My third game, Sultans of Karaya is a game of intrigue, deception and memory for large groups. It works best, I’ve found, with between 8 and 11, though it can be played with as few as 5 and as many as 15.
Firstly, it breaks away from the “informed minority vs. uninformed majority” paradigm by making both teams approximately equal in power, and equally uninformed at the start of a round.
Secondly, and more importantly, a given player is not stuck with a single character (and alignment) for an entire round. Rather, cards are exchanged, and thus the objective of the game is not so much to identify one’s teammates and cooperate with them as it is to collect information for one’s own benefit and then connive, maneuver, and share information selectively in order to end up on the winning team at the end of the round.
Finally, the game is played in a series of rounds, with players accumulating points for siding with the winning team of each round, so there is one final winner – the one with the most points!
Characters and Teams
The Sultan is a Loyalist. His team wins if he reveals himself and manages to remain alive one full round. He can also execute known Rebels on his turn.
The Guards are also Loyalists. They can protect players from the Assassins, as long as they’re sitting next to either the Assassin or the victim. They can also Detain other players, causing them to lose their turns.
The Assassins are Rebels. They can attempt to kill any player, but have to watch out for the Guards, who will kill them if caught. The Rebels win if the Sultan is killed.
The Slaves are also Rebels. They can’t harm the other players directly, but if there are ever three known Slaves sitting in a row, it’s a slave revolt, and an immediate Rebel win!
The Belly Dancer is a neutral character who is with the Loyalists when hidden, but a Rebel when known, as she can distract the Guards to help in an Assassination.
The Slave Driver is the opposite; he is a Rebel when hidden, but a Loyalist when known, as he can then start rounding up the rebellious Slaves to help the Sultan.
The Vizier can win by staying hidden and making sure he’s sitting next to a known winning player, or can reveal himself and pick a team. Once known, he can manipulate the other characters, forcing them to reveal themselves and use their powers immediately.
The Fortune Teller can’t win when hidden, but can use her power to peek at three cards and predict a winner. If she’s right, she wins too.