The Groundwork: You are the founder of a small settlement, and you have dreams of one day turning your settlement into a booming and bustling Village! To do this, however, you must compete with other founders to attract the best inhabitants to you village, so that it can be the most prosperous of all...
The Game: Games are composed of a variable number of rounds where players first take turns drafting cards into their hands, and then go around the table playing cards into their tableaus. Cards have different symbols on them representing how many cards a player can draft, how many cards they can play, or how much money they generate during special income phases. There are only two income phases in the entire game, one approximately at the middle of the game's duration, and one at the very end. These two income phases are where the majority of players' money will be generated.
The Goal: To have the most money at the end (just like in real life).
Games are composed of a variable number of rounds focused on expanding tableaus, interspersed by two special income-generating phases.
Each round consists of two basic phases:
- Draft phase - one-at-a-time, players take turns selecting ("Drafting") face-up cards ("Villagers") from the 6 face-up cards (the "Road"), or face-down cards from the supply decks
- the number of cards that a player *must* draft each round is determined by the number of "Food" symbols showing in their tableau; each player starts with the minimum of 2 cards drafted per round, but they can increase this number up to a maximum of 5
- Build phase - players play ("Build") cards into their tableaus ("Villages") to improve production chains or expand the number of available cards in their tableaus, both of which generally increase the number of cards they will draft (via "Food" symbols) in a round, the number of cards they may build (via "Builder" symbols) in a round, and/or the amount of money (via "Coin" symbols) they generate in the income phases (Markets)
- the number of cards that a player *may (but is not required to)* build each round is determined by the number of "Builder" symbols showing in their tableau *at the start of their build phase*; each player starts with the minimum of 2 cards that may be built per round, but they can increase this number up to a maximum of 5
In addition to the two basic phases, there are two special events, the Markets, that happen after the Build phase of the round in which they are triggered. These two Markets are the main ways in which money (the central resource and victory point of the game) is generated:
- First Market - occurs once the first and second road supply decks are emptied; during this Market, money is generated in two ways:
- players receive income equal to the sum of all gold symbol values visible on their cards
- players also receive income for all money placed on cards that have been used to unlock others (but the money itself on the cards is not removed at this time)
- Second Market - occurs once all of the road supply decks have been emptied; during this Market, money is generated in three ways (two of which are basically the same as in the First Market):
- players receive income again equal the sum of all visible gold symbol values printed on cards
- additionally, players receive income for all visible silver symbol values (which are calculated based on other cards in their tableau)
- players also finally take all the money placed on unlocker cards off of those cards and into their money supply
After the Second Market is completed, the game is over: the player with the most money in their possession is the winner!
- There are always 10 of each "Basic Villager" card available at the start of the game
- These cards are required for building most of the production chains in the game; they will be described in detail in the "Build" phase
- The 6 face-up "Road" cards for drafting are always the same at the start of each game
- The rest of the cards (except for the starting "Founders" and the "Basic Villager" cards) are shuffled together to form the deck
- The deck holds 2 copies of each Villager card, except for the 6 starting "Road" cards, of which there are only 1 each (since the other copy of these cards starts out in the "Road")
- Each player starts with:
- 8 money
- 5 cards in hand, dealt from the shuffled deck
- a "Founders" card showing a gold symbol with a value of 2 in their tableau
- Then, 6 smaller decks, each with twice the number of cards as there are players in the game, are dealt face down to form the "Road Stacks"
- Cards will be taken from these stacks during the Draft phases, either to draw cards directly from them, or to replenish face-up cards drafted during the road
- Finally, the cards remaining in the deck after dealing hands and Road Stacks form a face-down "Reserve" deck
- Cards will only be drawn from here either to cycle out un-drafted cards at the end of each Draft phase or to be used as a Road Stack in the final round of the game, once all cards have been drawn from the 6 original Road Stacks
- One player is randomly chosen as the First Player; they begin the first Draft Phase of the game