Review: Qin – land of pagodas, a symbol of power

Qin - packaging

How can a ruler show his true superiority and power? There are executions and wars with neighboring countries. But it would be nice to have a peaceful solution to top it all – in the form of magnificent buildings. And in China, these buildings were represented 2000 years ago by pagodas. With its several pendent roofs, it looks really majestic.

And by using them, you will compete also in the board game made by and eggertspiele. Its author is well-known and popular name , author of Ingenious or Euphrat and Tigris, which is quite similar to Qin. This again indicates fact, that this designer starts recently to steal his own ideas rather, than trying to come up with something new and original. But that does not mean, Qin is a bad game. Its publishing in was accompanied by illustrations by .

Game is hidden in a box lined with Chinese and birds, but everything is dominated by a giant pagoda. With the promise, you will start famous Qin Dynasty with your actions, you open the box and embrace it. It all starts with double sided game board – one side is with bird (for beginners), and second one with lion. Both sides are divided into small squares, and there is altogether 169 of them (13×13). Board differ seemingly only in distribution of starting positions, but there is more to it: main reason is especially in the location of villages and other geographical features.

Qin - game is ready

You will need only two components to start playing. Pile comprising of 72 two-pieces of provinces in six different species, combining red, yellow and blue in all possible ways. These are quite common things, comparing it to the other component. Players become owners of pagodas. There is enough of plastic pieces for everybody – each of the opponents gets 24 of them, with brings total to 96 in four colors (green, purple, black and white). They look attractive all by themselves, but you will certainly get even more interested, when you discover fact, that you can place them on top of each other to form double deck pagoda. This has a very important meaning in the actual game.

And that’s all, so you can begin immediately with game preparation. First, according to our experience, you should turn game board with beginners side up. Each player gets three pieces kept in secret from the shuffled deck. He will start play with them. The rest creates offer (with images down) for the further course of the game. Then players take the pagoda in their color of preference. The amount available for each participant depends on the total number of players in the game – with two you get all 24, while in four, each player must compete with only 15 pagodas.

Now the game is ready and construction can begin. On your turn, you have only one option – to choose a piece from your hand and add it to the board. Color of the province, you attach it to, does not matter. But they must be connected with at least one side to existing built-up area. At the beginning, you start building on the drawn starting provinces that are on different sides.

Qin - game in progress

Putting province down is only the first part of your turn. On its position are based your other obligations. Usual situation is, that you create new province or expand existing one. To create a new area, at least two pieces of the same color must be adjacent to each other for the first time. If you are maker of this new province, you can mark your right by putting one of your pagodas on any space of it.

Extending province is simply placing same color to an already occupied area. It’s up to you, if you even enlarge opponent’s area with this action. Otherwise, nothing happens until the moment, when province grows to five or more boxes. This area is referred to as a major province. You will mark it again, this time with putting a pagoda in the second floor. See? We told you it has an important purpose to stack them.

Your main and fundamental task is seizure of villages. They are on the board marked in gray and have different graphics. And they are an important way to victory. Once your province extends and becomes adjacent to a village (they share at least one side with it), you can claim it for yourself. But of course, only if someone did not do it sooner.

Qin - game in progress

This self-expanding empire is nice, but it will not last for long. Sooner or later, you get into a struggle with your rivals. Then it comes to battles for many villages. Ordinary people always lean to the stronger leader. Your strength is determined by number of your pagodas in that neighbouring area. It is therefore clear, that if a player connects area with lots of buildings to your village, he gets more power there and is therefore their new ruler. He can replace your pagodas with his.

Last ways for something to change owner during game, is connection of several provinces of the same color into one. In such situation, only the surviving player with most pagodas in this newly created area (each floor counts as one new building), can remain there.

Here comes one fundamental rule into effect, you may never join province in a situation, where there is a tie in the number of pagodas in each of them. On the contrary, a major provinces with five or more fields are safe, because no one can absorb them. On the other side, that does not mean, that you can not use such areas to capture some small and weak neighboring provinces!

