In this fairly light tile-laying offering, players draw a random tile and place it against the previously played tiles. The player may place a marker on one of the features (city, road, farm, or monastery) indicated on the tile which they played. Markers (called Followers by the publisher and called Meeples by us) cannot directly compete with an existing marker on the feature when placed. Instead, you may place your follower on a new unconnected feature and join it in a subsequent turn to a desirable feature which has already been claimed by another player.
As subsequent tiles are arrayed on the board, objects get bigger or even merge. When roads or cities are completed, or a monastery is surrounded, the follower is returned to you and you score the points. However, farmers are not returned and will score points at the game end (there are several rules variations for the farmer scoring).
Therefore, it's possible to have all of your control markers locked on the board on incomplete objects, and not be able to convert them into farmers later in the game. You must balance the need to score points during the game with the need to score farmer points at game end.
The goal is to have the most points at the end, which can be tricky to control considering your choice for each turn isn't the tile itself, but rather the placement of the tile that you drew.
NOTE: The Rio Grande & Z-Man editions are compatible.