QIN is a tile laying game designed by Reiner Knizia and produced by Eggertspiele and Pegasus Spiele and distributed
by R n R Games. It is for 2-4 players aged 8 and upwards. It has a 2-sided board to make games more interesting. The
sides are distinguished by the Lion or Bird design and the layout of the board itself. One side has more obstacle spaces,
pre-printed tile squares on which players may not lay tiles. QIN uses the time honoured game mechanic of Play a tile
Draw a tile and that is all there is to it - there are no events or hidden possibilities, nor any special tiles. It really is that
Lion and Bird Board Sides
The components are minimal, just tiles and plastic Pagodas, plus, of course, the square over-laid playing area. The rules
are also fairly minimal, being uncomplicated, not complex, and with many visual and textual play examples.
Players are dealt 3 tiles each - every tile is the size of 2 board spaces which may be the same colour, as in Red, Blue or
Yellow, or a combination of two colours. Depending on the number of players each also gets Pagodas which are their
Tiles of any colour may be legally placed against tiles of any colour - ie. a Yellow tile may be placed against a Blue (or a Red)
tile, whether it is a one space joining or double coloured. (see above example)
Tiles must be placed into the Plain squares on the board, never in the Water, Village or Starter Province spaces. When placing a
tile the rule is that one side of it (at least) must be positioned against the side of another tile or against the side of one of the
Provinces printed on the board.
When a player lays a tile that is either all one colour or if one space of the tile butts against an already tile with the same colour,
so that there are 2 (or possibly 3) tiles of the same colour together - they (the player) places one of their Pagodas onto the tile and
claims it as their Province. If five or more spaces of the same colour are connected then the player has made a Major Province and
may place 2 Pagodas, one atop the other laying a stronger claim on it.
Tiles can be placed to join two Provinces together and thus take over another player's Province but one of the 2 Provinces must be larger
than the other before the connecting tile is placed, and this tile must be placed by the owner of the larger Province for it to be connected
correctly. For example, a tile cannot join 2 Provinces of the same size unless they are both owned by the same player.
Villages (printed on the board) are spaces that can be claimed by playing Provinces adjacent to them. The player who owns the most adjoining
Provinces (to a Village) then controls the Village. As the best way to win the game is to be the first player to play out all of their Pagodas being
able to play more than one Pagoda in a turn puts you on the fast track to victory.
Other ways to end the game include the tiles running out or there being no spaces on the board where a tile can be laid, either way the winner is the
player with the most Pagodas placed (ie least left in their pool).
QIN has all the hallmarks of a methodical Reiner Knizia mathematical game with similarities to Noughts & Crosses or Go! where one wrong move can
hand a positive advantage to an opponent. At Spiel in Essen last year I played QIN with a number of experienced strategy games players and they were
barely impressed with it. Having spent many years going to Essen in anticipation of the next great game from Reiner Knizia I too was disappointed with
QIN as it is too simple, can depend on luck (which tiles are drawn) and can be over very quickly.
However, having had the opportunity to play it several times again since, these times with family and friends, and friends of friends who are not regular
strategy games players, I have seen QIN in a different light. It is an amiable light game with a few tactical moves and about the same amount of strategic
possibilities. Games are short, usually 15-30 minutes, even with 4 players (actually we have found them to last a little longer with just 2 players) and it
has playability, making it no hardship to play back to back games.