The Zodiac Calendar and New Years Festivals

The popular Chinese Zodiac plays a part in Emperor. Every game year is tied to one of the 12 zodiacal animals and to one of the 10 Heavenly Stems represented by the five elements.

Choosing a Zodiac Animal: As stated on p.12, when a campaign begins or when you start a new family name, you must choose an animal of the zodiac from the list of 12 animals provided. In Multiplayer Scenarios (see p.125), each player selects his or her zodiac animal, and no animal can be selected twice. The reason you must choose one is that, based upon your selection, your city receives certain benefits during the year of your selection when you hold New Year's festivals. Below is a full description of the zodiac calendar and how it's used in the game.

The Chinese calendar uses the Stem-Branch system to count years in a 60-year cycle. There are 10 Heavenly Stems (five elements, each associated once with Yang and once with Yin) and 12 Earthly Branches (the Zodiac animals) in the system. Legend has it that the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from earth, but only twelve came. He then named the years after them in the order they appeared. People born in each year are said to have hidden personality traits corresponding to the Zodiac animal associated with that year.

The Han Dynasty started using the 60-year cycle in 4 CE. However, it became customary to trace the cycle back (in 60-year increments) to the 1st year of the reign of the Yellow Emperor (Huang Di, a mythological ruler), which is given as 2697 BCE.

Each game year is named for a different combination of element and animal, starting the 60-year cycle with Wood Rat. The element changes every two years in a 10-year cycle. The animal changes each year in a 12-year cycle. Together they make a 60-year cycle in which each animal is repeated five times and is linked to a different element each of those times. For example, 2697 BCE and 4 CE are Wood Rat years because they start the cycle. 2686 BCE and 15 CE are Wood Pig years (the 12th year of the cycle).

Historical missions (see p.13) that start on a prescribed year always start at the same point in the cycle. Multiplayer missions start at a random point in the cycle (1-60) so that players cannot pick the perfect animal for the situation. Below are charts listing the sequence of animals and elements.

Element

Animal

Sequence

Sequence

(six 10-year cycles

(five 12-year cycles

per 60 years)

per 60 years)

Wood

Rat

Wood

Ox

Fire

Tiger

Fire

Rabbit

Earth

Dragon

Earth

Snake

Metal

Horse

Metal

Ram

Water

Monkey

Water

Rooster

Dog

Pig

Holding a New Year's Festival: If applicable, you may hold a New Year's festival at the start of each year (the Chinese New Year begins in February) to increase the popularity rating (and incidentally to provide entertainment) of your city. If you hold a New Year's festival during your chosen zodiac year (which occurs every 12th year), you receive a bonus based on that year's element (wood, fire, earth, metal or water).

This is how it works. At the start of each February, if your city's population is equal to or greater than 100, a message appears indicating whether a festival can or cannot occur. If at least one entertainment area (this is the market square or theatre pavilion) exists in the city, and you have sufficient money and food on hand, and there is at least one entertainment school (music, acrobat, or drama) in the city, then the message asks if you wish to hold or cancel the New Year's festival. If no entertainment area or entertainment school exists in the city, or if you have insufficient money or food, the message alerts you that the festival is canceled and the people are disappointed. The message gives the reason for cancellation (lack of money, lack of food, entertainment off, or no schools). The festival automatically occurs for free if the hero Zao Jun (the Kitchen God) is present in the city at the start of February (so long as your population is equal to or greater than 100, and if there is one or more entertainment areas in the city).

If accepted, the required money and food are deducted from your inventory, and the festival occurs. Walkers carrying a large dragon appear at a randomly selected market square. Festival walkers (musicians, acrobats and/or actors) appear behind the dragon dancers in a parade. The dragon dance and trailing festival walkers follow a random path through the city until the end of February, when they disappear. Festivals are restricted by roadblocks and gates, unless those gates allow market square walkers to pass.

Below is a list of the effects of holding and not holding festivals.

  • The festival provides full entertainment access to every house it passes.
  • A festival increases a city's popularity rating. Adversely, if the New Year's festival is not held for whatever reason (except low population), your city's popularity rating decreases.
  • If you hold a festival during a year linked to your animal, you receive a zodiac "bonus" based on the element for that year. In Chinese culture, each element has many correspondences, such as season, direction, number, color, animal, grain, etc., so the gift and bonus are based on those correspondences. You have a menu choice of zodiac bonuses, which is displayed on the Hold Festival event message panel. There are up to four choices on the menu: a gift (commodity and menagerie gifts), a discount to certain building costs, improved yields/production, or a defensive military benefit. Except for the gift, these bonuses are temporary and last only for the current year (start of February to start of next February). You may click on any one of the four bonus choices to select that bonus. Bonus effects last only through the current year.

