Sovereign Game Rules

Sovereign Game Rules: Overview

This is the latest version of the rules (Version 1.2).  This is the first published version and is under the Creative Commons license BY-SA (Australian website). They have now been tested for over a year, and it has become a comprehensive and flexible rule system.  Download the open source Sovereign game rules (1.2MB) Version 1.2 here.

Update 6th July 2011:

We have made a fairly significant update by changing the Military winning conditions. Instead of destroying a city to collect a Military Victory Card, you now collect one when ever you win a successful battle against an army. This change has made military victory much more appealing as method of winning the game. I am glad we have resolved this issue as we have been debating this problem since the games conception. We made a few small changes to the rules as well as some extra clarification on some of the more obscure rules. I have also updated the Quick Reference and Technology Chart to match the changes New Sovereign game rules (1.2MB) Version 1.2.

Update Note – 1st March 2011:

A friend who has been programming a computer version of the game (experimental at this stage) noticed that there is a problem when you choose to removed the strongest defence/attack unit during a battle in some cases. There are issues if there are a variety of units with the same value. In this case I suggest you choose one of two options: either the losing player can choose which to remove, or unit with the highest value (attack/defence/move added together) is removed.  Please leave feedback if you have any thoughts on this.

Update 22nd February 2011:

Someone pointed out to me that I had not included the method of collecting victory cards in the game rules pdf file. I realise now that I had only included them in the quick reference pdf file. This has been amended and the new game rules are now available, I also mad a small adjustment to the rules, so that instead of 7 cities required for an expansion victory you now need 23 city tiles instead. I am also thinking about adding this as a game rule overall, so that any victory requires 23 tiles, any thoughts on this would be great. All games kits have been updated but if you just need the update then download it here: (New game rules download) (New quick reference rules download)

What you need:

Boards for SovereignMap boards

Sovereign includes printable map boards. On average, a game will need two boards for each player, where each board is roughly one-third water and two-thirds land. Add more boards as needed.

Game pieces for SovereignBuilding and military tiles

Each player will have a set of seventy-seven coloured tiles to build with and sixty-six military units. Twenty-two tiles will be marked with a Fleur-de-lis used to identify the central tiles for the cities. Six are fort tiles and the rest can be used for expansions and identifying military units and armies.

One sheet includes building and military units and is enough for one player. Use a different coloured sheet for each player. An additional military units sheet is useful for if a player runs out of particular units. An alternative is to use your own markers, we also used glass beads like the ones you get from hardware stores.

12-sided diceDice

You will need six twelve-sided dice in different colours – one for each player. (Alternatively, one die can be used for all players.)

Technology Tree for SovereignTechnology chart

There is one technology chart for each

player.  A new sheet is needed for each new game.

Quick reference rule sheet

One per player is recommended for first time players, but not essential to play the game.

Victory Cards for SovereignSet of Victory Cards

A deck of victory cards, containing three types of cards: Military (red), Expansion (green) and Technology (blue). Ideally, there should be five cards of each type per player (One sheet per player).

Objective of the game

The main objective of the game is to collect seven of one type of victory card. Players must balance their play between expanding cities, building units and researching technologies. Having only a limited number of actions per turn, it is important for players to consider their activities carefully so that they maximise their ability to collect cards. The first player to collect seven of one type of victory card wins the game.

Getting started

Lay the map boards out. Each player should have a set of coloured tiles, a twelve-sided die, and one technology chart. It may also be useful for each player to have a set of quick reference rules. Set all the military units and victory cards aside so that players can collect those as needed.

Players take turns in rolling a twelve-sided die. The player with the highest roll starts the game. If two or more players roll the highest, only those players roll again until the highest roll is determined.

The first player then places a four-tiled city somewhere on the map. It can be arranged in any manner, as long as it is a single city.

Possible city tile arrangements for Sovereign

Examples of allowed and disallowed city arrangements for a four-tiled city

The player to the left then places their city on the map. All cities must have at least eight empty hex spaces between them. Note: This rule only applies during this phase of the game.

8 space rule for cities at the start of Sovereign the game

Tiles should have 8 empty spaces between them during the start of the game

Once all the players have placed their first city, the game can begin.

How to play

Each turn has four steps; add, spend, move and manoeuvre. Each player must complete all four steps before the next player has their turn. The four steps are outlined below and must be performed in that order, but players can skip steps as they choose.

  1. Add: Players must count all the city tiles they have on the board, one point per city tile. This will give players the number of points they have to spend in the second step.
  2. Spend: Players can spend the points counted in step one on performing up to three actions. Any unspent points are discarded. There are three types of actions. Players can do all the same type, or a mixture of types. For example; three expansions – or two expansions and building a military unit. The types of actions must be performed in a set order; all research actions first, then all expansions, and finally, any unit building.
    1. Research: Choose one technology from the technology chart and research it. The cost of research increases for each tier.
    2. Expansion: Expand a city by one tile or build one fort. The cost to expand or build is stated by the number in the hex that it is built on.
    3. Unit building: Build one of any discovered units from the Technology Chart, including units discovered in this turn.
  3. Move: Military or settler units may move as many hexes as stipulated by their move value. Settlers must be on the hex to build a new city there. Military units must be on the hex they wish to attack.
  4. Manoeuvre: Units can perform their manoeuvres, military units can attack, and settlers can build new cities. Units must occupy the hex they wish to perform the manoeuvre on.

Finishing the turn

When a player has finished all their manoeuvres, it is at that point that they can mark off any stolen technologies and place any captured city tiles collected from battles. The player can also collect any Victory cards they may have earned.

Note: Bonuses used during play are applied in the part of the turn when they would ordinarily occur. For example; ‘build two free units’, would occur in the ‘unit building’ part of the Spend step. Bonuses do not count towards a players three actions in the Spend step unless otherwise stated. Another example might be if a player discovers ‘Trade’ in the ‘Research’ part of the Spend step. They would need to wait until the following turn to apply the bonus (+1 point per city). This bonus is related to the Add step, which has already occurred in this turn, so the player can only use this in a later turn.

Winning the game

The game is over once a player collects seven of one type of victory card.

  1. Expansion card: You expand a 4-tile city to a 7-tile city in one turn. Player must control 28 or more city tiles while holding the last card to win.
  2. Military card: A player wins a complete battle where the battle involves an army and the opponent army is completely destroyed or retreats. Players do not receive cards for each rolling battle (where the army splits to continue the battle) that they are successful with but rather a single card for the entire battle. They may receive a card for any army that attacks independent of any other army. The player (the attacker) must initiate the battle in order to receive a card. The army/player defending does not receive a card for successfully destroying the attacking player.  Only attacking players can receive a Military Victory Card.
  3. Technology card: You discover all technologies in a tier.

Rules in detail

Building cities

Players can build as many cities as they like, however, the maximum city size is seven tiles. All cities must have a minimum of three empty hex spaces between them.


3 spaces between cities rule for Sovereign

The diagram shows the required three spaces between cities, and where cities are built too close.

Cities can be built and expanded onto all hexes, except sea hexes marked with a dash (-). Cities can build any unit that the player has discovered.

Building a new city

A new city is created when a settler unit converts to a city in the Manoeuvre step. The settler unit is destroyed, but building the first city tile does not cost anything. This becomes the central tile (first city tile built) and is represented by a Fleur-de-lis.

Expanding a city

The cost to expand is based on the value of the hex the player is expanding onto. All city tiles of any one city must touch at least one other tile of that city.

Military units


Military units can have up to six properties.

  1. Attack: points added when attacking
  2. Defence: points added when defending
  3. Move: number of tiles a unit can move
  4. Cost: number of points it costs to build that unit
  5. Transport: number of other units that the unit can carry
  6. Range: this unit is always destroyed last in battle (highest value last)
6 Unit properties for Sovereign

You can see here where the six unit properties can be found on the playing pieces.

The details of units are displayed in the Technology chart as:

Unit name: attack – defend – move (cost)[transport]{range}.

For example; – Catapult: 2-1-2(3)[0]{1}. Zero values are normally omitted to save space.

Terrain: Cities, forts and moving units

Terrain affects unit movement, and building cities and forts. Land and sea units cannot move through mountain terrain unless a fort or city has been built on it. Sea units can only move on coastal and sea hexes. It costs one move point to embark or disembark from a ship.

Image Terrain type Cost to build Move
River River 2 1
Coast Coast 3 1
Grassland Grassland/plains 4 1
Forest Woodland 5 1
Hills Hill 6 1
Mountain Mountain 7 0
Jungle Jungle 6 1
Sea Sea/Ocean 1
Desert Desert 9 1
Tundra Tundra/ice 9 1

Moving units: the adjacent rule

When moving units around the board, it is important to remember that when a unit is on a hex that is adjacent to the enemy, it’s next move cannot be into another hex adjacent to an enemy. The unit must move away from the enemy before it can move into another hex adjacent to an enemy. This includes hexes with military units in them, as well as city tiles or forts (manned or unmanned).

