In the Year of the Dragon
#12 ALBS, English language edition of Im Jahr des Drachen
List Price: $44.95
Your Price: $35.95
(Worth 3,595 Funagain Points!)
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In this game, each player takes on the role of a Chinese prince, seeking to maximize the prosperity and prestige of his province in the ancient China of approximately 1,000 A.D. To assist in these endeavors, the princes must call upon the diverse talents of their courtiers, from scholars and monks to warriors and craftsmen. These loyal subjects will lend their expertise to the struggle to shield their rulers from the often disastrous consequences of the myriad untoward events that plague the populace from month to month. Be it drought, contagion or Mongol invasion, only foresight and planning will spare the princes and their subjects from these fates. The better a player can manage his province and withstand the seemingly unending onslaught of hazardous events, the more honor and victory points he will have to show for it in the end.
This is the sort of game you know will be great only after reading the rules. If you are a gamer like me who doesn't like games too long or too complex, but still has some meat on it, then this is the game for you. I would categorize this game in the Puerto Rico alley. It plays really fluent and fast and is always very very tense. A great game, can't wait to play Notre Dame. It's by the same designer and in the same niche of games.
This game is primarily about planning ahead, so it takes playing it a couple of times to really understand what's going on (and get a good score).
You fill your castle with people, such as fireworks makers and accountants, and will end up using at least one of each. The order of the disasters (which is randomly set up at the start of the game) and the order you get the people, increase the size of your castle, earn income, and so forth is crucial. A small mistake can ruin the best laid plans.
Players don't fight each other. The biggest effects are a limited number of certain people, and what you can do in a turn- the first person to build does it for free, and the second and later ones take three coins to do it. An opponent unexpectedly taking 'your' option can keep you from winning.
I can see how for younger people this could be frustrating at first. Once they have the strategy down, though, it should be a fun game for them as well.