Jiangnan: Life of Gentry is a 1-4 player worker placement and bag building game in which you are seeking fame in ancient China through your literary, artistic and musical work. It will launch on Kickstarter on November 2.
To set up the game, you will place the three districts in the middle of the table, and the river boards below them. Each player takes a player board and the associated player markers, scholar pawns and servant tokens in their colour, as well as 12 starting action tiles and a cloth bag. A servant is placed on the top spot in the Temple Fair district, a player marker on the scoring track, and another marker on the stress track. Various action tiles are placed on the board, and some go inside the public cloth bag to be drawn randomly and placed in the corresponding spaces in the districts and boats. Then, each player shuffles their tiles in their own bag and fills their action track. Each player also receives two starting portfolio tiles and chooses one to keep.
The game lasts for 6 rounds, and each round consists of an Action phase and an Upkeep phase. In the Action phase, each player takes a single turn until everyone has taken three turns. On a player's turn, you perform the following 4 steps: first, you choose an action tile from your track and move it to the rightmost used action tile area along with a scholar pawn. Then, you remove the rightmost action tile from your action track and immediately gain its bonus. This bonus may be used to pay the cost of an action on the district board. Third, you take your scholar pawn and move it to the indicated spot on the top half of your chosen action tile - provided there is an empty space to place the scholar, and you have money to pay the cost of the district if required. In the fourth step, you replenish the empty spaces on your action track by drawing tiles from your cloth bag.
The districts offer actions such as conversing with other scholars to exchange ideas (in Society), publishing your works (in the Tea House and the Tavern), meeting Muses for inspiration (in the Parlour), visiting places (in Travel), and observing the life of common people (in the Temple Fair). Each of these spaces will give you a bonus like e.g. portfolio tiles or coins. If you wish to gain more money, you may choose to Work, or if you need to reduce your stress, you may take the Rest action.
In the Upkeep phase, each player gains income from their published portfolios, adjusts the turn order, chooses new action tiles, and places servants on the boats depending on the position of their scholar pawns on the scholar tracks. In even-numbered rounds, there is also a scoring phase in which you calculate points based on your published works and coins. After the 6th round, the final scoring determines the winner.
In the solo mode, you will be playing against a bot by drawing tiles from its bag and placing the bot's scholar on the district indicated by each tile. The bot has some advantages over you in that it publishes portfolios for free and gains assistants. In the final scoring phase, it scores like a human player.