|Designed by||Gene Moore|
|Extra Material||20 tokens in 2 colors (10 of each color, suit chips may be used)|
A game for two players, in which you are a merchant attempting to claim as many trade routes throughout the kingdom as you can.
This game uses the extended deck. You may choose whether or not to include the Excuse; see below for a description of how it is used in the game.
Create a map of the kingdom by removing the following 15 cards from the deck, and arranging them in a 5x3 grid on the table. These cards represent the people and places with which you are trying to establish trade routes.
1st Row: the Sailor, the Forest, the Mountain, the Diplomat, the Penitent
2nd Row: the Mill, the Harvest, the Castle, the Watchman, the Desert
3rd Row: the Light Keeper, the Consul, the Market, the Borderland, the Island
(For a larger image, click here.)
With the remaining cards in the deck, deal 2 to each player, then turn 2 cards face up on the table to create a draft board. Form a draw pile with the rest.
During a player's turn, one of two actions may be taken:
1. Take a card
2. Claim a trade route
A player may choose to take a card either from the draft board or the draw pile. Cards taken from the draft board are replaced by the top card of the draw pile. During the game, a discard pile will be started. When the draw pile is empty, shuffle the discard pile and turn it face down to become the new draw pile.
There is one alternative to taking from the draft board or the draw pile. If a player plays The Excuse, they may take any card they wish from the discard pile, and add it to their hand. The Excuse is then discarded.
Claiming Trade Routes
A trade route is any orthogonal connection between adjacent cards on the map. To claim a route, a player must play from their hand enough cards to equal or exceed the total rank of the two cards in the route, and in a common suit (or suits) between them. Aces count as 1, and Pawns, Courts, and Crowns all count as 10.
For example, to claim the route between the Consul () and the Harvest (), a player must play at least 20 Moons from their hand; the Pawn and Court add up to 20, and Moons is the only common suit. To claim the route between the Mountain (4) and the Diplomat (8), however, they can play any combination of Moons and Suns which add up to at least 12, since both Moons and Suns are common suits.
When claiming a route, the cards that are played go into a discard pile, and the player places one of their tokens in the area adjoining the cards on the map. Only one player may claim each route.
If a player is able to claim a route by matching the indicated rank exactly (for example, playing exactly 14 Suns to claim the Diplomat/Penitent route), then the player gets an extra turn. There are no restrictions on additional turns, and if another route can be claimed with exact change, then the player gets another extra turn.
Ending the Game
The game ends when one player is out of tokens.
Scoring and Winning
Each route claimed by a player earns that player 1 point.
In addition, each player's longest continuous route earns bonus points for that player according to its length. A continuous route is a path of one or more tokens, which can be traversed without backtracking. A 5-token path, for example, would score 5 bonus points.
The player with the most points wins.
Aces can be bothersome on the draft board. While they have a small amount of use for making exact change, it is often not advantageous for a player to take one. To mitigate this problem, one of the following rules may be used during the game:
1. At any time during a player's turn, they may remove an ace from the draft board by giving it to their opponent, and then replacing it with the top card from the draw pile.
2. If a player chooses to take an ace from the draft board, they may take an extra card in the same turn (after replacing the ace).
3. Remove the aces during setup, and deal three of them to each player. When claiming a route, an ace may be used to subvert the route's suit requirement. As long as the ace is of the correct suit, the remaining cards used to claim a route need only to fulfill the rank requirement. The ace is not counted in the total rank. (For example, the Consul/Harvest route can be claimed with the Ace of Moons and any other cards adding up to at least 20.) Each ace may be used once per game, and is removed from play after use.
Ruta was designed by Gene Moore, and inspired by the game Ticket To Ride by Alan R. Moon.
Many thanks to Jacob Valdez and Steffen Eichenberg for their playtesting and analysis, and Greg James for his ace variant idea.