Jonathan Harrison
United States
Fisher
Illinois
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So long ...
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... and thanks for all the fish.
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cazantyl wrote:
This is a "facts-only" review of XiangQi. As such, I will try to keep this review as non-biased as possible.

I will not be going over the rules specifically as these can be found elsewhere. There are two excellent files with the rules right here on BGG and the Wikipedia entry for the game is a fantastic primer to the rules and piece movement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiangqi

This is a "living review" and as such will be updated to reflect the XiangQi community's input.


Full disclosure:
Games played: 50+
Number of players played with: 2
People Taught: 10+
Average play time: 30 minutes

The concept: XiangQi, or Chinese Chess (if you want to be boring) is an ancient game of capturing your opponent's general. You spend your turns moving pieces in a very similar fashion to western chess, with several noticeable differences in gameplay.

The river dividing the game board provides a natural barrier that some of your pieces can not pass through (your elephants) but also strengthens your pawns after they reach the other side of it.

The palace is a mechanic that keeps your general (the western equivalent of a chess King) from wandering all over the board. In it resides the general and his two advisors, and the interactions between these two types of pieces has lead to many "three stooges" situations in games I've played.

The cannon is a unique (to my knowledge) piece that literally leaps over an intervening piece to capture another piece any distance away (so long as there are no other pieces between the fulcrum and the target).

Games of XiangQi tend to escalate very quickly into threat, counter-threat, mate situations and as such the game moves much more quickly than your standard chess-like fair.

The Bacon Points:
bacon XiangQi is a tactics-heavy/strategy-medium game
bacon XiangQi offers enough differences from standard western chess to keep it unique even for chess grognards.
bacon XiangQi features game piece interactions that usually require keeping an eye more closely on all the moves available to a player, as opposed to just brushing off some moves as worthless.

Subjective Bacon:
bacon XiangQi is difficult to acquire in most cities in the United States and when found, often features Chinese symbols as opposed to easily recognizable pictures or figures. This makes the entry level learning period for XiangQi higher than many other abstracts.
bacon Finding a decent local XiangQi partner may be difficult in the states as not many people are aware of it or willing to take the time to learn the game. (if anyone knows of a decent active online website, feel free to post it in the reply to this review)

If you like X, you may enjoy XiangQi:
baconChess
baconArimaa
baconShogi
baconGo
baconHive
baconTZAAR
baconArmy Ants


After trying XiangQi, if you find you want X, you should try Y:
Less Daunting Pieces
baconChess
baconHive
baconTZAAR
baconArmy Ants
bacon or a "westernized" version of the game
More Portability
baconHive
baconArmy Ants
More long-term strategy
baconGo
baconArimaa
Alternative tactics and combos
baconShogi
baconChess
baconHive
Better Elephants
baconArimaa

The OP's Opinion
XiangQi is an excellent game. While it may be a bit daunting at first to learn which piece is what, after your first few games, you'll know what's what with little effort.

This game is a real head turner no matter whether you're playing with a nice wooden set or pieces of printed paper. The copy I acquired from a local Asian imports shop in Orlando, FL is exquisite for the price I paid ($10 USD) and has gotten more people interested in the game than anything I could otherwise do to convince someone. It's easily been one of the best bargain board game investments I've ever made.

As far as my long-term love for XiangQi, in the past few years it has taken a back seat to the more philosophical styling of "Go", and more recently the brain turning complexity of "Arimaa". It's still a game I'll bust out from time to time, and if a friend is ever in the mood to play, I'll gladly teach them a lesson or two.

In short, XiangQi never gets old and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fast-paced aggressive abstracts.

An aside I'm a strong advocate of playing games in public places. My abstract gaming friend and I will regularly play in restaurants. I find that it's not only a great conversation starter, but it really helps to spread the word to the masses that there's more to life than just video games and television. It's brought more people to our gaming group than forum hopping alone could have ever done. If you're ever looking for more players of any game, don't be too shy to take that game with you out in public. People are curious animals, and I think you'll be pleased by the different types of people you'll meet

Tipped for the push to play in public. Excellent practice.
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Daniel Danzer
Germany
Stuttgart
southwest
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Regarding the bunch of literature about XiangQi written in the last 1,000 years (there are volumes dealing only with certain openings) I would not say, that this is less "long-term-strategy" than Arimaa.

For people new to the game (or just for the purpose of teaching) I would just turn the disc pieces around and paint or mount some icons on the back. Doing so, you have two-sided pieces - for every occasion.

BTW, very good brief overview of my all-time-favourite game.
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Adam Rouse
United States
Thibodaux
Louisiana
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Playok.com has online Xiang Qi play. It even has Western style symbols on the pieces for an easy transition from chess to Xiang Qi. In my experience, it was always easy to find someone to play, though I use Chrome OS now which oddly does not support Java, so I can't play there now.

I have an Elephant Chess Xiang Qi set that looks really nice with Western chess symbols on one side of the piece and kanji on the reverse. Unfortunately, it is still hard to get someone both to try it and to stick with it often enough to grow comfortable with the rules and strategy.
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United States
Norwood
Massachusetts
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I'm a long-time chess player and have decided to branch out and learn to play XiangQi, Shogi, and improve my Go play (currently floundering pathetically at ...[I'd have to kill you if I told you...].

I like bacon too! Win-Win...
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Alan Whitehead
United States
Denver
Colorado
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BACON!! Too bad we can't come up with an Abstract Bacon game.
 
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