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Subject: I'll give you X for a B and 3 Zs rss

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Luke Prior
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So after watching the shut up and sit down review of Chinatown. I was greatly intrigued by a game that really came down to the trading and discussion of players.

Chinatown is a simple game about setting up businesses that earn you income at the end of each turn and after 6 turns, most money wins.

The board is a depiction of New Yorks Chinatown that is serperated into 5 districts and the entire board is further separated into 80 or so building plots distributed over the 5 districts. You have a deck of cards that contains a card representing each of the building plots. Each round you draw X amout of cards and keep usually 2 less with the discarded cards going back into the deck for later draws. Once you have chosen your plots you all reveal and place a disk of your colour on the plots. Then you pass round a velvet bag full of tiles representing businesses. You all draw X amount and place them in front of you. Businesses earn money when they are placed on the board and each type of business has a number 3 to 6. This number is the maximum connections. If you place 2 dim sum restaurants next to each other then you will earn at the end of the turn 20,000 for having an incomplete business at size 2, this is because dim sum has a 5 on it. If you managed to have 5 dim sum restaurants next to each other (diagonals don't count) then you would earn a size 5 business that is complete and if memory serves you would take home 110000 at the end of each turn. The image below should make that a bit clearer.



So once you have placed markers on your building plots and have drawn businesses you begin trading. It happily pronounces in the Rulebook that "anything goes". Do as you wish and in what order you wish, discuss any trade you want and jump in on any negotiation you wish at any point and up the offer. There are no phases within the trade section, just keep going till nobody wants to discuss anything else. Then you get to place any businesses on plots you still own and then earn income for those businesses and rinse and repeat 6 times.

This is a simple and beautiful game that if you have the right group can really express itself for the genius design that it is. You may have someone that is hard fisted and resolute in their dismissal of any trading with you and then the next turn that tropical fish shop they had in their hand that you so desperately wanted and nobody else had has become of no value because you drew one or someone else has and you have something they want. Choosing your trades to ensure your getting a deal worth as much (in your eyes) as them and at the right time to ensure your commodity is at its most valuable in a market that fluctuates rapidly is a great balancing act between sensible decisions and speculation on future draws. Sometimes it's worth a gamble knowing that if you don't draw your florist tile then someone will and hopefully it's Mr X because I have 2 antique stores he wants so we can trade happily. Timing is key but there is room to gamble or play the sensible game.

In our first game of 4 players the scores ended

Ean - 1,050,000
Me - 1,010,000
Matt - 1,000,000
Lloyd - 870,000

Lloyd just allowed too many people to get too good a deal from him and he would too often allow deals that he considered a straight swap for plots/businesses but actually they favoured his opponent slightly more and he should have been asking for a small 30k/40k sweetener in the deal. He essentially just was not ruthless and demanding enough. All of us to be so close when at a tally up after turn 3 we there Ean and Matt were a comfortable 150k ahead of myself and Lloyd who were on roughly the same. I played a longer game and went for getting a large business pay out fully in the last couple of turns rather than some small businesses pay out little and often.

I love this game and look forward to playing it many more times and enjoying the varying styles of trader I will come across.

I will quickly mention that for so much game I was very pleased at the £30 price tag and also the components are the usual quality you expect from zman games.

Just get it, stop looking at the internet and go and get it!!
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Josh Dudley
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This review went in a different direction than I thought it would...

I'll give you X for a Bored and snore
 
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Luke Prior
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Rustic wrote:
This review went in a different direction than I thought it would...

I'll give you X for a Bored and snore


Lol thanks for the feedback. As I have never come across you I have no idea if you have the ability to give me any constructive criticism on my review or if your just another little keyboard warrior flexing his muscles with his witty put downs
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Lance McMillan
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Well, regardless of Rustic's intent, I thought your review was rather solid. You did an especially good job of capturing the essence of the game's best feature (the fact that litterally everything can be a part of your bargaining/negotiation strategy). However, I do think you overlooked one of the game's chief weaknesses: the lack of a time limit on the trading session. Because trading is open-ended the game can easily bog down if even a single player is unwilling to accept "no" as an answer -- the design cries out for a time limit on trading (an easy to implement "house rule," but it would have been nice for it to have been formally addressed in the official rules). While I like 'Chinatown' a lot, I don't think I'd rate it quite as highly as you do.
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Luke Prior
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Lancer4321 wrote:
Well, regardless of Rustic's intent, I thought your review was rather solid. You did an especially good job of capturing the essence of the game's best feature (the fact that litterally everything can be a part of your bargaining/negotiation strategy). However, I do think you overlooked one of the game's chief weaknesses: the lack of a time limit on the trading session. Because trading is open-ended the game can easily bog down if even a single player is unwilling to accept "no" as an answer -- the design cries out for a time limit on trading (an easy to implement "house rule," but it would have been nice for it to have been formally addressed in the official rules). While I like 'Chinatown' a lot, I don't think I'd rate it quite as highly as you do.


