Saint Petersburg - General game info
Saint Petersburg
2-4 players, 10 years and older
AuthorBernd Brunnhofer
IllustratorDoris Matthäus
Published byHans im Glück
Rio Grande Games
Online since 2007-08-04
Developed byKay Wilke (Sparhawk)
Boardgamegeek9217 owns a license for the online version of this game. A big "thank you" to the copyright owners (publisher and/or author and illustrator) who make it possible to have this game for free online here!
Note: This online implementation uses slightly changed rules!
Saint Petersburg - Rules

These rules have been adapted to the online play and have been a bit abridged. Have a look at the end of this page to see a list of rule changes!

Historical background and goal

In 1703, Czar Peter the Great founded Saint Petersburg, which soon became known as "Paris of the East". The Winter Palace, the Hermitage, the Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and many other buildings even today beckon visitors from all over the world. But Saint Petersburg was only a part of his numerous activities. Peter reformed the whole of the Russian Empire and brought it from the Middle Ages to a par with Europe of that time. To accomplish this, he needed a new administration and brought the aristocrats under his control. This was also a golden time for the workers as their skills were much needed to reform and build the new Russia. The players will take important roles in the building of SAINT PETERSBURG. The players acquire workers, buildings, and aristocrats, and place them in their play areas. These earn the players money, points, or both during the game. For the aristocrats, players can earn additional points at the end of the game. The player who is best able to manage his meager money supply and buy the right things at the right times, will win the game.

Game Material

31 Workers
6 x6 x6 x6 x6 x1 xCard backStart player stone
28 Buildings
5 x5 x3 x3 x3 x2 x1 x
1 x2 x1 x2 xCard backStart player stone
27 Aristocrats
6 x5 x5 x4 x3 x2 x2 xCard backStone
30 trading cards
10 different cards for workers,
buildings and aristocrats
Card backStart player stone


  • Shuffle the cards by each group separately (workers, buildings, aristocrats, and trading cards). Place each group face down in a stack on the appropriate space on the board.
  • Each player takes 25 rubles. The players keep their money secret from others during the game and may never tell others how much they have. This has been changed for online play: money is visible to all players!
  • The starting stones are distributed randomly such that each player has at least one and no player more than two.
  • The starting cards are taken from the workers stack and placed face up in the upper card row. For each player two cards are drawn.
  • The game begins with the first worker phase.

Playing the game

SAINT PETERSBURG is played over several rounds (7-10). Each round consists of 4 phases (always in the following order):

  • the worker phase
  • the building phase
  • the aristocrat phase
  • the trading card phase

Then the players start the next round with the worker phase.

Each phase consists of the following (in the order shown):

  1. The actions: the players acquire workers, buildings, and aristocrats. They play these on the table, add them to their hands, and play them from their hands to the table. This is the main part of the phase.
  2. The scoring: the players score their workers or buildings or aristocrats
  3. The new cards: the administrator places new cards on the board.

All four phases play in this way, except for the trading card phase, where there is no scoring.

1. The actions

On a player's turn, he must take 1 of the following 4 actions: either

  • buy: 1 worker or 1 building or 1 aristocrat or
  • add to his hand: 1 worker or 1 building or 1 aristocrat or
  • play from his hand: 1 worker or 1 building or 1 aristocrat or
  • pass

The 4 actions in detail:

The player buys 1 card, either 1 worker or 1 building or 1 aristocrat. Primarily, the workers earn the players money, the buildings earn the players points, and the aristocrats can earn the players both. A player can buy a card from either card row on the board. When a player buys a card, he pays the cost to the bank, and immediately places the card face up in his play area. The players should group the cards in his play area with all workers together, all buildings together, and all aristocrats together. Note: obviously, players may only buy worker cards in the first worker phase as there are no other cards on the board. Soon, however, cards from the other groups will be available on the board.

add to his hand
The player takes 1 card from either card row and adds it to his hand. He does not pay for this card. A player can have at most 3 cards in his hand and keeps them secret from the others. At game end, each card in a player's hand scores minus 5 points.

play from his hand
The player places 1 card from his hand face up in his play area. He now pays the cost of the card to the bank. He can play a card he has added to his hand earlier in this round or from a previous round.

