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The boom of construction activity in Hong Kong is constant. Ever more skyscrapers shoot up all the time. A new area with 25 plots is just opened and the investors immediately begin establishing new buildings. However, the buildings change hands again and again--to whom will the majority of the finished buildings belong?
I bought this game on the strength of Robin Smith's review. I was not disappointed. This game is quick to play and simple in rules, yet the play decisions involve deep strategies not unlike go.
Although this is not one of Knizia's better known games, it is nicely balanced and well worth the money. Recommended.
Remember the Bruce Lee flicks of the 70's? Well, like 'Enter the Dragon' proceed carefully with Hong Kong as it is extremely addictive, fast and brutal.
Reiner Knizia's Hong Kong is a perfect example of great things CAN come is small packages. As with most RK games, simplicity in rules belies the complexities of play.
Hong Kong is a simple twenty-five square grid of 'Hong Kong' being developed between two players. Each player starts with identical pieces to build with; 20 standard blocks, 5 fast build blocks, and 5 roof blocks. Players alternate placing one block (two when using a fast block) on an empty square, an exsisting tower, or under proper circumstances, an opponent's tower. Maximum height of any tower is 5 blocks. Play continues till all twenty-five squares are filled, or all standard blocks and roofs are placed. Whoever has the most towers wins. In case of a tie, ownership of the center square wins.
Sounds easy, but as 'Kung Fu' Kane's mentor might say, 'the way to victory grasshopper, is subtle and not easily seen...'
The first player has the advantage of grabbing more squares by simple virtue of... well, going first. The second player gets first shot at controlling the center square, key in victory with ties. The heart of the game is when to pounce with the ten 'special blocks' (fast build and roof). Both players must decide when to spread out and take more squares, or go vertical to secure ownership of a square and threaten orthogonal squares. The fast build blocks are great to 'get vertical' and defend/attack squares. Keeping one till the end game (if you can) can give you two fast empty squares, sway majority control and end the game. The roof pieces lock out any further growth of a square or takeover by your opponent. I feel 'Hong Kong' is much more Knizia's 'GO' then his Through the Desert is. Unlike Manhattan there is no luck in getting the right cards to play and building size does not matter, only ownership of the squares.
'Hong Kong' is compact, easy to travel with, and with literally one and half paragraphs of rules, easy to teach others. A wonderful little game worthy of owning.
I admit my review is a little biased, since I'm not a fan of 2-player, abstract, piece-moving/placing games (yes, I'm aware all games are ultimately abstractions, but just stay with me on this one...). I love Go, and I enjoy Chess, so given the choice of applying my brain power to one of those classics versus a game like Hong Kong, I'll always take the former.
Disclaimer aside, I didn't find Hong Kong all that interesting or challenging anyway. Most games were won by 1 point or a tie-breaker. While it's nice to have outcomes this close, in this case, it's a symptom of the fact that the best moves are always fairly obvious.
On your turn, you will either add floors to one of your buildings, in a bid to gain control of an adjacent building, or you will play in a new area of the board to establish dominance there. The problem is, you can pretty much keep parity with your opponent simply by answering or mimicking all of his/her moves, hence the close outcomes.
Even the decision of when to use your quick-build pieces is not all that critical. As long as both players have an opportunity to play them in the developmental stages of the game, the results will pretty much even out.
Ultimately, Hong Kong is not a very deep game for adults, but I would recommend it as an introductory strategy game for young kids. On that basis, it earns a third star.
How can you make 60 building blocks fit on the spaces of a 5 x 5 grid? Build skyscrapers! In Hong Kong (the game), they can be up to five stories high, truly dominating the shorter buildings around them. You can steal your opponent's 7 skyscrapers by placing pieces of yours on top, but only if they do not become higher than any of yours on adjacent spaces. To spice things up, you have a few roofs that cannot be built upon, and several blocks that allow you an extra move. Sometimes, reminiscent of a miniature version of Go, you must invade behind enemy lines to ensure your share. You win by grabbing the most spaces. Will you spread your pieces out, claiming more territory, or stack them, going for tower power?