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Qin. Eggertspiele, 2012. $40. Designed by Reiner Knizia. An abstract tile placement game of area control with Chinese graphics. 1 double sided game board, 96 pagodas (4 colors, one set per player), 72 tiles, rule sheet. 2-4 players. About 20-45 minutes. Ages 8+.

This abstract strategy game uses tiles that are rectangular, divided into two squares. Each square is one of three colors, sometimes two different colors on a tile, sometimes both squares are the same. Players alternate turns placing one of their three tiles on the board in an effort to claim areas, especially near the “villages” spaces on the board. Building areas or having the most control next to a village allows you to place your pagodas. Small areas under your control can be taken from you if they are connected to a larger area of the same color by your opponent. First player to place all their pagodas wins. The game board has two sides with different layouts of villages and water (unplayable) spaces.

Though deceptively easy to learn (the rules are one double sided sheet), this is a game with a lot of strategic depth. There is some luck in that players draw tiles randomly, one per turn after placing a tile, but the rest of the game is pure strategy. Deciding which tile to place and where, when you have many options, makes this quite a thoughtful game. At times you need to protect your smaller areas from encroaching opponents. Sometimes you need to race to control a village or cut your opponent off.

There is not a lot of variety in terms of game components nor, though functional, are they anything special. The Chinese theme is simply graphic and unimportant to the game mechanics. If you’re easily bored with simple tile placement games, this game may not provide enough interest for repeated play.

If you’re interested in strategic tile placement games, trying to protect your areas and take others from your opponents, finding important areas of the board and slowly developing your position, then you may find this game to provide hours of thoughtful replay. It’s ease of rules and quick play makes this a good family game too. It is also available as an iPad app.

This review was written based on a privately purchased copy. No previous relationship with the game publisher nor compensation was involved.

c2014 by Richard A. Edwards