- 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 (consecutive). 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.