Qin - board detail

At the end of your turn, after laying a tile and evaluation of all its effects, you draw one new piece. This gives you again a choice from three two-tiles for your next turn. Game continues until someone put all their pagodas on the board. Game may as well end up by running out of tiles. While in the first case wins player, which got rid of all his buildings, in the second option is number of laid pagodas a determining factor and marks a winner.

Qin is a simple tactical game, that will please all lovers of thoughtful games. It is charmingly simple and fun, and to the very end balanced. This seems like a quite sufficient evaluation, but lets get a little deeper.

Luck factor in the form of random pieces in hand is not as decisive. There are only three colors, you can combine them from. And since you are not limited to areas of any specific color, but only to pagodas of your color, you do not have any problem of playing a tile in any round. This continues also with no restriction for putting the tile on the plan, when you do not have to follow color of its neighbours, only continue to expand an already built-up area.

Qin - game in progress

In fact, it could be called as a combination of advanced Dominoes and Carcassonne. But certainly some level of similarity does not hurt and can not be taken as a negative trait. All elements of gameplay are linked very cleverly and Qin have a great chance to become really popular, though its essentially an abstract game. This can bother some players as the biggest con.

The game offers plenty of opportunities to influence not only your own, but also the opponent’s outcome. With conquering villages and possibility of capturing provinces, you can reverse even the most pesimistic development. It is therefore not good to let your attention slip away, even when you think, you already have victory in the bag.

Qin also excels in short game time. A duel is a matter for twenty minutes and therefore it is even possible to play more than one game, before declaring a winner (for example each on one side of the board). This washes out every last doubt about that little bit of luck in the draw segments, which could affect your victory in one, but not several consecutive plays.

Qin - tiles

While the game is really tactical in two players, there may be a minor problem with more players. The winner can basically be decided by a player, who already has no chance of winning. This is called a kingmaking in world of board games. And its not good..

Yes, it’s a simple game and theme was glued to the game at the last moment. But does it matter? With this experience, its interesting to say, that actually not really. Fans of abstract games will greatly enjoy this jewel. In contrast, fans of other types of board games as well should not avoid Qin and at least try to find pleasure in it. It really deserves a chance from everyone.

Guarantee of unrepeatable games is not just in random drawing of tiles, but also in two sides of the board, which offer different experience. Starting position and villages are distributed quite differently, which helps to feel anew.

Qin - pagodas

Qin perfected not only the combination of simple mechanisms, but also beautiful graphics and workmanship. From figures pagodas to detailed illustrations sided board its really nice. It is not game for everyone, but if someone has a soft spot for abstract games, then this is an excellent choice to enjoy some great battles over simple guidelines.

DesignerReiner Knizia
ArtistDennis Lohausen
Publishereggertspiele, Delta Vision Publishing, Gigamic,, Pegasus Spiele, R&R Games, White Goblin Games
Year Published2012
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4 players
(60 voters)
Playing Time30
Mfg Suggested Ages8 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(8 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(12 voters)
CategoryAbstract Strategy, Ancient, Territory Building
MechanicArea Majority / Influence, Enclosure, Hand Management, Tile Placement
ExpansionQin: Toad and Dragon Turtle Game Boards
FamilyCountry: China
Primary NameQin

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: Qin – land of pagodas, a symbol of power
Final word
Qin is a logical game, where you fight for land. Newly developed area is owned first by its creator, but it can change its owner and be devoured. And it may grow and become a large province, with major power. At the same time, players are fighting for favour of village citizens, which turn to the most powerful neighbour and allow him to place his pagoda there. Also these villages can change rulers throughout the game. Whoever manages to place his last pagoda first is the winner. Beautiful miniatures of these buildings are garnish of Qin and also the first reason, why you will want to try out this game. Fortunately, you will discover there is more to it during match - large tactical potential, while maintaining really simple and elementary rules. Thanks to this, Qin is suitable for family game in the same way like for dramatic rivalry.
Reader Rating0 Votes
excellent processing, pagodas are stackable
really a family game, suitable for children
situation on board is changing quickly
two-sided board
you can choose, where to play every turn, because tiles are not in your colors
tense up to the end
short gametime
there is not enough atmosphere
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