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.
1 Gameboard
1 black Sultan
12 Vizirs (1 fat, 1 small and 1 big vizir in each color)
36 Power cards (6 of each type: Horses, Canons, Gold, Troops, Supplies, Ships)
6 Pardon cards [in German: Gnade]
4 Travel Planners
4 Traitor Indicators in the four colors
12 Numbered Vote markers [a spare set included]
4 Turn Order Overviews
1 Egg Timer
The Story
We are in the the omnipotent Sultan's magnificent throne-room. Dignified he sits on his throne surrounded by his twelve loyal and devoted Vizirs. Loyal and devoted? No way! Each and every one strives only for the opportunity to dethrone the Sultan and grasp the power for himself.

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 Sultan is placed on his throne (the big doubleringed circle).

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]
The player who dethrones the Sultan wins the game.

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.
Turn Sequence
The game is played over several rounds, during which each of the following 7 activities are performed in order. It might be helpfull to keep the Overview cards in front of the players during the first game, as the activities must be performed in the order stated:

  1. Palace Intrigues
  2. Planning Travels
  3. Performing Travels
  4. Collecting Power cards
  5. Banish a vizir
  6. Pardon by the Sultan
  7. Changing places at the Palace

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:
1. Where will the player send his vizirs,
2. which vizir should be sent to the dungeons as a traitor (only from players with at least 4 Power cards), and
3. whether you would trade Power cards with other players.

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.
2. Planning Travels
After the debate will the players secretly designate a new space for each of his vizirs on the Travel Planner. A vizir may travel from the court to any city, from a city to any other city or from a city back to court. But he may not move from one seat in court to another seat within the court. A vizir can naturally also choose to stay in the same place.

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.
3. Performing Travels
The player reveal their Travel Planners simultaniously by placing them face up on the table. In turnorder, beginning with the player who controls the vizir with the highest voting rights, moves each player his vizirs to the designated destinations.

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).
4. Collecting Power Cards
When all have finished moving may each player in the same turn order take the cards they are entitled to and place them face up on the table in front of them. Only the players with a vizir who is alone in a city may take the top card from the stack in that city, and then reveal the next card - except in Kaffa. Here may the vizir, if he is alone, search the stack, choose one and return the rest face down in the space.

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.
5. Banish a Vizir
The Sultan is extremely mistrustful, and rightfully so. So to be safe he throws a vizir into the dungeons every turn. Only the vizirs present at court may vote (with as many votes as their seat number) on which vizir the Sultan should treat as a traitor. If the Traitor Indicators are pointing towards more than one vizir, is the one who receives the most votes against him sent to the dungeons. In the event of a tie wins the vizir with the higher seat number.

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.
6. Pardon by the Sultan
A player with a vizir in the dungeons may ask the Sultan of mercy if he has a Pardon card. Only vizirs in the 2nd or 3rd Dungeon may be pardoned. The Pardon card is placed at the bottom of a stack in any city. The vizir is released immediately and given to its player. During the next round may it be returned to play (as described in 2.)

Note: Unfortunate vizirs who ends up on the Island of Banishment cannot be pardoned anymore.
7. Changing Places at the Palace
As the last activity each round all vizirs present at court moves one space in clockwise direction.

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.
End of Game
The game ends instantly and often unexpectedly in the same moment a player has at least one of each type of Power card while at the same time he has one of his vizirs on the double-ringed space to the right of the Sultan.

This player overthrows the Sultan, grasps the power and wins the game.

Translation: Mik Svellov 1999   v1.1