2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. To be more accurate it’s the year of the Water Rabbit. Those born in the Year of the Rabbit are said to be gentle, kind, intelligent, and witty. Qualities that make for a great cooperative gamer.
If you’re looking for board games to play to get you excited for New Year, we’ve created a list of the ultimate Chinese & Lunar New Year board games to celebrate!
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Chinese New Year Board Games
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
Playing time: 60-90mins
Guide and rule the ancient lands of China back to glory.
Gùgōng is a great area majority style and worker placement game set in the time with oligarchs seemingly controlling workers as much as the Emperor.
Set in 1570 China, the empire is under control of the Ming Dynasty but a new emperor has inherited it in disarray because of corruption and mismanagement. Although the penalty for corruption is high, influential Chinese families gain influence through gift exchange.
Gùgōng has players take on the roles of these powerful families trying to gain power by exchanging gifts with Officials. You’ll need to make strategic choices as the gift cards you offer have to be a higher value than the one you receive.
Players travel around China purchasing precious stones, helping construct the Great Wall and ultimately secure their position with the emperor. One player can succeed and win the game or if several players succeed the player with the most victory points wins.
Blackout: Hong Kong
Playing time: 75-150mins
Imagine a world where the most illuminated city goes dark…
Struck by a mass unexpected blackout, Hong Kong falls into chaos as authorities struggle to maintain control. Players take on the task of bringing back some kind of social order. The most simple tasks become incredibly challenging without electrical power.
Players work to restore a semblance of order that’ll lead them to gain the position of power. Blackout: Hong Kong is a networking and route-building game where you’ll have to balance ever-changing resources to stay ahead of your rivals.
Playing time: 45mins
An adorable panda-themed strategy game for family fun.
Long ago, the Emperor of China offered the Emperor of Japan a giant panda in a politically-important gesture. You’ve been tasked with the assignment to care for the incredibly important Panda, tending to the bamboo garden.
Takenoko is a farming and territory-building board game in which players cultivate plots of land using irrigation and intelligence to ensure the bamboo will grow. But be careful, pandas have an insatiable appetite for crunchy young sprouts.
With each turn, players work to gain new plots, grow bamboo, and feed the panda. Whichever player with the most points wins!
The board game includes plastic bamboo pieces and beautifully illustrated gardens for a fun playing experience.
In the Year of the Dragon
Playing time: 75-100mins
A classic strategy game of palaces and privilege.
Players take on the role of Chinese princes looking to maximize their provinces’ prosperity and prestige — but this can’t be done alone. You’ll need experts to help protect the province from unfortunate disasters that will strike your province every month.
In the Year of the Dragon is an economic action drafting board game where players work through twelve rounds (12 months of the year), choosing actions that’ll help them for the next month. It’s all about strategy and thinking ahead to ensure you survive with workers, money, and points at the end of the year.
Playing time: 60mins
Can you save the helpless villagers or will they fall to darkness?
Ghost Stories is a cooperative game where players try to protect the village from the lord of hell, Wu-Feng. His gathering of ghosts haunts the town as they work to bring back their lord. Players take on the roles of Taoist monks, working to fight off the ghosts and save the town.
During the game, the Taoist monks come across ghosts who all have special powers. You’ll need to roll dice and place tiles to help villagers live.
To win, players must beat Wu-Feng who only makes an appearance at the end of the game. The levels of difficulty only get harder so you’ll need to work together to fight and defeat them all.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
Playing time: 30mins
This year’s harvest is in, and all are preparing for the upcoming festival. Floating lanterns will fill the palace lake with gorgeous colorful lights. Players compete to place tiles to earn the most honor before the festival begins.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a strategy game featuring a unique combination of tile placement, hand management, pattern build, and set collection. All these must be balanced to further your way to victory while also being sure you’re not risking helping your opponents.
Celebrate lanterns, the palace, and the fruitful harvest!
Playing time: 30mins
Dragon Parade is the ultimate Chinese/Lunar New Year board game as the decorative board depicts Chinese New Year fireworks in and around the Forbidden City. Right on-theme.
Players alternate playing cards to move the dragon along the streets to reach the end of the parade. Using red cards will move the dragon in one direction. Yellow cards then move it to another.
At the same time, you’ll also be setting up stands to sell food and drinks. Naturally, vendors want to be close to the celebration, but no one knows where the parade ends. Moving the dragon closer to your vendors will win you the game!
Dragon Parade comes with many different cards, pawns, coins, and dragons that are fun to move around the board.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
Playing time: 20mins
If you’re looking for a murder mystery board game to play during Lunar New Year, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is full of intrigue, deduction, deception, and murder.
Traveling back to Hong Kong, players are set in a scenario where a crime has been committed and must be solved.
One player is the murderer, choosing a weapon and evidence. Another player is the forensic scientist holding the key to all the murderous answers but can only express their knowledge through analysis of the scene. The rest of the players are investigators, looking for clues but the killer is among them.
You’ll need strong deductive skills and teamwork to be able to identify the key evidence. As the killer, you’ll need to be able to deceive your fellow investigators to mislead and confuse.
Who among you is capable of getting away with murder?
Xiangqi (Chinese Chess)
Playing time: 60mins
The classic game of Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) is a traditional choice to play on Chinese New Year. All generations can play, meaning kids, parents, and grandparents can face off as you try to defeat your opponent.
The game is said to have been played as early as the 4th century BCE and is closely based on ancient Chinese military strategy. Throughout the centuries, Xiangqi hasn’t changed, yet it is still one of the most-played board games.
Played with 32 pieces, the two players move their pieces with the object to capture the opponent’s General. Strategy is the most important thing as you move soldiers, chariots, cannons, horses, and elephants.
Chinese chess is definitely a board game worth learning!
Playing time: 15-20mins
Tsuro is a board game where the path is an ever-changing mystery.
Players strategically place path tiles to keep their stone on the board while they also work to lead their opponents astray. The last player on the board wins.
Tsuro is a fantastic family-friendly board game as it’s easy to learn, light, and entertaining. If you’re looking for an introductory tile placement game, Tsuro is the way to go. It also features an elegant and beautifully-designed board as you guide your way through ever-growing mazes of path tiles.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best Chinese & Lunar New Year board games! Have you celebrated the Chinese/Lunar New Year? Which game do you think is the best to play? Drop us a comment below and let us know your favorite! We’d love to hear from you.
Have a happy New Year!
Find more party board games below:
Ready Player Christine. Since my first D&D game, which took a turn for the weird and wacky (probably my influence), the world of board and tabletop games came alive. Now today, I get to write about these fantastical, fictional, and downright fun worlds.