Inka & Markus Brand

AMIGO 2009

No. of Players:
2 - 4



G@mebox author Marco Klasmeyer writes about the game:


The players are summoned to prove their skills at the construction of the new palace of Eschnapur. With an almost poor amount of gold they must gain the goodwill and cooperativeness of the high administration of the Maharadscha in order to keep the distance to the other opponents. In each round the "donations" to the administration yield some advantages or disadvantages for building the palace. Building parts of the palace at the right time provide the desperately needed supply of gold and necessary victory points.


The game board consists of up to 8 parts of the palace of Eschnapur, each representing a building with a tower. They are placed next to each other in one row on the table. Depending on the number of players participating some buildings are removed at the start of the game. Each building consists of 7 to 16 building places onto which the players can place their markers in order to indicate their contribution to this building. All players jointly build the palace, but by placing the right marker at the right time may bring some benefit and advantages. Ten privilege cards are placed face up above the palace. They can be purchased with privilege points at any time in the course of the game and used once immediately after purchasing. After purchasing and using a privilege card it is discarded for the rest of the game. A progress board is placed below the palace to display the victory and privilege points of each player. All markers are wooden tokens, the building markers and the counters for victory points and privilege level. Each player gets his colored set of building cards for the up to 8 palace parts. The not needed building cards are put aside. Finally the players get their start amount of gold, depending on the number of player participating. Gold cards have a value of 0-5. They are used during bidding for the favor of the high administration consisting of 5 magistrates. Each player has an own tableau where he has to place his building and gold cards during the turns.


Each turn of the game is structured into 9 phases:

  1. In phase 1 all players select two of their building cards and place them face down in front of them. These buildings will be constructed in phase 7 if nothing intervenes this.
  2. Then in phase 2 all players must place one of their gold cards on each of the five magistrates. It is possible to use gold cards with a value of zero but then you can never win the favor of that magistrate. The five magistrates influence one of the following phases. They can block a palace building so that no parts of that palace cards can be constructed in this round. They can block a gold card of one player in order to prevent him from bidding for a certain magistrate. They manage the supply with building markers. They define the order of players for the next turn and they allow you to replace building markers from one palace part to another.
  3. After all bids have been placed for the high administration in phase 3 the first magistrate decides on blocking a gold card of a player. The highest bid gains the favor of the magistrate and decides whose gold card is blocked this turn.

    Please note: In case of a draw the next lesser unique bid wins instead. If there is no unique bid or the least bid is zero no one wins the favor of this administrate.

    After an auction has been completed, the following applies for all biddings for the magistrates: The winner has to discard his used gold. Zero gold cards are taken back to the hand. All other cards remain on the table until phase 9 for the privilege evaluation.

  4. In phase 4 the favor of the second high administrative can be won. All players show their second gold card and the highest bid wins the construction stop token. It can be placed on any palace part in order to prevent any building progress this turn. The construction stop token must change its last position thus no palace part can be blocked for two turns. But it is possible to place the token next to the game board and block no palace part this turn. In case of a draw the same rule as in phase 3 applies. Also this auction ends accordingly.
  5. In phase 5 the players get a number of building markers according to their value of gold they have placed. But if any gold value is played more than one time the corresponding value is divided by two and all owners only get the half number of building markers. Because all gold cards have an effect in this phase all cards have to be discarded (except for the zero gold card).
  6. In phase 6 the new order of the turn will be defined. Again the favor of the high administrative determines the player to define the new order which becomes valid immediately after completing this phase. In case of a draw the same rule as in phase 3 applies. Also this auction ends accordingly.
  7. In phase 7 all players can build the palace parts of the Palace of Eschnapur they have selected in phase 1. Starting with the player one of the new order, the players put their building markers into their selected buildings except for the palace with the construction stop token. If a palace building does not offer vacant places it is not allowed to place a marker here. The palace part has to be built from the lowest value place to the highest. All markers which can be placed into the building must be placed. Building markers may only remain in the possession of the player if the selected building is blocked by the construction stop token or the building does not offer any vacant fields and thus is completed. Those markers may be used in the next turn. If the player has no building markers he is not allowed to build anything. If a building marker is put onto a building place displaying a gold bag a bonus will be given to the players currently participating in building this palace part. Each player gets gold cards with a value of 3. The distribution of the bonus is done in the new order of players. If the bank cannot provide enough gold cards a player cannot get the full bonus.
  8. In phase 8 the favor of the last high administrative can be won empowering one player to move one building marker from the highest building place in one palace part to the lowest vacant building place in another palace part. The ownership of that marker does not matter. Only the construction stop marker protects the palace part from this action. The player with highest bid gets the favor of the magistrate, same rules as in phase 3 apply. Also this auction ends accordingly.
  9. Finally in phase 9 the turn is completed. All gold cards which have not been used so far and remained on the five high administrative are transferred into privilege points. Privilege points can be used at any time to purchase privilege cards with special abilities and actions (only one time usable). Afterwards the gold cards are discarded. The blocked gold card from phase 3 may not be transferred into privilege points and remains on that administrative for the next round.


Evaluation of the palace parts:
If all building places of a palace part have been constructed and a player's token has been placed on every field of the Palace of Eschnapur, the participating players each get the amount of gold shown at the top of this palace building. The number of building tokens of a player does not matter yet. Each player in the current order of the turn takes the amount of gold from the bank. He can choose any number of cards to reach this amount, but he is not allowed to exceed it nor change gold cards from his hand. So if it is not possible to get the exact amount of gold the player might get less than the expected revenue. This is most likely the case for the last player to draw his revenue from the bank. Last but not least the victory points are calculated. Each player gets victory points for the highest values of the building place he has constructed plus one victory point for each token he has placed onto the building, e.g. the highest valued field is 14 and he has 6 tokens in total built, the player gets 14+6=20 victory points. The markers for victory points are adjusted accordingly. If a player exceeds 50 points he gets a 50-points marker, which can be flipped over in case he reaches 100 points (then it's displaying 100 points). The marker starts then again at 0 victory points of the board.

After the evaluation of a palace part, all tokens are removed to the common supply. The obsolete building cards are completely removed from the game. The palace tile is flipped over to show the completed palace part. When all completed palace parts have been evaluated the next turn starts.

The game ends if a defined number of parts of the palace of Eschnapur have been successfully built. The number varies with the players participating. In the final evaluation it can happen that even more than needed palace parts are completed.


The Palace of Eschnapur is a nice building game which reminds me somehow of "Alhambra". You can bid against your opponents, you have to plan your building strategy: a) participate in all buildings or b) concentrate on the most valuable buildings or c) try to just do the best at each turn and get the one or the other bonus. But as there is no real long term planning, it might be also a good advice to constantly reconsider the strategy in the course of the game.

The most fun is to guess what the other players might want to achieve this turn, what their strategy might be, because this is essential for placing the right bid and not wasting precious gold for the administrative favours. The most challenging thing is that you always do not have enough gold to do everything at the same time. Well you might have enough gold at all, but you constantly lack of high value gold cards (3, 4 or 5) that are more promising in winning an auction.

The ability to decide on the order of the players is also quite essential, because being the first to place building markers or to earn revenue (the bank gives no change!) is better than being the last. Placing building markers might also be tricky, because the place with the lowest value must be constructed first, but what if there is a gold bonus available soon and the bank has currently not enough gold for all players, then it is quite important in which order the turn is currently played to get the most advantage.

Der Palast von Eschnapur can be played with two, three or four players. Each constellation has a special setup: less palace parts to complete, more or less gold at the start of the game, some magistrates are not available. The total amount of all players defines also the gold available at the bank. The surprising thing is that the bank has no gold at the start of the game but only the gold which is spent in the course of the game. Due to the fact that you have to place 4 or 5 gold cards each turn (and new gold cards can only obtained at some rare bonus building places and of course at the evaluation of a building) it can happen that you have to survive 2 or 3 turns without any new gold cards which makes it almost impossible to win your desired auctions. The special rule if two players have an equal bid applies more often than one might think, but in reality this rule strongly influences the players mind. One might think just betting a 4 instead of a 5, because two others might play the 5, resulting in 3 times 4 because everyone had the "similar gene" idea. Thus the forth player who has just spent 2 gold wins the auction, which makes the auctioning in four player mode a bit arbitrary and by far not deterministic. Even in two player mode the fear of the equality rule applies sometimes too often and no one wins the favour.

The design of the game is nice but in my opinion some things could have been improved. There is no short rule description for the 9 phases. This sequence is not that simple and clear that you just know it by heart after reading the rules once. The personal tableau displays just some pictograms of the action the high magistrate can offer the highest bidder, but there is no image of a magistrate or office building or something like that. Hence the magistrates remain an abstract thing just occurring in the rules.


For me the two player mode works better than the four player mode, which I find quite surprising as most games offer a weaker two player mode showing their strength at four players. In four player mode the course of the game and the outcome of the auction are a bit too chaotic and thus hard to plan. The two player mode works well, is more foreseeable and for me means having a lot fun playing Der Palast von Eschnapur.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2009 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany