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Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan» Forums » General

Subject: More detailed info? rss

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J Mathews
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This game just premiered on the GMT P500 list and it looks pretty interesting due to both the topic and the proposed gameplay. However, there's not a whole lot to go on. There are 2 posts in this game's CSW folder that are pretty vague and there is the Geeklist entry here on BGG.

Is there anyone out there that can give a bit more information? Such as, how do the blocks and cards interact in battle? How does army movement work? Etc. I'm just looking for more info. Thanks.
 
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Matt Calkins
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Sekigahara is an unusual game. Here’s a quick tour of the novel aspects:

Blocks + Cards
Blocks often represent armies, but here cards are equally important in battle, representing motivation. Units do not fight on their own – only a matching pair of army and motivation produces impact. Winners in combat are not those who arrive with the largest army, but those who can deploy more units. Each card corresponds to a clan. A Mori card can be used to send a Mori unit into battle. When it enters battle, it does an amount of impact equal to the number of symbols on the block (1-3), plus a few modifiers. Hand size is a measure of legitimacy, and derived from ownership of castles. Cards are refreshed after each combat, with a reduction for the loser. New blocks are recruited weekly by those who dominate crucial regions.

Battles
Victory is a function of “impact”, which accumulates as each side throws new units into the fray (paired with the proper card). Back and forth, the side currently behind always making the next assault until one side cannot continue. Can you hold off using your cavalry charge until the pursuit round, when impact is doubled? When should you use your Cancel card (which negates one attack) or should it be saved for a later battle? Losses in combat have nothing to do with who won, but the impact delivered by each side against the other. Each 5 points of impact mean one block removed. (A siege is slightly different – it takes 7 impact to kill a unit, the defender cannot deploy, and losses can be cancelled by Siege cards.)

Movement
Distance a unit can travel is a function of the number of units it travels with. A group of 4 blocks may move two spaces, but any more would be limited to one, and a pair could move three. There is no force marching. Instead, 2 cards of legitimacy can be sacrificed to take a third turn each week. The sacrifice of one card can move blocks without a leader present.

Special Units
Leader units allow movement without sacrifice of legitimacy, plus they augment the impact of their own troops by one when present in battle. Gun and cavalry units can combine to produce one special attack per combat. The attack’s power is proportional to the number of such pieces assembled, but the pieces begin spread across Japan. Gathering builds strength at the expense of time.
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J Mathews
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That sounds pretty awesome. How does the game treat the Mori and Kobayakawa...change in alligences? Also, what is the real timeframe of the game (180 minutes is listed but those listings are generally off a bit)?
 
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Matt Calkins
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Historical note for readers: the Mori clan refused to fight in the final battle at Sekigahara, due to a slight against their daimyo Mori Terumoto, who (rather than heading the army) was asked to remain in Osaka guarding the heir. The Kobayakawa clan actually switched sides, midway through the battle, as they had previously conspired to do.

Here's how Sekigahara (the game) handles them:

Mori:

I wanted the Ishida player to have the choice of whether to invite Mori Terumoto into the fray. In real life Ishida did not, preserving his primacy but losing critical muscle (about 30,000 troops).

Mori Terumoto begins the game with a beautiful army in Osaka, but cannot leave until he has been declared commander of the western forces. To so declare him, Ishida must sacrifice 4 cards of legitimacy (that's a lot) minus one for every four enemy blocks he has killed so far. I see Mori activated in about half of all playtest games. (When in Osaka, he's still useful, as the game depends on holding that castle.)

Kobayakawa:

I wanted there to be uncertainty about which units would fight, even if you held the right motivation cards. (Even Tokugawa was fearful of traitors in his own ranks.)

Both decks have "cancel" cards (Ishida 2 and Tokugawa 3), which cancel an attack made by the opponent (still expending the unit). These are enormously powerful, and often turn the battle. (Early versions had "defection" cards, but they were so powerful it unbalanced the game.) The strategic question when you hold a cancel card: is this battle important enough to justify use of the card?
 
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Matt Calkins
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Also, the game really does play in 180 mins. Short playtime was essential to me. I like playing tournament wargames (which should finish in 2-3h) and don't have time for games that can't be finished in an evening.

Sekigahara playtest times (among players who know the game well):
20 percent under 2 hrs
40 percent 2-3 hours
40 percent over 3 hours
 
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J Mathews
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mcalkins wrote:
Historical note for readers: the Mori clan refused to fight in the final battle at Sekigahara, due to a slight against their daimyo Mori Terumoto, who (rather than heading the army) was asked to remain in Osaka guarding the heir. The Kobayakawa clan actually switched sides, midway through the battle, as they had previously conspired to do.

Here's how Sekigahara (the game) handles them:

Mori:

I wanted the Ishida player to have the choice of whether to invite Mori Terumoto into the fray. In real life Ishida did not, preserving his primacy but losing critical muscle (about 30,000 troops).

Mori Terumoto begins the game with a beautiful army in Osaka, but cannot leave until he has been declared commander of the western forces. To so declare him, Ishida must sacrifice 4 cards of legitimacy (that's a lot) minus one for every four enemy blocks he has killed so far. I see Mori activated in about half of all playtest games. (When in Osaka, he's still useful, as the game depends on holding that castle.)

