Era of Inventions - General game info
Era of Inventions
3-5 players, 90 minutes, 12 years and older
AuthorAnthony Daamen
IllustratorHans Janssen
Published byQuined Games
Online since 2011-10-16
Developed byMarcel Rüedi (Eibe Itu)
Boardgamegeek79282 owns a license for the online version of this game. A big "thank you" to the copyright owners (publisher and/or author and illustrator) who make it possible to have this game for free online here!
Era of Inventions - Rules

Era of Inventions

pdf The original rules


Explore the lives and minds of Alexander Graham Bell, Karl Benz, the Wright brothers and other pioneers of invention and experience the thrill of the industrial revolution. Be there when the cash register, the sewing machine, the typewriter, the telephone, the gramophone, the camera, the car, the steam engine and the plane are all invented again in Era of Inventions. This time you will be the inventor, who creates, patents and introduces these inventions to the markets and the world! In the late 19th and early 20th century, these inventions were all made in a certain order. In Era of Inventions, however, you’re the one who determines the order of the inventions. Race your competitors to invent as much as possible, or to speed through the production process. But don’t forget to register your patents. Otherwise you may lose influence in the industry.

The goal of Era of Inventions is to gain as much influence in the industrial revolution as possible. To gain influence points, you must invent, patent and produce these products over the course of the game, as you try to become the most successful inventor of the industrial revolution!


  • 15 Action Tokens in player colours (3 for each player)
  • 20 Black Bonus Action Tokens Bonus Action Token
  • 75 Invention Markers (15 in each colour)
  • 5 Patent Markers (1 in each colour)
  • 5 Player Pawns (1 for each player)
  • 27 Invention cards
  • 12 Start-Invention cards
  • 29 Factory cards
  • 40 Gold coins Coins
  • 20 Tool Cubes (white), 20 Technology Cubes (purple) and 20 Metal Cubes (grey) 15 small (value 1) and 5 large (value 3) of all types
  • 22 Coal Cubes (black) and 22 Wood Cubes (blank) 15 small (value 1) and 7 large (value 3) of both types
  • 20 Development Cogs (Blue Octagonal) Development Cog
  • 1 Black Round Marker
  • 1 Black Start Player Pawn
  • 1 Game Board and Game Rules


  1. Put the game board in the middle of the table.
  2. Each player receives the action tokens in his colour. In a 4 or 5-player game, each player receives 2 action tokens; in a 3-player game each player receives 3 action tokens.
  3. Each player receives: 2 gold coins, 1 wood cube, 1 metal cube, 1 technology cube, 1 tool cube, 3 coal cubes and 1 development cog.
  4. Each player receives: 3 bonus action tokens (in a 3-player game), 5 bonus action tokens (in a 4-player game) or 1 bonus action token (in a 5-player game).
  5. Each player receives 15 invention markers in his own colour.
  6. Each player receives 1 patent marker and places it at the bottom of the patent track.
  7. Each player receives the factory card in his colour. This factory produces 1 wood.
  8. Shuffle the remaining factory cards and put 5 cards face-up on the designated spaces on the game board. Place the cards from left to right on the 5 spaces. The remaining cards are placed in a stack, face-down next to the game board.
  9. Shuffle 12 start-invention cards and put 7 cards face-up on the designated spaces on the game board. Place the first three cards from right to left on the lower row and the other four cards from left to right on the upper row. The remaining cards are placed in a stack, face-down next to the game board.
  10. Sort the 27 invention cards and place them in a pile, face-up next to the game board.
  11. Put 3 coal cubes on each of the coal storage houses and 2 of the correct resource type on each of the ships and the remaining storage houses, as indicated on the ships and houses.
  12. Place the black round marker on space 1 of the round track.
  13. Place the players’ pawns on 0 (the start square) of the influence track.
  14. Choose a start player and give them the black start player pawn.

Game Play

A round consists of two parts:
  1. The players place their action tokens.
  2. The action areas are resolved in order.

1. Placing the Action Tokens

Starting with the first player, each player places one of his tokens on 1 of the 6 action areas. After all players have placed their first action token, they each place a second token on another action area, again starting with the first player.

