So sorry... this game is SOLD OUT 😢

Gùgōng Deluxe Edition.

Stellar Craftsmanship. Elegant Mechanics. Seamless Theme Integration.

Ka-BOOM! ?

iPhone packaging designers are jealous…

So, we’ve got a winner in the gameplay department, but what about the Deluxe version. Do you REALLY need to have Gùgōng in all of its deluxe glory?

Short answer – Yes.

Class dismissed. ?✌️

The components that are included in the Deluxe game are FANTASTIC! I’ve included some photos of my copy of the deluxe game in this listing so be sure to check them out.

Levitation achieved!

I was literally levitating off of the floor when I opened this game!

Every “sweet game component” cylinder is firing in perfect harmony and at maximum output with Gùgōng – trust me.

[Ok… I wasn’t actually levitating… geesh… ? ]

Moving right along…

The sleeve and the game box itself are crafted from wonderfully heavy paper and cardboard respectively. Trust me. When you remove the sleeve and open the box top for the first time you will think, “This is sooo nice…”

I am 100% serious about this. If you buy this game… get it home… unbox it… and you don’t get goosebumps as you feel the weightiness of the box lid, I don’t know who you are!!  Hahaha.

But really… ?

And the deluxe experience doesn’t end there…

Inside the box, all of the components are securely tucked away in their own Game Trayz inserts.  One for the main game components, and then 5 individual smaller trays (with covers) for the individual player bits. ?

The wooden decree tiles and Travel Tokens are VERY nicely done and have a subtle piquant aftertaste of “Mahjong tile hits the table” when you handle them and place them about…

The game board and individual player boars are composed of a very dense cardboard and they feel a good deal more luxurious than anything I’ve handled before. Honest! And finally, the artwork throughout is simply wonderful…

This is a beautiful game that was crafted with care. Well done, Team Game Brewer!

Enough gushing! How about the gameplay, Drew?

In this game, players represent powerful Chinese families. These families are looking to gain influence and favor by bribing local officials. But there’s one problem. In an effort to bring back honor and stability to the land, bribery has been banned….

The local officials (and the families who bribe them) have adjusted their practice to stay true to the letter of the law; but perhaps not the spirit of the law (smile). Now instead of bribing local officials, families have taken to intentionally unfair trades as their currency in the ol’ fiscal fight to the top!

In this way, there is no actual bribery… but instead, just a friendly trade between two fair and honorable parties. ? LOVE IT!

Of course, the fact that someone traded a paper fan for an expensive piece of artwork isn’t to be discussed in polite circles!  😉

Four rounds. Three phases.

The game is played over 4 rounds; with each round broken down into three phases.

The Morning Phase is essentially a reset of the board and other preparations for the next round. The Day Phase is where the money is made. And finally, the Night Phase involves checking for certain set collection bonuses.

A new day is dawning…

I’ll skip over the Morning phase and jump straight to the meat of the game in an effort to save a few minutes of our collective time 🙂 I will say this though, during set-up each player is dealt 4 starting gift cards. These are different items of value 1 – 7 that the player will use during the Day Phase trade action.

Each time you make a trade, you swap your gift card with the one on the board (you know.. like.. you actually trade the cards… hehe) and you place the newly acquired card into your discard pile. You’ll use this discarded batch of trade-acquired cards as your active “hand” in the next round… and so on… and so on.

Care to make a trade?

During the day phase each player has a chance to trade with an official represented on the game board. Each official oversees a different aspect of the city and offers a different action.

After making a trade on your turn, you may then take the action represented by the official with whom you made the trade, the action on the gift card you traded, or both!

After you make your trade and take your action(s), the next player does the same. This continues clockwise around the table until all players have run out of gift cards and must pass.

What do you do if you cannot offer a higher-value trade to an official?

Staying true to the theme, as the family seeking favor you must always offer something of higher value when trading with an official. But, won’t that hamstring your efforts at some point when you simply do not have a higher value gift to trade? I’m no mathematical savant, but I have a feeling that would happen… However, the designer already thought of that. Of course ?

There are some cool modifiers that allow you to trade a gift card of lesser value with an official; and I really like this aspect of the game! Remember that thematically you are “bribing” the official by offering something of higher value and receiving something of lesser value. All in hopes of being granted some favor, of course.

In order to remain true to the theme (but perhaps not get bogged down in the mathematics of being unable to offer a higher value card), the designer added in some modifiers. For example, if you offer an official a lower-value item on your side of the trade but throw in two of your servants, all is well! You may trade the lower value gift card without issue.

Alternatively, you can discard one of your other cards into your personal discard pile as part of the trade; effectively using two gift cards to make the trade more palatable. Of course, this leaves you with less cards this turn… a suitable punishment for your offering of a lesser value gift. ?


It’s elegant, simple, and perfectly thematic.

<insert “I am very pleased” sigh here>

The actions!

Seven areas of the board. Seven different officials overseeing these areas. Make an appropriate trade to take the action. Simple. Harmonious. Sweet.

Italicized text is straight from the rule book…


Exchange your Gift with the Revenue Official and send your Traveller to cities throughout China to collect taxes for the Longqing Emperor, which come in all shapes and sizes. (AKA move your traveler meeple around the board collecting Travel tokens that have tasty benefits!)

