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Subject: Mina's Not-So-Mini Review - Dadaocheng With 2 rss

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Milena Guberinic
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Mina's Not-So-Mini Review - Dadaocheng With 2




The Overview


In Dadaocheng, players take on the roles of foreign traders in 19th/20th-century Dadaocheng, Taiwan. Throughout the course of the game, they obtain resources from a variable market and then use those resources to buy various buildings in Dadaocheng or ship those resources off to far-away lands.

To set up the game, the 4 black resource discs are placed in the 4 corners of the market and the remaining resource disc colors are randomly arranged on the board with their "sun" sides face up.



The ship cards are separated into 3 levels and shuffled (Junk Boats, Small Steamboats, and Large Steamboats).

Buildings are separated according to their types (Mansion, Store, Market, Workshop, and Opium Den). In a 2-player game, 3 of each of Stores, Markets, and Workshops are used and 1 Opium Den is used.

The Historical Event Card, "1851 The first commercial store was opened in Dadaocheng" is put aside, the remaining events are shuffled, and the 1851 event is placed on top.

Each player gets a player card that corresponds to the color of the storehouse closest to him. Unused player boards are used to cover their corresponding storehouses, as those will not be used.



A black cube is placed on the round track and the dice are placed on the "Temple."



A 2-player game of Dadaocheng plays out over 10 rounds, each of which is divided into 4 phases.

1) Plan
This phase involves the market. The player must perform 2 movements, which can be any combination of swapping the positions of any 2 resource discs and flipping any 1 resource disc.

2) Collect and stock resources
Collect - First, the player looks at the market board to find any and all orthogonal lines of 3 or 4 adjacent identically colored resources discs. For each orthogonal line of 3 identically colored resource discs, the player collects 1 resource of that color. For each orthogonal line of 4 identically colored resource discs, the player collects 2 resources of that color.

Stock - One resource cube of the corresponding color is added to each and every storehouse space adjacent to one of these orthogonal lines of identically colored resource discs.

Corruption - Any storehouse spaces that now hold 3 or more resource cubes are emptied of all resources. The trader got too greedy!

Exhaustion - The lines of 3 or 4 orthogonal adjacent identically colored resources are now flipped to their opposite sides.

3) Collect full house reward
Now each and every player checks his storehouses to determine whether they can recover some resources from a storehouse. Having at least 1 resource cube in each of the 4 resource cubes allows a player to select 1 of those storehouses and take all resource cubes therein.

4) Make purchases and perform actions
At this point, a player can take any of the following actions:

*Buy ship cards - Pay the depicted resources to take a ship card. Some of the higher-level ship cards also have credit requirements, meaning that a player must have cards that provide a certain number of credits prior to acquiring the ship.



*Buy building cards - Pay the depicted resources and take the building card into your tableau. Only one Store, Market, Workshop and Opium Den may be bought per turn and the abilities of these cards may be used once per turn.



*Use the Temple - Pay 2 resource cubes to roll 3 dice and take the corresponding resource cubes or pay 1 white resource cube to roll 2 dice and take the corresponding resource cubes



*Exchange any 2 resources for any other 1 resource cube

*Execute Historical Event card - Use the Historical Event of the round



Opium is a wild resource that can be used in place of any other resource. However, every time a player uses an opium cube as a wild resource, he must indicate the opium used by moving a black cube up one space on the opium track of his player card.

At the end of his turn, a player may keep no more than 6 resources for the next round.

At the end of the round, a new Historical Event Card is revealed.

At the end of the game, players get points for:
*Shipping cards
*Building cards
*1 VP per 5 credits
*-1 VP for each used black cube
*A player who owns an Opium Den loses the number of VP equivalent to the total number of opium cubes used by all players divided by the number of players
*If the 1920 Event comes into play during the game, the player who has built the most buildings gets 5 VP



The Review


Played prior to review: 4x




1. The artwork is a dream
The artwork is just so pleasing! It has an Asian stationary store vibe and I love it. I could stare at it all day.

2. Plays very well and very quickly with 2
The 2-player game of Dadaocheng works fantastically well and it's quite quick. We get it done in about 45 minutes, which is perfect for a game of this weight.

