The board is a semi-random grid of large hexes. Large hexes are made of 7 small hexes. Each has terrain (plains, forest, mountain, river/town). There are also claims markers, bonus tiles, and buildings.
Each player starts with one town they own, and then move to control more territory and place buildings.
Each player draws a random bonus tile. Look at it, but keep it secret for now.
Choose a colour; put all the claim tokens of that colour in front of you, as a supply and to mark which colour you are.
Choose start player at random.
Place the generic tiles semi-randomly (ensure the river matches up) and then the unused town tiles. Leave room for the player's town tiles evenly spaced.
In reverse order, players place the town tiles in the spaces, putting one of their claim markers on it.
First player having placed last (and ended up with the worst location) they go first. Hopefully, this compensates them.
Everyone reveal their bonus tiles, and add another that everyone will score for.
Flip up 5 buildings.
On your turn, take two claim markers from their supply and flip up the buildings, until 5 are visible. (You should always have 5 to choose from at the start of your turn) You may then spend them to:
Control a hex. Spend 1 if the hex is adjacent to a hex you control; 2 if you can reach it by jumping over one hex, 3 if you can reach it by jumping over two hexes, etc.
Place a visible building on a hex (or hexes) you control. Spend 1 claim, take the tile, and place the big hex representation in place. Each building has terrain requirements - noting that towns/rivers are wild-card territories and support any building.
Note that claims cost does not depend on the building size; it's a flat one.
Or you can save one (or both) for another turn. Keep these set aside from your supply!
Game ends when either:
All buildings are flipped up.
All hexes are claimed.
Play out that turn, then score.
Find the building type you have most of, and score 1 point for each hex of that type of building you have built.
Score some points for your bonus conditions. (Example bonuses: 2 points for each terrain type you have more un-built hexes than anyone else. Score up to 5 from your second-size terrain type. Score 2 points for each triple-size building you have, regardless of type.)
I really wanted the trading game part; but meh, I messed it up. So it's back to plain old points scoring. There's three main tensions here - trying to grab good terrain versus trying to block your opponents in; trying to get your bonus/gold versus trying to get a lot of one terrain for the main score; buildings now, or buildings later (with opponents taking the ones you wanted).
Should be quite quick. Has been tested with simple "Each hex has a value" and no buildings; and that was quite fun but a bit too simplistic+short.
Pallando writes: Sorry to be a bit negative about the mechanic. I had a think on the drive back. What I came up with was:
replace scoring only for your highest resource type with: get +2 to your score for each resource you have a strict majority of, get -2 to your score for each resource you have least or equal least in
have a waiting queue of pending pieces (eg 5 available, 5 pending), so people can see what is going to become available, and plan for it. Maybe let the person building a building have a free choice of which of the pending pieces to promote to being available.
rather than paying to jump, you can pay 1 to remove someone else's piece from a hex, if they don't have a building on it, provided you have at least 2 pieces neighbouring that hex.
I think the majority of problems actually fix more simply than this - by flipping the two decks. So everyone knows "Stone" or "Wood" is worth competing for bonus; leaving people to choose which of the other two resources to fight on for their major. That tension (and choosing when to jump to another resource type rather than fight it out) is intentional - I don'#t want to lose it completely. But I do want to fix the "You will do this, so uh, yea, you're gonna win unless a player self-sabotages" element.
The buildings needing to be more visible I agree with (which is why I boosted it to 5 visible in the first place). I think I'd like to try the simpler "Pick a building, any building" model first. (Which may mean removing the gold buildings bonus, or maybe the penalty for building early vs expanding to claim territory makes that an interesting tension. Try that latter first.)
These two changes appear to have worked. Game now hits all of its targets (apart from being an auction game, ah well, next game). Still major tuning issues: The bonus goals need to be handed out differently to advantage last-player more (suggestion was to draft them) and it was also suggested that the base tiles might usefully be more varied (perhaps 4/1/1 on three of them, instead of 2/2/2 on all). Oh, and the bonus goals need a lot more balancing. --Vitenka
To test next time:
Three little pigs imagery. (T'was a throw away comment, but let's keep it, it's fun.)
Drafting of bonus tiles, with first player ending up with a choice of 2.
Rebalance all of those tiles - I wan them to be much easier to score some but harder to score completely. (And anyone who does should win.)