Journey of the Emperor – Laboratory H – Preview

"This is a great execution of game as art, or art as game."

Theme and What is it?

You are a festival organizer, designing the most beautiful festivity and paths for your Emperor. Your emperor is a fickle man, you never know what he will ultimately choose.

You do know what he has told you he likes, and it is your job to build that to the best of your ability.

Gameplay Mechanics

Card drafting is the base of this game which leads to the ultimate goal of set collection. Each round you will place one of three cards, and you will draft another.

You will always have three cards in your hand to choose from.

These cards will also be scored at the end by the Emperor, as that is how he rolls.

You must build enough festivities that you do not lose, but you do not need to build more than that. Now your goal is point maximization.

Initial Impressions

The box is pretty simple, and does not allude directly to the content of the game. I honestly, had no idea what to think going it. It appears to be a curio cabinet, but that did not immediately appear to me, and had to be pointed out.

For that reason, I had no idea what to expect.

Game Build Quality

When you open the box, you are looking at two sets of cards, festivals and scoring cards. The cards are functional and look very nice as they build out.

I personally had a hard time shuffling the cards. My short fat fingers, found it difficult. I found the table flop & slide to be the most efficient means of shuffle.

Artistic Direction

When the box is opened, the art and artistry is apparent. It is very pretty. Each flower just looks so nice, each lantern has its home.

The game on the table, looks so good. It is readily apparent, that the game is designed around the art, and the art is designed around the theme. This is a great execution of game as art, or art as game.

Fun Factor

I love set collection games.

When done well, they tax your brain, and the puzzle being player specific makes guarding against another player very difficult.

As such, if you like set collection and pretty art, this game should be right up your alley.

Age Range & Weight

10+. I’d say based on the set collection, anything younger may not be able to resolve end game scoring, and for that reason, it may not be as fun for them, but they can easily do the build out portion of the game, if they like building towards a goal.


We are in a veritable golden era of big games in small boxes. This does not mean a smaller box needs to be an epic tale, but having any tale at all is appreciated.

Journey of the Emperor, is currently on pre-order as of June 2019, and Laboratory H, hopes to end that pre-order in about 90 days. I think for fans of set collection, the art alone, makes it worthwhile to get to your table.