It didn’t work, and I learned a lot.
It’s too busy — too many cards meaning too many things in too many contexts. Trade is named in a way compatible with Race For The Galaxy, and as a result, incompatible with any reasonable definition. The turns DRAGGED, as a result of information paralysis.
You are the oligarchs of a shattered empire. You are attempting to accrue more influence than your nemeses. You do so by assigning agents honors and titles in the lands of the empire, and ensuring dynastic succession within the six clans before some event befalls them.
Call a run of cards ordered by the length of time revealed a “river”. When you are instructed to take a card from a river, you may take the oldest card for free, the second oldest for 1 influence (placed on the oldest), the third oldest for 2 influence (placed on the two oldest), and do forth.
When you select a card with influence on it, you get to keep the influence.
Maintain the rivers at one more than the number of players, turning over new cards from the appropriate deck as needed, possibly shuffling discards to cycle the deck.
If you’ve played Small Worlds, this is familiar as the race selection algorithm.
Areas of play
There are two rivers used in this game: the Succession, formed of the personality cards, and the Horoscope, formed of the events and the locations. There is also the Empire, an unorganized pool of locations revealed but not yet purchased, and each player’s fief, the set of personalities and their stack of claimed locations.
Separate the decks for the Succession and Horoscope. Deal the aces into the Empire. Give each player 7 influence, less 1 per player (so 5 for a two person game).
Order of play
Play proceeds in turns.
On your turn, in order:
You must select a card from the Horoscope.
If that card is a location (or event-location), it immediately enters the Empire.
If the card is an event, at the end of your turn you will use it during the discard phase.
You may select a card from the Succession. Take that card into your fief. If it matches a suit with any other personalities in your fief, you’ll discard cards during your discard phase.
For each personality in your fief (including the one you just took, if any), you may select an ace or location from the Empire sharing one or more suits (including the one you just took from the Horoscope, if any). Put the card under the personality; if you remove the personality from your fief, you’ll discard the locations (or aces), too.
Discard and score:
You can only have one personality of each suit, and no player may retain personalities matching the event suit.
As a result, you’ll discard and score cards now.
Discard personalities sharing a suit with other personalities from your fief until no two personalities share a suit. For each card (person, location or ace) discarded in this way, score 1 influence.
You and all players will also discard personalities matching this turn’s event (if any). Each player gets 1 point if they discard only personalities as a result of this. You get 1 additional point if any players discard any cards.
Discard the event (if any).
Personalities are discarded and cycled to refill the Succession.
Events, locations and aces discard forever: once you can no longer refill the Horoscope, the game ends.
Count influence, and add it to the highest ranked card (personality, location) in your fief, counting crowns as 10.
The highest total wins.