A player must pass when he cannot or chooses not to take other actions. Note: a player, who has passed, may pass again or take a normal action (buy, add to his hand, or play from his hand) on his next turn.

The starting player for a phase always takes the first action of the phase. For example, the first action in the worker phase is taken by the player with the starting player marker for the worker. Next, the other players follow in clockwise order and each must always take one of the 4 allowed actions. After all players have taken an action, it is again the starting player's turn. He may take the same action as before or a different action as he chooses. As before the others follow in clockwise order. When all players pass in player order (the first pass need not be the starting player), the actions are done and the phase moves to scoring.


  • A player can buy 1 card or add a card to his hand or play a card from his hand; otherwise he must pass.
  • A player can buy or add to his hand any of the cards on the board (upper or lower row) in any phase. He can, for example, buy a fur trapper in the building phase, if he wants and it is available.
  • A player can play any card in his hand in any phase. He can, for example, play (and pay for) a shepherd in the aristocrat phase, if he wishes.

2. The scoring

What is scored? The players score either the workers or the buildings or the aristocrats that they have in their play areas. When are which cards scored? In the worker phase, the players score only their works, in the building phase, they score only their building, and in the aristocrat phase, they score only their aristocrats. All cards of the appropriate group are scored, including those played in the current round and those played in previous rounds.

What do the players earn during scoring?

The players earn money or points or both (or nothing, if a player has no cards of the kind being scored). The players get money earned from the bank.

Example: The Mistress of Ceremonies earns 6 rubles and 3 points.

3. The new cards

During the actions, the players take cards from the board. At the end of each phase, cards are added to the board until there are a total of eight on the board (regardless of the number of players - always 8!). To do this:

  • New cards are taken from the next card stack.
  • New cards are placed only in the upper card row.

The trading card phase and the end of the round

The trading card phase runs differently than the others.

  • In the trading card phase, there is no scoring. No player earns money or points. To emphasize this, there are no money or point symbols on the space for trading cards on the board. The players take actions in the trading card phase just like the other phases.
  • After the actions, all remaining cards from the lower card row are discarded. Note: after the first round, there can be no cards in the lower row. It will only be in later rounds that cards may be in the lower row.
  • All the remaining cards from the upper card row are moved to the lower card row.
  • Next, worker cards are added to the upper row, making a total of 8 cards on the board.
  • The players give their starting player markers to their left neighbors, changing the starting players for the next round.

The round is now ended. The next round begins as before with the worker phase. In this way, the game continues until game end.

Game end and final scoring

When last card of a group (the last worker, the last building, the last aristocrat, or the last trading card) is placed on the board, play continues through all phases of this round. After the round ends, the game ends and the final scoring follows. If there are not enough cards to fill 8 spaces, he places as many as there are.

The final scoring

In the final scoring, each player earns points for the aristocrats in his play area and for the money he has left.

The points for the aristocrats:

For each different type of aristocrat a player earns points (duplicate aristocrats do not count). How many points does a player earn?

Different aristocrats12345678910+

The points for the money:

For each full 10 rubles, a player earns 1 point.

Minus points:

For each card a player still has in his hand, he scores -5 points (-5, -10, or -15).

The player with the most points is the winner. If players tie, the one among them with the most money is the winner.

Other important details: cost reduction

There are 4 possible ways to reduce the cost of a card:

  • When the player already has the same card (or several same cards) in his play area, he pays 1 less ruble for each card that is the same.
  • When the player buys a card from the lower card row, he pays 1 ruble less than the normal cost.
  • When the player has a gold smelter in his play area, he pays 1 ruble less for each red card he buys (after he has the gold smelter).
  • When a player has a carpenter workshop in his play area, he pays 1 ruble less for each blue card he buys after he has it.

All cost reductions are cumulative. Example: A player buys the theater from the lower card row (-1 ruble), he already has 1 theater in his play area (-1 ruble), and he has the carpenter workshop (all blue cards -1 ruble). He pays 20 rubles minus 3 rubles = 17 rubles. The theater costs 17 rubles.

A player can never take money when the cost is less than 0. In fact, he can never pay just 0. A player must always pay at least 1 ruble to buy a card, even when its cost is 0 or less!

