Din Li


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Whereas a normal boardgame usually can be described quite well within the scope of a review by explaining which possibilities for action the players have on the gameboard, there always have been some unusual games which use their playing material in a rather uncommon way. Into this category of uncommon games falls the new HANS IM GLÜCK game Die Hängenden Gärten by Din Li, since it has no normal gameboard but only a plan on which the playing materials are presented. Whereas this alone is not really unusual, the striking difference to many other games is the way the players will use their playing cards...


In the game the players take up the role of landscape architects which compete to make the best design for the new Hanging Gardens. To reach this aim, each player receives a meagre starting equipment of one empty playing card showing six spaces of building space and five wooden temples. The rest of the playing cards are shuffled and placed face down on the overview board, with the top four cards being revealed and placed on four appropriate spaces. Finally, a pack of 49 scoring tokens is shuffled as well and placed as a face down pile, and now six of these scoring tokens are revealed and placed into three columns of two tokens each on the overview board.

Each player places his starting card in front of himself to start his own stretch of garden, and during his turn a player must chose one of the four available cards from the overview board and add it to his garden. Each of the cards is separated into two columns of three spaces, and each space may show either empty building space or one of four types of structures: terraces, parks, arcades or fountains. The new card which a player chooses then must be placed on top of an already placed card so that any structure has either an empty building space or an other structure below. This way, the cards will partly overlap and during the course of the game each player will develop a gridwork of cards since he will try to build coherent structures while at the same time expanding the total garden space by rotating the cards in a way so that most of the empty building spaces of a new card will not overlap an older card.

However, it will be the main aim of the players to design their gardens in a way that identical structures are on either horizontally or vertically neighbouring spaces. Whenever three or more identical structures have been placed adjacent to each other, the player may decide to put one of his temples at this major structure in order to effect an evaluation. Depending on the number of structures which make up the total composition, the player now is entitled to chose one of the scoring tokens either from the first, the first or the second, or the first, second or third row of scoring tokens on the overview board. Also, if the major structure contains six or more identical structures, the player even may draw an additional scoring token from the hidden pile.

Still, it is up to a player to decide whether he wants to place a temple or not. It is a matter of speculation whether a player feels that he still has a chance to enlarge the structure and thus affect a scoring in a later turn which might enable him to get a highly wanted scoring token from one of the latter columns, but it must be kept in mind that a temple may only be placed when a structure has been added to the major structure. So, bad luck may prevent such an enlargement in following turns. After his turn, a player draws a new card to replace the card in the display which he had chosen, and - in case a temple had been placed - a new scoring token is drawn as well.

The game continues with the players taking turns, enlarging their gardens, building new structures or splitting existing structures, and taking scoring tokens until the deck of cards has been used up. All scoring tokens gained by the players are kept in face-down stacks, and when the playing cards have been used up the final evaluation takes place.

Two different kinds of scoring tokens exist:

  • On the one hand there are seven different types of collection tokens. Each of these tokens is available in a different quantity, and their victory point value increases the more tokens of a type a player collects. However, the value only increases up to a maximum of four tokens for the most common type, and when a player should have collected more tokens of the same type the new tokens are used for a second scoring but do not increase the value of the first four tokens any further. Thus, to get a good quota of victory points from the scoring tokens, a player will need to watch the scoring tokens on display in order to collect the ones which will bring him most value.
  • The other kind of scoring tokens are the personalities. For each of the five most common types of collection tokens exists one matching personality token, and in combination with a collection of matching tokens the personalities will bring their owners additional victory points.

As usual, the game will be won by the player with most victory points, but whereas the aforementioned rules and the final evaluation procedure might leave an impression that the winner will be determined by skill and light mathematics, there are some factors which need to by mentioned which may result in a rather arbitrary outcome of the game.

One of this factors is the fact that a player always must chose his next card from the four different cards available at the display board. This way, it is nearly impossible to develop a strategy apart from a determination to gather cards to build a certain type of structures, since the cards on display may change considerably especially in a four player game.

This feeling of arbitrariness is strengthened by the fact that new scoring tokens also are revealed in a random fashion. Valuable personalities may come up in the first and cheapest column, whereas a highly wanted token may be temporarily out of reach for a player because he doesn't succeed in getting the right card for a turn or two.

Finally, and most important, possession of some of the five personality tokens may be quite decisive in the final evaluation, since they may bring a considerable yield of additional victory points. Here a player who was able to get one or two personalities early in the game has a palpable advantage, since he now may start collecting scoring tokens which match his personalities in order to collect this increased value at the end of the game.

However, the effects of these observations are much lessened in a two-player game, and in this constellation Die Hängenden Gärten becomes much more of a brain teaser with the players calculating, speculating and planning their next moves. Funny enough, this sometimes resulted in two-player games taking longer than average four-player games, and this underlines the real strategic potential of the game.

What I really liked was the unsual idea for the use of the playing cards, and although the game certainly should not be played on an outside table due to the danger of the cards becoming disarranged by a gust of wind, a bit of care on the side of the players makes the task of stacking the overlapping cards manageable.

Thus, let me point out that I have given my evaluation marks on the two-player game, since I consider the rules and set-up to harmonise much better with less players. In this setting the strategic potential of the game comes to bear most strongly, and the fact that there is not real player interaction apart from beating others by taking important tokens and cards falls into the background.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany