Forbidden City – Jumbo – Review


“I enjoyed Forbidden City. It has solid mechanics and well-made components. And I always love tile-laying games. ”

Publisher: Jumbo

Designer: Reiner Knizia

Artist: Paul Windle

Game Type: Area Control, Tile Placement

Initial Year of Release: 2018

Age Range: 8-99

Expected Playtime: 30 minutes

Number of Players: 2-4

Theme and What is it?

Players play as advisors in the Imperial Temple of Wei Zu Yang. The advisors attempt to conquer rooms within the temple to gain Chinese coins. This will increase their influence but they will also need imperial dragons to help them become the most powerful within the temple, also known as the Forbidden City.

Forbidden City - Jumbo - Review 1

Gameplay Mechanics

If you are familiar with a very popular tile-laying game, then you will grasp the mechanics to Forbidden City with no issue.

Players have their own set of tiles specific to their color. These tiles vary in colors. They can be blank, have 1-2 advisors on them or a dragon.

Each turn, a player will draw a tile and place it.

The aim is to have the most advisors in a room when it is closed. By closing off a room, the player gains Chinese coins for the room that was closed off and all adjacent rooms regardless if they are closed or not.

The player with the most advisors receives the points and the player who has the second most receives half the points.

Players take turns placing tiles until each player is down to two tiles. Then, each player flips their last two tiles and receives points for advisors and dragons they flip over.

The player with the most Chinese coins is the winner!

Forbidden City - Jumbo - Review 2

Initial Impressions

I was indifferent on playing this. I love tile laying games but the box art didn’t grab me at first. After reading over the rules, I had a better impression, and it enticed me to play.

Game Build Quality

Forbidden City comes with all the tiles for each color and a 3×3 starting tile. Included in the game is also an Imperial Temple that you have to build. The Imperial Temple fits in an empty square within the starting tile and is completely aesthetic. They used sturdy cardboard for the playing tiles, starting tile and Imperial Temple. The rule book is in Dutch, French, German and English.

Forbidden City - Jumbo - Review 3

Artistic Direction

The artwork on the box is beautiful. However, in my opinion, it is not unique. I feel like I have seen similar artwork in other games with this theme. The rule book has sketches of the Chinese Emperor and the Imperial Temple which I find distinctive. The tiles have little art other than the dragons and advisors. I wish the artwork from the rule book had been visible on the tiles.

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Fun Factor

Forbidden City was great. It seemed very balanced all the way through. Even if one player gained a lead, another player would then advance on them. I enjoy games where there is not a clear winner throughout the game.

Age Range & Weight

The scoring can be slightly complicated but aside from that; the game is straightforward. I agree with the 8+ age suggestion. As I always say, maturity plays a part in any game so younger ages could play the game as long as they had help with the scoring.

Forbidden City - Jumbo - Review 5


I enjoyed Forbidden City. It has solid mechanics and well-made components. And I always love tile-laying games. However, I don’t see this getting a lot of table time with my group. We own the “very popular tile-laying game” and have all that it offers. Even though the scoring is different in Forbidden City, I still believe we will play the other game. If this is not the case for you, then it would be a great addition to your collection. And if you are like myself, I would still play Forbidden City if you get the chance!


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