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Previously asked questions about the rules of Roads & Boats

Thank you, Michael Andersch, for the collection of forum contributions about the rules of Roads & Boats. It was very helpful for the completion of this FAQ.

Online rules/summary

Question: Is there an online summary of the Roads & Boats rules?

Answer: In the download section of Jürgen Karla's Spielbar (German) there is a excellent "Kurzregel" in German by Michael Andersch. As far as we know, a summary in english is not available.

Official puzzel rules

Question: What are the official rules for the puzzles?

Answer: We check the puzzle solutions according to the rule book of the second edition, this FAQ-page and - when applicable - the special rules given with the description of the puzzle. In principle, other rules are not valid, even when they can be found on our website, are linked to this page or have been formulated elsewhere by members of Splotter.

Game parts

Question: What is the purpose of the three white counters with a green share symbol (company logo) and the big brown square with the white share symbol?

Answer: None. To lower the cost, we have divided the counters among four sheets, that are all cut with the same knife. Because the number of counters cannot always be divided by four, we had to put in some superfluous counters.

Question: What is the purpose of the stickers with numbers 19, 20 and 21?

Answer: None. Use them for whatever you like. For example, you could use two of the superfluous numbers instead of the 6 and 9, to avoid the 6/9-confusion.

Question: How many of each of the counters are provided?


  • Terrain tiles: 144 in total, as follows:
    shape without riverstraight riverwide bendsharp bendspecial tiles
    pasture 226331 junction tile
    woods 15331none
    rocks 10111none
    mountains180003 source tiles
    desert 21011none
    sea 30000none
  • Gold, iron, trunks, boards and stones: 76 each;
  • Clay and fuel: 54 each;
  • Geese and coins: 40 each;
  • Paper and shares: 24 each;
  • Woodcutters and clay pits: 15 each;
  • Mints and oil rigs: 12 each;
  • Quarries, brickworks, coal-burners, papermills, stock exchanges, wagon factories, truck factories, raft factories, rowboat factories, steamship factories and start houses: 6 each;
  • Sawmills: 5
  • Wonder bricks: 33 white bricks and for each player 40 bricks in his colour.
Whenever six copies of a counter are provided, only five are necessary.

Playing with five or six

Question: Can Roads & Boats with additional material be played with five or six?

Answer: The 1st and 2nd edition contain material for five players. In principle, they could also be played with six players. You would need the following:

  • transporters, walls and wonder bricks in a sixth colour;
  • seven additional "discovery stones";
  • a sixth saw-mill (for the other counters, there are enough of them in the basic game already);
  • a larger plastic sheet or plate (the sheet enclosed in the basic game is too small for a map that has enough space for six).
Alas, we cannot provide wooden parts and wonder bricks in a sixth colour - the best we could do is selling you extra parts in an existing colour, to be recoloured by you. We have spare supplies of discovery stones, counters and - if desired - terrain tiles in stock, but no larger plastic sheets.

The 3rd edition contains playing material for four players, including a plastic sheet which is already large enough for six. The transporters, discovery stones and counters needed for a fifth and a sixth player are available in & Cetera.

Tile laying

Question: Is it allowed to place a river tile between two sea tiles, so that the river connects the two sea tiles to each other?

Answer: Such connections could be used as a special property of a particular scenario. Normally, however, it is not allowed, unless you construct the connection using the junction tile. Then the third river end must be connected to a source.

Collaborative production

Question: Who gets the product, when two players together provide the input materials for its production?

Answer: The actual delivery of input goods to the factory must be taken care of by one of the players involved. This player takes the necessary goods from his own transporter and from the other player's transporter (only with his consent, of course), hands them to the factory and takes the output. Agreements about return services are a matter of players' etiquette which is not regulated in the Roads & Boats rule book.


Question: Donkeys reproduce only when exactly two donkeys are alone on a pasture tile. Are the donkeys allowed to carry goods? For instance: one donkey carries two boards, the other two stones. Will the two donkeys produce another donkey?

Answer: The donkeys cannot carry goods, so they will not reproduce in this case.

Question: Can livestock reproduce on the start tile with the start house?

Answer: Yes, if there is no other livestock, goods token or building present.

Question: Can a tile, that is divided by a river, be considered as two separate tiles (for example: two geese on one side and two donkeys on the other will reproduce undisturbed)?

Answer: No. The two sides of the tile are both part of the same tile. So the geese on one side and the donkeys on the other side cannot reproduce.

Destruction of transporters

Question: When a transporter must be destroyed because otherwise the maximum number of transporters would be exceeded, what happens to the goods on the transporter? Are they destroyed too, or are they put down on the tile?

Answer: The goods are placed on the tile.

Exchanging, loading and unloading in the production phase

Question: Can players freely exchange, load and unload goods in the production phase?

