Chinatown: A Tile-Based Strategy Game Guide – Rules, How to Win, Instructions


Chinatown is a board game that’s all about negotiation and strategy. It was first released in 1999 and has been a hit with gamers who love to make deals and trade. The game is set in New York City’s Chinatown in the 1960s, where players are trying to build successful businesses. The goal is to end the game with the most money, and you do this by acquiring and trading for property, building shops, and making smart deals with other players.

The game is known for its open negotiation system, which means players can trade pretty much anything at any time, which I find to be a pretty cool way of keeping everyone on their toes. This can lead to some intense and fun gameplay. It’s a game that’s easy to learn but can take some time to get really good at, especially when it comes to the negotiation part. So, let’s dive in and see what it takes to become a Chinatown master!

Quick Tip for Chinatown

Always be ready to make a deal, but don’t be afraid to say no if it’s not right for you.

Rules for playing Chinatown

Chinatown rules are pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot to keep in mind. The game is played over six rounds, and each round has three phases: the Deal Making phase, the Building phase, and the Income phase. At the start of each round, players get new building tiles and business tiles, which they can use to set up shops on their properties.

The Deal Making phase is where most of the action happens. You can trade property cards, cash, and business tiles with other players. There are no turns in this phase; everyone is trading at the same time, trying to get the best deals possible. The Building phase is when you place your business tiles on the properties you own. You want to complete sets of businesses to make more money. Finally, in the Income phase, you earn money based on the businesses you’ve built.

The game ends after the sixth round, and the player with the most money wins. It’s important to know that the rules allow for pretty much any kind of trade, so you need to be sharp and think on your feet to make the best deals.

Equipment and Setup for Chinatown

To play Chinatown, you need a game board that shows the streets of Chinatown, property cards, business tiles, money, and player markers. Each player gets a set of property cards and some starting cash. You’ll shuffle the business tiles and place them face down.

The game board has lots of spaces for properties, and each property can hold one business. At the start of the game, you’ll deal out property cards to each player, which tell you where on the board you own property. You’ll also draw some business tiles that show what kind of shop you can build.

There are different types of tiles in the Chinatown game, like restaurants, laundromats, and factories. Each type of business needs a different number of tiles to be complete, and complete businesses make more money.

How to Play Chinatown and Game Mechanics

Playing Chinatown involves a few key game mechanics. Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Setup: Give each player their starting property cards, money, and player markers. Place the game board in the center of the table.
  2. Gameplay: Each round, players draw new property cards and business tiles, negotiate trades, place their business tiles on the board, and then collect income from their businesses.
  3. End of the Game: After six rounds, the game ends, and the player with the most money wins.

During the gameplay, you’ll go through these phases:

  1. Deal Making: Trade anything and everything to get the properties and business tiles you need.
  2. Building: Place your business tiles on your properties to start building your shops.
  3. Income: Collect money based on the value of your completed businesses.

How to Win at Chinatown

To win at Chinatown, you need to be good at making deals and planning ahead. You want to get properties that are close together so you can build bigger businesses. It’s also important to keep an eye on what other players are doing and try to block them from completing their businesses if you can.

Beginner players should focus on learning how to make good trades and not be too eager to jump at every offer. Intermediate players can start to think about the timing of their trades and how to use money as a tool in negotiations. Advanced players will be looking for ways to manipulate the market, maybe by holding onto key properties or business tiles that others need.

Best Strategies for playing Chinatown game

Some of the best strategies for winning at Chinatown involve being flexible and thinking ahead. You want to be able to adapt your plans based on the tiles and properties you get. It’s also a good idea to keep track of what businesses other players are trying to build and see if you can trade for the tiles they need before they do.

Another strategy is to focus on money. Having a lot of cash gives you more options in trades and can help you get out of tough situations. You can also use money to sweeten deals and get other players to agree to trades they might not otherwise go for.

Sneaky tactics can include things like pretending you’re not interested in a property or business tile that you really want, so other players don’t drive up the price. Or you might make a trade that seems good for another player but actually benefits you more in the long run.


Here are some common scenarios you might find yourself in while playing Chinatown:

  • If you have a lot of scattered properties, try to trade for ones that are closer together.
  • If another player is close to completing a big business, see if you can trade for one of their needed tiles to stop them.
  • If you’re low on cash, consider selling some of your less important properties or business tiles.

In each of these scenarios, think about how you can turn the situation to your advantage. Sometimes, making a short-term sacrifice can lead to a bigger payoff later in the game.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Chinatown game

Here are some common questions and answers:

Q: Can I trade properties with another player for free?
A: Yes, you can trade properties without exchanging money if both players agree.
Q: What happens if players can’t agree on a trade?
A: If you can’t agree, no trade happens. You can always try again later or with a different player.
Q: Can I break up a set of business tiles and sell them individually?
A: Yes, you can trade or sell individual business tiles if you want.
Q: How many players can play Chinatown?
A: Chinatown is best with 3 to 5 players.
Q: Is there a time limit for the Deal Making phase?
A: There’s no set time limit, but players can agree on one to keep the game moving.

For more information on Chinatown, check out these links: