On Sunday @KoffeeKlub we had five players and rolled out Shogun, by Queen Games. Shogun, a re-theme on the German game Wallenstein, is set during the Sengoku or warring states period (1467-1573) of Japanese history, which ends with the inception of Tokugawa Shogunate.
Each player assumes the role of a Daimyo over a period of two game years, with each year split into three active seasons (Spring, Summer and Autumn) and one scoring season (Winter). During the active seasons players select from ten available actions to develop his influence across the board and to secure victory points during the scoring season.
The available actions include taxing provinces for rice and money, re-enforcing armies, moving/battling and building temples, theatres or castles.(see below)
|The ten actions available in Shogun|
Actions can only be played once per season and occur in a random order, the first five visible to players (for planning purposes) and the last five hidden from players representing the unknown future.
Players will have to plan their seasons carefully, for example it is impossible to tax a province that has recently been lost to your enemy in an earlier action round.
|The Battle Tower|
Combat in Shogun uses a tower (left) to resolve conflicts between players and handle revolts. The tower is seeded at the start of the game with a pre-set number of cubes. Most of these simply fall through onto the tray area, but some are held inside the tower to fall in later battles.
An Example of Combat
Typically combat occurs when one player moves his forces (cubes) into an adjacent province belonging to another player by using either a battle A or battle B action card. The attacking player selects the number of attacking cubes (leaving at least one behind) and the defending player uses all of the cubes already in the province under attack. All of these go into a cup with any cubes in the tower's tray.
The attacking player now pours everything in the cup into the tower and any cubes that fall through into the tray are used to calculate the result of the battle.
From our picture, the Blue player attacked the Red player. Six blue cubes and four red cubes landed in the tray, but red has no revolt markers in the province being attacked, so the three green farmer cubes side with him. This changes the final result to six attacking blue cubes vs. seven defending red and green cubes, The defender wins! Blue loses all six of his cubes to the supply and red also loses six cubes (all three of the green cubes and three of his own red ones). The province is saved for now, but now only has one red cube protecting it.
We had two players new to Shogun, but they fared pretty well and picked up the rules quickly enough to compete.
ChrisG (Black) chose his battles carefully and tried to stay under the radar. This worked for him, but he didn't get a good feel for the scoring until after the first scoring round had been completed.
MichaelS (Blue) was also quite conservative early on, but managed to get successes against his most of his neighbours, some battles being fought with very few attacking armies. An interesting strategy. :)
AndyA (Yellow) was as ever unpredictable, attacking red and black to his north and blue to the south. After some early successes he fell back slightly when later battles didn't go his way.
GaryG (Red) I only managed one significant victory in battle and ended up trying to take back ground that I had lost.
GaryB (Purple) was the runaway leader following the first year scoring. He consolidated his positions early in year two and when we had to call the game to a close earlier than expected, he was awarded the win.
Shogun is a fine game with just the right level or complexity and random elements to make it a fun experience. It plays best when you have 4/5 players and can generate a lot of excitement through it's tower battle system when players get into the spirit of the game. I'm sure we'll roll it out again soon.