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The game consists of exactly 12 rounds, symbolizing the 12 months in the Year of the Dragon. The player order for the round is determined by the marker positions of the Persons track. 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.
- You may also choose no action and fill your personal money supply to 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.
- Gain positions on the Persons track a number of spaces equal to the value of the new person you selected.
- 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
- (No action): Take up to 3 yuan from the supply to bring your total yuan to 3