There was a real oriental theme at Thur night games, one group was having another go at Yedo and my table has a lash of shogun. This is a game I’ve had for some time and haven’t played in a while.
Shogun is like Wallenstein with a different map and theme. The first thing that strikes you about the game is it uses the same slot machine of death Tower as Wallenstein and Amerigo, the second is You really need to bag this game up there’s a lot pieces and they get mixed up way too easy.
Shogun is a map conquest game where you play the role (possibly theatrically) of a Japanese Daimyo who wants to be Shogun and rule all of Japan. You do this by scoring the most points by having troops in the most territories and owning the most fortresses, temples and theatres in each of the six regions. I say own because you can build them yourself but it’s so much sweeter to waltz in and take someone else’s after they’ve gone to the effort and cost of building them
Combat is the real sizzle of this game. The battle (murder) tower is like an old Victorian slot machine it. It contains a couple of baffles that retard cubes when you throw in your pieces and it’s a lottery to see what pops out the end. When the game starts a number of armies from all participants and some from the neutral bastard farmers get poured in and seed the tower. Fall outs are put back in supply and away we go.
When a battle happens it’s simplicity itself. You move your little cube armies into a territory and if it contains enemies you just pick up all of them up and drop them into the tower. Whatever comes out in the combative colours you compare and the most cubes win. The difference between the two is what goes back on the board. Oh and the bastard green farmers throw their weight behind the defender.
The battles are fast and furious. Your dudes can be whittled down very quickly both by defending and attacking.
Turns see you pick a number of actions in regions you control and a little like forbidden stars you have to program them in advance. It’s more than possible to have an event set to kick off in a region and have someone else come in and take that region nullifying the event.
There’s a simple economic model, gold and rice both of which are gained by confiscating them from the peasants to get increasingly cheesed off with you and ferment revolt. After spring, summer and autumn turns winter kicks in and you score your regions and buildings but more importantly you have to feed your ungrateful peasants whom you ripped off for the last three turns. Chances are they’ll be unhappy and depending on how many go without rice you’ll find yourself fighting a number of potentially dangerous uprisings. The peasants keep grudges for years and never forgive for stealing from them (hey the gold was only resting in my account).
This is a great little game. If you’ve come from conquest games with one for one battles the random tower can be a system shock. Personally I like it. It’s simple and final.
The one criticism I could level at the game is how little the board changes. Where you start is pretty much where you stop with some changes. It’s maybe more realistic than big sweeping battles and the game does only last two years.
Shogun has got a little depth and although there’s really only six turns and a max of 12 attacks from start to finish, you have a lot of tough decisions to make when you plan a turn.
I haven’t played Amerigo yet but the revisit to the battle tower has whet my appetite to play more of this sort of thing. Fun game well worth your time and I’ll be running it the next Knavecon for sure