Merchant Venturers
Brave Merchants sail from the Old World to the New, purchasing goods and returning them to the teeming markets of the Old World. The Merchants vie to build the largest trade fleet, and retire as the richest man in the Known World. Currently, this is available in HTML format, with PDF and plain text format to follow. The playing pieces are available in bitmap format, zipped to save space when downloading. There are files for all of the pieces you need to play, and a file including a key of the pieces. You will need one copy of each of these files to be printed, and a further copy of the sea tiles file.
Component List
The Rules
Board Layout

The board consists of 90 triangular tiles, split into three sections, the Old World, the New World and the Ocean. The Old World and New World tiles are further split into port and resource tiles. The board should be laid out in the pattern shown below. Randomly deal out the Old World ports and resources (Shown as green tiles, lighter coloured tiles are the ports), and the New World ports and resources (Shown as grey tiles, lighter coloured tiles are the ports) as shown, placing the Ocean tiles (the blue tiles) in the central area.
Board Layout Example


The aim of the game is to have acquired the largest fortune at the end of 10 years of game time. Cash and ships count towards your total wealth, trading posts and unsold good do not.

Turn order

At the start of each year, assign the first-move marker to the player with the fewest coins, if there is a tie, give the marker to the youngest of the tied players. Unless otherwise stated, this player always has the chance to act first, and play proceeds to his left.

Beginning the Game

Each player begins the game with one small trading post, and one small slow ship. They also start with 3 coins and two action cards. Beginning with the youngest player, each player places their trading post and ship at an Old World port. After all players have placed, they have the chance to use any action cards they wish, or to purchase any desired upgrades.

Down but not out

It is impossible to sink a player's final ship, or destroy their last trading post. Any action card that would cause this to occur instead removes all upgrades from the selected ship or trading post.

Turn order

Each turn consists of several phases, with some phases only occurring in certain seasons.

  1. Season changes
  2. Resource Creation
  3. Buy ships and trading posts
  4. Resource allocation - Summer Only
  5. Buy resources - Summer Only
  6. Load Ships
  7. Sail Ships
  8. Sell resources
  9. Second chance to buy ships and trading posts

Season Changes

At the beginning of each turn, the season changes. The first turn of the game occurs during Winter. The season determines which lands produce resources, and the direction of the wind.

Wind Direction

Each season, the wind blows from one compass point, and helps ships to move in a certain direction.

The wind allows a ship to move one space for free in the direction it blows, at any point during the move of the ship.

Resource Creation

During the relevant season, lands attached to New World ports create one item of the appropriate resource. Desert tiles do not produce any resource.


Attached lands

New World Port Example
Each port has three attached lands, as shown in figure 2. All of these lands will produce resources in the seasons as described in the table above. Each port produces one type or resource, as detailed on the port card.

Resource Allocation

During summer resources are moved to the attached port. If a land is attached to two ports, move the resources to the port with the greatest number of levels of trading post, and to the northern port if there is a tie.

Purchase Resources

Resources can be purchased after they have been allocated to ports, during the summer season. Goods are purchased from each port in turn, starting with the most northerly.

The player with the largest trading post in the port has the first opportunity to purchase goods. They pick any type of goods, and may purchase any available goods of that type. The player with the second largest post has next opportunity to buy, then the players with smaller posts, and finally players with ships present. Once all players have had a chance to purchase goods, the first player has another opportunity to purchase from the remaining stocks.

In the case of a tie, use turn order to determine who has the first opportunity to buy. If a player has no trading posts or ships present, they cannot purchase any goods. Once no more players wish to purchase goods, move on to the next port.

Cost of Goods

Buying ships and trading posts

At certain points in the turn, you can buy more ships, upgrade ships, or buy new trading posts.

Basic - Slow small ship2 coinsmove 2cargo 1
Fast ship upgrade+2 coinsmove +2
Large ship upgrade+2 coinscargo +2

You can upgrade a ship during purchase. Ships must be placed docked in an Old World port. Ships can only be upgraded whilst docked in an Old World port.

Trading posts

You may only have one trading post per port.

You can build a trading post on any port. You must build a small trading post first, and it can be upgraded to Medium at a cost of 2 coins, and then on to large at a further cost of three coins. A large trading post allow a 1 coin discount on the standard purchase price of any available good.

Loading Goods

After goods have been purchased, they must be loaded into ships or stored in trading posts.

A small ship can load 1 good
A large ship can load 3 goods

Small trading posts can store 1 good
Medium trading posts can store 2 goods
Large trading posts can store 4 goods

Sailing ships

Ships can move onto adjacent tiles. Slow ships can make two moves, fast ships can make 4 moves. Ships also get one free move with direction. You can dock a ship by moving it onto the port tile.

Selling goods

You may sell goods during any season. As for buying goods, turn order is determines in the same manner. Each port will have a market for one item of each good per attached land of a given type. Deserts do not provide a market for any type of good.

Old World Port Example
e.g. During a season, at this port it is possible to sell 2 gold, 1 spices and 1 ebony. If you cannot sell goods, then you may store them in trading posts. Any unsold, unstored resources are discarded from docked ships.

Sale price

  • Crops - 2 coins
  • Furs - 3 coins
  • Spices - 5 coins
  • Ebony - 6 coins
  • Gold - 10 coins
  • Plus one coin per good sold at a dedicated port
    Plus one coin per good sold where you have a large trading post present
    Plus one coin per good if you have the largest trading post present.

    Action cards

    Action cards cost 2 coins, and have a number of possible effects. They may be purchased in either purchase phase, and played as described on the card. Once a card is used, it is discarded. If no Action cards remain in the draw pile, shuffle the discard pile to create a new draw pile.


    The game lasts for 10 years, after the 10th Autumn turn finishes, determine the winner. Count the number of coins each player has. Add the total value of all ships to this total. The player with the greatest total wins.

    Tiebreak with the number of large trading posts, then medium, then small. Finally tiebreak on the number of held goods.

    Action cards

    The action card deck consists of two of each of the cards described below.