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My understanding is that each turn has three parts:

  1. Each player selects a card and plays it face down simultaneously.
  2. Each player reveals what they plan to do with their card (build it, scrap it for cash, build their wonder).
  3. After resolving any payments, players hand their deck to the person on the left/right.

My question is - how is this second phase resolved? Do players do it one by one? What prevents a player from changing their mind about the card action?

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According to the rulebook this phase is resolved simultaneously:

Once every player has selected his or her card, they perform their action simultaneously. Three actions are possible with the chosen card :

  • a. Build the structure
  • b. Build a stage of their Wonder
  • c. Discard the card to gain 3 coins

In other words, all players announce their action, build/wonder/discard, at the same time. It's out of the spirit of the game to see what other players are doing and then change your mind. For example, you might have two red cards at the end of Age III and you'd really like to know if your neighbor is going to build one, so that you can discard yours for money or not. You have to decide before phase #2.

When most players are newbies, it's a commonplace to resolve the cards one at a time, so that they can follow, but you should normally resolve the actions simultaneously.

Technically, it's also illegal to decide which neighbor to pay after resolving the actions. You're supposed to decide beforehand who to pay; for example, you cannot decide to pay Olympia, see that he just built the Arena, taking $9, and then decide to pay your other neighbor.

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    Regarding your last paragraph: What makes you think that deciding who to pay has to happen beforehand? I skimmed over the base rules and can’t find something about it (I’d say the wording of the related rules suggests that payment happens after players revealed their buildings, at which point each player would be free to decide whom to pay; without using resource cards that were just built, of course). – unor Nov 12 '15 at 11:04
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    Just as a bit of strategy, in 90% of cases you want to give money to the player with money, not to one without – Andrey Nov 12 '15 at 15:59
  • @Andrey That's correct, if a player is broke you do not want to pay him. Giving money to a rich player just gives him points, whereas giving money to a broke player might enable him to snatch a great card. This is especially vital if he's the player who is passing you cards. All other being equal, I will prefer to pay the player to whom I'm passing my cards. – Adama Nov 12 '15 at 16:20
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As @Adama describes, it happens simultaneously.

If you want to reduce the risk of people cheating that way (e.g., waiting a second to see what your neighbour does before deciding what to do with your card), you could use this rule:

  1. All players keep the card they selected in their hand.
  2. If everyone has selected a card, count down (3, 2, 1).
  3. Then everyone places their card on a specific position:

    • above the wonder board, if building the card
    • below the wonder board, if building a wonder stage
    • near the bank, if discarding for money
    • (near the Babel board, if discarding and building a Babel tile)
    • (near the Great Project, if building the card and participating in the construction of the Great Project)
  4. Everyone performs their action.

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