The trading cards

The stack of trading cards has 10 workers, 10 buildings, and 10 aristocrats. To distinguish them, they have all three colors on their backs and the color of one of the 3 groups on the front. The front side makes it clear which group the card belongs to. It also has the cost and reward numbers in the appropriate places.

When a player buys a trading card or places a trading card from his hand in his play area, he must do the following:

  • He must displace an already placed card of the same color from his play area. He cannot simply place a trading card in his play area as he does the other cards. He places the displaced card on the discard space. Example: the player discards the lumberjack to place the carpenter workshop.
  • Each blue trading card can displace any already placed building. Each red trading card can displace any already placed aristocrat.
  • With the green trading cards: a carpenter workshop can only displace a lumberjack, a gold smelter can only displace a gold miner, a weaving milll can only displace a shepherd, a fur shop can only displace a fur trapper, and a wharf can only displace a ship builder. Players can recognize the pairs by the like symbols in the upper right.
  • A trading card cannot displace another trading card.

What does a trading card cost?

  • When the trading card is more expensive than the card it displaces, the player must pay the difference between the two.
  • When the trading card is the same or cheaper than the card it displaces, the player must pay 1 ruble.

All normal cost reductions apply to trading cards. Example: the player displaces the market with the St Issac's Cathedral. The difference in cost is 10 rubles. The player takes the card from the lower card row (-1 ruble). He also has the carpenter workshop, saving him another ruble. Thus, he can subtract 2 rubles from the normal cost of 10 rubles and pay only 8 rubles. He places the market on the discard space.

Several special cards

Mariinskij Theater
The aristocrats love theater: When scoring the buildings, the player earns 1 ruble for each aristocrat that he has in his play area.
Good, but dangerous: The player can have up to 4 cards in his hand.
Potjomkin's Village
The virtual village pays for itself: The player pays 2 rubles when he buys/places the card. If he displaces the card with a trading card, it is worth 6 rubles.
Don't spend too much: Immediately after each scoring of buildings, the player can buy up to 5 points. Each point costs 2 rubles. (The player cannot "buy" 2 rubles for 1 point.)
Tax Man
Unattractive job, but important: When scoring the aristocrats, the player earns 1 ruble for each worker that he has in his play area.
Czar and Carpenter
Czar Peter can do it all: He can be displaced by any green trading card.
1 secure point or a good opportunity: The observatory is worth 1 point in scoring if the player does not use the following: once, during the blue actions, he may draw the top-most card from the stack of his choice (it may not be the last card in the stack). He must immediately either buy and place the card or add the card to his hand or discard the card. In each case, he turns the observatory card over and will score not points for it. To begin the next round, he turns it face-up so it is again available for scoring or its special ability.

Tips and tactics suggestions:

  • In the first worker phase, each player should buy 2 workers! A player with fewer than two workers will find himself running after his opponents with two. Workers have the best cost/reward ratio.
  • Expensive cards have higher reward ratios. 1 point with a market costs 5 rubles, 1 point with a customs house costs only 4 rubles, etc. Thus, a player can do well to save money to buy more expensive cards later.
  • In the first building phase, the question will arise: should a player invest in an expensive building? Such a building always earns the player many points in the scoring of buildings. However, such a player will have little money for a while and that can be very dangerous.
  • Trading cards are mostly good. Players should try to save some money for the trading card phase. But, players should be careful not to spend all their money in this phase as there is no scoring and no money gained in the phase. Without money, a player will be unable to buy the new worker cards that will be available in the first phase of the next round.
  • When a player is faced with the decision to buy a card or add it to his hand, in addition to the points and/or money the card will earn the player, he should also consider the following: when a card is removed from the board, it makes room for a new card in the next phase. Does the player want this? When the player is the next starting player, he has little interest in leaving many places for new cards. However, a player sitting far from the starting player may want more new cards available.
  • Adding a card to his hand is often important for a player. In this way, a player can hold the card for a later turn when he has the money to pay for it. Of course, it can be dangerous to speculate too much, as nothing is more painful than for a player to have a card in his hand at the end of the game that he could not use and, thus, he earns minus points for the speculation.
  • SAINT PETERSBURG is a game with permanent money shortages. This is good, as the game would be very boring if players always had plenty of money to spend on the cards.

