Through The Ages
I had played one game against the computer and a half-game against my son. My friend Dave was visiting, and I thought he'd like Samurai--light but meaty and good for 2 players.
I explained the rules, but I need a more clear and concise method for future explanations.
I won the first game by a large margin. Dave was often late to react or would help me with tile placement. He learned quickly, though. (Hey, I'm still learning, myself.)
Dave squeaked out game two, barely staving off my late run. He had a big lead at the halfway mark. He got a foothold around Edo and nipped me a lot in the north, using his tiles much more accurately. Then I got the momentum going. My late tiles were much more effective than his. I came up just short.
I won game three in a fairly close game. This time I had more Edo control and didn't get "dinked" as much for the city/villages combos. I followed my "rules" a lot more (see below) for that game, also.
Newbie lessons learned for the 2-player game:
1) Don't panic.
No one village is worth overcommitment and underutilization. Like applying a 2-ship to only one village early in the game, or a 4-specific tile to only one village. Better to lose out on one token early than two late.
Similar to chess, a good strategic position will open up tactical maneuvers. Forced tactical maneuvers are subject to rebuffing and underachieving.
2) If you don't compete for Edo, you better do well everywhere else. You'll probably still find yourself in tough battles for everywhere else.
3) I personally like starting with my 3-samurai, using it between a city and a village, and then tile exchanging it in a similar spot (Edo?) later in the game. Very effective and it's token-exchange proof.
4) The 1-ronin is handy as the only land piece that can double-up on land forces. It's a nice combo to seal off something two open lands away from capture and then also placed in between a village and city. OR to capture an isolated (surrounded by only 2 lands) village token with a low (or non-applicable) other tile.