The object of the game is to score the most Victory Points. You win Victory Points by winning any of the 5 categories: Illuminators, Scribes, Manuscripts, Scrolls, and Supplies. You win a category by having the highest total number of workers (Scribes, Illuminators) or resources (Manuscripts, Scrolls, Supplies) in that category. This is determined by the numbers in the upper left corner on the cards. At the start of the game, each category is worth 3 Victory Points. As the game progresses, the values on the Value Board will change and some categories will become worth more or less Victory Points than others. The game is divided into 2 stages: a Donation stage and an Auction stage. During the Donation stage, players acquire free cards according to an established plan. In the Auction stage, players purchase cards in auction rounds. After the two stages, winners of each category are determined and Victory Points awarded. The player with the most Victory Points wins.
The game involves a good deal of strategic planning, some bluffing, and a little bit of luck. The rules are easy to understand, but you have to play it a few times to develop a playing strategy. It plays differently from 2-4 players, but each game is equally fun and challenging.