Yunnan is one of the most underrated games I've played.
I love everything about this game. (That's a spoiler, I know.)
I try hard not to tell you what to do, but you should play this game. And if you don't, please don't tell me. It's just that good.
OTHER REVIEWERS' OPINIONS
Yunnan hasn't gotten much attention, but here are a few other reviewer's takes on the game:
Rahdo seemed as impressed with the game as I was, except for one thing. And it's kind of a big thing. He hated the two-player version and thought it should have been left out completely. I get why — I mention it in my video — but I respectfully disagree.
Giant Fire Breathing Robot also praised the game, saying, "Yunnan achieves replayability the old-fashioned way: by just being good."
Greg Schlosser at League of Opinionated Gamers wasn't so complimentary. He compared Yunnan to "the girl you were happy to date a few times, but then moved on to someone more exciting." Ouch. Countering that was Tom Rosen, who called the game a "super filler," which he loved.
You can also watch designer Aaron Haag talk about the game with Board Game Geek TV.
1. Find a teacher. If you can find someone to teach you the game, you'll save yourself some time. If you can't (and I live in the middle of nowhere, so I get it), familiarize yourself with the sidebars in the rulebook. They'll help make sense of the game. The back page also has some strategy tips. I like to learn the strategy on my own, but if you find yourself overwhelmed or lost, go there.
2. Play more than once. You probably won't play the game very well the first time. (If you do, you're probably not a newbie. Why are you even reading this section? Move along.) The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward, but figuring out what you should do won't be obvious at first.
3. Don't be afraid to be mean. Lots of European games are meant to be very nice. Yunnan isn't one of them. Accept that, and send your friends packing. If you can. If not, rest assured that Yunnan's unique style of karma will get your friends back for screwing your plans.
I don't see this game being a good fit for kids. There's too much information to keep track of, and you have to experiment quite a lot to figure out the best strategies.
The box says the game is for ages 12 and up.
Honestly, I wouldn't expect a 12-year-old to play competitively unless they've played other Eurogames.
If the kid you're playing with is open to some coaching, this might be a good game for them. But please don't buy this as a first game for any kid.
At least not if you want them to want to play a game. Ever. Again.
RULES I GOT WRONG
If you are one of those perfect people who can pick up a 20-page rulebook and get everything right the first play, that's very nice for you.
The rest of us humans screw up. Which is why I always read the rulebook more than once. Or twice. Or usually three times.
So, in order to keep you from following on my path of screw-uppiness, I'll tell you where I went wrong. Feel free to comment on your own misrulings. We'll console each other.
The first couple of times I played, I thought the player with the most income got to go first in the auction phase the next round.
That's a huge problem, and I couldn't understand why the designer did that. Because he didn't.
It meant that once you got behind, it was really hard (but not impossible) to catch up.
If you google "Yunnan review," you'll get a bunch of reviews of tea. Actual tea. From Yunnan.
According to Rahdo, this is designer Aaron Haag's first game. That makes me weep a little with respect. And jealousy. Maybe a lot with jealousy, because this game is a thing of beauty.