OBJECT OF THE GAME
Caravans of Ahldarahd ends when the entire deck of route cards has been revealed. At that time, everyone scores victory points based upon the number and location of cities under their control. Whoever has the highest score wins the game.
STRATEGY NOTE: Caravans of Ahldarahd is best enjoyed as a game of diplomacy. Though it can be played as a “quiet strategy” game, you will have more fun and be more successful by talking, making deals, offering trades, and forming alliances throughout the game.
SETTING UP THE GAME
BEGINNING THE GAME
Each player chooses a color. They take the corresponding board and tokens of that color. They should also draw 3 route cards from the top of the corresponding colored pile to form their starting hand (these cards are kept secret).
Next, each player takes the Right of Passage corresponding to the person to their left and 5 gold chips from the bank.
All players will now have a map, 3 route cards, 21 plastic route markers, 10 glass city markers, 1 Camel marker, 5 gold, and someone else’s Right of Passage.
EXAMPLE: Brian chooses the color red. He takes the map with the red border, the red chips and glass beads, the red Camel, and three red route cards from the deck.
Additionally, he notices that Nancy is sitting to his left. She has chosen blue, so Brian takes the right of passage with the blue border. Lastly, Brian takes five gold from the bank.
Once all players have chosen, remove the decks, tokens, maps, and Rights of Passage not claimed by a player and place them back in the box. The remaining route cards are stacked into one deck, but not shuffled. This deck is placed in the center of the table. (Thus, the number of cards in play depends on the number of players. A five player game will have 50 cards, while a two player game will only have 20.)
At this point, all players may claim two routes on their own map for free. Place plastic chips of your color over the white circles to mark your control. You may build either land or sea routes, and if this gives you a majority of routes into a city, you claim control of that city and earn the gold for doing so. (See TAKE CONTROL OF A CITY under the Building Phase.)
At the start of each turn, everyone turns their Camel marker face up so the Camel is showing. Next, make sure there are as many face-up route cards as there are players. If not, turn up cards from the deck to fill the empty slots.
EXAMPLE: At the beginning of our four player game, there are no face up cards. Brian turns up four route cards from the top of the deck for all to see. On future turns, he will turn up as many cards as needed to ensure that a total of four are visible.
ONE: BIDDING PHASE
Starting with the Shah, each player begins an auction on one of the following items.
The player with the favor of the Shah goes first by bidding on any one of the above items. He/She may bid any amount of gold they like, including zero. In a clockwise fashion, each player has the opportunity to outbid the current bid or pass. Once a player has passed, however, they may not bid on the item if it comes back around.
When only one bidder remains, that player immediately takes the item into their possession. If the bid was greater than zero, the winning player must pay the bank that amount of gold and turn their Camel over. (If you win an auction for zero gold, you do NOT turn over your Camel.)
In a case where you win the favor of the Shah, you may give this item to anyone else whether they want it or not. (The other items can be given away to any player who wants them, but only the Shah can be forced upon another. It is a very common for the person with the Shah to bid upon and give away this marker.)
Once an auction is complete, the phase continues in this fashion with each player (moving clockwise) starting ONE auction. The following guidelines apply:
For a detailed example of this phase, see “A Bidding Example” at the end of the rules.
TWO: BUILDING PHASE
Starting with the Shah, (which may have changed as a result of the bidding phase), each player gets a chance to do any combination of the following actions. You can build as much as you can afford and in any order you choose. You may play on your own map or on another map if you hold the corresponding Right of Passage.
1. CLAIM One or More Routes: To create a route between two cities, you must pay one gold to the bank and discard a route card that matches ONE of the two connected commodities. This card can be of ANY color, regardless of the color of the map. Place one of your plastic route control markers on the white circle.
EXAMPLE: Brian is the red player. He wants to build the route that connects his Ivory city and his Gems city. To do so, he discards a green Ivory card that he has in his hand and gives 1 gold to the bank. (However, he could have also played a Gems card of any color or an Ivory card of a different color.)
2. BUY One or More Routes: If you not have a card matching one of the cities you want to build a route between, it is possible to buy the route outright with gold. The cost to do so is printed inside the white circle and is equal to the total number of routes going out of both connected cities.
EXAMPLE: Brian wants to control the route between his Gems city and his Spices city. However, he doesn’t have either of these cards, and he can’t convince anyone to trade one to him. So, he pays 9 gold (the number printed on the route) and buys it that way.
3. TAKE CONTROL of a City: Immediately after you control the majority of routes into a city, place a glass city control marker onto it. You immediately gain gold equal to the number printed on that city. (You MAY spend this gold during the same building phase.) All opponent routes that go into this city are removed. If this means that your opponent loses control of other cities, then remove their control markers immediately. (They may reclaim those routes in the future.)
EXAMPLE: Brian’s Salt city has 6 routes going into it. Brian controls 3 routes into it and Phillip controls 1. Brian claims another route, giving him a total of 4. He has claimed the majority of 6, so he immediately places a red bead on the city to control it and takes 6 gold from the bank. Phillip’s route is removed.
