At the Gates of Loyang is one of my favorite games with a solo component. I’ve never actually played it at any other player count, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Uwe Rosenberg does a fantastic job of integrating solo mechanics in a lot of his games, and I’ve found At the Gates of Loyang’s solo game to be extremely satisfying.
At the Gates of Loyang is a trading game in which you are able to produce goods by planting them and later selling them to customers. You can use the abilities of some helpers to increase your income or production.
Fields, customers, helpers, and miscellaneous objects are represented by cards. Each player receives two of these cards per round distributed by a bidding/drawing mechanism in which you end up with one of the cards you draw and one of the cards of a public offer filled by all players. Additionally, to these cards you always receive one field for free each round.
Placing one good on a field fills the complete field with goods of this type. Each round, one unit per field is harvested. After planting, harvesting, and distributing cards, each player can use as many actions as he wants, only limited by the number of his cards or the number of goods he owns. At the end of his turn, he can invest the earned money on a scoring track, where early money is worth more than late money. The game ends after a certain number of rounds, and the player who is first on the scoring track wins.
Everything is tight in At the Gates of Loyang. Money is used not only to purchase resources, but also to ultimately move up the scoring track. Planting the correct resources and having enough of them to complete customer needs is crucial to getting more money. It’s one of the few games where I feel every decision counts and one wrong move means not being able to move up on the scoring track.
As with a lot of solo modes, the ultimate victory is beating your previous score. I find I can get to 15 pretty often, but 16 and higher is a real challenge. I find I’m just short of being able to move just one notch further.
I took a look back at my last play of At the Gates of Loyang and was surprised to find I hadn’t touched it since 2014. I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t have broken it out for roughly five years, but now that it’s hit the table again, I’d like to make it a point to play it at least once a month. I also want to finally try it with more players to see how that stacks up to the solo experience.