Magellan: Rules

(aka Pizarro & Co for the Rio Grande Version.)

Designed by Tom Lehmann,  Translated by Peter Sarrett,  3-6 players

The game is set at the time of the great explorers of the sea. Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, Cristopher Columbus, Francisco Pizarro, James Cook and of course Ferdinand Magellan, the bold navigators who discovered new countries and continents and completely changed the world picture of their time.

The players step into the roll of kings who send their captains to the four corners of the world, seeking new countries in which incredible wealth beckons. In addition, each tries to win the best and boldest explorers for its fleet. Each explorer has his own strengths and weaknesses, and their loyalties vacillate among the kings. The further the trip progresses, the more restless the explorers become…

(The Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan left with five ships in 1519 looking for a passage from the east coast of South America to the Pacific Ocean. He did not return from this trip. It was nevertheless a successful voyage and the first circumnavigation of the globe is associated with his name.

The Game in Brief

The game goes over 3 phases. In phase 1, 3 ships set sail from Europe with each explorer. There are many hazards along the journey, and in phase II only 2 ships progress. In phase III, only 1 ship finally reaches the goal. Each explorer has his personal strengths and weakness and brings his king victory points, gold, and possibly actions. The player with the most victory points at the end is the winner.

Game preparation

Place both boards next to each other. You can use either side of each board. In your first game, you may want to use the sides of the boards as shown on page 3 of the rules. At the start of future games, players should agree on which sides to use.

Each player receives 6 ships of a colour and 1 set of money cards numbered 1-9.

A player’s money cards are held face-down. The remaining money cards are shuffled and placed face-down next to the board.

The explorer cards are separated in three piles according to their backs and each pile is shuffled. Once shuffled, place the 6 Phase III cards (with the III on their backs) in a face down pile near the board. Place the 12 Phase II cards on top of the Phase III cards (you may find it convenient to rotate the Phase II cards 90 degrees, to help distinguish the two sets from each other). The youngest player places the 18 Phase I cards in front of himself and acts as the auctioneer. Throughout the game he flips the top card of the current pile (first Phase I, then Phase II, and finally Phase III) and begins the auction.

The Game Flow

The game goes through 3 phases (I, II, and III).

In each phase, following happens:

  1. Uncover and auction an explorer card.
  2. 1 ship is added (phase I) or advanced (phases II and III) and the action of the space carried out (by the player who purchased the explorer card).
  3. Steps 1 and 2 are repeated until all explorer cards of the current phase have been sold.
  4. When the last explorer card of a phase is sold, the phase ends and all players draw money cards from the deck.
  5. The next phase begins.

After the auction of the last card of phase III the game ends and the evaluation results.

The Game in Detail

1. Auction of the explorer cards

The auctioneer uncovers the uppermost card of the current phase pile. He asks the player who bought the previous card to bid or pass ("Inge, make your first bid for Pizarro."). For the first card of phase 1, the auctioneer makes the first bid or pass. Play continues clockwise, with each player raising the bid or passing. A player who passes is out of the auction for this card. The auction continues until only one player is left. Bids are paid with money cards (the numbers in the money bags are the values of the cards). The high bidder discards sufficient money cards face-up to a discard pile. The player puts the purchased explorer card in front of himself face down (exception: see "Columbus" and "Magellan"). In this manner one can always verify which cards he has bought. Immediately after the card is bought, a ship of the player’s colour is added to or advanced on the board. Important: in phase 1, each player can bid for, and possibly win, each explorer card (therefore a player can buy up to three of the same explorer cards). In phases II and III, only those players who bought at least 1 card of an explorer in the previous phase can bid on that explorer in the current phase. If nobody bids on a card, it is discarded from the game.that becomes by no player ersteigert comes into the box back (in this case no ship is added or advanced and no action is carried out).

2. Add or advance a ship and possibly execute an action

In phase I ships are added; in phases II and III, the ships that were added in phase I are advanced. Ships not added in phase one are returned to the box.

When a player buys a card in phase I, he places one of his ships on the first space of the corresponding explorer.

When one of these players buys another card of that explorer in phase II, he moves his ship from the first to the second space. Likewise in phase III, he moves his ship from the second to the third space.

The explorers can carry out actions. These actions are represented on the action spaces of the board and are clarified under "The action fields" section below.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2

Steps 1 and 2 are repeated until all explorer cards of the current phase are auctioned. In phase 1 there are 18 cards, in phase II 12 cards and in phase III 6 cards.

4. New money cards at the end of a phase

At the end of phases I and II all players receive 2 new money cards from the deck. The auctioneer shuffles the discards together with the cards remaining in the deck and deals 2 money cards to each player. Some players may receive additional money cards if the spaces their ships occupy (matching the current phase) show money bags.

5. The next phase begins

The auctioneer puts the pile of explorer cards for the new phase (II or III) in front of himself and flips up the first card. The game continues as described in steps 1-5.

Evaluation at the end of the game

After the auction of the last explorer card of phase III, the (only) scoring occurs and the victor is determined (see "Scoring").

The money cards

There are 63 money cards—seven complete sets numbered 1-9. They are required to purchase explorer cards. Money cards left in a player’s hand at the end of the game score additional victory points.

Each card shows a money bag in the four corners with a number between 1 and 9. Between the money bags, a crown with the number 1, 2, or 3 is depicted. The number in the money bag indicates its monetary value in the auction. If a player receives an explorer card for 7 ducats, for example, he can pay with 1 money card of value 7 or with 2 money cards valued 5 and 2 or with another mixture of his choice. If a player doesn’t have exact change, he must overpay and receive no change. The number in the crown indicates the victory points a player receives in addition to his other victory points if he holds the card in his hand at the end of the game.