Note: This rule does not apply when attacking an adjacent hex.

Adjacent rule for Sovereign

The adjacent hex rule does not allow a unit to move into a hex adjacent to an enemy when already in a hex adjacent to an enemy. The exception is when that move is an attack.




When a unit attacks, the unit must move into that hex before attacking in the Manoeuvre step. When a unit attacks another unit, both players roll a twelve-sided die and add the attack or defend number to the roll.

For example; if a Catapult: 2-1-2(3){1} attacked a Musketman: 1-3-3(4) – the catapult would roll one die and add +2 to the roll, and the Musketman would roll one die and add +3. The unit who rolls the highest number wins, and the other piece is removed from the board (in the case of a draw, the defending unit wins).


Armies can contain a maximum of seven units. A hex can only contain seven units in it at any one time, unless the player has discovered Atomic energy, after which the maximum becomes eight. When attacking with an army of units, all units must move from the same hex into the hex they plan to attack. An army cannot join together on the hex they plan to attack.


Armies can only join prior to attacking

Separate units/armies can only join into a single army prior to attacking.

When a player rolls for an army, they roll a single twelve-sided die and add all the attack or defend values to that roll.

For example; if an army held a Catapult: 2-1-2(3){1} and 2 Horsemen 1-1-3(3) the player would roll one die and add +2 (Catapult) +1 (Horseman) +1 (Horseman).

If a player loses a battle, only one unit is removed. In the case of a loss on the defending side, the unit with the strongest defend value is removed. In the case of a loss on the attacking side the strongest attack value is removed. The players then roll again until one of the armies is destroyed. If an army has a range unit, this is always destroyed last. If there are units with different range values, then the unit with the lower range value is destroyed first.


Example of an army in battle

An example two armies in battle over three die roles. (click image to enlarge)

Ships in Battle at Sea

When ships are in battle on sea hexes (-) ships are always destroyed last, and units they carry contribute to the battle as they normally would in any other army.


If an army retreats, the remaining units can move one hex away from the enemy. This, however, is then counted as a lost battle and that army loses one more unit. The adjacent rule applies here, so in some cases retreat may not be possible.


Retreating armies in Sovereign

Retreat is not always possible as this diagram shows.

Rolling attacks

A unique feature for armies is the ability to perform rolling battles. When attacking with an army, the player can choose to attack with only some of the units. If the player wins the battle, the remaining units (that have not yet attacked) can move forward one hex and continue attacking.

For example; when an army of five Cavalry attack a city, and the player chooses to use only three Cavalry in the first attack win, the player can then move the two remaining Cavalry forward one space, and attack the next hex.

The army cannot move forward unless there is something to attack or there is an empty city tile.

After each roll, a player can decide to add any number of units to the army that have not yet attacked. However, the added units can no longer be used in a rolling attack.

Note: You cannot remove units from the army once they have begun attacking.

Cities in combat

When a city is attacked, the aim of the attacker is to take control of the central tile. The player who controls the central tile controls the city and is afforded all the bonuses that come with it. City tiles occupied by enemy units or separated from the central tile by enemy units are not controlled.

If an enemy army enters a city, the defending player can choose not to defend the tile, providing they have “Road building”.  The attacker then automatically wins the battle and all troops can move forward.

When a city is captured, the attacking player can choose one of two options:

  1. Acquire a free technology from the player, so long as they are able to discover the technology themselves.
  2. Steal a city tile and add it onto one of the attackers cities.

When a city has been captured the losing player must select one tile to be removed, even if the attacker has already removed a tile unless there are no tiles left.

Note; when players remove tiles it must not break the city in two, and the central tile must always be the last to be removed.

Removing tiles from a city after battle

You can only remove tiles in a certain way, as not to break the city in two.

Defending cities

City defence bonus from adjacent tilesPlayers defending a city gain extra points for all adjacent tiles to the tile they are defending when rolling. Construction also gives them a further +1 defence bonus. A player adds these points to the defence roll when attacked by another player. This defence bonus is only given to the player controlling the central tile.

It is important to build a city that takes advantage of this bonus.

Road building allows a player to arrange defending units however they like (see below for more details).

