Gùgōng (the Forbidden City) is a strategic euro game by accomplished designer Andreas Steding (Hansa Teutonica, Firenze…) with fabulous art by Andreas Resch (Istanbul, Great Western Trail…). It takes 1 to 5 players and plays in 20 to 25 minutes per player (average time of +/- 90′).
China, 1570. China is under the reign of the Longqing Emperor, of the Ming Dynasty. The Emperor has inherited a country in disarray after years of mismanagement and corruption. Realising the depth of chaos his father’s long reign had caused, the Longqing Emperor set about reforming the government by re-employing talented officials previously banished by his father.
The country was already famous for its very intricate bureaucracy, but this also led to a lot of corruption. However, the Longqing Emperor tried to eradicate corruption as much as he could, by simply having it officially prohibited, and punishable by death.
This measure seemed successful at first, but as we all know, it is not so simple to keep perfect control over one’s “loyal” subjects. At the imperial court, the highest officials would pretend to uphold the ban on corruption, and instead of simply accepting money, a new custom saw the light of day: the exchange of gifts.
Gùgōng is played in 4 rounds, symbolised by 4 Days. Each Day consists of 3 Phases:
- The Morning Phase, where players prepare the game for the coming Day.
- The Day Phase, where players perform multiple actions.
- The Evening Phase, where players check if they have successfully matched cards in their discard pile with the Destiny Dice.
When it’s your turn in the Day Phase, you exchange a gift card on the board with a card of higher value from your hand.
Alternatively, you can also pay two Servants in order to exchange a gift card …
… OR discard another card of equal or lower value:
When playing the right card a player may perform two actions: the action depicted on your card and the action of the chosen location.
Players can choose between 7 different actions:
- THE PALACE OF HEAVENLY PURITY: Progress towards the Palace of Heavenly Purity and reach an Audience with the Emperor before the end of the 4th Day.
- TRAVEL: Send your Traveller to cities throughout China to collect taxes for the Longqing Emperor, which come in all shapes and sizes.
- THE GREAT WALL: Participate in the construction of the Great Wall of China. This will allow you to take part in the Intrigue Benefits and potentially gain VPs and move your Envoy towards the Palace of Heavenly Purity.
- JADE: Buy precious Jade stones to score VPs at the end of the game.
- INTRIGUE: Climb up on the Intrigue track, which counts as a tie-breaker for all comparisons with your opponents in the game. Or you can gain one of the Intrigue Benefits whenever you help to complete the Great Wall.
- DECREES: Gain special Decree advantages during the entire game and/or VPs.
- THE GRAND CANAL: Send your Servants on a journey on the Grand Canal, to trade with people outside of Beijing. This will grant you all sorts of permanent rewards.
At the end of the 4th Day, players receive additional VPs according to their achievements. The player with the most Victory points at the end of the game is declared the most influential Chinese Family and wins the game.
But watch out! Players who don’t manage to get their Envoy into the Palace of Heavenly Purity by the end of the game, won’t be eligible to win the game.
Comparing Standard Version and Deluxe Edition: