The game starts with three random scoring cards being dealt: these define how players will earn gold (victory points) in the game, such as earning gold for your settlements built next to water hexes or having the majority of settlements in a sector of the board. Players can also always earn gold by building next to castles.
Each turn you must place three settlements on the terrain type shown on your card, with the following constraint: if possible you must build adjacent to your existing settlements. Never forget this, managing adjacency is the key of this game.
Building next to a location will grant you a corresponding tile (if there are any left, and if you did not already obtained a tile from this precise location) that you will be able to activate from next turn on.
These extra actions can be activated at each turn either before or after your mandatory build of three settlements, and here is the action each location grants you:
- Oracle : build one settlement on a hex of the same type as your played card, build adjacent if possible
- Farm : build one settlement on grass, build adjacent if possible
- Oasis : build one settlement on a desert hex, build adjacent if possible
- Tower : build one settlement at the edge on the board, build adjacent if possible
- Tavern : build one settlement at the end of a string of at least 3 of your own settlements. The orientation of the string does not matter. The chosen hex must be suitable for building.
- Barn : move any one of your existing settlements to a hex of the same type as your played terrain card. Build adjacent if possible.
- Harbor : move any one of your existing settlements to a water hex. Build adjacent if possible. This is the only way to build settlements on water hexes.
- Paddock : move any one of your existing settlements two hexes in a straight line in any direction to an eligible hex. You may jump across any terrain type hex, even mountain, water, castle, location and/or your own and other players' settlement. The target hex does not have be adjacent to one of your own settlements.
The player keeps a location tile as long as at least one of their settlements is adjacent to the corresponding location. If they move their last settlement away from such a location (by using an extra action of Barn, Harbor or Paddock), they must discard this location tile and remove it from the game. After losing a tile from a location, a player cannot re-obtain the tile from the same location.
The game ends at the end of the round in which one player has built the last settlement from their personal supply. Each player scores according to the three scoring cards, plus 3 gold for each castle hex they have a settlement next to.