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At the beginning of the XVII Century, merchant companies struggle to control the trading of spices from the wealthy East Indies. Can you gather the highest profit from the shipments, all while climbing to ever higher positions in the company?


  • 1 Game Board
  • 60 Shipment cards
  • 14 Harbors
  • 20 Merchants
  • 16 Missions
  • 5 Company rank markers
  • 5 Summary cards
  • The pirate's cove
  • pirate's ship
  • Rule book

Object of the Game

Your are a merchant in the Seventeenth Century. If you can maximize your profit on the lucrative trade shipments from the East Indies, you will be the winner!


(Before the first game, remove carefully the tiles from their frames. Stick the stickers on the wooden discs according to their colors).

Place the board in the middle of the table. Sort the cards by the symbol on the back: Shipment cards and Harbors.

Give each player three merchants with the same portrait, and the matching summary card. (The fourth merchant is only used with a three-player variant described at the end of the rules).

Shuffle the Shipment cards and place them on the relevant space on the board. Give each player three cards to form a starting hand. Keep your hand of cards secret from the other players.

Prepare the Harbor deck:

  • With 3 or 4 players, remove the two harbors with a 5 in the lower left corner, and place them back in the box as they will not be used;
  • -With 5 players, remove the four harbors with a 3/4 in the lower left corner, and place them back in the box as they will not be used.

Shuffle the harbor cards, and place them face down on their space on the board. Then place three harbors face up on the relevant spaces of the board.

A sample starting set-up for four players.

Select a first player to begin. Starting with the first player, each player places one of his merchants in the first empty slot under any one of the companies. After the first round of placement, complete two more placement rounds in reverse order.

Companies rank: each company has five spaces in its column. The merchant in the first space is the first merchant of that company, and so on.

Prepare the Missions:

  • With 3 or 4 players, remove the four Missions with a 5 in the lower left corner and place them back in the box as they will not be used;
  • With 5 players: use all 16 Missions.

Sort the missions by value and line them face up on the upper side of the board. Place the company rank markers within easy reach. You will need enough space in front of you to collect spices and mission cards. This area is called your warehouse.

Game Board

The Shipment Cards

Upper Section:

Flags: Four flags of various colors, arranged on two lines.

Symbols that summarize the content of the card: icon of the spice, a bigger flag for flags appearing three times, a smaller flag for flag only appearing once.

This upper section of the card is used when you play in a harbor or during a fight for position within a company.

Lower Section:

Spice: black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg. Some spices show a "2": in that case, the spice counts double. This lower section is used when there is a distribution of spices after a shipment arrives at a harbor, or when completing a Mission.

Missions and Examples of How to complete them

Discard one spice for each type. At game end, this mission is worth 6 victory points.

Discard 4 spices of the same type. At game end, this mission is worth 8 victory points.

Discard 2 spices for each type. At game end, this mission is worth 15 victory points.

Discard 8 spices of the same type. At game end, this mission is worth 20 victory points.

Discard 3 spices for each type. At game end, this mission is worth 25 victory points.

Game Play

The game is played in a series of turns, with play passing clockwise. On your turn, you take the following actions in this order:

  1. You may complete a mission.
  2. You may change companies or attempt to advance within a company.
  3. You must play a shipment card on one harbor, and distribute spices.
  4. You must draw two cards from the shipment deck and discard excess cards (above 6).

After you have completed all four actions, play passes to the player on your left.

Your turn in detail:

1. Complete a Mission

As your first action for your turn, you may complete one mission and place it face down in front of you, where it will remain for the rest of the game. (At the end of the game, each mission is worth the number of victory points shown on the mission card).

To complete a mission:

  • choose any one mission still on the board;

  • discard from your warehouse the combination of spices shown for your chosen mission (see figure). You can use shipment cards or harbor cards as spices. You can use any number of wild cards.

    Card in your hand may not be used to complete a mission. Cards with the "2" multiplier can be used as two spices of that type.

    You do not receive any change if you use too many spices to pay for the mission. You cannot use mission cards to pay for another mission!

  • take the mission from the board, and place it face down in front of you.

2. Companies

During the second phase, you may choose and execute one of these actions:

  • Move one of your merchants from one company, and add it to a different company. Your merchant is placed into the first empty slot in that Company. If necessary, fill the space left at the old company by shifting up any other merchants there. -OR-

  • Advance one of your merchants in a company. In order to advance, choose one of your merchants (the "attacker"), and another player's merchant at the same company (i.e., in the same column) higher than your merchant (the "defender").

    Then, select and play face up from your hand one or more shipment cards that show flags of the company where the fight is taking place.

    The defender now has the chance to play cards from his hand that match the company, but he can play a maximum number of cards equal to the number you played.

    Important: You can never play all the cards you have in hand that match the company in question. You must keep at least one shipment card.

    Note: The defender does not have to defend his merchant!

After both players have played cards, count the number of flags (not cards!) you played that match the company and compare your total to the defender's.

The defender also adds a bonus equal to the number of merchants between the two merchants involved (if they are one below the other, his bonus is zero).

  1. If the attacker has as many or more flags than the defender, the attack is successful.

    Your merchant is moved into the position of the defending merchant, and the defending merchant is either lowered in rank or removed from the company, i.e. the defender may now either place his merchant in the space vacated by the successful attacker, or place it in the first empty slot at any other company.

  2. If the defender has more flags than the attacker, the attack is defeated. Both merchants remain in their places. In addition, the defender may add to his warehouse any one of the shipment cards he played in his defense.

All shipment cards used in the fight (except any spice reward chosen by the defender) are now discarded.

Important: If you only have one card in your hand, you may not start a fight, since you cannot play all of the card you have that match the company where the fight is taking place.

3. Shipment

In the third phase of your turn, you must play one shipment card from your hand onto one of the harbors.

Play your card face up directly below a face-up harbor, or overlapping a shipment card already played on that harbor. If played on an earlier card, place it so that it covers the second row of flags, leaving only the top row of flags visible.

Playing a shipment card can trigger distribution of spices. Each harbor card shows two numbers:

  • The number on the left shows the number of flags needed to create a monopoly at that harbor.

  • The number to the right shows the maximum number of shipment cards that can be played on that harbor.

If either maximum is reached by your shipment card, the spices at that harbor are distributed among the players:

  1. Monopoly

    If any company has at least the number of flags as the monopoly number (even if the shipment card limit has not been reached), then that company has a monopoly on the spices at that harbor.

    Place the Monopoly marker M on that Company. The spices are distributed to merchants as follows:

    • The player who played the last Shipment card (thus triggering the monopoly) takes the harbor card and adds it to his warehouse.

    • The first-ranked merchant of the monopoly company chooses and takes one of the spices.

    • Next, the second-ranked merchant at that company chooses, then the third, and so on until all cards are distributed. If there are more cards than merchants, than the selection continues with the first- ranked merchant again. Once done, remove the Monopoly marker and place it beside the board.

    It is possible that a shipment card will cause two or more companies to reach the monopoly limit at the same time. In this case, the tie is broken in favour of the tied company whose flag comes first in order on the very last card played (from left to right, from top to bottom).

    Example of Monopoly: The red company gets the monopoly at the Achim harbor with six flags.

    The player who played the last Shipment card will take the harbor (that is, the cloves spice).

    Then, the first merchant of the red company will take a spice of his choice. The second merchant will then choose one spice, and so on.

  2. Shared Distribution

    If the shipment card limit at a harbor is reached, and no company has enough flags for a monopoly, there is a shared distribution of the spices at that harbor:

    • The player who played the last Shipment card (thus triggering the distribution) takes the harbor card and adds it to his warehouse.

    • Count the number of flags for each company. The company with the most flags is the First Company: place the "1" rank token on it; the company with the second most flags is the Second Company and receives the "2", and so on.

    • The first-ranked merchant of the first company now chooses one spice and adds it to his warehouse.

    • Then the first-ranked merchant of the second company selects one spice, then the third most, etc.

    • If there are any spices left over after the first-ranked merchants have chosen, then the second-ranked merchants take spices in order of the companies, and so on.

    • If there is a tie for number of flags, the company with flags appearing first on the shipment cards (from left to right, top to bottom) goes first.

    • Once done, remove the rank tokens and place them beside the board.

    Example of Shared distribution: With four cards, the monopoly limit of 6 flags haven't been reached, so there is a shared distribution.

    The yellow company has 5 flags, red has 4, while green and blue both have 2. But the green flag comes before the blue one.

    The first merchant of the yellow company gets first choice, then the first merchant from red, then green, and finally the first merchant of the blue company.

Important: If a company has no flags at a harbor, the merchants at that company receive no spices!

After the spices at the completed harbor have been distributed, turn over the top card from the harbor deck and add it to the other harbors.

4. Draw Two Cards

At the end of your turn, draw two cards from the shipment card deck. If you now have more than six cards in your hand, you must discard down to six cards.

If the draw deck runs out, reshuffle the discard pile to form a new draw deck.

End of the Game

The game ends if one of the two following conditions is met:

  • you need to draw a new harbor card but the deck is empty

  • you need to draw two cards, but there are none left (no cards to draw, nor discards to reshuffle).

All harbor cards and shipment cards still on the table are discarded, as are any cards still in your hand.

Now each player has one last chance to complete a mission. Starting with the player to the left of the last to play, each player may choose one mission from the board, and complete it with the spices in his warehouse.

Then you can tally your score:

  • each shipment card in your warehouse is worth 1 victory point (including those with the "2");

  • each harbor card in your warehouse is worth 1 victory point;

  • each mission you completed is worth the number of victory points on it.

The player with the highest score is the winner! In case of a tie, the tied player with the most Missions wins.

3 Player Variant

For an even fiercer struggle in the companies, you can try the following game variant. Each player starts with 4 merchants instead of 3.

During the preparation, each player places all 4 merchants in the companies following the same rules seen in "Preparation".

Game Variant: the Secrets of Blackbeard

Players may complete Missions with a little help from the pirates... at their own risk!

At the beginning of the game, place the pirate's cove near the board; place the pirate's ship in the cove.

During phase 1) Missions, a player completing a Mission may discard one (only one!) of the spices in place of another spice (e.g. use one cinnamon instead of one pepper). He is trading it with the Pirates!

If the player does this trade, he takes the pirate's ship from the cove, or from the player who has the ship in front of them, and places it in front of him.

A player with the pirate's ship in front of him may not trade spices with the pirates!

This trade may not be carried out during the last chance of completing a mission, at game end.

At game end, the player with the Pirate's ship in front of him loses 2 victory points.

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