Author: unknown

Publisher: MB

Awards: none



Brian Bradford (USA) writes about the game:

Shogun is a game set in the Sengoku (warring states) period of Japanese history. It may be played by Five people. The game includes a colored set of pieces for each player; 3 Daimyo, 6 flags, 36 spearmen, 9 bowmen, 9 gunners, and 9 swordsmen. There is also miniatures of castles and Ronin, and a ninja. Katanas are also provided, these have diamond on them to determine turn order.

To begin play everyone chooses a color and sets up their Army card. There are three armies on a card. Each may be occupied by up to 15 pieces, the Daimyo takes up one of these spaces. The remaining spaces may be occupied by troop type, Samurai or Ashigaru. Four Samurai types may be put in an army, these are bowmen and swordsmen, the others are Ashigaru; gunners and spearmen. Each player starts with three armies each with a Daimyo, bow, sword, and two guns. Cards are dealt equally to each player, and like risk, they are claimed with a spearmen. From there 12 spearmen are taken from by each player, and in turn 2 are placed at a time, followed by armies, until everyone is setup.

Each player has a planning tray in front of them. In this tray are slots for Take sword, build, levy, hire ronin, and hire ninja. At the beginning of each turn players count their territories and divide by 3; the number being their Koku. Each player places bids in the different areas according to their strategy. No more than two may be placed in the build per turn. After all have finished the trays are turned so all can see.

  • Take swords--whoever has the most may choose what sword he wants for movement. Ties are rolled off if no agreement is reached.
  • Build--for each two koku a castle or fortification may be built. A fortification can only be built to upgrade an existing castle.
  • Levy--players buy troops, there is a chart which tells what players may buy for each Koku.
  • Hire Ronin--For each Koku a player may hire 2 Ronin (masterless Samurai)
  • Hire Ninja--Highest bid gets him.

There is no saving koku from turn to turn. All these choices are conducted one after another in the order of the swords. So if sword one buys the last castle, then sword two looses his money if he also wished to buy one.

After all have gone through the steps the war phase begins, which is handled in sword order. Prior to combat, a player may move his armies according to their experience (experience is above each army. For each successful battle a player may advance the army one ahead. A player can go as high as 4) There are two types of armies, Daimyo and Provincial. Daimyo armies are marked by a flag and contain up to 15 pieces. Provincial armies may only contain 5 pieces. Provincials may not move during first movement. after initial movement a player declares battles by placing an arrow in the areas to be attacked. After this is done combat begins, followed by final movement, which allows Daimyo and provincial armies to move again, claiming vacant provinces if needbe.

Combat is handled in rounds. First each player rolls their bows and guns. Bows need a six or less to kill on a D12, while guns need a 4 or less. After, both sides choose casulties. In the next round the Daimyo, swordmen, Ronin, and spears are rolled. Daimyo hits on a 6 or less, Ronin/Swords on 5 or less, and spears on 4 or less. Casualties are taken and a new round begins. The attacker has the option to retreat before the next round. Castles add to the defense by providing 4 bonus spears and fortified castles 5 Ronin--these must be chosen as casualties first.

Any attack across the sea is naval, the defender completes a round of fire and melee before the attacker begins to fire, thus getting a first strike advantage. Bonus troops for castles may not bennefit from this attack. On turn one no Daimyo armies may be attacked.

A combat ends if the attacker retreats, or a side is destroyed. The elimination of the Daiomyo, taken as last casualty, eliminates that army from the game. A player is knocked out of the game upon loosing his last army. When killing a players last army, the victor recieves all his territories, and may use his troops to supplement his own. furthermore, the victor will be able to raise any of their previously defeated armies.

Ronin which are bought are placed ontop of a province card and reveled when needed, adding themselves into an attack or defense. The key is that there must be one less Ronin than regulars. In other words, a daimyo's army with 15 pieces may have up to 14 Ronin, but must maintain the one less rule when choosing casualties.

The Ninja allows the owner to do two things; spy or assasinate. For assasination a player, at any time, may call out a daimyo to kill and roll a die. On a 9 or less the Daimyo is removed and his army frozen for the rest of the turn. This means that all experience is lost andf the army may not move. If attacked it fights normally, but without a Daimyo. At the beginning of the next turn a new soldier is promoted to Daimyo; experience starts at one. To spy keep the piece; after all have placed their Koku you may sellect a player and look at his choices, then redo yours.

This is the best game in the MB gamemaster series in my opinion. Having won several tournaments, I find several strategies for victory. Here are some suggestions

  • 1) Buy the Ninja on turn one. Yes, to killa would not be worthwhile, but use it to spy on the player who's armies you plan to attack on turn two. Usually on turn two all hell breaks loose. Spy just before and change your disposition to counter and overcome his strategy. Next turn strike and kill.
  • 2)Position more than one army to do an army kill, when one is near defeated, call off the attack and renew with a new army.
  • 3)Try to position yourself in a are where a flank is on the board edge. For instance, Kyushu island has noone in behind, so all armies can be used frontally.
  • 4)Diplomacy, Diplomacy
  • 5)I cannot stress the power of the Ninja, I have bought it turn after turn in every game I have played and won in the tournaments. Not only can it be used to assasinate, and hence a last effort to save an army from annihilation, but you can spy with it if you do not use it to assasinate, getting the upper hand on your opponent. If you can find who else wishes to bid on the Ninja, you can look at their bid and bid one higher. Keeping the Ninja for another turn. The Ninja is scary; one assasination can destroy a person's turn and render him defenseless.

Victory is claimed by the player who controls 35 provinces. For longer games, taking 35 territories and holding them for the remainder of the turn is victory.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany