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Joe Steadman
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Evans
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About a year ago I was very distraught after purchasing the now infamous “Tenjo”. Childhood memories rushed back of Shogun with gobs of little colorful plastic Japanese warriors fighting it out on a large colorful map of Japan. Bidding for turn order, the ninja, and those awesome little swords are stuff of legend in my book. So, as you can guess, when I heard of a new Japanese Samurai type game I jumped right on it. This is not a review of Tenjo so I will not go into detail, but let’s say I ended up selling that game to the first poor sap that would take it.

This summer at my first-annual pilgrimage to Origins, towards the end of the day on Thursday, I noticed a couple young fellas sitting around a table with what looked to be a beautiful “Samurai” type game before them. Well, I sat down and played my first game of Senjutsu, Dynamic Samurai Combat. Unlike Tenjo, I was happy to reach in my wallet to add this game to my collection.

Senjutsu immediately caught my attention because of the attractive artwork. Two silhouettes of Samurai fighting to a red sky background with a Japanese fortress in the foreground. It’s a deep, small box comparable to a Trivia Pursuit box. The game board is your standard four quadrant fold-out, about 18x18. On the right and the left of the board are silhouettes and descriptions of the different types of units for quick reference during game-play. The board is dark blue divided into 64 squares with two of those being unusable and four being forest. They’re 24 decent quality cards divided between the two players. Finally there are the interesting, hexagonal, plastic figures. These figures represent the officers and foot soldiers of each team. It consists of a “head” and then bases that are stackable. The red team and black team heads are either the large helmeted figure of an officer or the smaller figure of a foot soldier. The stackable bases are all white and fit into one another quite well. Each base has on it a silhouette of one of seven things: sword, spear, bow and arrow, armor, counterattack, ninja, or scroll. All in all they are good quality components that’ll hold up well to plenty of use.

Game play:

There’s two ways to win the game, either by capturing the other team’s scroll or by killing the other team off completely. Game play begins with each player taking 30 bases and stacking them three deep under his warriors. The details on the bases face away from the opponent thus giving it an unavoidable Stratego feel. Players are free during set-up to stack their warriors any way they’d like which provides more strategy than you might think. Players then place their warriors in the two rows closest to them, thus leaving four squares in those two rows vacant. Now we’re ready to play!

Now, the meat of the game is the turn sequence with six action phases.

Phase 1 is to choose one of your warriors.

Phase 2, weapon combat is initiated (optional). The attacking warrior may use any number of his weapons on any number of enemy he choices. This may seem odd but it all works out. Each base can only be used once, this eliminated a warrior from turning into a bow and arrow pillbox per say. Weapon combat is with the bow, the sword, or the spear. You pick up the warrior you’re attacking with, remove the base that represents the weapon you’re using, and tell your opponent which of his warriors you’re attacking. To use the sword you must be adjacent to an enemy, including diagonal. The spear reaches up to two squares but you cannot attack diagonally. The bow can be shot as far as possible as long as it’s in a straight line, including diagonally. Line of site always applies; you must be able to see the warrior you’re attacking. At this point, either the enemy player’s warrior is killed or if he has a base with the armor decal he can remove it and show it to the attacker thus canceling the effects of the weapons attack. In this case both “spent” bases are removed from play. If the defender has no armor his warrior is killed and immediately removed from play. In this case the attacking weapon is removed but those bases under the killed warrior remain on the board as booty to the first that can reach them.

Phase 3 is a required one-space movement of your selected warrior. Captains can move in any direction but foot soldiers cannot move diagonal.

Phase 4 is then another weapon combat phase. This phase is exactly like the first weapon phase but remember your warrior may be getting low on bases and attacking might not be wise or possible.

Phase 5 is another one space movement phase but this one is optional.

Phase 6 is yet another weapon combat phase. This phase is exactly like the first two weapon combat phases.

After this is done there is a draw phase. In this phase you may draw a Clan Card if you killed at least one enemy warrior. You can only draw one card even if you killed multiple enemies. Then if an officer was defeated you may reach in the box and draw one random base and place it on any of your warriors.

The last segment is the Clan Card phase. The attacking player may use one of his attacking cards against his opponent. The cards are marked with a small letter a or d for attack and defense. The cards add a nice twist to this strait forward game. Cards are things like Stealth, Influence, maneuver, retreat, ect… They are powerful but not to much so as to unbalance the game.

I only left out a few detail like the one ninja base you place with your warriors and the hand-to-hand combat base. The ninja base is like a landmine. If you claim a pile of bases left by a dead enemy beware, if the ninja is in the stack your warrior is now following his dead enemy counterpart to the land of the fallen warriors, grassy fields, and Saki.

Hand to hand combat base is interesting. If you enter a square of an enemy piece it is killed. The only exception is if he has a counter attack base. In this case the attacker then can play a counter attack to the defenders counter attack. The player who plays the last base wins.

Hide your scroll well, if the enemy lands on it the game ends. It is good to put it near your rear lines and protect it with lots of armor.

I really enjoy this light game. A great filler, drips of theme, and is a good intro game to non-gamers.

I may be no Tom Vasel , but take it from me... this is a good buy.


Joe "WW2 Junkie" Steadman
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Derek H
South Africa
Johannesburg
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Re:User Review
JoeSteadman (#18653),

Good review - just one small point; from the image in the gallery it looks as if the pieces are on octagonal and not hexagonal bases... but I guess that has zero impact on the gameplay laugh
 
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Joe Steadman
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Evans
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Re:User Review
gamesbook (#18730),


OPPS!!!!
 
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Steve R Bullock
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I am a sucker for games with one of three themes: Ancent Rome/Greece, WW2, and Feudal Japan. The game has to be "just right" for me to paly it and want it.
This game, like the old MB classic Samurai Swords, really suits my taste. True, there are a lot of Stratego comparisons, but I will repeat myself from an earlier thread and say that after the secretive movement across the board there is very little comparison.

Gamers are always looking to compare a game with something they know, and Stratego is the only game even vaguely like this little gem.

Well worth having in your gaming collection.
 
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