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JKLM Interactive - Huang Di

Historical Background

The Great Wall of China (known as Chang Cheng in Chinese), is not one wall, but is actually a series of stone and earthen fortifications that were built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 6th century BC and the 16th century. The Great Wall stretches for nearly 6700 km in total, and it is estimated that 2 to 3 million Chinese died while working on the construction of the wall over the centuries. The materials used to build the wall varied greatly depending on the century and the local resources that were available. Materials such as wood, rammed earth, stone and brick were all utilised in its construction. During its peak, more than one million men were required to guard the wall.

This game takes place during the most ambitious rendering from the time of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (approximately 220-200 BC). One of my goals in designing this game was to evoke the feel of the enormous amount of resources (human and material) used in the construction of the wall, as well as the essence of the Far East. In some of my early research, many sources noted the vast amount of criminal labour used. This was done for obvious reasons, as criminals are extremely cheap labour. I must say that I am quite happy with the way that it translated into the game.

Unfortunately, little remains from this time period. The vast majority of the brick and stone Great Wall as it is seen today is a product of the Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644.

Screen Layout

The top of the screen shows the wall area. Initially it is just the wall spaces, waiting for bricks to be placed. The wall is split into provinces. Each also province contains a prison, where convicts and jade can collect, and the taskmasters which are in the province.

Below the wall are the player areas - one per player. Each player area contains, from top to bottom:

  • The player's username
  • The player's most recent petition bid (Jade bid + Petition from Favours), Score
  • The number of wall blocks held, and an emperor block if the player has one
  • The Jade, buyback chip, peasants and convicts held
  • The role cards played
  • The player's favour cards

At the bottom left is the control area. This is where the player controls the game from. To it's right is the chat area.

Playing the game

At the start of the game, each player is dealt five Favour cards, from which they must select two to discard. The main part of the game then starts.

The game is played in rounds. Each round consists of three phases.

  1. Collect Income
  2. Bid for petition
  3. Take Actions
  1. Collect Income
  2. Every player receives 3 Jade. This is completely automated in the computer version.

  3. Bid for petition
  4. Every player bids an amount of Jade. The player who bids the most wins the petition of the Emperor. This makes them the first player in the round, and gives them an Emperor Wall block to place. It also places a convict and a jade in the prison where there Taskmaster is located. Only the winning player loses the jade they bid.

    In the first round, ties are split randomly. In subsequent rounds, they are split as follows:

    1. If players gained petition from favours (see favours, below), then the player who bid the most actual jade (without favours) wins the tie.
    2. If there is still a tie, then the petition moves around the table clockwise from the previous winner until it finds a player in the tie. It will never stay with the previous petition winner in this case

  5. Take Actions
  6. Three times around the table, each player can take an action.

    The actions are split onto four role cards. Each player plays a role card and takes an action from that card. Role cards are normally only returned to the hand at the end of the round, so the three actions taken normally have to be from three different role cards.

    The role cards and actions are:

    • Recruiter
      • Recruit Peasants. You can buy 1-5 peasants for 0/1/2/4/7 jade. This action also puts a convict from the supply in the prison where your taskmaster is located.
      • Collect 5 Convicts. You gain five convicts, but lose two peasants.
      • Collect Jade. You collect 3 jade.
      • Collect from Prison. You collect all the jade and convicts from the prison where your taskmaster is located.
    • Resources
      • Buy Blocks. You can buy 1-5 wall blocks for 0/1/2/4/7 jade. This action also puts a convict from the supply in the prison where your taskmaster is located.
      • Collect Jade. You collect 3 jade.
      • Draw Favour Cards. You draw five new favour cards from the deck, keep 2 and discard the other three.
    • Builder
      • Build Wall. You can add one or two blocks of your blocks to the wall. If you build 2 blocks, it costs 1 jade. This requires 2 workers (peasants or convicts) for a level 1 block, 4 workers for level 2, 6 for level 3 and 8 for level 4. Half of all peasants and all the convicts used are lost.
      • Play a Favour card. See favour cards, below
      • Remove Block. You can remove a block from the wall. It cannot be part of a completed row, an emperor block, a level 4 block, or one of your own blocks. The block is returned to the person who built it. This action costs 1 convict for a level 1 block, 2 for level 2 and 3 for level 3.
    • Taskmaster
      • Move Taskmaster. This allows you to move your taskmaster to a different province.
      • Repeat Role. You can perform an action on a role card you've played previously. However, this costs 1 jade for an action on the recruiter role card, or 2 jade otherwise.

