Gameday First Play – In the Year of the Dragon

Posted on by Jesta

“One man’s disaster is another man’s delight.”

~ Chinese Saying

Players take on the role of Chinese rulers around the year 1000. The game plays out in twelve rounds, with each round representing one month in a year that seems to go from bad to worse. Disease, drought, and attacks from the Mongols may claim lives, but make sure you have enough money to offer a tribute to the Emperor.

So, let’s start with a bit of honesty. I like to keep the games I review in the order that I play them on this site and because of the Essen backlog, I’m not writing this until over 2 months later…

The game also wasn’t that memorable so I’m going to do what I can based on dodgy memories and a nice quick reference guide I found on BGG 🙂

However, you will get a good idea of the game… There isn’t that much to it to be fair.

There is a bit of setup with the main board and each player area, nothing important, just worth noting. The main part is the player’s own area where ‘person’ tiles are drafted to get things going.

People have occupations which give them symbols such as a Helmet or Mortar, these are important.

Why it’s important is that there is a track you move depending on the people you have, the further back you are, the higher up in turn order you are.

This is important in the first phase of the game, the Action phase.

Piles of action cards are laid out in the middle of the board…

In turn order, players place their Dragon marker on one of the sets of cards and takes 1 action from them…  BUT, if a player already has a marker there, they need to pay 3 money to go on that space.

The actions depend on the card and they let you take 1 Money, 1 Rice, 1 Firework (for each Rocket on the card) or score points.

Firework Tokens

Rice Tokens

There are 3 other more interesting actions…

Build Palace: Add a Palace tile to your play area, these increase the limit of people you can have.

Move Military: Move one space on this track per Helmet, more on this later.

Buy Privilege:  Pay 2 or 6 money to buy a Privilege token, more on those later too.

The next phase is all about the people. you have people cards in your hand and you can, in turn order, discard one to add a person to your Palace. This is why you need to build Palaces, to increase your limit, otherwise, you start replacing them.

Next is the Event phase…

These Events are laid out as part of setup, 12 of them for the 12 rounds of the game, and they are random each time.

There are 6 different events each requiring that you have specific resources to prevent them:

  • Peace: Nothing happens
  • Tribute: Pay 4 money, lose 1 person tile per money you can’t pay
  • Drought: Pay 1 Rice per Palace, lose one person per rice you can’t pay
  • Festival: Players score for having the most, and second most Fireworks
  • Invasion: Score for your Helmets, the players with the fewest loses a person
  • Contagion: Each player loses 3 people, but each Mortar protects a person
  • Decay: Each empty Place you control is reduced by one level.

At the end of a round you score for Palaces, Court Ladies and Privilege tokens then a new round begins.

After 12 rounds, you score 12 points per person, Monks score for the Roofs in your Palaces, Rice and Fireworks can be sold for 2 money each and every 3 money is worth a point.

Most points wins, with the tiebreaker the player who is furthest ahead on the person track.

I usually do my positives and negatives but as It’s been so long I will just say this game is OK… nothing more. There are a lot more games I’d rather play than this, even by Feld.

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