There’s gold in them there mines! Ripe for the plucking! There’s a catch, though. (Hey, there’s always a catch when it comes to grabbing free gold.) This shiny stuff stands guarded by a fierce dragon – Dragobert – and he wouldn’t think twice about turning you into toast. So how brave are you feeling? Ready to push your luck to the max? Tied up the laces on your must-go-faster running shoes? Let’s learn how to play My Gold Mine!
Tell Me How To Win!
My Gold Mine is a push-your-luck game for 3-6 players, by Kosmos Games. (There’s also a two-player variant, but I won’t be explaining this here; this How To Play guide is for 3-6 players.) It’s recommended for ages 7 and up, but adults will get a kick out playing this as well as kids. (Especially if you enjoy games like Deep Sea Adventure and Diamante.)
The aim, as you might well have already figured out, is to grab the most gold without getting caught by the dragon. Gold equals points, and you play for three rounds. Most gold wins, but there’s a cool twist in the tale for the final round. This means anyone can still win going into the final round, even if they don’t fare so well in rounds one and two…
There’s nine large Mine Cards (of thick card stock). You place these in a row, with Dragobert at the far-right, and the Exit on the far-left. Notice how the other seven Mine Cards are double-sided? You’ll want them sitting blue Mine side-up (not with the dragon fire side-up; that’s for later!). Place the mine cart card itself in the middle. Your nine-card set-up will look like this (left-to-right):
Exit – 3x Mine Cards – mine cart – 3x Mine Cards – Dragobert
Each player picks a colour. Then you all put your corresponding stickered player disc on the mine cart card. Every player also gets a card matching their colour. The artwork mirrors those on the player discs.
There’s two other kinds of card in the game: Exploration Cards, and Exit Cards. Separate them into their own decks, and then shuffle them. Keep them face-down. My Gold Mine is part of Kosmos’s ‘Open and Play’ series of games, with a magnetic lid that folds down. If you like, you can stack both decks onto the fold-out section of the box. Keep the 12 gold nuggets nearby (in the box, or on the table… They’re what you’re trying to win!
What Do I Do On My Turn?
Turns are simple in My Gold Mine. You have two options: you either draw the top card from the Exploration Deck, or the Exit Deck. Whichever deck you decide, reveal the card, and do what it says. Then it’s the next player’s turn, clockwise, and they then pick which card to draw, and so on.
First, let’s look at Exploration Cards. There’s four different cards within this deck. Theme-wise, they all involve you hunting for gold like a greedy miner. Some, not all, Exploration Cards have gold nuggets on them. Remember, you’re trying to locate the most gold to win.
Some cards have one gold nugget on them, with a plain backdrop. If you draw this, you keep the card in front of you (face-down), and don’t move your miner disc. It remains on the same Mine Card. Other Exploration Cards have a single nugget on them, but the backdrop features a doorway with a lantern. The way out! Draw this and you keep the card (face-down), then move your miner disc one Mine Card leftward, towards the Exit.
Some Exploration Cards have two golden nuggets on them! Jackpot! But, beware. These cards have a doorway on them with a pair of glinting, evil eyes watching you. You take the card (face-down), but then have to move your miner disc one Mine Card to the right. Towards the dragon! The final type of Exploration Card features no gold. Instead, it features Dragobert himself! In this case, you swap the Dragobert Mine Card with the Mine Card to its immediate left. Then you flip that Mine Card over, so it shows dragonfire – the flaming wreck behind the dragon! And as a result, the dragon has moved one step closer towards everyone…
But what if any miner discs were on the card that got swapped and flipped? What if they’re now on the same space as the dragon? Uh oh. They’re now sizzled! Those players suffer elimination from the round. They have to return any Exploration Cards they might have found thus far. Meaning: they now have zero gold this round! Naturally, you don’t want this to happen.
That’s why players have a choice at the start of their turn. They could be greedy and gamble by taking an Exploration Card. They could hope to find gold and not the dragon! But if you’re starting to feel the heat of the flames, could it be time to play it safe and head for the Exit?
Making A Swift Exit
Instead of taking an Exploration Card, players can instead take an Exit Card. This is the safer of the two options. On these cards, there is no risk of alerting Dragobert. Instead, the player gets to take the specific action shown on the Exit Card. You can’t guarantee which action you’ll get, but it will be one of the following:
- Move one step left, towards the Exit
- Move two steps left, towards the Exit
- You, and everybody else, all move one step left, towards the Exit
- Swap your miner disc with the position of any other player still on a Mine Card
- Don’t move at all, but get three nuggets of gold
Some – not all – of the Exit Cards have two of the above options on them. If you draw one of these, you pick which one of the two actions to take, not both. It’s possible to move via an Exit Card onto the ladder on the far-left of the Mine Cards. If this happens, you place it on the top-most available spot on the ladder. Once your disc is on this card, you’re safe! Dragobert cannot harm you now. The gold you’ve claimed is yours and you cannot lose it. Once you’re on the ladder, you no longer participate in the round. You skip your go for the duration of the round.
It’s worth noting that some of these Exit Cards can have a huge impact on other players. Worried about a player having too much gold? If you can force-move them onto the ladder (via the ‘Everybody moves’ Exit Card), you stem their opportunities of grabbing any more gold. It can be particularly dramatic if a player is so close to safety, and then you swap places with them. If you were close to the dragonfire, now they can feel the heat instead of you!
When Does The Round End?
The round continues clockwise until either all players are on the ladder, or have suffered the flames of Dragobert. (Or a combination of the two!) Then, all players who managed to make it to the ladder reveal the total of gold nuggets they have on their cards. The highest total earns three of the golden nuggets. Second-highest total earns two golden nuggets. Third place earns one golden nugget. In the case of a tie, it’s broken by the player who is highest on the ladder. Then all cards go back into their decks and get shuffled again. You re-set the Mine Cards (flipping them back over and moving Dragobert back to the right-most space).
Round two (of three) works exactly the same as the first round. Whoever won the previous round is the first player. Again, three/two/one gold nuggets get awarded for the players with the most/second-most/third-most gold totals. By the end of round two, then, you will have awarded out all twelve golden nuggets (3+2+1, and 3+2+1). But don’t panic if you didn’t fare so well in the first two rounds. You can still win in the third and final round!
How Do We Work Out Who Has Won?
Round three has the same set-up and structure as rounds one and two. The difference here is that for the scoring at the end, players add up the total gold on their cards they earned. But they also include any actual gold nuggets they earned in rounds one and two to this total. And it’s this sum that’s the important one; whoever has the highest amount of gold at the end of round three wins the game, outright!
If there’s a tie in the final round, then once again, the tiebreaker is whomever sits highest up the ladder. Rounds in My Gold Mine can be fast and furious, with absorbing amounts of tension. Rounds can be over in as quick as five minutes (if playing with adults), but expect a little longer if playing with younger children.