$10.00
Recommend
17 
 Thumb up
 Hide
9 Posts

Ikusa» Forums » General

Subject: Reflections on the Internet version of Shogun ... a review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Tim Sansone
United States
Missouri
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
First, a disclaimer: as someone who helped develop the online game and the club that supports it, I have an obvious bias. At the same time, as someone who rates Shogun a perfect 10 on BGG and who waited a long, long time to find a way to start playing this superb game again, I am eager to share my experiences with "Web-Based Shogun."

Simply put, Web-Based Shogun is a free way to play Shogun through SSSPG, the Shogun & Samurai Swords Players Group (club site is http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/SSSPG and the game site is http://sdtaulbee.members.winisp.net/Shogun).

OVERALL COMMENTS

Generally speaking, the Web-Based Shogun gameplay experience is both familiar and exciting, especially if you get into a 4-player or 5-player game. Things move along fairly nicely, and it's great not to have to count provinces, remember whether that spearman has moved yet or not, or engage in some of the more mundane aspects of the board game that can be handled instantly and in the background by a computer.

To reduce the number of turns, players have the option to build, levy units, and hire ronin at the same time, though they are not required to do so. There is a standard casualty order for the defender (actually, 3 different orders that change with game circumstances), which is nearly optimal in practice, from my observations. Having a standard order enables a player to get all the way through the Wage War phase without interruption, unless the ninja's pre-set or special orders are triggered (more about that below).

There is a handy "strength chart" that provides unit counts for each player (and how many units are left in the tray), plus a value representing the power of each player's force, based on factors such as the experience level of each daimyo, castles or fortresses held, any hidden ronin, ownership of the ninja, and other measures.

Learning how the game engine works does take a bit of time; as such, the user interface is not as intuitive as it perhaps could be. Nonetheless, a handy "Quick Guide" is available as a primer for new players. Members of SSSPG are happy to start up a casual game with club newbies to help them learn how to work with the interface. After one game, just about anyone should be comfortable with the game engine.

COMPROMISES

For purists, be advised there are some compromises to keep the game moving. For example, in the game setup stage, players are asked to secretly place all 6 sets of extra spearmen at one time, rather than in 6 separate rounds as in the board game (the spearmen are not revealed to other players until everyone has placed them). Also, after the extra spearmen are revealed, players are then asked to secretly place all 3 armies at once (rather than in 3 separate rounds), which are then revealed after everyone has made their placements.

Then there is the handling of the ninja. Although the ninja's master can use it at any time (just as in the board game), there are only certain "hard stops" programmed into the web-based version of the game. Such moments include an attack upon one of the armies owned by the ninja's master and, depending on how he sets his controls, an attack upon any other player's army. You can also change the settings to activate the ninja if a certain enemy army moves or attempts to attack anyone. If you want to use the ninja at any other time, you would need to actively monitor what other players are doing, which is impractical unless you're playing in a live game. Still, I've found that the "ninja controls," as they are called, can handle over 95% of situations in which I'd want to use my ninja in a face-to-face game.

STRENGTHS

Because it is web-based, there is no software to download and no board to set up. You can play anywhere there is a computer and a connection to the Internet.

As veterans of the board game know all too well, the setup of a face-to-face game (which I define as doing everything up through the first round of bidding) takes awhile. It's thus very refreshing to see the entire board set up at the press of one button, and for the rest of the setup to be finished in just two turns, rather than nine.

Most games are played over a period of time rather than live, but a live web-based game (of which I've played a few) definitely takes less time than a face-to-face game, thanks mostly to the computer taking care of the routine but time-consuming tasks such as removing ronin, redistributing province cards (actually, no cards are even needed with the online version), moving swords and game pieces around, etc.

The program is very stable and it seems just about all the bugs have been worked out. (The head programmer conducted 4 months of beta testing using over a dozen members of SSSPG as playtesters.) Occasionally a minor issue arises but is typically addressed promptly. In my experience, such issues seem to involve previously unencountered game scenarios that did not occur during playtesting.

CLUB FEATURES

Web-Based Shogun and the club that supports it, SSSPG, have a symbiotic relationship. A program lacking some human infrastructure behind it would, after all, be a soulless creation.

Fortunately, there is a core group of good guys (and one gal, that I know of) in the club who are a lot of fun to play a game with. When it comes to alliances, I've found SSSPG members to be actually more trustworthy than my face-to-face compatriots. (Imagine that!) But everyone knows there can be only one winner in the end, and everyone respects that fact and won't take their ball and go home when the time comes for someone else to break a deal and go for the win (or the jugular, as the case may be).

