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Subject: Ikusa: How to solve the turtling problem? rss

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Per Sorlie
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Ikusa (AKA Samurai swords, Shogun) is in many aspects a really cool game. I love the bidding system, the cool plastic armies and generals.

Some complains about the gametime. But this is not my major concern:

If you play the game as a 2-player you will not run into the problem of turtling, but Ikusa is not really a 2-player game since it features bidding behind screens and stuff.

Ok, this is the real problem with the game:

With 3-5 players you probably lose if you engange in large battles (midgame, endgame). Why? Since the player winning will be heavily weakened by the losses, and a easy target for the other players.

The problem increases of course after many turns and the generals/armies can move much further to hit. And sadly the game, with skilled players, ends in a "stupid" turtling setting where attacker (or defender) gets fast eliminated if they try to win a major battle (yes... even if they win).

How do you guys solve this problem? What house rules do you use?

I thought of a houserule where a battle featuring a large number of pieces (both players above 10 units?) would result in the winner not losing any pieces after the battle (= they are only wounded during the battle, or the same units are recruited for "free" at once since warriors flock to the great generals banner). The units are returned to his army after the fight.

Or the winner will regain forces equal to smallest of the two armies in the engagment.
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Orpheus
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One minor thing I do re: turtling is ignore the sea-route rule where the defender gets an extra attack phase.

But maybe it would be interesting to try out a variant where additional purchasing of units could be done depending on the level of the army? Eg. A level 2 army could recruit 2 units each turn etc. It could turn into a big snowball effect, but would also encourage aggression.
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Emile de Maat
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Moved Thread
Moved this thread to the Ikusa forum.
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Mister Easton
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Ronin and tactical attacking (e.g. your opponents' weaker armies)... Plus preferably turn order priority... I believe the answers are already in the game...
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Per Sorlie
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mistereaston wrote:
Ronin and tactical attacking (e.g. your opponents' weaker armies)... Plus preferably turn order priority... I believe the answers are already in the game...


Eh... you don't understand how big the problem is? Trying to eliminate one opponent major army leaves you really weak usually, and the its easy to attack you for the remaining player/s.

The game is broken without a rule to fix this.
 
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Christian Kalk
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Re: Ikusa: How to solve the turtling problem?v
Ninja
Ronin
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Strong Tactical Play

The only time you're helpless against a turtles is when the turtle in question is across the map. And even then, you can "watch the back" of the player who tries to crack the turtle.

With strong players, a turtle will quickly become a Priority One target for 2-3 of the other players. Or will simply be left to starve on 3 Koku/turn.
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Dave de Vil
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One idea I've developed for Conquest of the Empire might be adapted for Ikusa:

Veteran Soldiers

After a battle a player may "promote" a number of infantry to "Veteran" status. Veterans hit on 3/6 rather than 2/6. The number of infantry promoted can never exceed the number of enemy units eliminated in that battle.

There is a limited pool of Veteran units (in silver). This is the only way to obtain Veterans, they cannot be purchased for cash.

The big idea for Vets in Conquest is that they can be "cashed in" at the end of a campaign season to "colonise" (build/improve your cities); more and bigger cities means more income and more places to recruit new units. Again, this is the only way to build cities.

So...

If you just turtle you don't get any veterans, your army is weaker, your income base is smaller, your ability to recruit new units is limited. Players who build up a momentum by fighting gain the rewards for doing so.

I'd have to read more about feudal Japan to suggest a historical equivalent of Roman colonies, but the obvious import is to use Ronin for Veterans (i.e. if you're active and successful in battle Ronin will join your armies - you can no longer "hire" them), while the cashing in/colonising phase is the only way to build castles; perhaps think of this as a successful warrior settling down to found a noble house.
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Per Sorlie
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This is not the way turtling works in Ikusa. Players are forced to turtle. Each player have at least one major army. To beat it another player have to bring a large force. After the battle the winner is usually left with few men. He is then a easy target for other players with large armies left. Go for deciding battles = you lose. Result: Nobody attacks main armies = an akward end game that just kills the game.
 
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Luke *
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mistereaston wrote:
Ronin and tactical attacking (e.g. your opponents' weaker armies)... Plus preferably turn order priority... I believe the answers are already in the game...


I agree with mistereaston. You can add x-1 Ronin to your attacking army, where x is the total number of regular units with your daimyo. This should make up for most losses. And you should be able to afford more Ronin than a turtle because presumably a territory control strategy means you've been accumulating more koku each turn. The rules explicitly encourage alliances as well. So crack the turtle with friends
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Jeremy H
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Daggerheart wrote:
This is not the way turtling works in Ikusa. Players are forced to turtle.