Rule changes for online play

Money and cards are visible to all players. The reason for this is that games often take days or weeks on No one can remember what the others took in their rounds, especially not when you play several games at once. Some players would write down this important information. Because of this we are making this information public. This also strengthens the strategic aspect of the game.

In addition to that it is possible to see which cards are remaining in each of the hidden stacks of cards; you simply move your mouse over the question mark symbol of the stack. The cards are obviously not shown in the order in which they are in the stack. Cards are grouped such that equal cards are shown only once but with a number in the lower right corner indicating how many cards of this type there are in the stack.

The pub is not played after the blue phase but during the blue phase. As with the observatory you may play it only once during one round. This is usually affecting the game only in the very last round. According to the original rules you play the card after scoring and may thus spend the money from the blue cards.

Also you have the option to pass until the end of the action phase; just click the checkbox and pass, then your next turn will be in the next action phase.

"New Society" Expansion

In addition to the new parts which allow the game to be played with 5 players, the "New Society" expansion contains 35 cards which are added to the cards of the base game or replace cards of the base game. The new (or changed) cards are marked with a violet dot in the upper right corner.

Contents (New Society)

7 workers
6 x1 xCard back
9 buildings
1 x1 x2 x1 x2 x1 x1 xCard back
9 aristocrats
2 x1 x1 x1 x1 x1 x2 xCard back
10 trading cards (one of each)


Before you begin, remove the following 7 cards from the original deck: Czar and Carpenter (worker), 2 x Observatory (building), Academy (building), 2 x Mistress of Ceremonies (aristocrat), and Mariinski Theater (trading). These cards are replaced in this expansion. Do not use both copies of these cards in a game. Separate the expansion cards by type and shuffle them in with the original cards of the same type (adding, including replacement cards, 7 workers, 9 buildings, 9 aristocrats, and 10 trading cards).

Rule difference from the base game

For every distinct aristocrat above ten that a player holds at the end of the game, that player receives +10 VPs.

New card details

Czar and Carpenter: is cheaper (3) but earns only two rubles during the worker scoring (until upgraded to a trading card). Obshchina Commune: This New Farmers trading card (with grain symbol) is -1 towards the cost to purchase Worker or Worker trading cards (but not itself).
New Society: is a trading card that can be bought using any worker card. Coffee House: earns 1 ruble for each aristocrat and aristocrat trading card in your tableau during the building scoring (whether these are distinct or not). Note that this building can be later upgraded.
Debtor's Prison: either score 1 VP or, as an action during the building phase, search the discard pile and take any 1 card from it, which then must be paid for or put into your hand (discard if your hand is full). Flip the Debtor's Prison face down after taking a discard card; it may not be upgraded to a building trading card until it is flipped face up following the building phase.
Trading House: during the building scoring, you may spend 3 rubles to gain two victory points. This ability, unlike the Pub ability, can only be used once per building phase. Academy: costs more (25) and scores 9 victory points!
Textile Factory: this building trading card earns 2 victory points for each card with a weaving symbol in your tableau (i.e. Shepherds, Weaving Mills, the Czar & Carpenter, and the New Society, but not the Textile Factory itself). Guild Hall: this building trading card is flexible, earn four rubles or victory points in any combination (such as three rubles and one victory point or no rubles and four victory points) when scoring buildings.
Mariinski Theatre: now scores 1 victory point for each aristocrat and aristocrat trading card in your tableau (whether these aristocrats are distinct or not) when scoring buildings. Observatory: now costs 2 rubles more.
Sycophant: this new aristocrat costs only 1 to put into play, but has -1 income during the aristocrat scoring phase (discard it if you cannot pay for it after scoring your other aristocrats). Mayor: this aristocrat trading card earns 1 ruble for each building and building trading card in your tableau during the aristocrat scoring.
Mistress of Ceremonies: now scores 3 rubles and 4 points.

Rule changes for online play

The selection for the guild hall can be done during the building action phase: the chosen combination of rubles and points will be displayed (this is initially set to 4 points). If nothing is selected in the building action phase, the last chosen combination is used for scoring.

The trading hall can be used once during the building action phase (similar to the pub).

The sycophant can be discarded during the aristocrat action phase. If during aristocrat scoring the money will be reduced to a negative value, the sycophant is discarded automatically to prevent this.

deutsch english