The club offers both casual and competitive games, and has a ladder system for competitive games that tracks players' ratings and ranks. A hybrid rating system combining features of chess ratings with performance-based bonuses (e.g., extra points for army preservation and territorial expansion) discourages duck hunting for easy (read: newbie) targets, but not so much that a new player can't find a game. There are enough incentives built into the system that veteran players still have enough to play for when accepting a challenge from lower-rated players. (And there's always a casual game to get into.) Also, ratings slowly decrease over time if a player who has reached a lofty plateau stops playing.

CONCLUSION

Simply stated, I'm having a great time playing Web-Based Shogun. I've met a lot of good folks, learned how to step up my game (here's a tip: watch out for Greg K. and Merten H.), and seen a large influx of new players. SSSPG went from a couple dozen members around the beginning of the year up to 73 as of this week.

I know the club would love to reach 100 or more. You might consider throwing your hat into the ring. If so, I'll see you on the battlefield.

Tim
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
♫ Eric Herman ♫
United States
West Richland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
I like elephants. I like how they swing through trees.
mbmbmbmbmb
You should really re-post this as a review...

Regardless, thanks for the reminder about this. I was hoping for a long time that someone would make an online version of this game, and I've been meaning to try it since I heard about it a while ago... But I'll need to bone up on the rules again before doing that, as it's been about 15 years since I've played.

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Sansone
United States
Missouri
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Update ...

We are now surveying the members of SSSPG on what would be a better setup process to use.

Though the two-step process currently being used certainly gets the game started quickly (i.e., step 1, place 12 extra spearmen simultaneously; step 2, place 3 armies simultaneously), much of the strategic planning is taken away. Additionally, players sometimes end up blindly placing units too close to other players.

So far there is unanimous support for adding more steps to the setup process. The survey will close on July 31, at which time we'll know which of the nearly 10 setup options being considered is the most popular. We'll then vote on whether to adopt that option.

I'm confident we'll end up changing the setup process, and when we do, I'll update my review to reflect how the change affects the overall game experience.

Tim
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Sansone
United States
Missouri
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Following up on my last message ...

The members of SSSPG decided to add a new 5-phase setup option. When a new game is started, either the 2-phase or 5-phase option is available.

Both options are still handled simultaneously by the web-based program, and the 2-phase option is the same as before: (1) place 12 extra spearmen; and (2) place 3 armies.

The new 5-phase option is also handled simultaneously, and works like so: (1) place 6 extra spearmen; (2) place 6 extra spearmen; (3) place 1 army; (4) place 1 army; and (5) place 1 army.

The expansion of the number of setup phases definitely restores some of the strategy that may have been missing from the early game in the web-based version. Of course, having 5 phases means the setup process does take longer -- but that process does set the stage for the whole game, so it's worth the extra investment of time.

The new setup option is getting a good test right now, as the club has just begun its second Web-Based Shogun tournament. SSSPG's membership recently topped 110 and is still growing. You may visit the membership site at http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/SSSPG
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Sansone
United States
Missouri
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Here's another brief update regarding the web-based platform used by SSSPG.

We are completing testing of the 7 rule changes introduced with the Ikusa upgrade released in 2011. (These changes are vis-a-vis the original Shogun game released in 1986. Some of the changes were implemented with later versions of Shogun, such as Samurai Swords, but SSSPG has so far used the original (1986) version as the foundation for its gameplay rules.)

Rated (ladder) games have been unavailable for several months at SSSPG since we started coding and testing the Ikusa rule changes. Also, an improved rating system founded upon the Fortress America Players Association (FAPA) rating system will be introduced, including (for the first time) an automated scoring feature that will remove the need for manual updates to players' ratings.

Finally, we now have over 200 members -- another important update to my original posting above!

We are now estimating August 31 as the date to re-launch rated play with the Ikusa rules as the new foundation for the club's gameplay. Until then, the existing interface based on the original (1986) Shogun rules remains in place, with non-rated games still available.

Tim
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Sansone
United States
Missouri
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
[new server for game site] Re: Reflections on the Internet version of Shogun ... a review
Just a note that SSSPG is moving the Web-Based Shogun game site to a new server: http://www.ausoft.us/shogun/

Games that are already being played will be available until 8/27/12 at the old game site. No new games may be created there; use the new site for creating new games.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Stark
Canada
flag msg tools
Hello Shogun fans,

I haven't played this game since I was a teenager, and would love to play again. Now, call me crazy, but I don't see a register link on the game page: http://www.ausoft.us/shogun/

How do I get started?

Cheers,
Rob.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Stark
Canada
flag msg tools
Ah ah...registration info can be found here:
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/SSSPG/

Cheers,
Rob.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Sansone
United States
Missouri
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Correct - in the top-right area of the game site, there is a link to the SSSPG site for registration (look for the line that reads, "Click here to sign up").

Glad you found it - hope you enjoy the site.

Tim
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.