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Advanced and expert game

The advanced and expert cards add more interaction, variation and new concepts. After a few games with basic cards you can add the advanced cards, mixing them in with the basic cards.

After a few more games you can add the expert cards.

Five players

With 5 players you must play the Advanced and/or Expert game to have enough Progress Cards.

Positive Events also affect the second strongest (unless tied), negative Events affect the two weakest (including all tied). Other card eff ects work similarly, so for Saint Augustine (most stable) you get the effect if you have the most or second most Stability. Passed first counts for passed first or second. Passed last counts for passed fourth or fifth.

Example: China has 23 Military Strength, Persia 22, Greece 22, Rome 5, Egypt 4. China is strongest, Rome and Egypt are weakest.

Example: China has 8 Stability, Persia 7, Greece 5, Rome 5, Egypt 4. China and Persia are most stable. Greece, Rome and Egypt are least stable.

Two players

The 2-player game is tough-you either win or lose all Events. Competition is fi ercer, you might take more risks and the game might be (or seem to be) decided early. Books yield fewer VP in absolute numbers, but as with more players you want to have just more than your opponent.

Competitive game

Nations is meant to be played as a friendly game. The individual difficulty levels, B-sides of the Player Boards of friendly games and allow for players with varying experience to play very varied games together on equal terms. If you want to play a more competitive and regulated game we recommend playing with 3-4 players, using the A-sides of the Player Boards and choosing the same difficulty level.

For balanced Progress Card decks, construct the decks for each age by starting with the base cards and then exchange some base cards with advanced and/or expert cards of the same type as the exchanged base card (e.g. replace a base set Advisor with an expert Advisor).

Short game

If you want to play a shorter game, decide before the start how many ages you want to play. Play the game normally and at the end of the last age do the full scoring calculation.

For learning games with players unaccustomed to long and complex games, playing the first 2 or 3 ages instead of a full game can be a good idea.

Easier game

If you find the game too tough you can start with an extra Worker. Take one Worker from the track and hide the upkeep for it. This makes building up your engine easier, but also allows for more competition for events and Books. With this variant it is common to both overproduce a resource and to overcommit when fighting for early points.


After a couple of games you can try to play with the B-sides of the Player Boards. Each has some special rules and changes, all shown on the boards. Note the differences in starting resources, especially the additional worker for China.

The setup is done in this order: randomize player order, select difficulties, place initial cards on card row, randomize what Player Boards are in play (same as number of players). Then select Player Boards in reverse player order (player 5 selects first in a 5-player game). When selecting you can choose to use the A-side instead of the B-side. You can have the same card twice if you buy a card already on the Player Board from the start.

Example: In a 3-player game the Player Boards China, Persia and Rome are drawn. The players look at the cards on the Progress Board. Player 3 picks Rome. Player 2 then chooses Persia, and flips it to the A-side. Player 1 picks China.

Single Player

In the solo game you play against a shadow opponent represented by Event tiles and a die. You strive to maximize your victory points at the end of the game. If you play it to learn the game it is recommended to only use the basic cards, as in the first game with more players, and play on Prince.

Instead of drawing a normal Event Card you will draw a random Event tile from the current age, showing:

  • what Strength and Stability values the shadow opponent starts with this round, and possible changes. Note that the Strength and Stability of the Shadow can vary up and down significantly between turns, and even during a turn depending on what you roll.

  • how many books to add to the total for the Shadow at the beginning of this round. Note that there can be further changes depending on what you roll.

  • how many architects are avilable

  • the famine level

The game is played normally and all comparisons are done with the current value of the shadow opponent. If the shadow opponent has no value you win that category (always passed first, always most Workers etc).

You start as player 1, with 1 Book. The shadow opponent starts with 2 Books. On the Progress Board, use 4 Progress Card columns.

After every action (including a special action) except deploying a worker on a building you must roll the die for the shadow opponent.

Also roll the die for the shadow opponent before your first turn in a round if you are 2nd in player order.

The D6 roll result is resolved as follows:

  • 1-4: Remove all Progress Cards from the corresponding column on the Progress Board. If there was at least one War left in that column, the shadow opponent buys the cheapest War.

    The strength of the War is the shadow opponent's Military Strength at the time it bought the War. If the column is empty, nothing happens. Neither you nor the shadow may buy a war if one already has been bought this round. If the shadow rolls for a war you discard it.

  • 5-6: Resolve the corresponding action for the shadow opponent stated on the current Event tile. Apply the same eff ect again if a number is rolled several times during a round.

At the end of the round, compare your stability with that of the shadow.

  • +1 VP if more Stability than shadow opponent,
  • -1 VP otherwise

At the end of the round, compare your stability with that of the shadow. +1 VP if more Stability than shadow opponent, -1 VP otherwise.

At the end of the game compare your score with the Hall of Fame. Try to score more in the next game and when you feel ready play on a harder difficulty level. Note that the total VP in a solo game is not comparable to a multiplayer game.

The Shadow is not aff ected by wars in any way. You can buy wars to avoid the eff ects, as only one war can be bought each round.

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