Kobayakawa:

I wanted there to be uncertainty about which units would fight, even if you held the right motivation cards. (Even Tokugawa was fearful of traitors in his own ranks.)

Both decks have "cancel" cards (Ishida 2 and Tokugawa 3), which cancel an attack made by the opponent (still expending the unit). These are enormously powerful, and often turn the battle. (Early versions had "defection" cards, but they were so powerful it unbalanced the game.) The strategic question when you hold a cancel card: is this battle important enough to justify use of the card?

That's a cool way to handle the Mori clan. As for Kobayakawa, is it correct to assume from your post that the Ishida side gets Kobayakawa's troops but both sides gain 'cancel' cards to simulate defections with Tokugawa getting more to simulate the fact that historically he was on the receiving end of the defection?

This game sounds really cool (I'm not a wargamer, just someone on the lookout for good games wherever I can find them). I guess I will start the process of convincing my wife to P500 this one (might take until I get Combat Commander because she's been leery about the system since I made that first P500). Good luck on your way up the charts.
 
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J Mathews
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Oh, another quick question that you hinted at in your answer- what is the ultimate objective of the game? Are you taking castles, getting to a certain position, killing armies, what? Thanks for your efforts to answer my questions.
 
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Matt Calkins
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In this game the player is not representing an army or a cause but a single man: Tokugawa Ieyasu or Ishida Mitsunari. (This is why Ishida must sacrifice to promote Mori, though it is entirely beneficial for the western army to do so.)

Either side wins with the death of the opposing general. Tokugawa can also win by taking Osaka castle, where the heir was guarded. Finally, either side can win by dominating the victory locations (owning 12 of the 16) at the end of a turn. (There are 9 castles and 7 resource zones.)

If seven weeks (the length of the 1600 campaign) expires with neither side victorious, the winner is the owner of more of the 16 victory locations, with Ishida the winner in case of a tie.

To confirm your earlier clarifications:
Kobayakawa is an Ishida ally.
Tokugawa gets more cancel cards because he was the historical beneficiary of the defections.
 
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J Mathews
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Ok, I finally had the opportunity to get on the GMT website and look at the map and that was very informational. I was thinking that this game focused on the battle of Sekigahara but it is actually focused on the time period and events before and after with the map being a good chunk of central Japan (Sendai to just south of the Kansai area) and movement through there and Sekigahara being a key crossroads in that map. That makes things make more sense. I look forward to further updates as this game goes through development.
 
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Hector Lopez
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Sounds incredibly interesting. I just placed my preorder. Are there any good books about this period to learn more about the background. I'm not much of a history buff, but I often am inspired to read up such things to get a better insight and feel of a good game.
 
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J Mathews
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I don't know of anything specific but if you look up 'Sengoku Jidai' at a library or on Google, you should be able to find some good stuff. You're looking for the relative end of the Sengoku Jidai (I think). There are some pretty good Kurosawa movies set during this time but they are less than historical and so might not be of interest.
 
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Matt Calkins
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For period background, I recommend a book by Jansen called "The Making of Modern Japan". The first section (and it's a long section) is a deep treatment of the pre-shogunate era, from the earliest civilization (the Jomon, named after the rope patterns they inscribed into pottery) to the battle of Sekigahara.
 
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Jonathan
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Will there be historical notes included in the rules?
 
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Matt Calkins
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It's a fascinating period in history. I've been working on Sekigahara for 2.5 years, during which time I've visited Japan twice and seen many of the places that figure in the game. I hiked the Nakasendo, the mountain highway along which Tokugawa Ieyasu sent 30,000 men under his son (the future shogun) only to have them arrive late to the final battle by a matter of hours. I saw Tokugawa Ieyasu's gravesite, the Takayama regional government building, and Matsumoto castle. (After his victory Tokugawa Ieyasu had most castles pulled down, leaving only a few prime examples of period fortifications.)

Re your question: the quick answer is yes, there will be historical notes, and also design notes. I've greatly enjoyed both the research and the fitting of a game mechanism to the history.
 
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Jonathan
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Well that's it, sign me up. I was an Asian Studies major, but although ancient Japanese history is fascinating, I focused mostly on modern China. Someone needs to do a game about the Politburo in the lat 70's early 80's...
 
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Matt, thanks for posting the combat example and the game info here. I read about this game in the GMT flyer and then heard it mentioned on Point2Point. It sounds very much like I'd like it: the Japan theme/era, the card battle, the blocks, the "evening friendly" play time.

Please post more as you can.

And we need more pre-orders folks!
 
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Richard Pardoe
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Any updates or progress with the game?

There was a flurry of activity (both here and on CSW) a while ago:

* Call for playtesters
* Con Demonstrations
* Examples uploaded
* Comments made

Now, an eerie silence.

Granted WBC is about to kick-off next week, so perhaps everyone is busy getting ready for that. But curious to hear....what's the latest?
 
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Matt Calkins
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Demo game available

I've uploaded a demo game with move-by-move photos and commentary. BGG hasn't yet posted it, but I will email it to anyone who wants to see it now. (Send me an email at mwcalkins@gmail.com.) It's a word .doc, with links to 12 images I've posted on my personal gallery here at BGG.
 
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