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W. Eric Martin
• Russian publisher Zvezda is releasing a game – which is perhaps better described as a game series – titled Samurai Battles, with rules by Richard Borg and Konstantin Krivenko. Here's a short description to explain how this works:
Samurai Battles puts you in command of brave warriors clashing on the battlefields of feudal Japan! Assemble your army using magnificently detailed and historically accurate miniatures, then face your opponent on an endless variety of battlefields created from beautifully painted terrain and elevation tiles.
You can play Samurai Battles two different ways:
• Command & Colors: Designed by Richard Borg, this award-winning game system features a fast-paced, card-driven mechanism to represent the "fog of war". Special Dragon cards, along with Honor and Fortune tokens, will influence your luck in the thick of the battle!
• Art of Tactic: Designed by Konstantin Krivenko, this game system requires wits and strategy. You and your opponent secretly plan your moves every turn, then the actions of your warriors are resolved simultaneously – just like a real battle!
Both game systems are easy to learn, and offer deep strategic and tactical challenges to please every fan of historical board games. Samurai Battles is the perfect blend of the beautiful and the historic – and the perfect way to explore the exciting battles of medieval Japan.
Zvezda currently lists four sets of Samurai Battles 1/72 miniatures on its website, with box text in English and Russian, but it doesn't depict the base game. A Zvezda rep at NY Toy Fair in February told me that the game would debut in the U.S. in May 2012, and it will carry an $80 MSRP. Six supplemental sets of miniatures – Ashigaru-Archers, Ashigaru-Yari, Ashigaru with Arquebus, Mounted Samurai, Samurai-Naginata and Samurai Commanders – will retail for $4 each.
Alliance Game Distributors' Game Trade Magazine has more details about the base game and game system as a whole. An excerpt:
• The beautifully painted playing field, assembled from geomorphic board tiles, can be modified with individual terrain pieces. Players can create a myriad unique battlefields.
• With the help of special plastic elevation hexes, the board can be built as a relief: hills can be of varying heights, creating slopes of different grades. Some may cause problems for cavalry, while others can be passed only by specially-trained ninja teams.
• Every detail of a unit is tracked – morale, fatigue, the stock of arrows in the quiver, even previous victories over the enemy – in a simple and visual way, and can influence the outcome of every fight, or even the entire battle.