The board shows the ancient Mediterranean area from Lebanon to the straits of Gibraltar.
Each player receives a number of ships and cities. The map is divided into rectangles.
Four starting rectangles are chosen by drawing location tiles. These areas are allocated one of the four differently colored types of empire counters. Each turn, players can play tiles corresponding to locations on the map. It's mandatory that these are next to tiles that already have an empire counter on them. The new location receives an empire counter depending on already present adjacent ones. Thus the four empires expand during play, as more and more tiles receive their empire counter. The size of the empires will vary from game to game.
Players also need to build galleys to control tiles or travel to locations and found a city there. Building and traveling must be paid for with appropriate cards. These are dealt each round, some may be kept and traded. Spend them to your best advantage.
At the end of the game players score points for controlling tiles. The amount of points depends on whether a city or galley controls the rectangle and how big the empire is to which the area belongs.