Note: For a 3-player game, each player has three action tokens so a third placement round occurs.

When placing action tokens, the following rules apply:
  1. No more than two action tokens may be placed on any one area.
  2. Players may have no more than one of their action tokens on any action area.

2. Resolving the Action Areas

The first player is the first to resolve an action. He chooses one of his action tokens and takes the appropriate action. He may choose either of his action tokens; he does not have to resolve them in the order they were placed.

After the first player has resolved his action, he takes his action token off the game board and places it back into his stock. The other players then each resolve one action (in clockwise order) during which the same rules apply. After all players have taken their first actions, the second actions (and then third in a 3-player game) are resolved in the same way.

Once all players have taken their actions, the round ends. Then preparations for a new round are made (see later in the rules).

Note: Players may choose not to resolve their action. They are free to withdraw their action token, but also forfeit their profits from that particular action area.

Action Area

There are 6 different action areas in Era of Inventions, explained in order below. When resolving an action, only the player whose turn it is takes the action associated with the area.

ACTION AREA ONE (A): Build Factories

This action area allows players to build factories. The players are free to choose from the factory cards that are placed on the game board. At the bottom of each card, the cost to build each factory is displayed (in wood and/or coal). At the top of each card, the factory’s profits are shown. A player receives these profits when he uses the action area ‘factory production’ (see below).

Players may build up to 3 factories per round.

ACTION AREA TWO (B): Factory Production

This action area allows players to use their factories to produce resources (in cubes), gold coins, or development cogs. Other players’ factories do not produce at this time. The top of the factory card shows what each factory produces. Resources produced are taken from the general supply and added to the player’s personal stock.

ACTION AREA THREE (C): Buy resources

This action area allows players to purchase the resources from 1, 2, or 3 ships and/or storage houses for the cost of 1, 2, or 3 gold coins, respectively. The gold coins are paid to the general supply. The player then puts any purchased commodity cubes into his personal stock. A player may not buy more than 3 ships’/storage houses’ resources.

ACTION AREA FOUR (D): Produce Inventions

This action area allows players to produce inventions that have already been invented. The active player chooses 1 or more invention cards. He pays the cost(s), shown on the bottom of each card in resource cubes, to the general supply. Some invention cards have a question mark on the bottom of the card instead of a cost in cubes. ***For these cards refer to the explanation of the action area “Develop Inventions or Register Patents”.

Each invention card shows the profit (which may be gold coins, development cogs or influence points). If the profit consists of gold coins or development cogs, these are taken from the general supply and put in the personal stock of the player. If the profit is in influence points, the player moves his token ahead on the influence point track.

Note: The player cannot produce an invention if he cannot pay the cost shown on the invention card.

A player may only produce up to 3 inventions in one action. After a player takes this action, the inventions produced are placed in the discard pile. Any other player who placed a token on this action area cannot retrieve and/or produce discarded inventions.

ACTION AREA FIVE (E): Exchange Market

This action allows players to choose one of two actions:
  • (a) Receive one development cog, or
  • (b) Perform up to 5 actions at the exchange market.
(a) The active player may take a development cog out of the general supply and put it in his personal stock. His turn is then over.

(b) The active player may choose up to five actions at the exchange market. The available actions are:
  • Upper square: Exchange 2 gold coins for 1 development cog or vice versa
  • Middle square: Exchange 2 gold coins or 1 development cog for 1 influence point
  • Lower square: Exchange 2 resource cubes and/or gold coins for 1 (other) resource cube or 1 gold coin.
    Note: development cogs cannot be exchanged. OR purchase a black bonus disc for 2 gold coins (the purpose of these discs is explained later).
A player may not perform more than 5 exchanges on the exchange market, and no more than 3 from each square.
Note: A player may make less than 5 exchanges in this action area if he wishes.

ACTION AREA SIX (F): Develop Inventions or Register Patents

This action allows players to either develop inventions or register patents. The players must choose between the two actions; they may not do both on the same turn. Players use development cogs to develop their inventions, and gold coins to register/purchase patents. These actions are further explained below.