Movement in cities

There are a number of movement advantages in cities. These are only afforded to players controlling the central tile.

  • Road building: Allows units to move on any city tile without counting towards their total movement points. They defend all tiles of the city, and when the city is attacked, a player can arrange the defending units any way they like before an attack begins.
  • Railroad: Allows units to move between any of the players’ cities at a cost of only one move point per city, providing the city is not separated by more than three empty hexes. You cannot cross sea or mountain hexes.
  • Flight: Allows a unit to jump between players’ cities of four tiles or more at a cost of one move point.

The example below shows a cavalry’s five moves.


Movement bonuses from technology, Sovereign

Using movement advantages from technology to move a cavalry unit much further in it's allotted five moves.

Rolling a twelve on the die: bonus roll

If a player rolls a twelve on the die, they may roll once more and add the second roll to the total.

Technology chart explained: SovereignTechnology

Tiers separate the technology into groups; each tier has a different cost associated with it. You must research a minimum of four technologies in a tier, before starting on the following tier of technology. You can research the technology in each tier in any order.

Technology Units Bonus

2 points

Pottery Settler
Writing One free discovery that can be used in a selected turn except on the final three technologies.
Road building Units move at no cost while on a city tile. Units can defend any tile in the city whilst in that city.
Mining Pikeman
Horseback Riding Horseman
Seafaring When founding a city on a coastal hex, you get one free coastal expansion on that city in that turn.

3 points

Mathematics Catapult
Construction +1 to all defence rolls for cities.
Trade Each city earns an additional point in a selected turn.
Irrigation One free city expansion to occur in this turn.
Wheel One free action that can be used in a selected turn.
Navigation Galley

5 points

Code of Laws Forts can be built on any land hex within four hexes of a city, and at least two hexes from an enemy city.
Literacy One free discovery that can be used in a selected turn, except on the final three technologies.
Gunpowder Musketman
Metallurgy Frigate
Monarchy Cavalry
Religion Two free city expansion to occur in this turn.

8 points

Nationalism Convert two city tiles into any two discovered units in a selected turn. Both units must be built in one city, and are built based on the city size before the tiles are destroyed. There must be at least one city tile left after the units have been created.
Scientific method One free discovery that can be used in a selected turn, except on the final three technologies.
Banking Each city produces an additional five points in a selected turn and nothing in the next.
Arts All cities five tiles or more expand by one tile up to the maximum size of seven tiles.
Refining Frigate
Railroad Units can move between any of the players’ cities that are not separated by more than three hexes at a cost of one movement point per city. Sea and mountain hexes cannot be included in the separation.

12 points

Military tactics Infantry
Automobile Tank, Transport
Industrialisation Two free city expansions, or build two free discovered units.
Electricity Two free actions that can be used in a selected turn.
Medicine Player can resurrect any one unit during a battle only once in the game.
Steel Artillery

17 points

Composite Materials Battleship
Espionage Acquire one technology from another player in a selected turn.
Rocketry Air raid Players can launch an air raid from cities of six tiles or more. Defending units do not get defence bonuses from any adjacent city tiles when attacked by an Air raid. All units in a city are attacked irrespective of which city tile they are in. Forts are not part of the city. Air raids are destroyed as soon as they have lost one roll. Players can attack with multiple air raids. Air raids can only be used once in a turn and are destroyed at the end of battle.
Atomic energy Players can form armies of eight.
Flight Land units can move between your own cities of four or more tiles at a cost of one movement point.
Mass production Three free units or three free expansions.

23 points (Research all three to win the game)

Artificial Intelligence +1 action per turn
Space flight +1 die on all rolls (lowest removed)
Globalization +12 points per turn

Building Forts

Forts can be built within four hexes of a player’s city, but there must be at least two empty hexes between the fort and any other players’ cities or forts.


Forts in Sovereign

Forts can be built four hexes from a city and must be at least two hexes away from an enemy city.

Forts can be built attached to a city, but are not included as part of the city for the use of “Road building” or “Railroad” movement. Forts cannot build units or generate points like city tiles.

The cost to build a fort is based on the hex value the player is building on.

When manned with military units, forts afford the player a defence bonus based on the value of the hex it is built on.

For example; a fort built on a hill hex valued six will cost the player six points to build, and give the player’s military units an extra six points to their defence roll.

When a fort is captured, the attacking player can choose to keep it for his or her own purposes or remove it from the board.

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