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Subject: Chinatown: or General Tsao trades Dim Sum for Flowers rss

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Jon Anderson
United States
Grantham
Pennsylvania
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I recently received Chinatown for my birthday. Unlike some other games that seem to languish in my collection waiting for a play, this one has managed to see the light 3 times in a week and a half. Some of my thoughts on why this has happened and my impressions follow:

First, the box. I know that some people around here like to complain about box size but when I bring this thing over to the table and people take a look at it, they are already becoming immersed. I open the box and show them the nice big board with pretty graphics and they want to build these great looking businesses on it.

Photos: EndersGame

As for the rest of the components, generic wooden cubes and smallish cards. I like that the money is printed on card stock instead of something flimsy, although for $70 retail they could have included a few more $10,000's since with 5 players there are only about 5 left after initial setup.

It's a real toss up between brevity of rules and visuals that has gotten this to the table so often. I have explained the rules for this game to non-gamers, had them playing and understanding what is going on in 5 minutes. I love a good complex game, but there is just so much to be said for simplicity sometimes and Chinatown has it.

So, how does it play? Basically, get 2 sets of tiles/cards a turn and trade until everyone is done. Put tiles down if you wish. Collect money. Rinse, lather repeat x5. It really is just about that simple - mechanically. The real fun comes during the trade sessions. You absolutely must trade, and timing is everything. A $150,000 space this turn could end up being worth $20,000 in a turn or 2 (or visa versa). Screwing people over gets you nowhere, but then again you do need to turn the screws occasionally. One of the best aspects of the game is that literally every game resource is available for trade, the scope is limited only to your ability to creatively bargain.

In conclusion, what do I think? After 3 games with different groups, I've not won a single one (although I've come close) but I've enjoyed just about every minute. With most people, this is going to be a great 4-5 player game. There are a couple of player types who will not enjoy this game and or ruin a session:

1 - Overly pushy negotiators. People who feel the need to bully others into their deals. I haven't seen this, but it could easily happen.

2 - Vindictive players. "You didn't give me my deal and I'll never give you restaurants, I don't care if it makes me lose." Came close to having this happening in one game.

3 - Those who would just rather a lower interaction style of game.

So there you have it, Chinatown. If you are looking for a simple to learn, great visual, over the top interactive trading game - you have it. If you think a game isn't a game unless you can plan out your turn 3 moves ahead, maybe you should pass.
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Jason Epp
Canada
Abbotsford
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Thanks for the brief review, you've inspired me to take a closer look at this game!
 
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Tom Chappelear
United States
Kensington
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Yep, I agree. I just got my copy (thanks, Tanga!) and played for the first time this weekend. It's a very good negotiation game, enjoyed by those who loathe I'm the Boss and meaner games of the genre.

Amazingly, our game took 2.5 hours. Yeeks, we negotiated way too long, I guess. At least it was fun the entire time.
 
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Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
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tomchaps wrote:
. . . Amazingly, our game took 2.5 hours. Yeeks, we negotiated way too long, I guess. At least it was fun the entire time.


Yeow! That is a long game. Ours easily clock in at 1-1.5 hours.
 
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Simon "that sci-fi guy"
Australia
Sydney
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Eldard wrote:
tomchaps wrote:
. . . Amazingly, our game took 2.5 hours. Yeeks, we negotiated way too long, I guess. At least it was fun the entire time.


Yeow! That is a long game. Ours easily clock in at 1-1.5 hours.


Yeah when we played this with 4 it took about 50-60 mins. I viewed it as a lightish game of Traders of Genoa, which is what I'd rather be playing if it was going to go for 2 hours +.

 
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