Develop Inventions

The player may develop any of the 9 inventions displayed on the board and introduce them to the market. Each invention has two spaces for its development: one gold space and one silver space. Every space has three numbers and a patent symbol.

The gold spaces are for when an original invention is developed. The silver spaces are used when an original invention is developed further: technical invention.

If the active player chooses to develop an invention, he is free to choose any invention he wishes. It is not necessary to begin with the cheapest invention. The player must pay the specified number of development cogs for the invention they choose. If they have no development cogs, or not enough, they may not choose to develop that invention.

Players must first choose only from the original inventions (the gold spaces). Only once an original invention has been developed can the player choose to further develop it: technical invention (the silver space). The same player may, however, develop the original invention AND the technical invention.

When a player introduces a specific invention to the market, he places an invention marker in his colour on the number that is on the left hand side of the space for that invention. Then he pays the number of development cogs indicated by the number at the top of the invention space. These development cogs go to the general supply.

Note: A player may not spend more than 7 development cogs in 1 action. For example, the train 4 + the automobile 3 = 7 development cogs.

On both the gold and silver spaces, the cost of each invention, in development cogs, is indicated in blue. On the left hand side of each space, the influence points a player receives when he develops each invention is indicated. On the right hand side, the influence points or gold coins a player receives when another player produces this invention is indicated, (see the action area “Produce Inventions”).

Note: If a player produces his own invention, he only receives the profits shown on the upper part of the invention card, (see action area: Produce Inventions) and not the influence points or the number of gold coins shown on the board on the invention spaces.

After a player has placed his invention marker on an original invention, he pays the indicated number of development cogs and receives the number of influence points on the influence track. The three cards of this invention must then be placed face up next to the pile of invention cards and will be added in at the end of the round. This invention will be available for production in the next round. (see below).

Note: No new cards are brought into the game for a technical invention, only for original inventions.

On two of the three invention cards for each invention the cost to produce the invention is shown in resource cubes and/or gold coins. These cards are called the official cards.

On the third invention card a question mark is shown at the bottom. This means that a player can decide which resources to use to produce the invention. Note: Only metal cubes, technology cubes, tool cubes and the required quantity of coal cubes should be used here. This card is referred to as a fake card.

When an invention is produced, the player who developed the original or technical invention only receives the indicated number of influence points or gold coins if the player producing the invention uses an official invention card. If another player uses a fake invention card (with a question mark), the player who developed the invention receives nothing.

Note: A player may not produce fake inventions which he has also developed. So, if his invention marker is on the original invention (gold) or technical invention (silver) space, he cannot produce them as fake inventions.

Register Patents

If the active player does not wish to develop an invention, he may register patents. To keep from losing the profits of an invention because of fake products, a player can protect his inventions through patent registration. On the left side of the game board there is a patent track on which patents can be registered.

A player can use this action to register one or two patents. Each time he registers a patent he moves his marker one square up the patent track. He pays the number of gold coins shown on the new square. Then he immediately receives the corresponding amount of influence points on the influence track.

If a player has registered a patent, he puts his invention marker on a patent circle, which is shown at the bottom of the invention that has been developed by this player. If the player has more inventions, he may choose to patent any of his inventions, whether original or technical. A player may not patent an invention developed by another player.

If a player has a patent on his invention, he receives influence points or gold coins for both official inventions and fake inventions when they are produced by other players. If he produces an official invention himself, he still receives nothing (except the profit from the production). And he may still not produce fake products of his own inventions.

Players may buy patents before they have developed any inventions. In this case a player pays the gold coins for the new square on the patent track, and then receives the influence points as normal, but cannot place an invention marker on a patent circle. If the same player later develops an invention, the previously purchased patent cannot be used to place an invention marker on the patent circle of the invention. The player must first make an invention and then buy and register a new patent.

Each player is limited to register 2 patents in this action. Throughout the game each player can register only up to 6 patents.

The Black Bonus Action Tokens

A player may use a black bonus action token to make an additional action. The token can only be used, however, directly after a regular action has been taken. Therefore each player can use a maximum of 2 bonus action tokens each round (3 in a 3 player game). But only one after each regular action!