Answer: In principle: yes, if all transporters and goods involved are on the same tile. Of course, on a river tile without a bridge, only a water transporter in the river can put goods from one side of the river on the other side. When two players make a plan for a complicated collaboration, you should check if the plan still works if the order of players according to the sequence chart is followed. In the production phase, transporters can be loaded onto other transporters, but they cannot be put down.

Movement across rivers

Question: Does it cost an extra movement point to cross a river (using a bridge)?

Answer: No, using a bridge does not cost any movement points.

Question: Is it necessary to build a bridge on a tile with a river source?

Answer: You do not need to build a bridge on a tile with a source, since you can move around the source to go from one side of the river to the other.

Movement on water

Question: Movement from water to water (also from sea to river and vice versa) costs one point? Or does it take an extra point to move from sea to river or river to sea?

Answer: All of these movements cost one point. Going from sea to river (or vice versa) does not cost you an extra point, only the usual point which is needed to move from one tile to another.

Question: Does moving from water to land cost a point too?

Answer: Yes, one point, just like all boat movements.

Question: Moving from a land tile back into the water costs 1 point?

Answer: Yes.

Movement of geese

Question: Will geese follow a transporter (when desired) for one step only, or for several steps at once? If the transporter makes, e.g., three steps, is it possible to have the geese follow the transporter for only 1 or 2 steps?

Answer: The geese follow the transporter as far as you want. However, you cannot leave geese behind on a sea tile, unless there is another transporter or an oil-rig on the tile.

Question: Can geese follow one player's transport, and then another transport of the same player?

Answer: No.

Question: Can geese follow one player's transporter, and then a transporter of another player?

Answer: Yes, but only if this is also possible when the movements are carried out in correspondence with the order of players on the sequence chart.

Question: If Player B moves after Player A in the tiebreaking sequence, can geese still follow Player B's transport and then follow Player A's transport?

Answer: No, they cannot.

Exchanging goods in the movement phase

Question: Can transporters/players freely exchange goods in the movement phase?

Answer: The movement phase of a player actually follows this scheme:

  1. First, transporters that are carried by other transporters can be put down;
  2. Second, the transporters can pick up, drop and exchange goods and pick up (but not drop!) transporters as desired, in any order. Consequently, a water transporter in a river can ferry goods from one side of the river to the other side: this does not count as moving.
  3. Third, all transporters can move. They can pick up, drop and exchange goods and pick up transporters on the way. But as soon as a transporter must wait for a move of another transporter in order to pick up, drop or exchange something, the waiting transporter must end its movement. The movements must also be possible if they would be carried out after each other in another order. (This rule does not apply to transporters of different players: see below.)
  4. Finally, all transporters may pick up, drop and exchange goods and pick up transporters again in any order.
Whenever a transporter can take goods from the tile or unload goods onto the tile, it can also take goods from another player's transporter or hand goods to another player's transporter under the condition that the other player agrees.

So a transporter cannot move on after it has picked up goods that have been moved by another transporter of the same player already, or after it has picked up goods that have been ferried by another transporter of the same player that has moved itself already. At sea, a transporter who hands goods to a transporter that has moved already, cannot move on (unless there is an oil-rig, on which the goods can be stored until the second transporter arrives).

A collaboration (or other interaction) between multiple players is allowed only, if the collaboration is possible if the sequence chart is followed.

All transporters of a single player move at the same time. Their movements cannot be coordinated as you please. Whenever it is important, transporters of different players move according to the order on the sequence chart.

Exchanging, loading and unloading in the building phase

Roads and walls

Question: Can I build a road between two tiles, when there is another player's wall between them?

Answer: Yes. However, it is usually not very smart to do so, since you will not be able to use the road, but your opponent will.

Question: Can a raft that has docked build walls between the land tile where it has docked and neighbouring land tiles, even though there is no river from the coast to the building sites and the raft could never move to the building sites?

Answer: Yes. See the wall building example in the rule book. Water transporters lying at the coast can be considered to be on the land tile. Each water transporter has a sailor who can walk just far enough to take goods from the tile, build walls on its edges etc. But the sailor cannot cross rivers without bridges, nor can it cross tile boundaries.

Question: If I have a raft docked at the sea coast of a land tile, and no other transporters, can I build a road from this land tile to a neighbouring tile?

Answer: Yes, unless there is an unbridged river between the raft and the road desired.

Building transporter factories

Question: Can I build a steamship factory directly on a tile without buildings (if I have done the corresponding research), without building a raft or rowboat factory first?

Answer: Yes, it is allowed to build a steamship factory directly.

Building in the desert

Question: Can I build things in the desert? For example, a saw-mill or a coal burner?

Answer: Only after a brick has been built on the "irrigation mark" in the wonder, may factories be built in the desert. Before that time, only walls and roads may be built in the desert.

Building on/from sea

Question: Is it possible to unload goods for building an oil-rig on a sea tile, if the transporter which stays on the tile to build the oil-rig does not have the capacity to hold the goods?

