At the Sultan's Court. A turbulent game for 4
|English translation: Betrayal!|
|by Tom Kremer
Published by Winning Moves 1999
The illustration on page 2 names the various spaces on the gameboard. Beginning in the(empty)lower left corner and going anti-clockwise you will find the following spaces:
The three small squares on the arrow are the First, Second and Third Dungeon leading to The Island of Banishing (the oval space). The seven rectangular spaces are the Cities of Bukhara, Tabriz, Shiraz, Kaffa, Gidda, Uskub and Isfahan.
The central part of the board shows 12 spaces for the Vizirs, each with a smaller space for the Vote-marker. The bigger double-ringed space at one end is the Sultan's Throne. Note that the Vizir at the Sultan's right hand also has a double-ringed space showing the importance of this seat.
To reach this goal each player must send his vizirs to the remote cities at the outskirts of the Realm, in order to acquire troops, weapon and bribes (in form of Power cards). Being absent unfortunately reduces the vizir's influence and importance at court and makes him an easy target for intrigues, and suspicions of betrayal can quickly lead to the dungeons - or to the Island of Banishing disappearing forever. Therefore a Vizir should not leave court for longer periods of time, and on his return should he always seek out the best place - such as one carrying a large number of votes (the seat-number).
Only the player who is capable of balancing the various facettes of the game - and most intelligently maneuvers his vizirs - will have a chance to win the struggle for subversion in the palace.
The vizirs are placed on their 12 spaces in any order (the players does know yet which color they will be using).
The 12 Vote-markers are mixed backside up and randomly placed on the twelve small spaces close to the Vizirs, and then turned over.
The 36 Power cards and 6 Pardon cards are shuffled well. Each player receives 2 cards, which he places openly in front of him. The remaining 34 cards are distributed face down into the 7 cities - 4 cards at Kaffa (vis-a-vis the Sultan) and 5 each in the other cities. The top card in the other cities are always revealed.
Each player receives a Travel Planner. Finally are the Traitor Indicators mixed together and distributed face down. The players turn them over and finally discovers the color of their vizirs.
[Translators note: This doesn't quite work in my copy as the colorcoded wheels gives the game away. But this is not a problem as it is still far easier to simply chose a color before the game, place the vizirs on random spaces, randomly distribute the small numbers, and then begin the game. None of the vizirs are allowed to stay in the court during the first turn anyway... Mik]
To do this he needs at least one of each of the 6 different Power cards (Pardon cards [imprinted "Gnade"] are not Power cards). He collects these by sending his vizirs into the far-away cities along the borders of the realm. At the same time he must keep enough influence at court in order to ensure he isn't pointed out as a traitor and banished. The two contradictory objectives determines a good part of the game.
The (double-ringed) seat to the right of the Sultan has a significant purpose. This is the one favored by the throne. Whoever collects all 6 Power cards and places a vizir on this space, wins the game.
1. Palace Intrigues
Each player in turn - beginning with the player who controls the vizir with the highest voting rights - relates his projects for the round.
3 topics present itself:
These activities will not take long during the first round, but will soon increase its importance. To begin with it will always be interesting to find out where the players wants to send their vizirs. Because a vizir can only collect a Power card from a city in which he is the sole visitor. The decision to banish a traitor and his subsequently disappearence does also have a strong influence on the game play as it will weaken the inflicted player considerably.
Later will the players try to gather more information about the others, and try to intiate trades with or against each other. Conspiracies are thus quite common.
The flow of this type of phase depends naturally very much on the players and may be freely arranged. But we recommend that you limit the time to a minute per player and another 2 minutes for the discussion. Mostly you will get through the phase without the use of a timer, but during exceptionally talkative debates any player may place the timer on the table thereby indicating that the time is running out within a minute.
Important: No matter what a player has said or promised is he never obliged to keep his word! This applies to the travels, appointing traitors and all other declarations.
The initial letter of the city or the number of the seat indicates where the vizir is moving.
Each player also makes a secret decision on the Traitor Indicator of who he wants to send to the dungeons, and then places the wheel backside up on the table.
As already mentioned may a vizir only be sent to the dungeons if his player has at least 4 different Power cards (not counting Pardon cards). This activity is thus even more important.
A vizir may always move to a city or stay in a city no matter whether other vizirs travel to the same city or not. But if a vizir is returning to court from a city, may he only perform the move if the space is vacant and no other player wants to move a vizir to that same space. (If another players Travel Planner indicates that he also wants to move to that space, will both vizirs stay in their present spaces).
If a vizir is present in seat number "1" by the end of this phase, may the controlling player demand a Power card from another player, provided that he doesn't have that type of Power card himself and that the other player has at least two copies.
The unfortunate is thrown into the 1st Dungeon, behind the Sultan to the left. If that dungeon is already occupied is the vizir there moved to the 2nd Dungeon. Is that also occupied is that vizir moved from the 2nd. to the 3rd Dungeon. Is there a vizir in there as well must he move onto the Island of Banishment, and the player must play the remaining game with only 2 vizirs.
Here you see how important it is to have your vizirs present on seats with high enough votes, especially towards the end of the game, in order to avoid being sent to the dungeons and the Island of Banishment.
Any vizir, no matter whether he is presently in a city or at the court, may be sent to the dungeons.
Note: Unfortunate vizirs who ends up on the Island of Banishment cannot be pardoned anymore.
This means that the voting rights and thus the influence of the vizirs changes every round.
The round is completed and another begins anew with the Palace Intrigues.
This player overthrows the Sultan, grasps the power and wins the game.
|Translation: Mik Svellov 1999 v1.1|