Everthing KamikazeJohnson said.

This may be valid in your play group but I have played this game about 50 times with different groups and have not found this to be an issue.
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Mister Easton
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Daggerheart wrote:
mistereaston wrote:
Ronin and tactical attacking (e.g. your opponents' weaker armies)... Plus preferably turn order priority... I believe the answers are already in the game...


Eh... you don't understand how big the problem is? Trying to eliminate one opponent major army leaves you really weak usually, and the its easy to attack you for the remaining player/s.

The game is broken without a rule to fix this.


No, it's not.
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Per Sorlie
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EVERY Ikusa game I have played has ended weird. Why? When 3 players are left the same shit happens. All 3 are usually pretty strong, maybe one is 10-25% stronger. And what happens then? Guess?

Two decides to eliminate the third together?? This third guy is a brother or close friend? This third guy want to play Ikusa with you again?

2nd option: one of the three remaining goes out to eliminate the weakest of the two others:

1. The attacked makes alliance with the third guy? = let third guy win
2. The attack and elimanation are executed and the result = easy for the third guy to defeat the damaged victor...

GG!

This is why EVERY Ikusa game ended with 3 players left and no winner....

Since any option felt bad and weird.
 
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Christian Kalk
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Daggerheart wrote:
EVERY Ikusa game I have played has ended weird. Why? When 3 players are left the same shit happens. All 3 are usually pretty strong, maybe one is 10-25% stronger. And what happens then? Guess?

Two decides to eliminate the third together?? This third guy is a brother or close friend? This third guy want to play Ikusa with you again?

2nd option: one of the three remaining goes out to eliminate the weakest of the two others:

1. The attacked makes alliance with the third guy? = let third guy win
2. The attack and elimanation are executed and the result = easy for the third guy to defeat the damaged victor...

GG!

This is why EVERY Ikusa game ended with 3 players left and no winner....

Since any option felt bad and weird.


Your example suggests you're playing for "Last Man Standing", which explains why you have an issue when no one else seems so. According to the rules (don't have my book handy so I can't cite the page), the game ends when a player gains control over MORE THAN HALF of the board. This usually happens immediately after defeating an opponent's last Daimyo and gaining control of that player's provinces. Note that when the game is reduced to 2 players, it is highly unlikely (i.e. only the result of extremely poor planning by the attacking player) for neither player to have more than half the board. So there is no opportunity for the other player to defeat the "weakened victor".

Also, if the game began with more than 3 players, once the game is reduced to 3, one player will have a much greater stock of units to buy, giving that player a huge advantage in the long run; a temporary stalemate will eventually allow that player to build up MUCH more powerful armies and/or provincial troops, resulting in an easy victory once he is prepared.

Played correctly, the game is typically very dynamic, and usually ends fairly quickly after a player is eliminated. In a 5-player game, the second player elimination is usually immediate victory. A Turtle usually just gets to sit and watch from his impenetrable formation while someone else wins (spoken from painful personal experience!).
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Per Sorlie
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I got the Shogun version of the game. How many ronin is avaiable in Ikusa... it seems the rules have changed then.
 
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Mister Easton
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mistereaston wrote:
Daggerheart wrote:


The game is broken without a rule to fix this.


No, it's not.


Looking back on this post of mine yesterday, I have to admit I find it little constructive and I apologize for that.

Part of the reason for my short answer was that I thought I explained sufficiently how you can deal with turtling in Ikusa with the OP just replying: 'you don't understand it'. My reaction was: 'Well, if you don't want to see the solution, then don't. But I think you don't understand.'

Looking back on my original post though, my explanation was quite short too and I can see why someone would miss the point I was trying to make. So I thought I'd come back here and give a little more context. Most has already been said by others, but it can't harm to resummarize everything.

In my experience when you occupy a significant portion of the board, it is hard to defend all your borders. If someone is turtling, just look for his weekest defended borders and attack there with an army full of ronin (I believe the maximum amount of ronin available is 25). This will minimize your losses while maximizing your chances of succes. Do NOT attack the opponents' strongest armies, unless you can defeat them with losing only or mostly ronin. You should not have to defeat an opponents strongest army because you don't need to conquer all territories, just a specific amount (half + 1 in the original version and a specific amount based on the number of players in later versions). Other options are turn order (to be able to move and choose battlegrounds before others) and the ninja (to have a chance of paralyzing an opponent's army).

Hope this helps!
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Jeremy H
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Daggerheart wrote:
I got the Shogun version of the game. How many ronin is avaiable in Ikusa... it seems the rules have changed then.


All my plays are with the Shogun version, there should be enough ronin. Does the new version come with more or less than 25?

Turn order matters for ronin recruitment which can be used to lock in a decisive advantage.
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New version got 30 ronin.

My old version (Shogun) got 27 it seems. Is this correct?
How many did Samurai Swords edition got?
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I believe the extra 5 ronin are meant to be used when defending from a fortfication (so that you don't heve tot take them from someone else if all 25 ronin are in play).
 
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John Labelle
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Have you tried the optional victory condition of the game ending when the first player is eliminated and whoever owns the most territory at the time wins? It's in the back of the rule book. (Not the original Shogun rule book.) This should do away with turtling and make players more aggressive.
Haven't tried it yet, but I am planning to my next game.
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John Labelle
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I took out my sets and rule books of Shogun, Samurai Swords and Ikusa.
Shogun and Samurai Swords each list 26 Ronin.
Ikusa lists 30 Ronin.
I only set up and play on my original 1980s version of Shogun. Although, I opted to use the updated Ikusa rule book. Tonight, I added 4 more Ronin to my Shogun set.
 
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Geoff C
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The general experience rule and the takeover of all regions of a defeated player really rewards aggressive play.

Assuming you play to majority control as pointed out above, I just have never seen turtling as a problem, especially with the ninja around.
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John Labelle
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I've seen turtling in the game. Especially with real experienced gamers. Although, the Ninja, skillful use of Ronin and political maneuvering always seems to come through in the end to break stalemates. But, what in my experience is the main turtle breaker is a player's own personality. Small annoying skirmishes blowing up into revengeful main army attacks. A castle or fortress usually being in the center of it all with the resulting carnage swiftly altering the power balance of the board.

"I love it! God help me, I do love it so. I love it more than my life."

George C. Scott as Patton
 
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Chris Ley
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KamikazeJohnson wrote:


Your example suggests you're playing for "Last Man Standing", which explains why you have an issue when no one else seems so. According to the rules (don't have my book handy so I can't cite the page), the game ends when a player gains control over MORE THAN HALF of the board. This usually happens immediately after defeating an opponent's last Daimyo and gaining control of that player's provinces. Note that when the game is reduced to 2 players, it is highly unlikely (i.e. only the result of extremely poor planning by the attacking player) for neither player to have more than half the board. So there is no opportunity for the other player to defeat the "weakened victor".

Also, if the game began with more than 3 players, once the game is reduced to 3, one player will have a much greater stock of units to buy, giving that player a huge advantage in the long run; a temporary stalemate will eventually allow that player to build up MUCH more powerful armies and/or provincial troops, resulting in an easy victory once he is prepared.

Played correctly, the game is typically very dynamic, and usually ends fairly quickly after a player is eliminated. In a 5-player game, the second player elimination is usually immediate victory. A Turtle usually just gets to sit and watch from his impenetrable formation while someone else wins (spoken from painful personal experience!).


pg 28 Rule book wrote:

The first player to own 35 provinces wins the game! A
player can win the game at any time during a round of
play


I believe there are 72 provinces, so a little less than half the board.

I agree though, playing by the rule book's win condition discourages turtling because you win immediately.
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Christian Kalk
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Invasion81 wrote:


I believe there are 72 provinces, so a little less than half the board.

I agree though, playing by the rule book's win condition discourages turtling because you win immediately.


68 actually, so 35 is half+1. So unless poor planning/luck leaves you with EXACTLY 34 provinces after eliminating the 3rd player, the game ends immediately.

Turtling can be useful in the early-mid game. I see it often, usually the result of a non-aggression pact between the player in Kyushu and the player in South Honshu. The South Honshu player can advance 2 Armies along a fairly narrow front, and it's rare to meet any active resistance, resulting in limited losses and therefore a dense deployment of troops. This player is often well placed to eliminate a weakened Central player, which can be a game-deciding event.

A player trying to turtle on Kyushu of Shikoku usually never gets far before the game ends...aggressive expansion is vital from one of those positions.
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I've never seen turtling as a successful strategy. Players will consolidate their territories early in the game, but taking a defensive attitude is a losing proposition.

Armies that gain experience are much more maneuverable and avoiding combat will not gain your generals any experience.
One can never know the true composition of a force thanks to ronin.
Ninja will cripple an army for a turn, that's powerful.
It's somewhat easy to rebuild diminished armies by moving them through provinces and picking up all the troops you've levied in them.
If you are expecting combat, move a supporting army close by to dissuade other attackers.
Players stuck with centralized starting positions are vulnerable and should make an aggressive move towards evicting someone not in the middle.

At some point, someone is going to win or lose. There's not much point in playing it safe and staring at each other. There's plenty of incentive to attack (gaining territory brings you closer to victory and increases your income; battles increase your generals' experience).
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