Rainy Day Game's Board Game Review of Samurai:
Samurai in Summary
Reiner Knizia's classic tile-laying games really mark the pinnicle of German board games. The Samurai board game is one of Mr. Knizia's best: a game with simple rules that give rise to an excellent strategic challenge. Simply surround the towns and cities of feudal Japan with tiles representing influence. When the city is surrounded, the most influence takes the points in that city.
The easy rules make this a great entry game into the tile-laying genre. At the same time, Samurai is a game of concentration and careful decisions that will satisfy experienced gamers. Really a must-have game for anyone interested in European-style games!
The Samurai board game is an abstract puzzle that uses simple rules to create a deep strategic challenge. The concept is easy: to become Shogun you need the support of the military, the clergy and the peasants. These are marked by 3 types of plexiglass token and placed on the board in cities and towns.
As a player, you recieve a set of 20 plexiglass tiles. Most of these have a military/clergy/peasant marking on them, but a few of them are marked with Samurai or Ships. These tiles indicate your influence. Your turn is simple: lay one tile from your hand on the board and draw a replacement from your stack.
When a city or town becomes surrounded, the tokens in the city are given to the player with the most influence of that type. Fir example, if a peasant marker is in a town, check the surrounding tiles for PEASANT influence only. Other kinds of tiles have no effect, except that Samurai and Ship influnce tiles count towards all three spheres.
There are a couple of special counters that allow some surprises. One special counter allows a player to take one of their played influence tiles and re-place it in a more advantageous spot. Another allows the player to move one of the point tokens and move it to a new city. Although "gentle" and very limited in number, their proper use will have a big effect on the game.
The Samurai board game ends after all of the tokens for one sphere of influence are won. If one player has the most markers in 2 or 3 of the spheres, they are declaired the Shogun. However, if they dominate only one sphere, they and the other contenders must count the other tokens they have won, and the Samurai with the most OTHER tokens is declared Shogun. An interesting and tricky ending which should certainly affect your strategy throughout the game!
Who should buy Samurai?
The Samurai board game give your almost all of the strategy of Knizia's best games, such as Tigris & Euphrates, but without so much complexity. Samurai is a perfect game for people who want to experience the German tile laying game genre without having to learn a big thick rules book.
Keep in mind that Samurai is rather abstract and you have to concentrate to win. This is not a casual game that you play while yu're watching the football game on TV. However, it is short. And for any gamer willing to exercise their mind for 45 minutes, Samurai will reward you with a deep playing experience.
The Manufacturer's Board Game Review of Samurai:
For centuries, Samurai have represented unfailing courage, imperturbable loyalty and internal harmony. There are three Samurai forces: peasants, clergy and nobility. The way to power leads through these three: peasants, represented by rice fields, clergy, represented by Buddhas and nobility, represented by high helmets. To become a Samurai, one has to be supported by one of these forces and have strong connections to the other two.
Each player has an identical force and they deploy their forces to the spaces around the power figures. When a figure is surrounded, it is captured by the player with the strongest sympathetic force. To win, a player must gain dominance in one of the powers while getting better support from the other powers than the other players
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