The only changes to the 2-player version are the exclusion of a certain number of building cards for each deck and the exclusion of 2 storehouses. And those are all the changes that are needed. The game works perfectly well and probably the most well at the 2-player count. The reason I am going so far as to say that the game is probably best with 2 players without having played with more is that I think that more players would add too much time to the game and make the resource acquisition portion too chaotic for me. Dadaocheng is a relatively light and tactical game. There isn't much you can be doing between turns, especially if the resource board is going to drastically change from one turn to the next (which would be the case with more players involved), so more players would mostly just mean more sitting around time. That said, more players would bring more storehouses into the game and add to the complexity of the puzzle you are faced with each turn, but I don't think the added bit of puzzle would be worth it for me. There's a wonderful strategic back and forth in the 2-player game and I wouldn't give that up for anything.

3. High replay value
The replay value of this game has two sources. The first is skill in manipulating the resource-acquisition puzzle. Trying to get better at that portion of the game is like trying to get better at chess - it takes time and practice and warrants many sessions of play.

The second is the event deck. Not all cards in the event deck will appear in every game and the order in which they appear will be random. This means that the same strategy will not be the best strategy in every game. Mansions might be the better source of points in one game if they are bolstered by the 1920 scoring bonus and/or the event that reduces the cost of Mansions for a round and/or the event that allows players to turn two building cards into Mansions, but ships might be a better source of points if these events do not come into play. It's probably a good idea to try to straddle both worlds until events that lead you in one direction or another show up. Also, the Opium Den might make for a good investment if the event cards that allow you to reduce the number of opium cubes used appear...A lot of variety in the way the game plays out is created by the unpredictable events.

4. Very interesting resource-acquisition puzzle
I love the resource acquisition portion of this game. It's an intense puzzle that can really wreak havoc on your brain cells! Abstract games like the resource-acquisition puzzle portion of Dadaocheng are generally uninteresting to me, but the fact the puzzle is a means to an end really gets me motivated to do it.

I have not played a million abstract games like some people have, so I cannot compare the resource-acquisition portion of Dadaocheng to any other game. The fact that the tiles are flipped over once a row/column has been used and the fact that players have to consider not only the income they will receive from creating rows/columns, but the income their opponents will receive are very interesting aspects of Dadaocheng's resource-acquisition puzzle. These aspects add much for players to consider when trying to select the best moves. Players must think about the colors of the tiles they are lining up not only when these tiles are face up during their own turn, but also the colors of the tiles they will become when they are flipped to their opposite sides in order to prevent giving their opponents a resource advantage.

Trying to corrupt opponents and preventing yourself from getting corrupted (i.e. losing all resources from a storehouse containing 3 or more resources) is another challenge and encourages strategically removing resources from certain storehouses.

The entire puzzle is quite an intricate affair. I did not expect for it to be quite as involved as it is, but I love how involved it is!

5. Playing around with the various buildings is fun
I really love the building powers in Dadaocheng and I love trying to optimize the buildings I buy to my strategy. The powers are not wildly exciting (turn one cube into another, reduce the number of green cubes required to buy a ship, block off one storehouse space in your storehouses to make the Full House Reward easier to obtain, turn one opium into 2 resource cubes), but trying to find the best combination and racing for multiples of the good ones (the Market, that allows you to turn one resource cube into another color is a great one to collect in multiples) is fun. The Opium Den is also a lot of fun (turn one opium into 2 resource cubes), but you end up having to take even more negative points for using it, so there's a tradeoff.

6. The gambling is fun
I mentioned the Opium Den above. The Opium Den and opium in general are a bit of a gamble. You might get lucky and happen upon an event or two that allows you and all players to reduce the number of opium cubes used, making it possible to use more opium with less of a negative impact on your final VP, or you might never see such an event. So taking an opium den or using a lot of opium is a gamble and a tradeoff. It's powerful during the game, but it's painful at the end of it.