Note: During each phase, players do not draw new money cards (exception: see "Vasco da Gama"). They receive new money cards only at the end of phases I and II!

The board

Each half board shows 3 explorers and 1 scoring track for the end of the game. Each explorer has 3 spaces next to each other. The leftmost space is for phase 1, the middle for phase II and the right for phase III. Players’ ships are placed on these spaces. Moreover the spaces may show money bags, crowns, and actions.

Money bag

The number in the money bag shows how many money cards a player draws from the deck (at the end of the phase) for each ship he has on that space. These are in addition to the 2 money cards all players draw at the end of phases I and II. A player only draws cards as shown on the space matching the current phase—spaces for prior phases do not generate more cards.


The number in the crown indicates how many victory points a player receives at the end of the game for each ship on that space.


Actions are awarded when a ship is placed or advanced onto a space. Some actions occur immediately and some are carried out later. In some spaces there are no actions. The actions differ depending on which side of the game board is used (A or B)

Christopher Columbus

Plan A and B are identical

Phase I (veto) : Columbus cards from phase I give their owners a veto of later auctions. The player puts the purchased Columbus card face up in front of himself. From then on, he can use the veto whenever the auctioneer uncovers a new explorer card.

Before the first player makes a bid on the just uncovered explorer card, the player who possesses the Columbus card says: "veto – we’ll auction this card later!" The auctioneer puts the card at the bottom of the deck for that phase, and the player who vetoed turns his Columbus card face down. He cannot use it again. Now the auctioneer uncovers the next explorer card.

Phase II and III: no action. The Columbus cards of phases II and III give no power of veto.

Francisco Pizarro

Plan A: no actions

Plan B:

Phase I, II: no actions

Phase III (victory points) : This action is carried out during scoring at the end of the game. First the player appraises all his other ships, counts the victory points of his remaining money cards, and then finally appraises the ship on the last Pizarro space. He shuffles the money card deck and discard pile together, then turns up a card from this new deck. He may continue drawing cards until he wishes to stop, or the sum of the cards’ monetary values (in the money bags, not the crowns) exceeds 20. If he stopped before exceeding 20, he adds that monetary total to his victory point score (again, the value of the money bags, not the crowns). If he broke 20, he gets 0 victory points for Pizarro. (In the example on page 8, if the player stopped after the first three cards he’d score 13 points; drawing the fourth card brings his total to 21, so he scores 0).

Ferdinand Magellan

Plan A (Put a money card from your hand under the Magellan explorer card)

Phase I: The purchasing player puts the Magellan card face up in front of him. He must immediately put a money card from his hand face down under the Magellan card (tip: if possible, a card with 3 in the crown). Magellan therefore costs 1 card in addition to the bid. A player may not purchase Magellan if he would have no more money cards after paying his bid (you must still have a card to place beneath Magellan). If a player buys multiple Magellan cards in phase 1, each should be placed as a separate pile in front of him, with a money card under each.

Phase II and III: Place the newly-purchased Magellan card face-up on top of any pile of Magellan cards the purchaser already owns which he has not yet added to in this phase (in other words, each Magellan pile can have no more than 2 Magellan cards in phase II and 3 in phase III). The player must again put a money card from his hand face down beneath that pile, adding it to the money card(s) already there. The player scores victory points for each pile at the end of the game. For each pile, total the numbers in the crowns on the money cards in that pile and multiply that total by the number of money cards in the pile. In other words, each money card scores 1x, 2x, or 3x its crown value depending on the size of the pile it’s in.

Plan B (Put a money card from your bid under the Magellan card)

Phase I, II, III: This works just like Plan A, but with the following differences: the money card placed beneath Magellan must be one of the cards used to pay the player’s bid. It is placed face up, rather than face down, beneath the Magellan card.

Marco Polo

Plan A (Exchange money cards at the end of the phase)

Phase I, II: At the end of phases I and II, after receiving all his new money cards, the player can discard up to 3 money cards from his hand and draw an equal number of new ones from the deck. He may do this once for each ship he has on the current phase space.

Phase III: no action

Plan B: no actions

Vasco da Gama (Draw money cards)

Plan A

Phase I, II, III: Immediately after buying a Vasco da Gama card, the buyer draws 1, 2, or 3 money cards (depending on the phase) from the deck.

Plan B

Phase I, II, III: When a player wins a Vasco da Gama card, he must choose whether to place his ship on the left or right side of the appropriate phase space. If he selects the left side, he immediately draws 1, 2, or 3 money cards (depending on the phase) from the deck. If he selects the right side he gets no action, but will score victory points if his ship is still there at the end of the game.

James Cook

Plan A (show all money cards)

Phase I, II, III: After the buys pays his bid, he must immediately place all money cards in his hand face up in front of him. If he receives new money cards through Vasco da Gama (see above), he must put these face up also. At the end of the phase (before new money cards are drawn), he may pick his cards back up.

Plan B (lose a money card at random)

Phase I, II, III: After the buyer pays his bid, his left neighbour draws 1 money card from his hand and discards it. If a player would have no more money cards after paying his bid, he may not buy the Cook card.


When the last explorer card is auctioned, money cards for the appropriate Phase III spaces are distributed and Phase III is concluded. The player who bought the last explorer card begins the scoring phase. He counts his victory points as follows: first he counts the numbers in crowns on the spaces on which his ships stand (performing the Pizarro action, if applicable). In addition he adds the numbers in crowns on all money cards that he holds in his hand. Use two of his ships to mark his score on the scoring track. Then the next player clockwise follows, and so forth. The player with the most victory points wins.


Home page Home

This site is created and maintained by: Carl-Gustaf Samuelsson