
- The Reward determines how many Prestige Points will be earned for each island that receives a House.
Phase 2: Exploration
Starting with the first player, and in clockwise order, each player must perform only one of the following 2 actions:
- Explore: draw and place a Landscape Tile.
- Land: draw and place a Ship Tile. This action ends the Exploration Phase.
Each player secretly draws 2 Mission Cards and 2 Reward Cards in order to have 3 of each. An Objective is composed of 1 Mission Card and 1 Reward Card. Each player:
- Creates 1 Objective for the Current Round.
- Puts aside 1 Mission Card and 1 Reward Card for the Next Round.
- Returns the remaining 2 Cards, face down onto their respective stack.
As long as there are Landscape Tiles on the Navigation Tile, players cannot Land. Indeed, many storms are hitting the coast, which is why the sailors often have to wait for the right time to bring their discoveries back to the Great Continent.
- Take 1 Landscape Tile from the 3 available face up Landscape Tiles and add it to your hand.
- Place down 1 of the 3 Landscape Tiles in your hand while respecting the Tile Placement Rules.
- Optional: If you wish, you can place one of your Bonus Tokens as well (See Bonus Token Placement Rules).
- Replace the Landscape Tile taken with a new Tile from the Navigation Stack.
If the Navigation Stack is depleted, replace the Landscape Tile with a new Tile from the Reserve Stack.
Tile Placement Rules
You can choose the orientation of the Tile you place.
- A Tile must be placed adjacent to at least one other Tile by its side, and aligned with it.
- A Tile must continue the landscape illustration in a coherent manner on all sides AND corners.
- An island constitutes several Landscape Tiles, adjacent by their sides only.
- A Landscape Tile cannot go over the edge of the table. As everyone knows, the Earth is flat and the edge of the table represents the end of the world.
Bonus Token Placement Rules
During your turn, while performing the action Explore (and only this one), you can place 1 Bonus Token (one Token per turn) on any Landscape Tile already in play. The Bonus Tokens are double-sided:
- A Resource Token must be placed on top of one of the other two Natural Resources of the game.
- A Resource Token can hide another one.
- A Port Token must be placed on the coast of an island.
- There cannot be more than 2 Ports on the same Landscape Tile.
This action is only available if the Navigation Stack is depleted. Then:
- Take the Ship Tile of your color in the Reserve OR a Grey Ship Tile (with 2 or 3 players).
- Place the Ship Tile using the Tile Placement Rules.
If a Ship Tile cannot be taken or placed, then it is not possible to Land. Exploring is the only alternative. When a player places a Ship Tile, the Exploration Phase is over. Move on to the Reward Phase.
Phase 3: Reward
All players place House on islands and win Prestige Point. Starting with the player who placed the Ship Tile and moving in clockwise order, the players perform once, in turn, the Reward Phase.
- Reveal your Objective Card for the current Round.
- Reveal your Mission and Reward Cards.
- Mission: You can place one or more Houses on the islands of your choice that fulfill your Mission, while using the House Placement Rules. (See below and page 10 for Cards Explanation). Each player can only place one House per island. Placing a House is not compulsory.
- Reward: For each island on which you place a House, take the Prestige Points indicated by your Reward (use the Prestige Tokens).
- Take the Houses from the Reserve in order to have at most Houses (max of four per turn).
- Return the Objective Card you used to the stack of Objective Cards.
- Return the Mission and Reward cards
House Placement Rules
IMPORTANT: You can only place a House on an island that fulfills the condition set by your Mission.
- Houses of different colours can be placed on a same island, but not Houses of the same colour.
- A House can only be placed on an available Location for House Symbol.
- A House can only be placed on an island made of at least two Landscape Tiles.
- A House can be placed on an island, whether it is complete or not, and whether a ship is nearby or not.
End Of The Round
When each player has performed the Reward phase, if the game is not over:
- Shuffle all the Objective Cards to form a new stack face down.
- Shuffle separately all the Mission and Reward Cards to create 2 new stacks face down.
- The next player in turn, after the player who just placed a Ship Tile, becomes the First Player for the next Round.
- Play a new Round, starting with the Preparation Phase(see above).
End Of The Game
The game ends immediately after one of these 3 conditions occurs:
- During the Preparation Phase: if there are less than the six Landscape Tiles needed in the Reserve Stack to form the Navigation Stack.
- During the Exploration Phase: at the beginning of your turn, if there are no more Landscape Tiles available face up AND if you cannot place a Ship Tile. Then the players move immediately to a last Reward Phase, starting with you.
- At the end of the Reward Phase: if all Ship Tiles have been placed.
Each player adds up all their Prestige Points:
- Prestige Points gained during the game.
- + the Prestige Points indicated on the Discovery Tokens, if you have collected any through an Objective (see page 11).
- + 1 Prestige Point for each Port located on the 8 Landscape Tiles around their Ship Tile.
With 2 or 3 players, Grey Ship Tiles do not grant any Prestige Points. If a player has not placed a Ship Tile of their colour, they obviously do not receive any Prestige Points for it. The Player with the most Prestige Points wins the game.
If there is a tie, the winner is, in order:
- The player who has placed the most Houses.
- The player who has the most Ports on the 8 Tiles around their Ship.
- The last player who placed a Tile (Landscape or Ship)