Reiner Knizia is the designer behind Jumbo’s tile laying game; A 2-4 player back and forth struggle of power and influence in the Forbidden City.
Jumbo is no stranger to quality punch board components, due to their good standing within the jigsaw puzzle world. Forbidden City comes jam-packed full of strong thick punch board, with 108 square tiles (30 of each of the four colours), 84 Chinese coins - which are also victory points in values one, two, 10 and 20, a double-sided start tile and a self-assemble Imperial Temple that creates the centre piece to the playing area.
Why not look for yourself inside the box with my video below.
In Forbidden City, players start off with a stack of their own coloured tiles and draw the top one every turn into their hand. They then place the tile following these two rules; the tile must at least border on one other tile and the tile placed must be the same colour as the joining tile, unless separated by a wall.
The aim of the game is to score the most coins/points by completing rooms where you have the most advisers present. Dragons within those rooms add more points. Completing a room that is linked by an archway to another room, completed or not, also gives the player additional points, and when placed well a tile can add up many more points this way.
When each player has only two tiles left in their stack the game ends, and depending what is on those remaining tiles depends on if extra last chance points are scored.
Coins are totalled up and whoever has the highest amount, is the most powerful adviser of the Forbidden City and wins the game!
Final Thoughts on Forbidden City
Forbidden City is a good, quick, no longer than 30-minute game, that is easy to learn from a well written and laid out rulebook.
The level of strategy is medium, although at first glance looks to be lighter. As the game goes on the higher points to be scored are from the rooms that are adjacent to the room you are completing that turn, and so looking for quick wins and small rooms linked to bigger rooms with archways becomes more the focus than creating a huge room where the adviser power struggle maybe more problematic.
I think Forbidden City has a good level of replay-ability as different player counts and the shuffling of tile order will mix things up every time. Plus, after getting used to the game the Starter tile can be flipped for a more advanced start, changing gameplay up again.
Forbidden City would be a great gateway game for teaching strategy as it builds steadily throughout, but also has enough appeal for more competent players to enjoy a quick filler game.