Emperor Blocks

If you win the petition bid, then you receive an emperor block. You can place this on the wall on any of your turns, before, during or after your main action. However, if you do not place it by the end of the round, then you lose it.

Buyback

At the end of your turn, you may have a buyback option. This occurs in two circumstances:

  • You played the taskmaster role card. In this case, the buyback option will cost you 3 jade.
  • You have a buyback chip. In this case, you must discard the chip to take the buyback option.

If you take the buyback option, then you pick up the role card you just played, and immediately play again. However, having taken a buyback option and taken a second action, you can never take a buyback option to get a third action.

Favour Cards

Each player has a number of favour cards. On the top half of the card is a wall pattern. If you build this pattern into the wall, then you can play the favour card using the Play Favour Card action on the Builder role card.

When you play a favour card, you must place a plaque on one of the wall blocks you used as part of the pattern. Wall blocks with plaques on cannot be used as part of a subsequent pattern.

Played favour cards give a combination of rewards, as shown on the bottom half of the card. From top to bottom, these are:

  • Income. During each subsequent Income phase, you get the indicated amount of extra income.
  • Petition. During each subsequent bid for petition phase, you get the indicated amount of additional petition.
  • Jade. Whenever you subsequently take the Collect Jade action, you get the indicated amount of extra jade.
  • Victory Points. You immediately get the indicated number of victory points.

End of the Game

The game ends when one of two things happens:

  • When the last wall block is built, the game ends immediately.
  • After 12/12/11/10/9 rounds in a 2/3/4/5/6 player game, the Monguls invade.

Rewards and Scoring

The following rewards are received by players:

  • The player who builds the last block in a row of 5 to complete the row in a province, receives a buyback chip.
  • The player who builds the last block to finish the game, receives all the jade and convicts from all the prisons.

Players receive Victory Points for the following:

  • When a row of 5 blocks in a province is completed, the player with the most blocks in the row scores 3/6/10 points for a level 1/2/3 row. In case of a tie, all players in the tie score.
  • When a level 4 block is built, the building player scores 5 points.
  • When a level is completed across all provinces, the player with the most blocks in the level scores 10 points. This includes level 4. In case of a tie, all players in the tie score.
  • At the end of the game, each player scores 1/3/6/10/15/21 points for having 1/2/3/4/5/6+ buyback chips.
  • At the end of the game, each player identifies the province where they built the least blocks. They score 5 points for each block they built in this province.
  • At the end of the game, the player with the most jade scores 5 points. In case of a tie, all players in the tie score.
  • At the end of the game, the player with the most workers scores 5 points. In case of a tie, all players in the tie score.
  • Players score points from favour cards played, as previously described.

The player with the most players wins. In the case of a tie, the player who built the most blocks wins.

The Online Interface

Most actions are performed by clicking buttons in the Control Area. When other actions are required, the control area contains instructions as to what to do.

Each player's last action is highlighted, usually with a border around the action they took (e.g. around the wall block they built, or around an item in their player area if they collected resources). You can also see their last action by right-clicking on their played role cards.

Right-clicking on any item will bring up more information. In particular, right-clicking on the Favour Card in a player area will display the full details of the played and unplayed favour cards. Right-clicking on a player's score will bring up a summary of the way points are scored.

Copyright (c) 2009, JKLM Games Ltd