A majority of the original reviews were submitted by Charles Bahl and Robert Waters...Thanks!!!
Code of Conduct
Host and Location Resources
Games We Play
Regional Game Stores
GCOM Web Store
Game: Chinatown (Alea)
Submitted By: Charles Bahl (The Quake Coast Game Club, San Jose, CA)
Chinatown is a new, free-wheeling, and sometimes crazy real-estate/business trading for 3 to 5 players from Alea. More than any other game I've played recently, Chinatown can be a very lively, fun game or a very tedious one depending almost exclusively upon the kind of people you play it with. If your group is wild and uninhibited, Chinatown becomes a sort of wacko hybrid of Pit, Monopoly, and Diplomacy (if you can imagine those three games welded
together!), in which complex trade deals get struck amidst pleading, threatening, and laughter. If your group is more sedate, then Chinatown devolves into a run-of-the-mill tile-laying game that has little going for itself.
In a nutshell, Chinatown has three commodities up for grabs and trade: real estate, businesses, and money. The idea is to earn income by positioning businesses of the same type adjacent to each other on properties that you own. The problem is that you may not own the right businesses or the right properties. The solution is that you can get them from other players by trading them stuff that they want. There are very few restrictions on the kinds of trades that you can concoct. Deals that involve combinations of all three commodities are normal and can get quite complex. And it is not unusual for deals to involve more than two players. It's not always easy to figure out precisely what constitutes a good trade or a bad one (there are just too many variables and random elements involved), so much of the time you are operating on your intuitive business and negotiating skills.
I think it all boils down to the kind of person you are. If you just love the thrill of the trade and honing your people skills, Chinatown will probably become your favorite game. If you prefer sitting over a game board lost in deep thought over move and countermove, Chinatown will leave you
cold. Take your pick.
(One note. My copy of Chinatown came with German rules only. I don't know if this was an omission that affected only my copy or if the problem is more widespread. In any case, you might want to make sure what's in the box before you plop down your money.)