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The Tang dynasty (618-907) is considered the first golden age of the classic Chinese garden. Emperor Xuanzong built a magnificent imperial garden, the Garden of the Majestic Clear Lake, near Xi'an, and lived there with his famous concubine, Yang Guifei.

Players take the role of engineers who have been summoned to build a garden while balancing elements of water, rock, and greenery.

They need to decorate the garden with pavilions, bridges, different types of vegetation, and animals such as birds and goldfish.

During the construction, characters will visit the garden to inspect how the natural elements are arranged, and admire the surrounding landscape.


  • 1 Game Rulebook
  • 54 Decoration Cards
  • 4 Player Boards
  • 8 Large Landscape Tiles
  • 1 Garden Board
  • 1 Double-sided
  • Starting Tile
  • 60 Garden Tiles
  • 60 Coins
  • 16 Lantern Tokens
  • 4 Solo Lantern Tokens
  • 12 Character Cards
  • 12 Small Landscape Tiles
  • 12 Cubes
  • 12 Character Miniatures
  • 16 Landscape Tokens
  • 36 Decorations
  • 4 Characters Tokens
  • 1 Engineer Token


1 Place the garden board in the center of the table.

2 Place the starting tile in the center of the garden board with either side face up. It can be oriented in any direction.

3 Separate the four types of garden tiles by their backs and shuffle each pile. Place them face down in four stacks in the designated areas in each corner of the garden board. Flip the top tile of each pile face up.

4 Shuffle the 54 decoration cards and place them face down on the table near the garden board.

5 Place the 36 decorations near the garden board.

6 Give each player three cubes and a player board in their chosen player color. Place the cubes on the starting space of each track. Give each player one of each of the four types of lantern tokens (one for each special ability). Place them in the designated areas on each player's board.

7 Find the six starting character cards with a colored square icon in the top right corner of the card. Shuffle them and deal one to each player. Each player places their character card in front of them and places the matching character miniature on it.

This indicates that the character's skill is active. Each player advances their cube one position on their player board in the category shown in the upper right corner of their starting character card. Take all the remaining character cards. Shuffle them and place them face down to form the character deck.

7.1 Reveal the top two characters from the character deck.

7.2 Place all unused character miniatures next to the garden board.

8 Separately shuffle the twelve small landscape tiles and the eight large landscape tiles. Place them face up in two groups next to the garden board. Insert the four top small landscape tiles into each of the four starting spaces (marked 8.1 in the image above).

Place the top landscape tile from each stack next to the pile. In this way, two small landscape tiles and two large landscape tiles are always visible.

9 Place the 16 (large and small) landscape tokens on the garden board in a diamond shape, matching the diagram below to the left.

10 The player who last visited China is the first player and takes the engineer token. If nobody has ever been to China, select the first player randomly.

Game Play

Starting with the first player and proceeding in clockwise order, each player takes a turn. Each turn consists of a mandatory main action, and three possible optional actions.

  • Main Action (mandatory)
    • Build the Garden, or
    • Place a Decoration.
  • Influence a Character (optional)

    After the main action, the player may influence a character if they have reached the required level on their player board.

  • Use a Lantern (optional)

    Once per turn, a player may activate one of their lantern abilities along with their main action by flipping one of their lantern tokens face down.

  • Refresh a Lantern (optional)

    During their turn, a player may spend three landscape tokens of the same size on their possession to refresh a previously used lantern token by flipping it to its unused side. Exception: In a 2 player game, spend four landscape tokens.

Build the Garden

The active player chooses one face up garden tile from the top of one of the four stacks in the corners of the garden board and places it on one of the available spaces on the garden board.

  • The placed tile must be adjacent to a tile already placed on the garden board.

  • The terrain types on all the edges of any adjacent tiles must match.

    Exception: Some tiles have a wall on one of their edges. Walls can be matched to any terrain type and can enclose terrain spaces, granting one level of advancement for that element.

After placing the garden tile, examine the newly placed tile and collect rewards based on the following criteria:

  • Advance the cube for the corresponding element on the player's board for each edge that matches the terrain type of any adjacent tiles.

  • Terrain is considered enclosed when a greenery, water, or rock region is completed and can no longer be added to by placing new tiles.

    If a terrain becomes enclosed as a result of the placement of the new tile, advance the cube matching the enclosed terrain type by a level. Walls may be used to enclose terrain. If terrain goes to the edge of the garden board, it is not considered enclosed.

  • Gain a coin if one edge of the newly placed tile matches a footpath edge.