Answer: No. Forget the confusing explanation in the rule book. It is never allowed to dump goods on a sea tile, unless it already contains an oil-rig. So a raft alone can never build an oil-rig: it cannot hold the building material needed. But two rafts can build an oil-rig together.

Question: Is the section "Building from boats (page 11)" applicable to rowboats only, or to water transporters in general?

Answer: It applies to water transporters in general.

Question: Can I build on a land tile from open sea (even when I am anywhere in the middle of the sea), do I need to be on a sea tile next to the land tile, or do I need to be docked on the land tile's coast?

Answer: A water transporter which is docked on a land tile's coast, is considered to be on the land tile, so it can build on this land tile as if it were a land transporter. A water transporter on a sea tile can build or demolish walls between that sea tile and an adjacent land tile (but it has to pay a surcharge of two stones or boards respectively). Water transporters on sea tiles cannot conduct any other building activities on land tiles.

Question: Can oil-rigs be built by water transporters docked on the coasts of land tiles?

Answer: No. When a water transporter is docked on the coast of a land tile, it is considered to be on the land tile, so it cannot build on the sea tile.

Building cost of wonder bricks

Question: If I understand the rules correctly, each wonder brick in the same row gets more expensive by one goods counter. Is this right?

Answer: No. Each wonder brick built by the same player in the same round, gets more expensive by one goods counter. It does not matter whether or not the bricks are in the same row.

The wonder in one-player scenarios

Question: In the one-player scenarios, do you simply take out the four lower rows or do you remove four columns from each row? The first would mean that you can hardly reach the brick to convert desert into pasture.

Answer: Still, the first is what was meant: simply remove the four lowermost rows, that is: skip them. This means that you should invest in the wonder all the time to reach the "irrigation brick". On the other hand, in a one-player game you do not have to reckon with "disturbances" by other players, so you can plan everything very precisely and you do not need stones to build walls.

Question: In a one-player game, do you start with one or two goods for a brick in the wonder?

Answer: When the four lowermost rows are skipped, you start with two goods for a brick. In this case, the brick that makes building more expensive can be considered to be built beforehand.

Exchanging, loading and unloading in the wonder phase


Question: In the beginning of the production phase, there are the following goods on a paper-mill's tile: two geese and two boards/trees. The boards/trees are made into paper. Will the geese and the paper which has just been produced be used for research in still the same production phase?

Answer: Yes, unless a transporter holds the paper or at least one of the geese, to prevent research from being produced. If there is no transporter on the tile, the "metaphysics research rule" comes into effect, so that the geese and the boards/trees disappear.

Question: What do you mean by "unattended"? Is the presence of a transporter sufficient to prevent metaphysics research, or should the geese and/or the paper be carried by the transporter?

Answer: Presence is not sufficient: the geese and/or the paper must be carried by the transporter. By "unattended" we actually mean "not being carried".

Upgrading transporter factories

Question: When upgrading transporter factories, do I have to keep the sequence raft factory - rowboat factory - steamship factory, or may I upgrade a raft factory to a steamship factory directly?

Answer: You may upgrade a raft factory directly to a steamship factory. Rowboat research is not required to do this.

Question: When I upgrade a raft factory to a steamship factory, should I bring two boards and stones?

Answer: No. The upgrade does not cost anything, you will only need the paper and the geese for the research. So, although it is allowed to build a steamship factory on an unbuilt tile directly, it is cheaper to build a raft factory first and upgrade that to a steamship factory.

Question: When I am allowed to upgrade transporter factories because I have just conducted the research required, do I have to upgrade all factories where one of my transporters is present, or may I choose to upgrade some of these factories while not upgrading others?

Answer: You may choose.

Conflict rules

Question: When exactly do you have to follow the playing order on the sequence chart? For example: in the movement phase, both the red and the yellow player can reach a tile on which several goods lie unattended. The sequence chart says that yellow should play before red. When does this order come into effect? Should yellow move all of this transporters before red starts to move his? Or both players move at the same time, and in case they both end up on the same tile, consult the sequence chart to see who may take the goods?

Answer: In case of conflict, all movements of one player should be finished before the next player may move. Indeed, if you have a group of nasties playing, you may get into trouble when playing at the same time. Most of the time, however, there are not that many options to be nasty. Our "game etiquette" is that whenever you are going to do something that might upset other players (e.g. taking goods they normally would take, entering an empty tile bordering both players, building or demolishing walls at sensitive places) one asks for the game order to be set. Such moves are only made in one out of five turns or so. If such a "gentleman's agreement" breaks down in your group of players, you can play conflict rules each phase, i.e. each player moves one after the other; each player then builds one after the other; etc. This slows down the game considerably.

Difference between 1st and 2nd edition

Question: What is the difference between the rules of the first edition and those of the second edition?

Answer: See rules 2nd ed.

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