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Tag Archives: In the Year of the Dragon

This week we played another new game (for us) called Im Jahr des Drachen (In the Year of the Dragon). This is the second German game with an oriental theme that we’ve played in recent weeks. It’s an economy-type gamed where the players are Chinese rulers trying to manage their empires against a never ending onslaught of disasters–kind of like my real life. No, I’m not a Chinese ruler, but the never ending onslaught of disasters is right on. Unlike in my real life (thank God), the game disasters take the form of drought, deadly diseases, Mongol hordes, and more. The good news that you know what is coming and when, and you can prepare for it. The bad news is that your rival Chinese rulers–those pesky other players–also have this information. Your turns are spent executing actions (or if you are Ben, executing peasants), summoning people who can help you through the disasters, and garnering victory points. With the number of game components you get, you may think the game is complicated. It’s not. What is challenging is managing your people and resources to minimize or eliminate the various disasters each turn. So let’s see how we did…

There’s a little country ditty from the old TV show Hee Haw that starts with “Gloom, despair and agony on me…” I think that’s how all of us felt at one time or another during the game. Mike started out making some poor decisions because he misunderstood a few of the rules. He followed that up by listening to Wormtongue (Ben) on a couple of his turns. Even with these handicaps, he led for most the game. It was towards the end of the game that things feel apart for him. It’s not completely his fault though. We realized very late in the game that he had one less Person card than the rest of us. And worse yet, his missing card was one of his “wild” cards—a very useful card indeed. His empire ended up being completely destroyed at the end of the game.

I was completely inept throughout most of the game in making good use of my events and people. During a full quarter of the events, I could do nothing. Still I managed to stay at the front of the pack and eventually came in second. Owen, poor Owen, seemed doomed to never score many victory points. He was way behind for most of the game. But he steadily continued building his empire and by the end of the game scored a considerable amount of points, giving him a respectable third place finish. Ben, strangely, managed his empire well and steadily earned points. There was one point where he had to execute several of his people, but he deemed this as an acceptable loss. He uncharacteristically went on to win the game.

The big game of the night came next though, when Owen broke out his Roll Through the Ages. We all loved this game. It’s easy to play, challenging, yet takes only about 20 minutes to run through an entire game. Players roll dice to obtain commodities and workers to build up their civilizations. Now this may sound like a Yatzee variant, but it’s far from that. There are various ways to build your civilization. Will you build monuments to earn your points or buy developments which can also help you on future turns? Or maybe a clever combination of both? Whatever you do, you must beware of disasters, which reduce your victory point total. Knizia does it again with this seemly small game that’s packed to the brim with high quality components. Buy it. Buy it now. Oh, and in our game, I crushed my opponent’s puny civilizations beneath the weight of my civilization’s developments. Sure they had monuments, but I had currency*!

*You’ll just have to play the game to know what the heck I’m talking about.

Chaos Steve