There were just four of us this week and Mark K had brought along his new copy of At the Gates of Loyang, so we decided to give that a try. Guy and Mark K had both played before although they discovered a couple of errors in how they played last time.
This is another farming game from Uwe Rosenberg and this time players are harvesting crops to satisfy the needs of regular and casual customers and thereby gain sufficient cash to push them higher up a progress ladder. At the end of the 9 game turns, whoever is highest up the ladder wins. The meat of the game revolves around acquiring good cards during the card selection phase of the game. The cards provide players with regular customers, casual customers, market stalls for trading crops, additional fields for planting crops and action cards that give various advantages often at the expense of your 'partner' for the turn. Players then manipulate their position to gain income, which can then be exchanged for progress points with each further progress step costing a greater amount of cash.
Even though there were only 9 turns, each was fairly involved and took a while to resolve. Cashing in to jump a step seemed to make sense most of the time providing you still had some cash to work with. The game worked pretty well for me although the variety of action cards in play at any one time seemed to slow things down as you needed to keep checking what other people had to see if you could take advantage or if others could take advantage of you. All four of us moved up the ladder pretty consistently with a player who fell behind on one turn tending to be able catch up on the next. I was, therefore, not surprised that it was virtually neck-and-neck at the end with three of us on level 18 and Guy just falling a couple of coins short of being able to join us. So, it all came down to coins remaining and Nige ended up winning the tie-break with 17 to Mark K's 8 and my 1. Good game.