Gift Bonus: The gift bonus is based on the number, food and material traditionally associated with the Element. The program picks one of the commodity types for that element, but only if it is available in the mission. In addition to the commodity gift, your palace menagerie (if built) receives one animal type that it does not already have.

Element

# of

Possible commodity gift

loads

Wood

s

Wood

Lacquerware

Lacquer

Wheat

Fire

7

Bean Curd

Weapons

Meat

Bronzeware

Earth

5

Clay

Ceramics

Stone

Millet

Metal

9

Bronze

Iron

Steel

Hemp

Water

รณ

Millet

Salt

Fish

Tea

Reduced Building Cost Bonus: If you select this bonus, building costs are quartered for all of the following structures based on the year's Element:

Element

Building cost reduced to 1/4 normal for...

Wood

Logging Shed

Catapult Fort

Mulberry & Lacquer Trees

Lacquerware Maker

Flowering Tree

Wheat Field

Fire

Infantry Fort

Chariot Fort

Crossbow Fort

Weaponsmith

Soybean Field

--

Earth

Kiln

Clay Pit

Stoneworks

Walls

Laborers' Camp

Millet Field

Metal

Mint

Cavalry Fort

Bronzeware Maker

Bronze & Iron Smelters

Steel Furnace

Hemp Field

Water

Well

Salt Mine

Irrigation Pump & Ditch

Ferry

Pond

Millet Field

Improved Yield/Production Bonus: If you select this bonus, you get doubled production for certain buildings and/or crop yields, depending on the Element for the duration of that year.

Element

Production increased for...

Wood

Mulberry Tree

Lacquer Tree

Logging Shed

Wheat Field

Fire

Weaponsmith

Soybean Field

--

--

Earth

Kiln

Clay Pit

Stoneworks

Millet Field

Metal

Bronze Smelter

Iron Smelter

Steel Furnace

Hemp Field

Water

All Wells evolve

Salt Mine

All field and orchard tiles 100% fertile

Millet Field

Defensive Military Bonus: If you select this bonus, you get a defensive military benefit (only applies on your map) based on the Element for that year:

Element

Your Troops

Invading Troops

Wood

+30% Bonus to Morale

Attack values lowered 20%

Fire

+30% Bonus to Speed

Lose Morale 30% faster

Earth

+20% Bonus to Hit Points

Battering & catapult attacks 50% less effective

Metal

+20% Bonus to Attack values

Speed reduced 30%

Water

+20% Bonus to Armor values

50% harder to torch buildings

3. Tips on Entertaining the People

  • Once you have sufficient food supplies and cash in your city and aren't worried about shortages, toggle the New Year's Festival button in the Entertainment Ministry from "Prompt" to "Always Hold."
  • Bring Zao Jun to your city and receive free New Year's Festivals.
  • Build theatre pavilions only for your elite housing. ("Remember, you must be the Emperor. Be the Emperor.")
  • Each school should be able to generate enough entertainers to keep a couple different venues filled with that type of show.
  • After starting the mission, open the Entertainment Ministry full report by pressing the 7 key twice. The report tells you how long before your next bonus year. Make your plans accordingly. Before it arrives, have a market square, music school and food available for the festival. Will you want a gift, lower building costs, increased production or defensive bonus?
  • Though it's certainly not required, you may select the Zodiac animal associated with your own birthday using the chart below.

Your Zodiac Animal Is ...

If You Were Born In ...

1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996

RAT

1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997

OX

1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998

TIGER

1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999

RABBIT

1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988

DRAGON

1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989

SNAKE

1918, 1930, 1942, 1954,1966, 1978, 1990

HORSE

1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991

RAM

1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992

MONKEY

1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993

ROOSTER

1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994

DOG

1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995

PIG

Exception: The Chinese new year varies each year, but typically occurs in late January or early February. If you were born in January, your zodiac animal may actually be the previous one in the list.

Exception: The Chinese new year varies each year, but typically occurs in late January or early February. If you were born in January, your zodiac animal may actually be the previous one in the list.

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