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Empires rise and fall. In the buffer areas and crossroads between civilizations, however, a clever ruler can sometimes adopt new ideas, establish trade, and found a city-state - such as the great Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon - that will outlast many neighboring empires.

Each player rules a settlement located on the shores of the Fertile Crescent, in the Middle East, more than 3,000 years ago. During play, you spend wealth to expand your settlement, adding tiles and tokens to it. The first player to successfully found a city-state wins!


  • 1 central scoring mat
  • 20 village tiles
  • 5 scoring cylinders
  • 5 production disks
  • 25 cubes for marking discounts
  • 10 settlement tiles
  • 45 worker pawns
  • 40 storehouses
  • 35 disks used as change and tool markers
  • 48 development cards
  • 40 production cards
  • 5 preset production cards
  • 1 rules and reference guide
  • 1 large Overlord pawn

Object of the Game

Each player's starting settlement has hunters, farmers, one group of untrained workers, and some stored wealth.

During play, you spend wealth to expand your settlement, adding tiles and tokens to it. Growth is measured in production and victory points (VPs), marked on the shared central scoring track.

Your starting settlement has three production and two victory points, for its hunting and farming activities. Once a player reaches 32 or more victory points, a city state has been founded and the game ends.

The player with the most victory points at the end of the game is the winner!


Place the board in the center of the table. Put the neutral settlement tiles, worker pawns, storehouses and disks near the board. These will be shared by all players during play.

Each player selects a color and takes their pieces, placing their scoring cylinder and production disk on the "2" and "3" spaces of the scoring track, respectively.

There are 19 different types of development cards. For setup, development cards are split into "A" and "B" cards. When playing with fewer than five players, use the number of cards of each type shown below:

Development cards enter play gradually in four sets: 1, 2, 3, and 4. separate them by set. Shuffle each set and place them face down. Stack the 2, 3, and 4 sets and set this stack to one side for later use.

Flip over as many set 1 development cards as the number of players. Place them in the center area to be auctioned off during play. If any Granaries or Forts are flipped over, replace them and then shuffle them back into the set 1 deck.

Each player sets up their four colored village tiles with 3 worker pawns, 2 disks and 2 storehouses, as follows: place 1 worker pawn in the upper untrained section of the training ground tile; 1 worker pawn in the upper left most circle of the hunting tile; and 1 worker pawn in the upper left most circle of the farming tile; 2 storehouses in the upper section of the storage tile; and 2 disks in the lower treasury section of the storage tile.

Determine the initial Overlord randomly and give that player the Overlord marker. Shuffle the production deck. Deal one production card face down to each player. Players may examine their own cards. Begin play.

For your first game, start each player with one of the extra preset cards worth five, rather than a random production card. Remove these cards from play after use; do not place them in the discard pile.

Game Play

Each round, players spend their wealth training and employing their workers and, in auctions, buying development cards, which provide additional resources, new abilities, and victory points.

Then, players receive more wealth (their production) and repeat this process until at least one player has 32 or more victory points.

The game's strategy lies in three areas:

  • Deciding when to increase your income by employing existing workers, when to buy development cards, and when to save for next turn's auctions.
  • Deciding which development cards to buy.
  • Deciding how much to bid for development cards that your opponents want and when to drop out if your opponents bid up the cards you want.

Phoenicia is played in a series of rounds. Each round consists of two parts.

  1. Starting clockwise with the Overlord, each player takes their turn:

    1. Initiate auctions.
    2. Train, employ, or shift workers.
    3. Buy any tools and adjust treasury.
  2. Administration

    1. Check for victory; designate Overlord.
    2. Add development cards.
    3. Deal production cards.
    4. Apply storage and treasury limits.

I. Player Turns

A player's turn has three parts. Each player completes their entire player turn (all three parts) before the next player begins his or her turn.

A. Initiate Auctions

Development cards are bought in auctions, initiated by the current player placing a bid on an available development card.

The smallest amount a player may open an auction for is the minimum bid listed on the development card being auctioned.

Proceeding clockwise from the current player, each player either bids an amount at least one more than the last amount bid or passes, removing themselves from this auction.

An auction ends when all but one player has passed. That player takes the card and pays for it with production cards and treasury disks, making change as needed.

Example: In a four-player game, Robert opens an auction by saying "four on an Indentured Worker" (its minimum bid is 3; Robert is choosing to bid more).

The next two players pass. The fourth player, Helene, bids "five". Robert passes, ending this auction. Helene turns in a "6" production card (enough to pay the 5 that this purchase costs), takes one disk as change, and places it in her treasury.

During this step, your treasury may temporarily hold more disks than you can store in it (three disks at the start of the game), but this must be corrected by the end of your turn.

Example: Joan, with a "6" production card and 2 in his treasury, buys a Tracker for 4.

After paying, Joan now has four disks in his treasury, more than the three disks she's allowed at the end of her turn.

Before then, Joan must spend one of these disks or it will be lost.

Once you've paid for a development card, advance you totals for any production or victory points it gives, plus mark any discount it grants on the board with a cube, and flip over or add any tiles, storehouses, or workers it provides.

Then, place the card near your tiles (in case you ever need to check your production or victory totals).

Example: Anne buys Glassmaking for 5. Anne pays for it, advances her production and scoring markers one space each, and places this card near her.

Example: After buying an Indentured Worker, Helene places a worker pawn in her trained workers section, and places this card near her.

Example: After buying a Fort, worth one victory point, Robert advances his scoring cylinder one space, places three worker pawns in his untrained workers section, and places this card near him.

Note. Additional workers are available only by buying development cards; they can not be purchased directly.

Some development cards grant your settlement discounts on later cards.

Example: Helene buys a Dyer. The first Dyer gives its owner a -4 discount towards Dye Houses, a phase 2 card. Helene advances her score by one and places

a cube on the board in one of the Dyer discount boxes to mark this. (If Helene buys a second Dyer she will place another cube, to show that she has a -7 total discount towards Dye Houses).

If you buy a card you have a discount for, pay the amount bid less your discount.

You must have enough in cards and treasury disks, plus discounts, to pay the amount you bid. If you have two development cards that give you a discount on the same future development, then you receive the second discount, if three then you receive the third.

A newly purchased card's discount can be used in later auctions that turn. (e.g. buy a Shipyard and then use it later that turn to help pay for Ships).

Some cards grant your settlement improved or new abilities.

Example: Anne buys a Granary, which improves her storage. She flips over her storage tile, adds two storehouses to its upper section, and can now store up to 6 wealth.

Example: Jose buys a Prospector, allowing him to employ workers in mining and providing a -1 discount towards Smelters. Jose adds a mining tile to his settlement; places a discount cube and adjusts his score.

Another type of ability is increased production, for hunting and mining only.

Example: Anne has three workers employed in hunting for three production. She buys a Tracker which provides Improved Hunting, 1VP, and a -2 discount for Caravans.

After flipping over her hunting tile and replacing her pawns, Anne sees, from the running totals, that her hunters now provide four production and advances her production disk by one. Anne then advances her scoring marker and places a discount cube.

Example (continued): The Tracker shows that hunting - unlike storage - can be further improved.

If Anne bought another Tracker, she would replace her improved hunting tile with the advanced hunting tile. (With the same number of hunters, this would then increase Anne's production by two).

On your turn, you may initiate as many development card auctions as you wish (provided you have sufficient wealth or discounts to make legal bids), whether or not you win any of these auctions. You are not required to initiate any auctions.

For your first game only, to give players a chance to get a feel for the game, a player may not initiate any additional auctions in a round after winning one (whether or not they initiated that auction; e.g. they may buy only one development card each round).

B. Train, Employ or Shift Workers

After initiating all auctions you desire, you may then spend wealth to train and employ workers or to shift workers into more costly activities.

Workers come in two forms, untrained and trained. To train a worker, pay 2 and shift that pawn from the untrained worker section to the trained worker section. (Public Works, in card set 3, improves your training ground, reducing this cost to 1).

To employ a trained worker in an activity you have (hunting, farming, mining, or clothmaking), you need to buy the tools to do that activity.

Pay the appropriate tools cost (2, 5, 8, or 11) and shift a pawn from the trained worker area to the upper left most vacant worker circle on that activity's tile, advancing your production and score as indicated.

Place a storehouse on your storage tile each time you employ a clothmaker.

Example: On turn 1, Robert has 7 wealth (a "5" card and 2 points stored in his treasury). He spends 2 to train a worker and then 5 to employ that worker in farming, placing his worker pawn on the next farming circle.

Farming is worth two production and one victory point. Robert advances his production disk two spaces and his scoring cylinder one space.

Tip. Do not train a worker that you will not immediately employ, except to avoid exceeding your storage limit after the next production step.

You may also shift a worker to a more costly activity (usually when you can not both train and employ a worker or they are all employed).

Pay the new activity's full employment cost, transfer the pawn, and place a neutral tool disk on the old activity tile, covering its employment cost.

You gain only the difference in production and victory points between the old and new activities (plus a storehouse when shifting a worker into clothmaking), but you leave a set of tools behind.

Example: Anne has 9 wealth, not enough to both train and employ a worker in mining (cost 10), so she instead spends 8 to shift a worker from hunting to mining.

Since mining is worth three productions and hunting is worth one, Anne increases her production by two. Since mining is worth two victory and hunting is worth one, she advances her scoring cylinder one space. Anne puts a neutral tool disk on her hunting tile, covering its employment cost of 2.

You may employ a trained worker at no cost in an activity with a tool disk, removing the tool disk and gaining that activity's full production and victory points.

C. Buy Tools And Adjust Treasury

You may buy one or more tool disks (in anticipation of getting future workers) by paying an activity's employment cost and placing a disk on that tile.

Tip. Buy tools only to avoid exceeding your storage limit after the next production step.

With a City Centre tile, you may also buy VPs, up to the limit shown, placing disks to mark this and advancing your score marker.

After completing all purchases, you may discard an unspent production card into your treasury, to become disks. Following this, any disks in your treasury that you can not hold are lost.

Example: Jose ends his turn with a "4" production card and one disk. Jose can hold, with a Granary, up to 6 disks in his treasury, so he discards his "4" card into it.

Jose will later spend four disks from his treasury during the deal production cards step to buy a new, and hopefully better, production card.

To speed the game, the other players, if desired, may continue with the auctions while you perform your internal operations (train, employ and shift workers; buy tools, and adjust treasury).

If desired, before the administration step, check that your production and victory points are accurate by adding the running totals (from the last occupied space on the village tiles to the values of your set aside development cards).

After Your Turn

After completing your player turn, you may not bid in later auctions initiated by other players on their turns.

II. Administration

A. Check for Victory / Designate Overlord

After all players have taken their player turns, if any player has 32 or more victory points, the game ends. If not, the new Overlord is the player with the most victory points. If the game ends, then the Overlord doesn't change.

If there is a tie, then among those players, the new Overlord is the closest player to the left of the current Overlord. (Thus, being Overlord rotates among the players currently in the lead).

B. Add Development Cards

Development cards enter play in four sets. Starting with set 1 (and then sets 2, 3, and 4 as each previous set runs out), add new development cards face up until the number of cards available for auction is equal to the number of players.

C. Deal Production Cards

Deal each player cards and coins as indicated by their production marker. If this results in a player having more than four coins in their treasury, turn in groups of four coins for additional production cards.

Example: With a production of 6 and nothing in your treasury, take one production card and two neutral disks.

Example: With a production of 6 and three disks in your treasury, turn in two of your three treasury disks to take two production cards.

When the production deck runs out, reshuffle the discards to form a new deck.

D. Apply Storage and Treasury Limits

After receiving production, each player must apply their storage limits, one production card for each storehouse and one disk for each space on their Granary.

Thus, at the start of the game, each player has a storage limit of two production cards and three disks. If you have more cards than storehouses, you must discard your excess cards.

You may freely choose which cards to discard. If you have any unused space in your treasury, you may put as many of your discarded points into it as will fit. You may not exceed your treasury limit during this step.

Example: Anne has 11 production, two disks in her treasury, and no saved cards. She turns in one disk and draws three cards.

With two storehouses, Anne must now discard a card. She discards her lowest valued card, a "4", placing two disks from it into her treasury (all that will fit since Anne has a treasury limit of 3), and loses the other two points.

Anne ends this step with her two highest valued production cards and three disks in her treasury.

End of the Game

The game ends once one or more players have 32 or more victory points during the check for victory step. The player with the most victory points wins!

If there is a tie for most victory points, then the following applies.

  1. Overlord at the start of the turn (if the current Overlord is among the tied players).
  2. Otherwise, the highest total of unspent production cards and disks.

If still tied, then all the tied players win.


No cards or pieces may be transferred between players. The contents of players' settlements may be freely inspected. Players should not show each other their production cards until using or discarding them.

How many production cards a player holds must be disclosed upon request.

Components and other limits

You may not have more workers assigned to an activity than as shown on its tile. You may not "cash in" tool disks nor workers (by shifting them into less costly activities or returning them to the trained or untrained worker boxes).

Your number of discount cubes is not a limit (remove discount cubes from the board after the cards they apply to have been bought).

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