The game is played over six rounds. In each round, a random set of four ships (of varying sizes) and five building sites are available. On your turn, you can do one of the following four actions:
1. Take up to three stones from the quarry and add them to your supply sled. 2. Move a stone from your sled to an empty space on a ship. 3. Sail a ship (only possible if a ship is carrying the specified minimum number of stones). 4. Play an Action card.
When you sail a ship, it docks at one of the five sites, and the stones are used to either build (obelisks, temples, pyramids and the burial chamber) or to claim a card from the market. Some sites generate points immediately, some at the end of the round, and some at the end of the game. Some sites can also give you instant bonuses, depending on whether you're playing the (A) side or (B) side of the site board.
Pretty straightforward, right? Well, there are two rules I haven't mentioned, and they are absolutely key to this game:
1. Stones are taken from the ship in order, from front to back. For sites like the market, first place is good as you get first choice of the cards, but for some sites like the temple, you definitely don't want to be first.
2. You can sail a ship even if it doesn't contain any of your stones.
And this second rule is the biggie. The thing that turns this game from lightweight fluff to a more medium weight game of timing and screwage. Because you might have set up a ship to have your stones in just the right place to be delivered to the burial chamber (where the position of your stones is important) only to have some evil swine sail that ship to the temple!
So what you need to do is try to cater for every eventuality, and this makes every decision tricky and crunchy. Plus, there's a timing challenge, because the person who sails the fourth ship (which trigger the end of the round) becomes the last player in the next round. And you don't really want to be the last player!
If you haven't already figured it out, I think it's a great game. It has delightfully big chunky 'stone' cubes, thick cardboard ships and sites, and simple but effective artwork - and it plays in about an hour. Absolutely brilliant, despite me being completely rubbish at it.
Game 1 - Frank, David, me Game 2 - Phil 37, Frank & David 34, me 31