In 3 Ring Circus players will each develop their own small circus. They will travel with their circus from town to town and city to city acquiring artists, earning money, and gaining victory points. On the road, they discover that shows in small towns are easy to perform and gain them initial resources to improve your acts. While mid-sized cities are more demanding, they grant access to better artists. Then the big cities are even pickier and want to see very specific acts, but performing there gives you the most fame. Your player board contains your 3 Ring Circus. It has three rows each with five card slots for your performing artists. Now it’s time to get this show on the road. – – 1 to 4 players – – 45 to 75 minutes
Each player starts the game with four money cards that are also basic artists (clowns, pets, magicians, etc.), one ticket card that is a higher-level artist (lion act, acrobat, contortionist, etc.), and one end game scoring card. Turns are straight forward. Either add an artist card to your circus or move to another town and put on a show.
Early in the game players will need to put on shows in small towns to generate money. They will receive money cards for the town where they perform plus for any adjacent small towns that have not yet had a show. The player will place one of their circus tents on that town marking it unavailable to other players. A small town may only have one circus show.
Adding artists to your circus will almost always add pedestals. Pedestals are important. When a player takes the step to run a show in a mid-size city, the number of pedestals they have will determine how may artist cards or how many victory points they will earn. They choose to take their earnings in either artist cards or in victory points. Unlike small towns, multiple players can run a show in a mid-sized city.
The next leap is to be able to put on a show in a major city. Audiences in these big cities however are finicky. They desire a mix of artists from all three higher-level artist groups – animals, acrobats, and special performers. Additionally, a certain type of artist will be required to be in the show. Bonus points are granted if the required artist is flanked by the audience’s desired artists. As with mid-sized cities, multiple players can run a show in a big city.
To makes things more interesting, there is a prestigious Barnum & Bailey train. This is the timer in the game. After each performance the train moves along a track to the next town or city skipping over any places that have been performed in. Along the way it will trigger a scoring of majority in a region. The pace of the game will speed up as more and more towns and cities have performances. When it returns to its starting city the game is over. Tally the end of game points. The player with the most point is the winner.
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