List Price: $34.99
Regular Price: $27.99
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(Worth 1,800 Funagain Points!)
from 3 customer reviews
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Even today in China, the unmistakable evidence of a fascinating story is everywhere. Hundreds of years ago, the country teetered on the brink of a change in power. Regional rulers fought continuously with each other with only one goal in mind: to become the new Emperor. They erected imposing houses and sent their emissaries to the regional courts.
This fascinating game of domination combines multiple tactical possibilities with simple-to-learn rules and a short playing time! China is based on the multiple award-winning game Web of Power by master game designer Michael Schacht.
I recently played this game with my friends Kevin and Chris. Out of the clear blue sky this weekend, Kevin came over for our weekly game session with this little Überplay game. We played only one game but it was enough for me to see that this game has potential beyond our first brief encounter. The game is managed by cards, and plays a lot like Ticket To Ride in that aspect, so if you're familiar with T2R then this game will come to you quickly. If you're trying to introduce a new player to T2R then teach them this first (if you have it already) they'll catch on to T2R faster that way.
The printing is nice, and Überplay has done something you don't usually find from most board game companies. They printed on BOTH SIDES OF THE BOARD!!!! The reason for this is one side is used for 2-3 players and the other for 4-5 players. The map is the same on both sides, but there are more roads, and more towns connected by them. Basically it's a game of area control, but it's also a game about building, and creating roads, much again like, T2R. You have houses you can place, and emissaries you can use to control certain areas. All the pieces are wood, and have that Carcassonne "Meeple feel" to them. It is my belief that whatever printing company Carcassonne was printed by, was also the same one that printed this. If not, then perhaps the same artist was used? Either way, the artwork, and interior of the box for both (Carcassonne and China) really look alike. I'm sure we'll play it again, and often. The game is small compared to other board games, but there's a lot of little wooden pieces, and the board leaves plenty of table space for your beer, ashtray, dice, and other knickknacks.
The game sets up fast, play is fast, maybe 30 minutes tops once you play it enough, and is a lot of fun. There's a predetermined ending (2 shuffles of the draw deck), and scoring is done when territories are filled in, and/or at the end of the game. So if you like T2R, Carcassonne, territory control games, or you're looking for a game like T2R for younger players, this is THE game to get. I think it merits 5 stars, but I need more game play on it to know for sure, but I'll mark it as 5 for now, perhaps later on, I'll have to come back and edit this to reflect a lower rating, but I doubt it.
And remember you can't pass "GO" if you don't play the game!!!!
BUT The double-sided board(one side is for 3 to 4 players, the other side support up to five) don't have much difference, that bring much limitation to the game, making it no good for 3 players.
Moreover, the CHINA MAP is a TOTAL TURN OFF to me! I hate the designer using a Chinese (or Eastern) Background for gimmick. I doubt whether the designer ever do any research before making the board. LU was just a very little tiny vassal state of QI, if there should be a strong state southward to QI, it was SONG. Thus YIN was always the weakest kingdom in the Warring States Period.
Actually, if you already own Web of Power, I don't really see the necessity to owning both; they are similar enough that I don't think acquiring both will fill any gaping holes in one's collection. But for those who don't have either game, then I think that I would point them to China; it is much prettier, has a slightly more unique theme (there are enough games about Europe, methinks), and plays a little smoother. China is a superb game, having no flaws that I can see, with the only exception that strategy is a difficult thing for newcomers to find.
A double-sided board is placed on the table (the side used depends on the number of players), and each player (three to five) takes all the pieces of their color: 20 houses and nine emissaries. The board itself is divided up into nine regions, in five different colors, each with four to eight houses depicted on them. The houses are connected in a series of roads with each house connected to at least one other house. Each region also has a dragon space in the middle, where emissaries will be placed during the game. A deck of cards is shuffled, and each player is given three to form their starting hand. The remainder is placed in a face-down deck on the board, with four cards laid face up next to it. Each player uses one of their emissaries, placing it on a scoring track; the game begins, once a start player is determined.
On a player's turn, they may either play one to three cards from their hand or discard one card from their hand. There are five different cards -- each of one of the five colors. Four of the colors correspond to two different regions on the board, while the fifth simply refers to a single region. When playing cards from their hand, players must follow these rules:
When a territory is scored, each player who has at least one house in the territory scores points (emissaries aren't scored until the end of the game). The player with the most houses scores one point for each and every house in the territory. The player with the second-most houses scores one point for each house of the player who had the most; the player with the third-most houses scores one point for each house of the player who had the second most, etc. Scoring markers for each player are moved accordingly, and a black scoring marker is placed in the region to show that it has been scored. No more houses may be placed in that region for the remainder of the game, although emissaries may possibly be placed there.
The player then draws cards either from the face-up cards on the table, and/or the deck, and replenishes their hand to three cards. When the draw pile is exhausted, the discards are reshuffled and form a new draw pile. Once the second draw pile is exhausted, the game ends after that round finishes. (The player to the right of the start player gets the last turn.) A final scoring then occurs.
Any unfinished regions (without a scoring marker) are scored, just like during the game. Roads are also scored: each player who has at least four houses in a row (connected by roads) scores one point for each house in the row. Alliances are also scored. Each region that borders another region has a number between them, having fifteen alliances in total. Starting with the number one alliance, each of the two regions in the alliance is compared. If a player has the majority (in cases of ties, both players have majorities) in BOTH regions, then they score points equal to the total number of emissaries in each region. The player with the most points becomes the emperor of China!
Some comments about the game...
If you don't own Web of Power, I highly recommend picking up China. If you already have Web of Power, or aren't sure you'll like a game without much of a theme, I highly recommend playing it first to see if you enjoy the changes or abstract feel. If you're a fan of area control games, this is one of the best (I call it "El Grande lite"), and the fact that it plays well with three is a major plus. China is certainly a game that will see a lot of play in my circles, if for that reason alone. And maybe someday I'll win! (I'm about 0 for 10, or something like that.)
"Real men play board games."