The Temple is another fun place to visit because monks promote gambling! Rolling dice to multiply or lose your resources makes for an interesting decision point in the game. It certainly does make the game a bit lighter than it would be otherwise, but I appreciate the option and it's one that is used quite often in our games. We always have a laugh when a 1 and a 6 (i.e. you get nothing!) are rolled.

The risk taking in Dadaocheng is also not at all frustrating. It's a conscious decision I have made and I have to live with the consequences. The game never imposes this on you; you take your own chances.

7. Simple rules, brain burning gameplay
Dadaocheng features very simple rules that belie the heft of the puzzle involved.



soblue


soblue 1. The various parts of the game don't gel together perfectly
Dadaocheng doesn't feel cohesive. There is the resource acquisition puzzle, then there are the events, then there are the buildings/ships you can acquire with your resources, and then there is the gambling den, as I like to call it, and all these parts feel somewhat disconnected from each other. That's not really a knock against the game because all those parts are fun both separately and together, but the game just doesn't feel like a smooth, cohesive whole...That's just a nitpick that doesn't really adversely affect my enjoyment of the game, but it's something to consider.

soblue 2. Not the best game for those susceptible to over analysis
I wouldn't want to play with Dadaocheng with someone who likes to consider the ultimate outcome of every eventuality before taking a move. The resource acquisition puzzle is very interesting and very fun, BUT ONLY IF YOU AREN'T SITTING AROUND WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO THINK THROUGH HIS MOVE FOR 20 MINUTES!

soblue 3. The rulebook is written in Engrish, but it's comprehensible
We did many things incorrectly in our first game, but we wrote it off as a pure learning experience. We had to consult the rulebook a number of times and make the most logical interpretation of the rules at several points, but we managed to get everything cleared up by the end of our first game.



Final Word


Dadaocheng is a wonderful game. I was expecting to enjoy it from what I saw of it prior to acquiring it, but I was not expecting to enjoy it quite as much as I did. I'm not typically a fan of abstract games, but the combination of tableau building with the abstract resource-acquisition puzzle in Dadaocheng makes it very interesting. The myriad of special powers granted by the buildings create some interesting decision points and tradeoffs. The bit of gambling that takes place in the game also adds some pizzazz and isn't frustrating at all. Overall, Dadaocheng is a beautiful, well-produced game with broad appeal. It's just too bad it isn't more widely available.

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart SOME LOVE




Mina's Love Meter


Burn it! - I dislike this game so much that it makes me angry. (I rate these 4 or less on the BGG scale)
Dislike - I don't like this game, but I can see why others like it.
(5 on BGG scale)
heart Some like - I find this game somewhat appealing, but it doesn't really grab me. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try this game, but it is unlikely to stay in my collection for very long.
(5.5 to 6.5) on BGG scale)
heart heart Like - I like this game and appreciate the design. I am happy to play this game occasionally when the mood strikes and enjoy doing so.
(7 to 7.5 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart Some love - I love this game. It's not perfect, but it really appeals to me and I will play it frequently.
(7.5 to 8 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart Lots of love - I really love this game. The design really speaks to me. I want to play it most of the time.
(8 to 9 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart heart All love all the time - I ADORE this game and can see myself playing it many times and for many years. I would go to sleep clutching it in my arms and want to play it all day every day...only not literally because that would be insane.
(9 to 10 on BGG scale)


To see my other reviews, visit this geeklist.

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Chien-Tsun Chen
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That's a nice and long mini review. Thanks! meeple
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Taye T
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Always excited to see reviews from you.
Keep up the good work.
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bort
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What a beautiful looking game
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Jason Miller
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Could you tell us whom you contacted to get this game? You've piqued my interest in this.
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Milena Guberinic
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smoox wrote:
That's a nice and long mini review. Thanks! meeple

Thanks! It's a "not so mini" one!
 
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Milena Guberinic
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Angeli5 wrote:
Always excited to see reviews from you.
Keep up the good work.

Thank you, Taye!
 
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Milena Guberinic
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bortmonkey wrote:
What a beautiful looking game

The artist is truly gifted. I adore the artwork.
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Milena Guberinic
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laserjudas wrote:
Could you tell us whom you contacted to get this game? You've piqued my interest in this.

I will GM you!
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