Entry for the "Contest X" Design Contest 2019.

Designer: André Heines

The Golden Pyramid

A 3D tile placement game for 2-6 players.


The unchilded emperor needs a worthy successor to his throne. He declares that the nobles shall together build a golden pyramid. The emperor demands a pyramid that consists of four levels, with the upper levels being build upon colorful artistic colonnades. The one whose contribution impresses the emperor the most will become the new emperor.


All tiles

All card and cubes in 6 colors




Put aside the 12 cards with values 5 and 6 as well as the yellow and green card. They may be used to create a scoring track. Shuffle the other cards and place them as a draw pile face down on the table. Leave some space for a discard pile. Form 6 face up stacks of tiles, one for each symbol. Put 15 cubes (the columns) of each color (18 in a game with 5 or 6 players) in the bag. In a game with 2-4/5-6 players randomly draw 3/4 cubes from the bag and place them within reach of all players. They form a common market pool. If at any point in the game, including setup, 3 or more cubes are of the same color, the cubes in market are immediately replaced randomly from the bag. The cubes from the current market are put in the bag before drawing new ones.

Each player draws 3 cubes from the bag and is dealt 3 cards randomly. In a game with 2 or 3 players each player starts with 4 cubes and 4 cards. In addition to that all players take a builder (meeple) and two cubes in a player color of their choice.

Scoring track

The scoring track: Depending on the table space form one or more lines with the remaining cards, using their backsides. Place the green and yellow cards on opposing sides of the line(s). You can use the green card as a “0 space”. Each quarter of the cards backgrounds stands for 1 point on the track. Using 10 of the 12 value 5 and 6 cards for example become a 40 point track. For scores above that players may use the second cube of their color. Placing the first one on the yellow card may indicate 40 points in this example. This scoring track is a suggestion and may be adopted or varied in any way you like.


During the game the players will perform one action per turn until the pyramid is finished. When that happens, the game ends immediately. There are five possible actions the players can take during their turn.

a) Draw cubes

b) Draw cards

c) Trade cubes

d) Move builder

e) Build

Action a) The player plays a card from his hand to buy a designed column from a mason. The number of pips on the card equal the number of cubes he may draw from the bag. He keeps half the cubes (rounded up) and puts the others back in the bag. Alternatively he may pick one cube from the bag that matches the color of the card he has played. A player may only play one card per turn. The card is then discarded. A player may have as many columns as he wants.

Action b) The player plays a card from his hand to gain more influence (cards). He then draws number of pips plus one card from the deck and keeps up to three. The other cards are put on the discard pile. A player may only play one card per turn. The card is then discarded. If a player has no cards left in his hand and only then, he may instead draw up to two cards. He immediately spends one of his victory points per card. If there are not enough cards left in the draw pile he draws the cards that are left, reshuffles the discard pile and draws cards the remaining cards. The hand limit per player is 7 cards. If a player has at the end of his turn more than 7 cards in his hand, he has to discard down to 7 cards.

Action c) During his turn a player may trade one artistically designed column either with another player or the common market. A player may only trade one column during his turn at a ratio of 1:1 with another player or 2:1 with the common market. He may offer any trade to other players and negotiate. If no other player wants to trade, he can then either trade with the market or choose a different action. If he trades with the market he takes one column from the market, adds one of his columns to the market in exchange and puts another one of his columns in the bag.

Note: If there are 3 or more cubes of the same color in the market after the trading, all cubes in the market are immediately replaced.

Optional rule: Before trading with the market a player may draw a number of cubes equal to the number of cubes in the market to replace the current market. The cubes from the old market are put back in the bag. If he then wants to trade, he has to spend 1 victory point. If not, he ends his turn.

Action d) A player may move his builder to a tile on the same level that is not occupied by another players builder.

Action e) When a player has gathered enough resources, he can contribute to the pyramid. For the first level of the pyramid he only has to play 1 card with a value of at least 1, as indicated by the number of pips. He takes a tile showing the same symbol as the card he played and adds it to the pyramid with the golden backside up. The card is then discarded. If there is no such tile remaining he chooses another tile, but will not receive victory points for placing this tile. If he has a card matching an available tile, he has to use it.

For the higher levels he has to play 1 card with a value that matches at least the level he wants to build and 4 cards to build the columns. He takes a tile showing the same symbol as the card he played and adds it to the pyramid with the golden backside up. If there is no such tile remaining he chooses another tile, but will not receive victory points for placing this tile. If he has a card matching an available tile, he has to use it. The other 4 cards indicate the colors of the columns he is allowed to use. The 5 cards are then discarded.

If a player builds a new tile, he may place his builder on this tile. If it is his first tile of a level, he must place his builder. The builder may never be placed on a lower level than he currently stands on, since he also marks the highest level of contribution to the pyramid. If a fourth column is placed on the tile the builder stands, the player must move his builder to another tile of the same level. He may choose any tile, even if he did not build it, as long as there is no other builder. If a player is forced to move his builder, he loses 1 victory point.

Note: The first level of the pyramid consists of 4 by 4 tiles. To build a tile on the second level a player places his four columns on 4 adjacent quarters of 4 different tiles that have to be connected in a 2 by 2 square and puts the new tile on top of them. The new tile has to lay on all four columns The higher levels are build accordingly. The second level consists of 3 by 3 tiles, the third level of 2 by 2 tiles, and the fourth level of a single tile.

Scoring tiles: When a player adds a new tile, he immediately receives victory points, depending on the tiles and columns he used. He also loses 1 victory point, if his builder was not on an orthogonally adjacent tile to the new one or one of the tiles where he placed a column.

For placing a tile on level 1/2/3/4 he receives 1/2/3/4 victory points. For building 2/3/4 columns of the same color the player receives 1/2/4 victory point. Building 2 pairs of two different colors are worth 3 victory points. If a player manages to build a new column right besides an already existing column of the same color, he gains 1 additional victory point for every neighboring column that matches the color. If a player has to build a tile that does not match the symbol on his card, he still scores the columns used.


Example: With a value 4 drop-1 card, 2 red cards and 2 yellow cards the player builds a drop-1 tile on level 3. He would only need a drop-1 card value 3, but he may not be able to build level 4 with this card and chooses to take the points right away. There is already one tile on level three with two red columns, and he can place one of his red columns on a neighboring quarter for 1 victory point. The tile itself is worth 3 points, since it’s on level 3 and the two pairs of columns are worth 3 points as well. Since his builder was in the right place he gains 7 victory points for placing this tile.

End of game:

As soon as the fourth level of the pyramid is build, the game ends immediately. In addition to the victory points the players have gathered throughout the game, they receive a final bonus for the highest level they have contributed to. For level 2/3/4 they receive 2/3/4 additional victory points. In case of a tie the player who contributed to the highest level wins. If the game is still tied the player who has committed himself more, meaning he has less remaining resources (cards plus cubes), wins. If there’s still a tie, the emperor has to find another challenge for his favorites and declares all those tied nobles winners and worthy of another contest ...

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