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In England at the tail-end of the 19th century, four experienced gem dealers are competing in the "Diamonds Club" to see who among them is the craftiest. They invest their money in mines, digging rights and the latest inventions, with each trying to use the profits of their gem trade to enhance their estate. Whoever ends up with the best-looking property becomes Lord (or Lady) of the Diamonds.
A detailed take on the game play: Each round, players create a market from dark- and light-brown strips, with one strip of each color per player. Players then spend money in the marketplace to purchase various items, with the cost of each space equal to 1, plus 1 for each orthogonally placed item that's already been purchased. What's for sale? Positions on the start player track, animal tiles to place on your mansion grounds, equipment (mines, ships, mining rights), advancements on the three development tracks on your individual player board. These development tracks determine how many points you'll score for forests at the end of the game, how many gems you'll receive during distribution, and how much money you'll receive each round to spend in the market.
Once the market phase ends, with all players being broke or having passed, the player farthest along the start player track receives a diamond and will go first next round, while the player with the most money remaining must spend all of those coins to purchase a diamond.
Players then acquire gems, with each mining rights tile (numbered 2-5) in their possession being paired with one ship (also numbered 2-5). For each rights/ship pair, you choose one of your mine tiles, which come in four colors, and take as many gems as the lowest number on either the rights or ship tile. For example, a 2 mining rights paired with a 5 ship gets you only two gems of whatever color mine you pair with these tiles. If you've advanced on the gem development track, you receive extra gems, and possibly even a diamond. At the end of the round, you can keep at most two tiles from an incomplete set of three, such as a mine and a ship.
Gems are then converted into goodies for your mansion, such as fountains, rose gardens, gazebos and forests. The price for these items is laid out on the central gameboard, with a rose garden costing two rubies and one sapphire, for example. A player can choose each item depicted only once, and if other players have claimed an item first, you have to pay one additional gem for each player who has done so. Eight bonus cards that show different mansion accessories (e.g., three orange trees) will likely drive your decisions, as will the actions of those jerky players who go before you and take the spots you want. How dare they!
If one or more players have filled the 14 light green spots in their mansion yard, the game ends and players score points based on the their buildings, forests, animals, bonus tiles and placement on the development tracks. (Well, maybe not all the players -- each player has three spaces on their mansion grounds that must be filled with particular tiles; if they don't, they score zero points.) If the game isn't over, players take money to fill up to the mark shown on their development track, rejigger their pieces on the starting track, and reset the market.
Description written by W. Eric Martin and used with permission of BoardgameNews.com