Gameday First Play – ZhanGuo

Build the wall and unify the Empire…

…and try and make your workers move!

Between 230 and 221 B.C., the ambitious and extremely young king of Qin, Ying Zheng, unified China, adding all the other so-called Warring States (ZhanGuo) to his empire. Through this, Ying Zheng became the first emperor in Chinese history, taking the title of Qin Shi Huang Di.

Plenty of things had to change in order to make the Chinese empire whole, and Qin Shi Huang Di didn’t waste any time. He divided the empire into prefectures, personally appointing central and local functionaries; afterward, he decreed that the same writing symbols had to be used throughout the entire nation. Furthermore, he unified the laws and the units of measure, particularly the currency, creating amazing conditions for the economic development and growth of the empire.

Internal decisions were not the only things that shaped this new unified nation. From the North, the menace of the Hsiungnu barbarians kept shaking the empire, and Qin Shi Huang Di knew that the only way to stop that menace was to build one of the most ambitious buildings in human history: The Great Wall of China. Thousands of peasants left their fields to take part in the construction, not only of the Great Wall, but also of roads, channels, palaces, and majestic buildings.

This game has a lot going on and a lot you need to achieve, but mostly you play cards to do a thing…

You can also add a card to play area to gain a resource shown on the card and to add bonuses to the actions you’ll be taking.

ZhanGuo Play Area

You have a hand of cards and on your turn you play one to activate one of the 6 actions. The cards have a number which will annoy you as sometimes you need to try and play higher or lower on the previous card to activate bonuses.

ZhanGuo Cards

What are the actions?

Well, 3 of them are to build stuff… They go on the board in places and there is some area control and majority control going on… This game is all over the place 🙂

ZhanGuo Board

One is to gain workers which you can put in your player area to use later, mostly to build things.

The 5th action is to move cubes around on your board. This is important as your board relates to different areas of the game map so you need the right cubes in the right places.

For example, when you build a Governor you need a Red, White and Grey cube in the right section to put them in that area.

ZhanGuo Area Control

At this point it’s worth noting that the bonus you get at the end of the game for these things can depend on their placement and are determined by random coring tiles.

The last action is to gain cubes.

There’s a neat end of round things where you can trade in those resources you got for storing cards to get a bonus ‘thing’ depending on the round while determining turn order.

As the cards you play stack up and activate when you play a certain action, this game had a Deus feel to it. But it’s a better game.

The card play was cool and choosing to keep a card in your play area for a resource/ability or to play it for an action lead to some very interesting decisions.

One thing I didn’t do was diversify my bonus abilities so I didn’t get anything extra for placing a Governor but I got too much for gaining cubes, more than I could use.

Lessons learned for next time, and I would like a next time.

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