4. DESTROY a Route: You may destroy someone else’s route by paying double that route’s cost. (Players may NEVER destroy their own routes.) How you pay is your choice, so long as you pay twice what it would cost for you to build it.
EXAMPLE: Phillip wants to destroy a route on Brian’s map. Since he has Brian’s Right of Passage, he may do so. The route leads between a Salt city and a Metals city, and it has a building cost of 10. There are six ways Phillip can destroy it:
- Pay 20 gold to the bank
4. SELL a Right of Passage to the Bank: The gold value of a Right of Passage is equal to the number of controlled cities on the corresponding map. (The color of the city control markers is unimportant.) The sold Right of Passage goes to the center of the table where it can be bid upon in later turns.
5. TRADE with Another Player: You may trade freely with others at any time, even if it is not your turn. The terms of trades are entirely up to the participants. The only rule is that a player may never buy, sell, or trade cities or routes.
ENDING THE GAME
On the turn when the last route card is turned up (i.e., the face-down deck is gone), there is one more Bidding Phase and Building Phase and then the game is over. At this point it’s time to tally up the score.
The player with the most points wins. In the case of a tie, the player with the most gold wins. If both players have the same amount of gold, they share victory.
EXAMPLE: Brian controls the Metal and Ivory cities on his own map. He also controls the Metal city on Phil’s map and the Textile city on Christina’s map. He scores 4 points for having a total of four cities. He also gets +3 points because he controls Metal on an opponent’s map and his own, for a total of 7. (If Brian controlled Metal on Nancy’s map as well, he would get an additional 4 points:+1 for the city and +3 because it matches his own map.)
From his throne in the Silver City, the Shah rules the lands with an iron fist. Whoever has his favor bids and builds first each turn. This is sometimes an advantage but usually not. When you win the Shah in an auction, you will most often choose to turn his favor toward someone else.
The Eyes of Shamesh
The Eyes of Shamesh are a powerful religious group within Ahldarahd. If you have their favor, doing business is greatly eased and land routes can be claimed or bought for one gold less than usual. (This also means that destroying lands routes requires 2 less gold for you, since destruction costs twice as much as building.)
The Pirate Queen
The Pirate Queen’s vast fleet controls the sea lanes between Ahldarahd’s northern islands. If you have her friendship, you will find that your ships are left alone. Claiming or buying sea routes costs one gold less you. (This also means that destroying sea routes requires 2 less gold, since destruction costs twice as much as building.)
Four players, Donna, Phil, Jason, and Christina, sit down to play Caravans of Ahldarahd. Since Donna is the oldest player, she begins with the favor of the Shah and starts the bidding phase. She would really like the Eyes of Shamesh, so she immediately bids two for it. Both Phil and Jason pass, but Christina ups the bid to three. In turn, Donna raises her bid to four. At this point Phil and Jason may not join the betting since they already passed. Christina does not wish to bid higher, so Donna gets the piece. Before taking it, she pays the bank four gold and turns her Camel face down.
Next, Phil bids zero on the favor of the Shah. Both Jason and Christina pass, and Donna may not bid one or more since her camel is turned face down. Phil gets the Shah and (since he paid no gold) does not need to turn his camel face down. He chooses to give the Shah to Jason so he can go last when the building phase begins.
Next, Jason bids zero on a gem route card. Christina bids one, Phil passes (he could have bid since his camel is still face up), and Jason decides to pass. Christina pays her gold to the bank, flips her camel, and takes the card.
On her turn, Christina bids zero (the only amount she can bid since her camel is now face down) on the red Right of Passage. Donna must pass, Phil bids one, and Jason passes. Since Christina cannot bid more than zero, Phil takes the piece. The Bidding phase is over. Notice that Phil ended with two items, and Jason got nothing.
Night of the Outsider
In the world of Ahldarahd, the Night of the Outsider is a time of great terror when the evil God descends upon the earth. When it occurs, people who are caught outside after dark are often killed or changed into unnatural monsters. If you wish to add a random element of danger to the game, you may use this optional rule.
How it works is simple: place the three black chips in with the gold at the beginning of the game, and put the bank into an opaque cup or a spare dice bag. Whenever someone draws one or more black chips from the bank, the Night of the Outsider comes. Set the black chip(s) aside and draw gold to replace them. Then, turn up the top card from the route deck. Everyone must choose one of their routes that goes into a matching city and destroy it. (If you do not have any routes that match, you are not affected. Also, whoever controls the Eyes of Shamesh are immune to the Outsider’s evil.)
However, this disaster is averted for EVERYONE if someone discards a matching card or the players collectively pay 10 gold to the bank.
A variant that is especially interesting in 2-3 player games is to place one of the unused boards in the center of the table. This board is assumed to be neutral, and anyone may play on it at any time. Any cities that you control here give victory points as if you had played on another player’s board.
See the FAQs for more information on specific rules and strategies.