Translated by John Webley.
Distributed by Mike Siggins from The Sumo Rules Bank.
Formatted to html by Kevin Maroney (



Open up the board. Each player takes the playing pieces in one colour: with two players each gets 8 pieces, with 3 players each gets 5 pieces, with 4 players each gets 4 pieces and with 5 players each takes 3 pieces. The pieces left over are returned to the box and play no further part in the game. Each of the waterholes on the board is covered by a desert card, with the value on the card face downwards. The remaining cards are placed face down at random across the board. One player takes responsibility for the "Bank" of desert dollars, and is responsible for paying out and collecting cash.

The player who has read out the rules to the others starts the game.

Play of game

The caravan forms up. Starting with the first player, each player in turn places one of their playing pieces on one of the spaces of the start area (Startplatz) Once all pieces have been placed, the caravan may move off.

The desert sets its own rules. The player whose turn it is rolls all 6 dice, then uses the dice rolls to move pieces. They may move any piece, their own or another's.

There are 2 basic rules of movement:

  1. All the pieces must stay in contact with each other, i.e., no piece may be moved so that it stands entirely alone--at least one neighbouring space must have another piece on it. Diagonal connections do not count.
  2. A piece must have at least one free side before it can be moved--i.e., at least one neighbouring space must be empty if a piece is to be moved.

(There are various examples in diagrams 10-15 of legal and illegal moves).

Each dice roll is used to move one piece, a piece may therefore be moved up to 6 times in a turn, or 6 pieces once each, or any combination. In this way the caravan slowly moves across the desert. As previously stated, all the stones must stay in contact with each other.

The dice determine the course of fate. The dice rolls can be used to move the pieces in the following manner:

It is important to note that a jump may only be over a row of pieces--a piece may not jump over empty spaces.

Each die roll may only be used once. If the same number appears on two or more dice, then one piece may not be moved backwards and forwards along the same path.

Fig. 14 gives two examples of clever use of dice rolls.

For each dice that cannot be used, the player must pay one value "1" desert coin to the Bank. If a player is unable to use any of the dice that they have rolled, then they may roll again. If a player is unable to pay, then the bank extends interest free credit which is paid back at the end of the game. It is good practice to pass on each die to the next player as it is used to prevent one die from being used twice.

Desert Storms (Special situations)

Playing pieces which have left the starting area may not be moved back into it again, although they may spring over it. The player whose playing piece is the last to leave the starting area receives 5 dollars from the Bank, (not necessarily the player who moved the piece, but its owner).

The Desert cards

The smallest details can be the difference between life and death in the desert. A small change in wind direction can be the difference between being caught in a sandstorm and reaching your destination. To reflect this the game has the desert cards. The value of these is added to the number of dollars each player has at the end of the game to produce a final score. If a player moves someone else's piece onto one of the desert cards, then they take the card and secretly turn it over and see what value is on it. They must then offer the card to the owner of the piece which moved onto the card, at a price. The owner may choose to pay the price, in which case they take the card, or they may decide not to, in which case the player who moved the piece keeps the card. Bluffing is not only allowed, it is positively encouraged. If a player moves their own piece onto a desert card, then they simply pick it up and keep it.

Important: In both cases, the player who moved the piece onto the card gets a dollar as reward. If removing the card reveals a well, then the player gets two dollars. Since a player rolls 6 dice and each die allows a move, a player can earn up to 12 dollars per turn.

The Gorge

The first player to move a piece over the gorge in the centre of the board receives 5 dollars from the bank, regardless who owns the piece. Once a piece has been moved over the gorge, it may not be moved back to the original side. The player whose piece is the last to cross the gorge must pay 5 dollars to the Bank. Sometimes the game is over before all the pieces have crossed the gorge; in this case no one pays the penalty.

Game end

The final oasis

The first piece to reach the oasis at the end of the board receives 8 desert dollars. This is split equally between the owner of the piece and the player who moved it. The second piece to reach the goal receives 6 dollars, and the third four. A piece that has reached the oasis may not be moved again. Once the third piece has reached the oasis, the game is over, whether the three pieces are all of the same colour or of different colours. The value of dollars that the players have is added to the value of their desert cards. Negative desert cards count minus. The player with the highest points wins the game.


No one can cross the desert on their own. You will need help; experienced players may find it useful to advise newcomers on possible moves, etc.

It is important to keep the value of desert cards and dollars that a player holds secret from the other players.

If all players agree then you can use the movable oasis card to reduce the length of the race, moving it to an agreed point on the board.

A possible variant on the game is that bribery is allowed, i.e., players may offer dollars to influence other players to make moves which will be to their own advantage.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell