“I am not good at this game.” That was thought percolating in my head as I surveyed the map of Japan during the fifth week of the Sekigahara campaign. I was playing Ishida.
Tokugawa's forces had effectively crushed my eastern forces, sitting at Aizu and preventing me from bringing any reinforcements into the side of the country. I had a few men near the castle at Ueda, but Tokugawa's men were circling and cutting off any path to easy retreat.
Sure, I still had a sizable force at Kyoto, along with the Mori reserves waiting to enter the field. And I had one or two smaller forces in the immediate vicinity. But my few gold stacks were quickly being surrounded by a sea of black.
I couldn't help but notice the disparity in 'dead' blocks siting to the side of the board. When I last counted it was nearly a 2:1 ratio in Tokugawa's favor.
Too late, I realized my hampered maneuverability and lack of men were not going to allow me to reclaim enough castles and resource locations to claim victory.
My only shot was to kill Tokugawa. I had a reasonable idea of where he was and had a 6 block force I could engage his 8 block force with by burning a card for a forced march.
I didn't seize the opportunity and the cowardly (some said 'crafty') general retreated. Granted, I was pretty unlikely to have taken him out, but it was my only shot, no matter how slim, and I had let it go.
The last two weeks were painful to watch as I fought an unwinnable war, although I did manage to punch through some Tokugawa forces and capture a resource location.
The game ended in a crushing defeat for Ishida. I was so devastated I don't remember the exact score but it was a difference of more than 10 points.
I really enjoyed this game, which was my second play. The first game I also lost, but as Tokugawa. My opponent said he thought this was one of GMT's better offerings.
The clean design and reference sheets.
That every decision is meaningful and with consequences.
The battle system where a huge stack of blocks could fall to a smaller stack either due to a well timed loyalty challenge or because the large stack was a bluff with few deployment cards available.
That you develop a strategy as the game progresses.
That there are moments with clear opportunities. The game isn't so much trying to locate whatthat opportunity is, but weighing if it's worth the risk to seize it.
The difference in how the two factions play.
I don't like...
That I suck at it.
The block generally work quite well, but when you have large stacks they tend to obscure the location they are on and can tumble if you try to stack them all on top of each other.
When you have a loyalty challenge played against you and there's nothing in your hand to counter it.