At the Gates of Loyang with a Clever Hedgehog Family

February 3, 2021 | Sessions | 4 comments

Plant and harvest vegetables in At the Gates of Loyang to become a prosperous merchant with a variety of customers.

If there was anything I learned from my recent foray back into At the Gates of Loyang, it’s how excellent the game is. There isn’t anything flashy here… Aside from those mountains of wooden vegetables! Yet this is clearly a classic in my collection. I set out to try my luck at reaching one of the highest spaces on the path of prosperity. Onward to success!

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

This is no glamor shot… I really did dive right in, and what do you know? I made it to 18 victory points! This was far from easy. The game is all about managing fields, picking the right assortment of customers, and other optimization choices. What an accomplishment this was to start out!

Reaching the Coveted 18 Space 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

Coordinated Colors

As I looked back at my victory, it struck me that the play area always looked beautiful. The colors really popped but also mingled nicely together. What a cheerful farm!

I made use of the 2-pack option a lot by limiting my market stalls and hired characters. There was some luck there, but I also had to turn down a lot of options.

Keeping a steady stream of regular customers also allowed me to serve a few casual customers with the bonus coins.

Not that I was close to moving up another space, yet there were some leftover coins. 19 or 20 might be possible soon!

A Glorious Color Scheme and Set of Customers in At the Gates of Loyang

Suspicious Footprints

With that victory, I needed to clean up and get ready to try for an even higher score! But suddenly, out of nowhere…

Tiny, snowy footprints! Pay no attention to the fact that some might classify these as cabbages. That’s simply not a fact and absolutely foolish talk. Right? Ha ha!

I knew something was afoot. There was no question that I was being watched by some adorable little critters.

But first, it was time to get everything going again! The setup actually isn’t too bad, aside from the moments when I have to get everything perfectly lined up in the market.

Distracted by a Bunch of Tabletop Footprints from At the Gates of Loyang

Too Many Stalls

This time, things didn’t pan out very well. I got roped into the trap of buying too many market stalls. This helped with early vegetable trading but was a later burden.

The option of buying a 2-pack for 3 or 4 coins was simply not feasible. Sure, that might have been worth it, but this is a game where every coin is vital for advancing.

I also blame the turnips. They were everywhere and I barely needed them. You can never trust them. Ha!

So it was a little bit of a letdown, even though I still ended up with a respectable spot on the path of prosperity.

Relying Too Much on Market Stalls in At the Gates of Loyang

Perfect Planning

Still, I managed to pull off a pretty nice final round with the help of the saleswoman. I had a casual customer just sitting there until I could get 2 regular customers…

With this combination, I picked up a handy 14 coins! That was my best immediate haul yet and certainly helped.

This is what I love about the game, too: You never know how everything will turn out at the start. My casual customer wasn’t this valuable until I bought this card.

So although I ended up with only 16 victory points, there were still some small victories to enjoy!

Selling to the Right Customer for a Major Bonus in At the Gates of Loyang

Harvest Helpers

A-ha! I knew these Calico Critters would stop by for some fun! I gladly handed over as many turnips as I could to this little fellow. He was delighted by his tiny mountain!

I had to admire my other harvester, though. She had the smarts to read the rules and understand that you only took a single pumpkin at a time. Nicely done, and orderly!

Their unofficial supervisor may have made off with a few bushels of wheat that went missing… Hungry, indeed.

But I realized that these hedgehogs hadn’t been out in the snow. So where could those footprints have come from?!

Getting a Little Help with the Pumpkins and Turnips from the Calico Critters in At the Gates of Loyang

Hedgehog Day

Why, of course! Groundhog Day was celebrated the other day with the prediction of a long winter. A very clever hedgehog decided to see if that would truly be the case!

So apparently February 3rd is now Hedgehog Dog, at least for the tiny, tabletop variety that tends to visit constantly.

He started on the path of prosperity only to quickly turn around and look out for his shadow. Those snowy tracks were still there and covered in darkness. More winter!

But at least there are clear skies ahead. And if you’re a hedgehog, it’s usually a good day filled with fun antics.

Footprints and a Hedgehog Shadow Along the Path of Prosperity in At the Gates of Loyang

Session Overview

Play Number: 15 and 16
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Outcome: 18.42 and 16.71 (1 Win and 1 Loss)

As I said, fun antics! I may not have achieved back-to-back wins, but this was still a time to celebrate by diving into all the vegetables. I guess this is where they’ll be hibernating until spring arrives! While I was still on the fence about whether or not to keep this game, I think it’s quite clear that it’s not going anywhere. The challenge is difficult but attainable and all of the mechanics work so smoothly. I may yet reach 19 or 20 victory points someday!

Celebrating the Harvest with Hedgehogs and Vegetables 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)

  • Total play time usually clocks in around 35 minutes and never drags on as each round provides opportunities.
  • Very little luck is involved with scoring well because the optimization puzzle relies on sound planning.
  • The wooden vegetables are charming and look lovely, but they also work well in terms of fitting on the cards.
  • At its heart, the game offers a realistic economic simulation with supply and demand that works excellently.
  • Each character has a unique ability that is most useful in certain situations so the choices are never dull.
  • For the general flow of play and the path of prosperity, there is a surprisingly enjoyable and variable experience.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • Considering the number of components, the box is entirely enormous and misleading about its actual contents.
  • There is likely a point when gameplay feels too repetitive and this doesn’t seem like a game to play all the time.
  • Luck plays a small overall role, but when a certain type of card doesn’t come out, it can be very frustrating.
  • The difference in home fields and market fields can be easy to miss when sorting face-up cards during cleanup.

More At the Gates of Loyang

Explore related posts about At the Gates of Loyang!

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

Is At the Gates of Loyang in your collection? What are some of your fondest memories during play? It’s not something I thought I would have enjoyed so much, yet there it is! Play time flies by in a way that seems effortless, and each round features decisions that have long-term consequences. There’s a sense of joy and satisfaction with every play!

4 Comments

  1. “this doesn’t seem like a game to play all the time”
    This is key for me for my enjoyment of At The Gates Of Loyang.

    I typically play it a few times over the course of an evening or two and then put the game aside for several weeks. I think I would focus too much on developing a strategy to solve the game if I were to play too many times in a short time. While I feel a sense of satisfaction for solving a game, I also feel a sense of loss because the game is no longer interesting and needs to leave my collection. I definitely do not want to happen with At the Gates of Loyang because it will work well as a solitaire lunch break game for when I return to the office.

    Reply
    • Wonderful explanation! I like not quite having a guaranteed strategy, too. There’s a lot of experimentation, particularly with the helpers or characters. Going at a slower pace and allowing a game to stick around for a long time sounds like an excellent idea. I must share a similar mindset since I rarely part with any. Ha! Thanks for sharing, and I hope you continue to have a great time with this one.

      Reply
  2. This is a very thorough and well organized review! I really like it. Hope you do more of the same.

    Reply
    • Thank you kindly, Joel! I usually follow a similar format for all of my play sessions. Believe it or not, this technically isn’t my review format… Though it definitely makes sense as a mini-review, of sorts. I tend to post very regularly, so expect to see lots more. I appreciate you taking the time to read through everything and comment!

      Reply

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