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The game consists of exactly 12 rounds, symbolizing the 12 months in the Year of the Dragon. Each round consists of the following 4 phases, in order:
- 1st Phase: Choose an Action
- If you choose an action in the same grouping as another player has already chosen, you must pay 3 yuan.
- 2nd Phase: Choose a New Person
- If you do not have available space in any palaces, you must discard a different person before placing your new person.
- 3rd Phase: Event
- After the event resolves, any palaces which are unoccupied lose 1 floor.
- 4th Phase: Scoring
- 1 point for each palace.
- 1 point For each court lady.
- 1 point For each privilege. (Small privilege = 1 point; Large privilege = 2 points)
- 2 points for each person tile.
- For each monk: score [number of Buddhas] x [number of floors] points.
- Each player sells back to the supply all of his rice and fireworks tiles for 2 yuan each. Afterward, each player earns 1 victory point for every 3 yuan he possesses.
- Peace: Nothing happens
- Imperial Tribute: Each player pays 4 yuan
- For each yuan a player is short, release 1 person
- Drought: Each player must turn in 1 rice tile for each inhabited palace
- From each unsupplied palace, release 1 person
- Mongol Invasion: Each player scores points equal to the helmets on their warriors
- All the players with the fewest must each release a single person
- Dragon Festival: Players get 6, or 3, victory points for the most, or the second most, fireworks
- Scoring players then turn in half of their tiles to the supply
- Epidemic: Each player must release 3 persons, 1 fewer per mortar on their healers
- Taxes: Take 1 yuan from the supply for each coin symbol (on the action card and the player’s tax collectors)
- Build: Take 1 palace floor from the supply for each hammer (on the action card and the player’s craftsmen), then build the new floors; no palace higher than 3 floors
- Harvest: Take 1 rice tile from the supply for each rice sack (on the action card and the player’s farmers)
- Fireworks Display: Take 1 fireworks tile from the supply for each rocket (on the action card and the player’s pyrotechnists)
- Military Parade: Move 1 space on the person track for each helmet (on the card and the player’s warriors)
- Research: Move 1 space on the scoring track for each book (on the action card and the player’s scholars)
- Privilege: Pay 2, or 6 (or 7 depending on new or old edition rules), yuan to the supply and take a small, or large, privilege tile from the supply accordingly