17th Nov 2022 - In The Year Of The Dragon

by RobinWed, 25 Jan (Updated at Wed, 25 Jan)

Thank you to Michel for bringing In The Year Of The Dragon, which I had not tried before. I may have been a bit harsh with my comments on the night: to clarify, this game is quite thematic by Stefan Feld’s standards. But I seem to be a bit of a thematic-ness snob, so never going to be a Feld devotee. Like all Feld games, this one is very sound in terms of mechanics; and it is definitely a good game. But I struggled to envisage myself as one of 5 simultaneous(?) Chinese emperors, if that’s what we were…

What was refreshing, as David pointed out, was that this is a game about mitigating disasters, rather than getting more of everything in a benevolent world. Since this game’s release in 2007, there have been many great economic games set in a benign economic boom, in which we all make lots of money, and just compete over who can make the most. When this game was designed, things like financial crises and lost decades were remote, faraway concepts. Now its cycle of illness, food scarcity and high taxes seems quite topical. And fireworks displays, come to that. But not Mongol invasions

I get the impression this game is very well-known. But in case there’s anyone else out there like me, who hadn’t played it before… you spend the game filling up your palaces with courtiers, who give you resources or points, both ongoing and at the end of the game. Every round there is a disaster (or a firework display…), and failure to deal effectively with a disaster will see one or more of your courtiers killed (or “made redundant” as Michel preferred). So far so good, though by the end of the game it all descends into the usual Feld point salad. So, theme theme theme blah blah victory points. I guess you could say that about most board games. And I did enjoy the idea of Genghis “Elon” Khan invading to make everyone redundant. So Michel was right: there was some thematic fun after all.

Elsewhere this week we had Merv, and a continuation of the Lacerda trend with Lisboa. And in our room we had the Dent clan (plus Anthony) but I can’t remember what they were playing – possibly Civilization?