The following bonus actions can be performed when using a bonus token:
  • produce 1 invention
  • choose one factory to produce
  • pay 1 gold coin to buy the resources of 1 ship or storage house
  • perform 1 single action on the exchange market (players are not allowed to take 1 development cog)
  • develop 1 invention
  • register 1 patent
  • or
  • build 1 factory

Note: When using the bonus action token, the usual costs for each action must be paid. Once the player takes his bonus action, he returns the bonus action token to the general supply.

When a player purchases a bonus action token at the exchange market, for 2 gold coins, he may not take his bonus action immediately, but must wait until after his next regular action is completed.

Symbols on the Influence Points Track

Some squares of the influence track have symbols of resources or gold coins. If a player receives influence points during his action and his pawn ends on one of these squares, he immediately receives that resource, or gold coin. A player may receive more than 1 gold coin and/or resource during his action.

The End of a Round

A round ends after all players’ actions have been taken, (or withdrawn). All action tokens are returned to the personal stocks of the players.

Preparations for a New Game Round

1a. Remove ALL start invention cards which have not been produced from the game board. The start invention cards which have been produced and the start cards which are still in the face-down pile of cards, remain in the game.
1b. If there are invention cards on any of the 3 right hand spaces of the upper row put them in the discard pile next to the game board. Slide the other remaining invention cards in the same order to the right-hand side of the upper row.
1c. If new inventions have been developed: all invention cards (both discard deck and face-down deck) are shuffled. Do not shuffle the invention cards which remain on the game board. After shuffling the cards, place new cards on the game board so the total number of invention cards is again 7.
1d. If no new inventions have been developed: place new cards on the game board so the total number of invention cards is 7 again. If there are not sufficient cards in the face-down deck for new cards, shuffle both the deck of discarded cards and the deck of new cards.

2. Put any factory cards that are on the 3 right hand spaces, on to the discard pile next to the game board. Slide the remaining factory cards in the same order to the right-hand side. Fill up the empty spots with new factory cards from the face-down deck of new cards If there are not sufficient cards in the face-down deck, shuffle both the deck of discarded cards and the deck of new cards.

3. Fill the steam ships and the storage houses. The ships and houses which have no resources receive 2 resource cubes, with exception of the storage houses with coal, which receive 3 cubes. All ships and storage houses with resources still remaining are refilled with 1 extra cube per ship/house.

4. Move the black round marker one space forward on the round track.

5. The previous start player passes the black start player pawn to the player on his left. This player is the start player in the next round and must place the first action disc.

Game End

The game ends after the ninth round is completed (in a 3-player game), after the eighth round (in a 4-player game) or after the tenth round (in a 5-player game).

Winning the Game

The total score of each player consists of
(a) influence points which the player has gathered in the course of the game,
(b) the turnovers of resources, gold coins and development cogs in the personal stocks of the players and
(c) bonus points.

A : Influence Points

The number of influence points gained on the influence points track.

B : Turnover

At the end of the game all players may use the exchange market according to the rules in the action area “Exchange Market”. One exception applies: players cannot buy a bonus action token.

Players can try to trade the commodities, gold coins and development cogs to gain influence points. Logically up to 3 influence points may be scored here (players may use the 2nd column 3 times, in which gold coins and development cogs can be exchanged for influence points).

C : Bonus Points

The bonus points are earned in the following ways:
  1. The player who has finished highest on the patent track receives 5 influence points.
  2. The player who has the most invested development cogs receives 5 influence points. To determine this, count the number of development cogs that are in blue on the top of the spaces for inventions that the player has invented. The number of inventions is not important.
  3. The player who has the largest production capacity in his factories receives 5 influence points. Note: count the numbers on top of the factory cards. The number of factory cards is not important.
If there is a tie when applying the bonus points rules, please act as follows:
  • If there are 2 players who have the same number of points in 1 category, they both receive 3 influence points.
  • If there are 3 players who have the same number of points in 1 category, they all receive 2 influence points.
  • If there are 4 or 5 players who have the same number of points in 1 category, they all receive 1 influence point.


If, after all this, two players are tied for influence points, then the tied player who has developed the most inventions wins. If this is equal, they share the victory.
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