The Closet Report: Qin

Qin

"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders — the most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia'…" — Vezzini, The Princess Bride

I am Jonathan Albin, the Game Market Guru, and this entry of "The Closet Report" is a part of my in-depth and detailed analysis of tabletop games of every stripe. The Closet Report captures and outlines the merits, values, and details about these games in terms that a casual player or a die-hard veteran will appreciate, providing not only the "straight skinny" on the product in terms of the big 3 (Class, Character, and Creativity) but also in terms of Materials, Marketing, and Mechanics, as well as identifying areas of imagination, innovation, and ingenuity.

Our attention this time turns an elegant and soon-to-be classic board game, Qin from R&R Games. This easy-to-play, easy to understand game of matching wits precisely presents the players with a refreshing antidote to the high-competition fare most companies seem to be offering.

Overview

Setting up to play is about as basic as you can get, just folding out the two-sided board (and deciding which side to play) and choosing a color from the four included in the game. Each player is provided a number of Pagodas based on the number of players — more pagodas for fewer players, and fewer pagodas if the game is played by four competitors.

The primary mechanism is the founding — and securing — of provinces, from amid three types of landscape (Red, Yellow, Blue). It only takes two spaces of a landscape to found a province, but to secure it, it must take up five spaces or more. Control of the villages of the map constitute the "points of contention," but again, the objective is getting all your Pagodas on the map, and that is it. Simple. Elegant.

As it has no current organized play aspects, and as it can only accommodate four players, I envision that a store could promote a tournament, wherein the best in a game could be promoted to a series of competitions — however, such would be a rather narrow field of competition. Instead, I see this as an excellent game to initiate new players to tile-based games, and the double tiles give a card-game aficionado at least the semblance of a hand from which game plays are made.

Qin is readily available through many hobby retail stores, particularly those that carry classic, collectable, and family titles. It is currently available through most hobby distributors, or from R&R Games' website. It is priced at $30, the low end of the Eurogames price points, and well worth every penny.

Below are the somewhat wonky, somewhat useful characteristics the Closet Report reveals about the product, and of its game play.

Statistics

  • Total Time to Play – TTP: 21:00
    Total time including OBT, PT, and BiB.
  • Out of the Box Time – OBT: 0:30
    Time from closet to playtime, including setup.
  • Play Time – PT: 20:00
    Time from beginning of game to resolution, i.e., winner, draw, or quit.
  • Back in Box Time – BIB: 0:30
    Time required to put game back in the box configuration and return to the closet.
  • Time Per Turn – T/T: 30 seconds
    The time a turn takes to play. The only delay was in deciding where to play a tile.
  • Turns per Game – TPG: 12
    Number of turns in an average game
  • Turns to Engagement – TTE: Immediate
    Number of turns until one player’s action can negatively affect another player.
  • Fun Per Turn – FPT: 98%
    Percentage of the turn that feels like fun.
  • Work per Turn WPT: 5%
    Percentage of the turn that feels like work. Only the decision of which strategy to use caused any effort to feel difficult or like work.
  • Turns Before Fun – TBF: 0
    Number of turns that must elapse before engagement with the other players occurs. Close proximity from the beginning causes the engagement to be right from the start.
  • Self-teaching time STT: 0:30
    Time required to learn the game by only reading the rules – no demo. Drawings and instructions included made learning a breeze.
  • Closet Time – CT: 1-2 weeks, or until the next game session.
    Average length of time between plays. This one was immediately added to the "rotation." Of course, the simplicity is bane and boon, because you could tire of the game quickly...but be ready to pull it out again in a few weeks.

Play Ratings

Numerical ratings from 1 to 10 on various aspects of the game. See each for a scalar definition.

  • Aggression (categorizes the rules by oppositional dynamics)
    Scale from cooperative (1) to stridently adversarial (10) – Score: 6
  • Beauty (categorizes the rules by sheer aesthetics; is it “pretty”?)
    Scale from functional (1) to art gallery quality (10) – Score: 5
  • Complexity (categorizes the rules by how easy or difficult to comprehend)
    Scale from expected (1) to intricate beyond comprehension (10) Score: 2
  • Depth (categorizes the rules in terms of subtlety)
    Scale from shallow (1) to unbelievably nuanced (10) – Score: 3
  • Engagement (categorizes the rules in terms of player interaction)
    Scale from parallel play (1) to strong need for teamwork (10) Score: 7
  • Fun (categorizes the rules in terms sheer derived pleasure)
    Scale from mildly amusing (1) to fall on the floor laughing (10) – Score: 6
  • Innovations Quotient (IQ) (identifies any characteristics that make the game unique)
    Numeric rating, and each “point” is defined that make this product memorable – Score: 8
    The innovation in this case is the sheer simplicity. I admire a game whose objective is outlined in a few sentences. This one can be defined in a few words. It’s a very admirable game on that basis alone.

Miscellaneous

Breakout Events are the times and circumstances where this game may shorten its Closet Time, or otherwise help it "break out" of the closet.

  • This one will find its way out of the closet when we have a short play window, but want a full Eurogame feel.

Shelf Rating is the overall game shelf rating, when compared with every other game in the closet. Scores will vary as new games come into being, and based on other characteristics such as marketing and promotions of similar games.

  • Qin will sit front and center on the game shelf in the closet, and will hit the table at a moment’s notice.