  • If the newly placed tile matches two footpath edges, the player may gain two coins or instead, advance the level of any one track on their player board.

These bonuses are cumulative. It is possible to advance one or more spaces on one or more tracks and get one or more coins with the placement of a single tile.

Viola decides to build the garden and chooses a tile with multiple terrain types on the edges. She rotates the tile in such way that she matches all the terrain types of adjacent tiles (see the image below).

She gains a water level advancement on her board plus one coin for matching a footpath edge.

In this example, the player earns one greenery level advancement for the connection and one greenery level advancement for enclosing a terrain. The wall edge can be connected to any terrain type, but it doesn't award a bonus.

In this example, the player earns either two coins for the two connected footpath edges or an advancement on their player board on the track of their choice.

They also receive an advancement in greenery, as this tile already shows an enclosed area in the center of the tile, surrounded by footpath edges.

In this example, the player earns two coins for the matching footpaths, plus two advancements on the water track of their player board - one for matching the water edge and one for enclosing the water terrain.

When placing a tile, if the player covers a space with a landscape token on it, they immediately gain the token and must insert a landscape tile of the corresponding type (small or large) into the garden board.

They select one of the two face-up landscape tiles in the size required. The landscape tile can be inserted into any slot of their choice, matching the size of the landscape tile to the slot size.

Once the landscape tile is inserted, reveal a new landscape tile if needed, so that there are two of each size visible.

Inserting a Landscape Tile

There are five slots on each of the four sides of the garden board where landscape tiles can be inserted.

The inner row of slots is for inserting small landscape tiles, while the outer row is for inserting large landscape tiles.

Viola places a garden tile on a space and covers a small landscape token.

After advancing one greenery level on her player board, she takes the landscape token (placing it near her player board) and chooses one small landscape tile. She then inserts it into a slot on the garden board.

Important: After completing a Build the Garden action, if there are less than two face up garden tiles on the board, flip the top tile of each stack so that four tiles are face up.

Special Garden Tiles

There are some special garden tiles that are mixed among the regular garden tiles. These tiles have special rewards and their edges do not need to match the edges of adjacent tiles when placed.

Additionally, all edges of a special garden tile can enclose terrain, which can help earn additional advancement.

Hehua ting, lotus temple (blue wall): Gain one coin + one coin for each adjacent water edge.

Hua ting, flowers temple (green wall): Gain one coin + one coin for each adjacent greenery edge.

Simian ting, rock temple (brown wall): Gain one coin + one coin for each adjacent rock edge.

If on a future turn, a player places a garden tile to the edge of the special garden tile with the corresponding terrain type, the player gains a coin.

Viola places the brown bordered Simian ting garden tile next to a tile with a rock terrain edge. She gains two coins - one coin for the simian ting, plus one for the rock edge.

One edge is connected to a footpath, which is allowed, but doesn't award her anything. Viola also obtains one rock level advancement for enclosing a rock area.

On the next turn, Michele places a garden tile with a rock edge next to the simian ting garden tile.

He earns one coin for placing next to the simian ting tile, one coin for matching the footpath edge, and one advancement on the rock track because the rock terrain is completely enclosed.

Place a Decoration

The active player draws two cards, plus one card for each face down tile on top of each of the four garden tile piles. The player examines the drawn cards, chooses one to decorate the garden with, and places it face up in front of them with any previously played cards, sorting them by type.

Next, the player takes the corresponding decoration from the supply and places it in the garden on one of the designated areas, gaining the one-time bonus indicated on the decoration card.

Cards not chosen are discarded face up near the deck of decoration cards. If there are no areas left on the garden board of the designated type, or if there are no decorations of the designated type available to pick, the card cannot be selected.

1 Decoration Name

2 Placement Indicator: The area of the garden board where the corresponding decoration must be placed (example: fish go on a tile with water)

3 One-time Bonus

4 End Game Scoring Icons

Important: In the event that there are no free spaces to place decorations from the drawn decoration cards, the player discards all the drawn decoration cards, and their turn ends. Optional actions can still be performed.

Influence a Character

1 Name

2 Starting Bonus

3 Character Skill

4 Sight Preference

After a player's main action, they may choose to influence a character. Each player begins the game with a character and may take advantage of their character's skill during their turn.

To influence a new character, the player must have advanced each of their three cubes to the level required by the character or higher, as designated by a small icon on the player board. Additionally, there must be at least one free character placement spot on the board.

To influence a character the player must:

  • Choose and take one of the two revealed character cards. Alternatively, the player may draw a face down character card from the deck. Then, take the corresponding character miniature.

  • The player then selects one of their characters and places its corresponding miniature on the garden board on one of the available character spots - either on a garden tile, a bridge decoration, or a pavilion decoration. They then turn the character miniature so it's facing one of the four cardinal directions.

The player earns coins for each character on the garden board at the end of the game based on their position and which direction it is facing, taking into account the character's sight preference.

Characters with this icon will earn coins by seeing specific tiles on the garden board.

Characters with this icon will earn coins by seeing specific icons on landscape tiles.

Additionally, each character will earn one coin for each decoration in their line of sight.

Each player always has one character miniature on top of the corresponding card. That character's skill represents the player's active skill.

Important: After placing a character miniature on the garden board, its skill is no longer available.

If the player chose one of the revealed character cards, reveal a new card from the deck and place it face up on the table so that there are always two face up character cards for players to chose from.

Important: If there are no spots on the garden board to place a character, or if the player doesn't want to perform the Influence a Character action, the player instead takes a character token.

A character token can be used on later turns to perform the "Influence Character" action. It is possible to influence only one character per turn.

If the player reaches the next threshold to influence a new character, the player will immediately lose any character tokens they have.

Player Board Coins Bonus

When a single cube reaches the level required for the coin reward, as designated by the icon on the player board, the player immediately gains the corresponding coin bonus.

Each cube in a player's element track triggers each of these bonuses. If a player reaches the end of the track with each of the three cubes, they will have earned a total of 21 coins.

Use a Lantern

The active player may choose to use a lantern ability once per turn. To do this, the player flips a lantern token on their player board face down, and activates the chosen lantern ability. There are four different abilities.

When taking a Build the Garden action, the player places two garden tiles, scoring both. Both garden tiles must be face up at the beginning of the turn.

When taking the Place a Decoration action, the player places two decorations from the cards drawn, gaining the one-time bonus from both cards.

The player moves one of their characters on the garden board to any available spot, adjusting the facing if desired.

Alternatively, the player may adjust the facing of their character without moving it. The player can only move or adjust one of their characters already on the garden board.

When influencing a new character, the player may choose a specific character from the character deck instead of taking one of the face up ones and then shuffling the deck after making the selection OR during the placement of a landscape tile, the player may choose any of the non-visible tiles and then shuffling the stack after making the selection.

Reminder: Each player may use only one lantern per turn.

Refresh a Lantern (Optional)

During their turn, a player may spend three landscape tokens of the same size to refresh a previously used lantern token by flipping it to its unused side. Once used, return the landscape tokens to the game box. Exception: In a 2 player game, spend four landscape tokens.

End of the Game

The end of the game is triggered when there are three or fewer landscape tokens on the garden board, or when one of the four piles of garden tiles is depleted.

The game continues until the player to the right of the player with the Engineer token completes their turn, so all players get an equal number of turns. Then complete scoring to determine the winner.


Count the coins obtained during the game, then add:

  • Coins awarded for decoration cards in front of each player. :

    • Gain six coins for each single pair of lotus and peonies cards.

    • Gain six coins for each single pair of birds and fish cards.

    • The player with the most pavilion cards gains 12 coins. The player with the second most pavilion cards gains six coins. In case of a tie for the most, divide 18 coins among the tied players evenly, ignoring any remainder and do not award coins for the second most.

      If there is no tie for the most, but there are multiple players tied for second most, divide six coins among the tied players evenly, ignoring any remaining coins.

    • Gain 1 -4-9-16-25 coins for having 1 -2-3-4-5 different tree cards. If the players have multiple sets of tree cards, each set awards coins.

    • Gain two coins for each bridge card.

  • Coins earned from characters: gain one coin for each decoration in the line of sight of each of the player's characters.

To determine if a decoration is in a character's line of sight, start at the character's spot and follow the tiles in the direction in which the character is facing to the end of the garden board. A decoration on the same tile as a character is also considered to be in their line of sight.

Gain coins based on the character's sight preference. Each character's sight preference is listed at the bottom of their character card and may include the line of sight (eye icon inside a diamond) or the active Landscape (eye icon inside a circle) icon.

The active Landscape is composed of five landscape tiles, three small and two large, slotted into the side of the garden board in the direction the character is looking.

The player with the most coins is the winner.

In case of a tie, the player with the most landscape tokens among the tied players is the winner.

If the tie persists, the player with the most cubes in the furthest position of the tracks on their player board among the tied players is the winner. If the tie continues to persist, all the tied players share the victory.

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