Loyang has become the new capital of the Han Dynasty in ancient China, and it is time to make your mark At the Gates of Loyang. As a farmer, you need to supply the growing city with your harvested crops. Buy and sell seeds, expand your land, hire traders and experts, and sell your harvested goods to all types of customers. Compete against other farmers on the Path of Prosperity, and become the most successful farmer in this economic strategy board game!
At the Gates of Loyang is a board game by Uwe Rosenberg, the creator of Agricola, one of the most popular strategy board games of all time. Loyang is Rosenberg's 3rd board game with an economic theme, after Agricola and Le Havre, both of which have become hugely popular with legions of fans. Loyang continues this tradition, but this time with a different setting: Chinese farmers out to make as much gold as possible. In addition, the game is less complicated than the other Rosenberg games, with fewer mechanics and victory paths to worry about.
The game is set in ancient China, and you are one of many farmers supplying the new capital city of Loyang. With a rapidly-growing market, this is your chance to make it big and put yourself on the Path of Prosperity, earning oodles of money and ensuring a life of luxury for you and your family. But what is business without a little healthy competition? In Loyang, the winner is the player that finishes the game furthest along on the Path of Prosperity, and thus becoming the most prosperous and successful farmer.
Each player gets a "board", which is basically a T-shaped panel that contains the Path of Prosperity track as well as an individual market shop in which you can buy and sell your crops. You also get a home field card and a stack of 9 semi-random field cards that can be used to plant different types and amounts of vegetables. There are 6 types of vegetables, ranging from the cheaper wheat and pumpkin to the more expensive and rarer beans and leek. The game lasts a total of 9 rounds, and at the start of each round, every player harvests one crop from each of their fields that aren't empty or fallow. They then reveal a new field from their personal stack, ready for new vegetables to be planted.
The next part of the round involves drawing cards from a deck. There are additional field cards which allow you to plant more crops. There are market stall cards that allow you to trade one or more of your vegetables for another specific type of vegetable. There are various helper cards that produce a huge variety of effects which usually involve making your crops more efficient or interfering with your opponents' plans. And then there are 2 types of customer cards. The regular customers accept up to 4 sets of 2 vegetables, paying you each time you sell them a set of vegetables. However, they will get angry if you don't sell to them each round. The first time you fail to sell crops to them, they just get angry. Subsequently, you get charged a 2 gold penalty fee for not being able to supply them. The second type of customer is the casual customer. They are patient, but require a set of 3 vegetables and go away once you fulfill their order.
The act of obtaining the cards is interesting. Each player draws 4 cards, and a drafting session starts. The first player discards an unwanted card onto the table. After that, players take turns to either discard an unwanted card or take one of the discarded cards from the table. Once you take a card from the table, you are out of the draft and must play the card immediately onto your board. At the same time, you must also choose one of the cards remaining in your hand, and play that card too. The rest of your hand is discarded and available for other players to choose from. Each player therefore ends up playing 2 cards each round during this phase.
The next phase is the action phase, and the play order depends on which player played their cards first in the card selection phase earlier. In a unique twist, each player performs ALL his actions before the next player gets their turn. This isn't too bad, since there aren't that many cards that interact or interfere with other players. Available actions include planting crops; buying, selling and trading crops at the market or stalls; using helper cards; selling vegetables to your customers; and paying gold to draw more cards from the deck.
The money you earn here is crucial. It is used to buy more crops to plant, but more importantly is also used to move you along the Path of Prosperity. The Path of Prosperity is a funny mechanic, being harder to advance in the late game compared to the early game. The Path goes from 1 to 20, which represents the cost of moving to that position. So moving from step 1 to step 2 costs 2 gold, while moving from step 15 to step 16 costs 16 gold. However, your first move each round only costs 1 gold. This opens up a few different strategies on how to pursue victory. Once the game ends, the player furthest along the Path of Prosperity wins the game.
Loyang is a very streamlined game. Unlike other similar games, there aren't many different paths to victory here. Money is your main focus, since it is used both as a currency to expand your empire, as well as to gain victory points via the Path of Prosperity. The game is also not too interactive, being similar to games such as Dominion or Race For the Galaxy. You mainly focus on maximizing the efficiency of your farms with little interference from other players. However, a big plus for Loyang is its great production quality. The boards and cards look great, and each vegetable and Path marker has its own well-designed wooden tokens.
Loyang is a fun game that doesn't take long to learn, and acts as a good introduction to the more complex economic strategy games. It is also appropriate for players of all experience levels. You will enjoy At the Gates of Loyang if you like similar farming or economic games such as Puerto Rico and Agricola.
Complexity: 3.0 / 5.0
Playing Time: ~ 1.5 to 2.0 hours
Number of Players: 1 to 4 players