I see your point in that a trading phase could seemingly go on forever but certainly for us it always came to a fairly quick conclusion. We absolutely went over the games expected time limit but on the basis of your point I don't know how on earth you could give this game any firm
Limit. I agree though that the wrong group could bog down the phase but I don't see it happening with my group and think with most of the guys I'll play with it will always be received well
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Lance McMillan
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Of course, we're entirely overlooking the fact that "Chinatown" has to be the definitive product on the market today for gaining a deeper insight into the experiences of Asian immigrants in the United States...
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Todd Kauk
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Lancer4321 wrote:
Well, regardless of Rustic's intent, I thought your review was rather solid. You did an especially good job of capturing the essence of the game's best feature (the fact that litterally everything can be a part of your bargaining/negotiation strategy). However, I do think you overlooked one of the game's chief weaknesses: the lack of a time limit on the trading session. Because trading is open-ended the game can easily bog down if even a single player is unwilling to accept "no" as an answer -- the design cries out for a time limit on trading (an easy to implement "house rule," but it would have been nice for it to have been formally addressed in the official rules). While I like 'Chinatown' a lot, I don't think I'd rate it quite as highly as you do.


I use my 5 minute timer from Panic on Wallstreet! and it makes Chinatown last about 45 minutes. A great way to play and the perfect time limit for trading in my opinion. The game clips along at a wonderful place.


Thanks for the review!
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Josh Dudley
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Ok, so this morning I didn't realize how open-ended that comment was. Woops. I've seen mixed comments about this game, and when I saw that title I thought your review was not going to be in favor for it. It was in no way referring to your written review, just how I incorrectly read into the meaning of the title.

I thought you did well and thumbed your review as a whole. Sorry for any confusion.
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Bill Eldard
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Todd Kauk wrote:
Lancer4321 wrote:
Well, regardless of Rustic's intent, I thought your review was rather solid. You did an especially good job of capturing the essence of the game's best feature (the fact that litterally everything can be a part of your bargaining/negotiation strategy). However, I do think you overlooked one of the game's chief weaknesses: the lack of a time limit on the trading session. Because trading is open-ended the game can easily bog down if even a single player is unwilling to accept "no" as an answer -- the design cries out for a time limit on trading (an easy to implement "house rule," but it would have been nice for it to have been formally addressed in the official rules). While I like 'Chinatown' a lot, I don't think I'd rate it quite as highly as you do.


I use my 5 minute timer from Panic on Wallstreet! and it makes Chinatown last about 45 minutes. A great way to play and the perfect time limit for trading in my opinion. The game clips along at a wonderful place.


Thanks for the review!


That's a great suggestion, Todd. I think 5 minutes is enough time to get all the deals done.

For those that don't want to use a timer, have each player who is done trading put their fist on the table with their thumb extended/raised. If there is one player who persists in trying to make a deal, but the other players indicate that they are done trading, the trading phase for that turn is over.

Chinatown is the best trading game I know of.
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Michael Frost

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Very nice review of a classic negotiating game. I think the key to both your review and my own play experience is "If you play it with the right group of gamers." In the right group... there is no one who fails to understand that to win you have to trade... people don't take too long to bargain... no one gets mad at a trade made or not made... and everyone has a basic understanding of the math behind both the trades and final outcome. Whenever I've played this with "the right group", it is a blast. But if you have one or more players who just don't get the match or can't execute a favorable trade, then you have a painful game for that person. Key is some good teaching up front. And some discussion assistance early on with any new player. There are enough rounds so that they can get it figured out in time to have fun.
 
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Peter Rabinowitz
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The thing about negotiating games is the potential for someone to take it personally. "You give that guy better trades because you like him more than me." I think in this case I'd focus less on trying to out deal my opponents and more on explaining the maths behind the offer. The game then becomes more luck driven (drawing the tile you need or that is objectively worth a lot to another player) but I think that's fine as a teaching game. Once everyone is more solid on the maths, then you can bust out the negotiating skillz.
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