Turnips, Cabbage, Beans, and More At the Gates of Loyang

February 1, 2021 | Sessions | 2 comments

Journey along the path of prosperity with a variety of vegetables and valuable customers in At the Gates of Loyang.

Time for a return to a classic! It’s been years since I last played At the Gates of Loyang, yet it was definitely time to try my skills at planting and harvesting fields. The core mechanics are generally straightforward, but to reach some of the highest spaces on the path of prosperity requires a lot of experience. At long last, I was ready to return to Loyang!

Game Overview

Game Name: At the Gates of Loyang
Publication Year:
2009
Designer:
Uwe Rosenberg
Artists:
Klemens Franz and Scott Hartman
Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game

All of the wooden vegetables make the game stand out! It seems simple enough… Grow various vegetables and sell them to customers. Not so fast, though. Finding the right balance is no easy task. And there’s never enough of that certain thing. But at least I had mountains of turnips!

Getting Ready for Plenty of Farming in At the Gates of Loyang
R

First Play

April 22, 2019

Complexity

3

Latest Play

February 6, 2021

Expansions

0

Setup Time

5 Minutes

Lifetime Plays

18

Play Time

35 Minutes

:

High Score

18

1

Game Area

30" x 22"

;

Low Score

11

The Road is Long

Victory points are tracked along the path of prosperity. This is probably my only game where a single point makes a huge difference. 17? Good. 18? Absolutely amazing!

At the end of each round, the first step always costs just 1 coin. Beyond that, it costs the printed amount. So going up to space 3 costs just 4 coins (1+3). Not bad at all!

Later on, though, the amount needed increases very quickly. It’s vital to build up an income source early on.

Some rounds might have just a single space of progress… Or even less. Prosperity isn’t easy, nor cheap.

A Far Gaze Up the Path of Prosperity in At the Gates of Loyang

Market Cards

Many different types of cards provide potential benefits and income. Casual and regular customers request specific vegetables. In exchange, they offer precious coins.

Market stalls provide ways to trade vegetables, fields offer new but expensive places to plant, and characters present unique abilities. So many options to choose from!

I still have a lot to learn with the market cards. It’s hard to justify spending 2 coins when the top row is free…

But that’s part of the strategy. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend more now for a much greater gain in the future.

Considering What to Purchase from the Cards in At the Gates of Loyang

Acceptable Prosperity

This initial attempt resulted in me falling just shy of 17 victory points. Not a great outing, but also not too bad!

I struggled a little bit in the beginning as I grasped the concepts again. So I wasn’t unhappy with this ending. I was also just 2 coins short of moving up once more. No!

The flow of play was very smooth, which I forgot about. I had a lot of choices to make and didn’t feel locked into a single path. Yet each round progressed with little upkeep.

I was only sad that I didn’t have a lot of regular customers. My vegetables couldn’t cut it! So it was back to space 1.

Finishing Appropriately Well on the Path of Prosperity in At the Gates of Loyang

The Regulars

Well, I changed things up and went for a ton of regular customers with my next outing! It happened a little later, though, while I struggled to form any income early on.

Some of the characters helped out with early harvests and bonuses. I remembered the ability to purchase a pair of cards, often for free or a mere 1 coin. Worth it every time!

But I still fell short. The positive was how I used up all of my harvested vegetables for the regular customers.

It was only a shame no casual customers came out. They would have been worth a lot of coins! Alas, not today.

Making a Living Off of the Many Regular Customers in At the Gates of Loyang

Session Overview

Play Number: 13 and 14
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Outcome: 16.88 and 16.76 (2 Losses)

So close! Note that the fractional part of my score indicates how close I was to the next space. This was either 13 or 15 coins out of the needed 17. Not a bad outing for my first time playing in years! There’s certainly an optimization puzzle here, although the variety with the market cards kept everything very fresh for me. I’ll be continuing on with a deeper dive into the strategies to see if I might be able to reach the 17 or 18 space. Maybe 19?!

Getting So Close to Moving Another Space in At the Gates of Loyang

%

10 Plays

Affordability

Price & Value

9

Functionality

Challenges & Mechanics

10

Originality

Design & Theme

5

Quality

Components & Rules

9

Reusability

Achievement & Enjoyment

7

Variability

Distinctness & Randomness

6

+ Pros (Positives)

  • The sequence of play is intuitive, simple to follow, and quick with almost no downtime between rounds.
  • Each type of vegetable has high-quality wooden components that fit directly on the marked card spaces.
  • Most elements are known ahead of time so that there is not a major reliance on luck, but rather strategy.
  • Every space on the path of prosperity has a cost and it feels like the work put into serving customers is worth it.
  • Buying and selling vegetables usually takes place in a space where supply and demand are accurately depicted.
  • Although the goal is to advance the most, final scores typically fall within a small range without any failures.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • Advancing to the highest spaces often requires careful management that can feel akin to analysis paralysis.
  • The box size is unnecessarily large compared to the included components, and the insert is minimally useful.
  • Many thematic elements exist, but these often disappear in the quest for more coins for the path of prosperity.
  • Cards of the same type can expand the play area more than might be expected for the quick pace of play.

More At the Gates of Loyang

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Victory Conditions

Score 17+ Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 67% 67%

Goals and Milestones

R

Score at least 17 points.

R

Score at least 18 points.

Q

Score at least 19 points.

Continue the Conversation

What do you enjoy about At the Gates of Loyang? This fell off my radar for a long time, yet I can definitely see it making a comeback for the moment! Have you had any luck with reaching the top of the path of prosperity? I know I plan to keep working towards better scores. There might be a few slight changes in strategy, yet that’s the fun of it!

2 Comments

  1. It is a great game, very smooth, and still available at retail. I am surprised that the designer, Uwe Rosenberg, never designed an expansion for this game.

    Reply
    • Interesting thoughts! As much as I often enjoy expansions, there are some games that feel complete without having anything additional to buy. This one is so well-balanced and enjoyable that I think anything more might complicate it and take away from the enjoyment. But that’s just me: Who knows what might have been?

      Reply

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