China, 1932: Foreign invaders established the puppet state of Manchukuo, and everything changed in your village.
During this tragic period, you are a respected master and teacher of the martial arts. Your community looks to you for leadership and protection... but with your traditions under fire, assembling and instructing students could be seen as an effort to undermine the state. As Manchuria endures the occupation, you will help find work for those that have put their faith in you, struggle to keep your way of life alive, and continue to teach your art in secret to grow your school's reputation. Only one school's style will emerge from these troubled times as the most prominent...will it be yours?
Manchukuo is a worker placement game played over a series of rounds. Each round consists of a day phase, where you assign your students to tasks about town, and a night phase, where you recruit new students and train with them in secret.
The day phase works similarly to a traditional worker placement game. You'll assign groups of students to different locations, and take the action at that location to scale with the number of students you assign. Certain spaces will allow you to gather resources like food, tools, and coins. Other spaces will present opportunities for you to invest those resources back into your troubled community--either by rebuilding, or by helping families in need.
At the end of the day phase, the students you assigned to different locations on the board will count towards your influence in the area. If you have the most influence in an area, you will recruit the students in that area's residence, and then the students you assigned to that area will replace them in that residence. All other players' students in that area return to their schools.
Managing the flow of students you recruit is the key to Manchukuo's gameplay. Recruit too few students, and you may not be able to take as many actions in the next round. Recruit too many students, and you could end up drawing unwanted attention from the garrison, who may enforce extra rules for how you can assign your workers.
Recruiting students is also important for the night phase, when you'll train together. The numbers and types of students in your school determine how you can level up your disciples, who can provide big bonuses to your actions, and who can eventually be promoted to Masters themselves. New Masters can take students with them to open their own schools, spreading your reputation farther than ever before.
At the end of the fifth round, the school with the greatest reputation wins!
—description from the publisher