The Great Wall

Exchange your Gift with the Public Works Official and participate in the renovation of sections of the Great Wall of China. This will allow you to take part in the Intrigue Benefits and potentially gain VP and advance your Envoy. (AKA add servants from your work force to the construction effort and earn points and Intrigue benefits when a section of wall is completed, if you have the most servants there! Plus you get to bring your servants back into your worker pool. If you don’t have the most servants on the wall… your people stay there and continue to toil until the section is again complete – 不好了!)


Exchange your Gift with the Jade Official to be introduced to the Jade market vendors and buy Jade. (AKA uh… get jade!)


Exchange your Gift with the Shady Official to climb up on the Intrigue Track, which indicates the hidden influence of your family in the Forbidden City. This track counts as a tie-breaker for all comparisons with your opponents in the game. Or you can gain 1 of the Intrigue Benefits whenever you help to complete a section of the Great Wall. (AKA race to keep your marker in the lead position so that all tie-breakers go in your favor! The Great Wall Scoring and Destiny Dice Bonus are both places where you are likely to tie and you want to win. Sweet points are on the line! Plus, the first person to trade with the Intrigue official will be the new start player in the next round. Get some… intrigue!)

The Palace of Heavenly Purity

Exchange your Gift with the Censorate Official to progress towards the Palace of Heavenly Purity and obtain an audience with the Emperor before the end of the 4th Day. (AKA move along the track to be certain you get an envoy into the Palace before the game ends. If you don’t your score is zero and you cannot compete for the win! Go now!!)


Exchange your Gift with the Decrees Official to gain special Decree advantages during the entire game and/or VP. (AKA place a servant permanently on a given decree to receive repeating bonuses during different game phases (e.g. an extra servant during the Morning phase). The servant will remain here for the rest of the game. And you only get 12. It’s a delicate balance! I LOVE IT!)

The Grand Canal

Exchange your Gift with the Trade Official to send your Servants on a journey on the Grand Canal, to trade with people outside of Beijing. This will grant you all sorts of permanent rewards. (AKA load up your ships with 3 servants, visit a harbor that offers a benefit you’d like, leave one servant behind to get the benefit, and bring your ship (and remaining 2 workers) home. To the sea!)

Final words

The Deluxe version of Gùgōng is absolutely fantastic. Period. Paragraph.

The mechanics are simple and elegant, there are gobs of fun decisions and strategic depth,  the component quality and artwork are simply stunning, and the theme is seamlessly integrated into every aspect of gameplay.

Every Upstart needs a copy of this on their shelf. You have been warned! ?

Ages: 12+
Players: 1 – 5
Play Time: 60 – 90 minutes
Designer Andreas Steding
Publisher: Game Brewer
At the time of this listing (MAY 2019)
selling for $130 and $159.99 on eBay.
Our Price: $82.50
Link to BGG: Gùgōng


So sorry... this game is SOLD OUT 😢


Gugong Deluxe Edition Board GameGùgōng Deluxe Edition is HERE! Ohhhhh…. this game is SO SWEET!

Note: Gùgõng was initially introduced as “the Forbidden City”. The name was changed before the first print.

China, 1570.

China is under the reign of the Longqing Emperor, of the Ming Dynasty. The Emperor has inherited a country in disarray after years of mismanagement and corruption. Realising the depth of chaos his father’s long reign had caused, the Longqing Emperor set about reforming the government by re-employing talented officials previously banished by his father.

The Emperor resides in the Forbidden city, which was the seat of many emperors under the Ming Dynasty.


The Forbidden City is currently known as “Gùgõng” (Imperial Palace) by the people of China. Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (over 180 acres). It is also under the Ming Dynasty that the Great Wall of China was rebuilt, fortified and expanded. During this period, China was under heavy attack the Mongols, so maintaining the Great Wall was essential. Most of what we now have left of Great Wall, we owe to the Ming dynasty.

The country was already famous for its very intricate bureaucracy, but this also led to a lot of corruption. However, the Longqing Emperor tried to eradicate corruption as much as he could, by simply having it officially prohibited, and punishable by death.

The Exchange of Gifts

This measure seemed successful at first, but as we all know, it is not so simple to keep perfect control over one’s “loyal” subjects. At the imperial court, the highest officials would pretend to uphold the ban on corruption, and instead of simply accepting money, a new custom saw the light of day: the exchange of gifts.

If a petitioner visited an official to present a request, they would also present a gift. And naturally, the official would return the honour by presenting a gift in return. If the gift of the petitioner was something quite valuable, like, say, a Jade statue, and the return gift from the official was a cheap paper fan, it was hard to regard this as an act of bribery. However, both knew very well how valuable the symbolism of said item could be…

“Gùgõng” uses this extraordinary custom as its basis. The players take on the role of powerful Chinese families trying to gain influence and power by bribing certain officials responsible for certain tasks, by offering suitable gifts.

A player wins by gaining an audience with the emperor. If several players succeed to do this, the player with the most VPs amongst those players wins the game.

—description from the publisher

Additional information
Weight 7.1 lbs
Dimensions 11.75 × 11.75 × 3 in

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