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Subject: The Great Wall of China - A Light Review rss

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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

Summary

Game Type - Card Game
Play Time - 20-30 minutes
Number of - Players: 2-5
Mechanics - Majority Control + Card Combinations
Difficulty - Pick-up & Play
Components - Very Good (Cards are excellent but point tokens don't snap cleanly off the template leaving untidy edges)

In this Knizia offering each player is set the task of trying to build sections of the Great Wall. If you can build the greatest sections in each location you will please the Emperor and earn the victory points on offer there. The player who accumulates the most victory points by games end will win.

Like several other games by Knizia, each player has an identical deck of cards. Each deck consists of 20 cards with different values and symbols and there are 7 different types of cards, with some offering multiple copies. How a player chooses to play their cards and their timing are crucial aspects of the play.

The game is set-up by drawing a series of point tokens. They are always drawn in pairs and the number needed depends on the number of players and ensures that the game is balanced. The point tiles range from 1-8 in value and each pair represents a section of the wall that can be built (by playing cards next to a set of tiles).

Each player begins with 5 cards and their turn consists of 3 actions. At the start of their turn a player must check each wall section to check their progress. If they lead the building there (have the highest total by adding the values of all their cards they can take 1 of the point tokens and place it on one of their cards. This value must then be subtracted from their total to offer a new total. This new total is now used to compete for the remaining point token.

For example a player has the majority with a total of 9 on their cards. They take the 7 point total and place it on one of their cards. Their new total is now 2 (9-7).

This method of scoring points is what drives the play. Because each player must wait until their next turn to check their progress, it allows the other players the time to play cards. They can either play cards to take the lead in that section or at least equal your point value to deny you a point token. The trick of course is in not getting tied up in too many protracted battles. If it takes a player 12 of their cards to earn a 6 point token it will only leave them with 8 more cards to win other point tokens. In this way the game challenges each player to win as many points as possible with as few cards as they can.

Indeed clever players can often rack up a good score by spreading their cards around and picking up a number of 2nd places. This can save using a lot of cards and can still pick up good points, especially in areas where say a 4 and a 5 point tile were drawn. Using 3-4 less cards to only get 1 less point than the player winning the other tile is very worthwhile.

Of course the player who gets the first choice of point tokens does not have to take the highest valued tile and indeed may choose to take the lower tile as it will reduce their total by less. This is just one of the subtle aspects of the game that make it more intricate than it first appears and offers the players greater choice.

Once a player has checked each section they can complete their turn with actions 2 and 3. These actions simply allow a player to draw a card from their deck or play a card to a section of wall. A player could choose to draw 2 cards and play none for the turn or they could play 2 cards and draw none. The twist here is that a player can play any number of cards as 1 action if they are identical. This can make for some nice surprise plays but can also lead to card hoarding in order to hold multiple identical cards. Of course the short term penalty to drawing and not playing cards is allowing other players to pick up quick easy points!

From here it is only the different special cards and their symbols that need to be learnt. The cards featured in the image below that are described below simply offer their value to the section they are played in.



The Dragon card can be played on top of any 1 card of another player. The card underneath the Dragon ceases to exist and cannot add its value or its symbol ability to that section of wall. The only card that a Dragon cannot be played on is a card with a point token on it and it is a good defensive move to place a point token on a high valued card or a card with an important symbol ability.

The Cavalry cards are worth 2 points but they do not cost an action to play if they are played as a player's 2nd action.

The Emperor will make all cards in a line worth 1 point each instead of their printed value or the value given to them as a result of other cards (see Warrior below). Nasty indeed.

Finally the Warriors are most valuable as they are worth 1 point more than the last Warrior played (by any player) in a given section. So if 4 Warriors were played in the same section they would be worth 1, 2, 3 and 4 for a total of 10 points. Of course the risk is that if another player comes in with 2 more Warriors, they will be worth 5 and 6 for a total of 11.

When a player wins the 2nd point token in a section they are given the token and the player who had already won the 1st token takes it also. All points are kept face down to mask the scores until the end of the game and 2 new tokens are drawn to allow building at that location again.

The game ends when all tokens have been won or any 1 player plays his last card from their deck, which allows all other players 1 final turn.

The Final Word

The Great Wall of China is a great little filler game that is fast to learn and can be played in under 30 minutes. The trick is to win as many points as possible by playing as few cards as possible, so drawn out battles are not desirable.

The quality of the cards is very high using vivid colour, nice visuals and a matte finish to ensure the game stands up to many plays.

The fun is in discovering the card combinations to gain victory in each situation. Find these and play them with perfect timing and you will delight in watching your opponents squirm in their seat!

This is a lighter game in the Silverline Series by Fantasy Flight but recommended for card game and fans.
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Simon Johnston
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Warriors
Quote:
Finally the Warriors are most valuable as they are worth 1 point more than the last Warrior played (by any player) in a given section. So if 4 Warriors were played in the same section they would be worth 1, 2, 3 and 4 for a total of 10 points. Of course the risk is that if another player comes in with 2 more Warriors, they will be worth 5 and 6 for a total of 11.
That's not how Warriors work, each player scores their warriors seperately. In your example the 'other player' scores 3 for his two warriors (1+2)

[Though re-reading the FF English rules, the section on Warriors doesn't really make that clear. The translation of the German rules here on BGG makes it clear that warrior bonuses are based on warriors of the same colour.]
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ShepparCon was a Blast!
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Ok so the question is this -

Is this just a poorly written rule or was their an intentional change in the rule for the FFG edition.

Certainly having a Warrior (sorry Infantry) worth +1 more than the last infantry (regardless of colour) makes the decision to play them more difficult. It rewards players who play them later and makes a dragon even more valuable.

I'm not sure which interpretation I like better to be honest.
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Sheamus Parkes
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I would say it's poorly written rules. I can't see Knizia designing a game with current values almost impossible to interpret. If 3 different players play Infantry to one location, how can you later keep track of how much they are worth?
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