Each player is randomly assigned a set of four inventors, grouped by the time period in which they lived. Each inventor begins with two units of starting knowledge, which the inventor can use to help patent some of the world's greatest inventions. Points are gained in various ways from completed inventions to which the inventors contributed, and the person with the most points at the end of the third age is the winner.
Each turn consists of two or three steps:
1) Pick an inventor whose knowledge you want to use (which prevents the inventor being used again until the player refreshes inventors)
2) Pick the invention on which you want to use that knowledge
3) If an invention is completed, the three players who contributed the most knowledge choose a bonus from that invention, in order from most knowledge to least knowledge. In case of a tie, work clockwise from the player who finished the invention.
Alternately, a player has the choice to refresh all his/her inventors. This must be done when all four inventors have been used, but may be done at any time.
The game is played over three ages. Each age consists of a number of inventions equal to the number of players plus three (3). When the second to last invention has been completed and players have finished sharing the rewards, the age ends immediately.
2,3,4 - Improve the knowledge level of inventors. Improvements must be sequential (a 4 token must be played on a 3, etc.)
Coffee (availability) - Allows player to refresh all his/her inventors for free
Chocolate (additional knowledge) - Allows a player to place two extra knowledge cubes. Only applies on the turn in which it is played, and the additional knowledge must be on the same invention as other cubes played that turn.
Star (Classification number) - Fills in a gap in a card bonus run.
Ribbons - Give 1, 2, or 3 victory points.
1 - All tokens have a 1 on the back. This allows players to progress in knowledge in areas that begin as zeros (blank).
There are four ways to score points:
1) Card points - In the corner of each invention is a ribbon with a number of victory points (corresponding to the age). These victory points are given to the player who takes the card instead of a bonus token when an invention is completed.
2) Victory point bonus tokens.
3) Inventor bonus - If a player improves an inventor's knowledge to the levels indicated under the ribbon on the card, the player gets the number of victory points indicated inside the ribbon.
4) Card run - By the victory point indicator on each card, there is a number in a blue rectangle. If a player makes a run of these cards (which must start with 0), the player gets the number of victory points indicated by the highest number in the run.
At the end of the third age, players have one last opportunity to play bonus tokens to improve the knowledge of inventors. Once this is done, the player with the highest score is the winner.