From playing this game, and looking at the online response, the opinion seems to be overall positive with a few divisive elements.
One of the key issues that keeps cropping up is the Bluff Token.
My opinion has gone back and forth on this token as I've played. First I loved it, then felt it was too weak, then wondered if the game would be stronger if it was removed altogether. Now I feel I'm starting to understand it, but am concerned that it poses a potential trap for new players.
For the purposes of this post I'm assuming players aren't playing as Lion, as their Bluff token works differently.
The thoughts I'm seeing tend to be:
- Bluffing FEELS satisfying and thematic, and most players WANT to use them to try and trick their opponents.
- A weak combat token (say Army 1) can do anything that the Bluff token does, but has the benefit of potentially winning a combat (if placed legally).
- Using your Bluff means you're drawing fewer tokens across the game, risking your best tokens never being drawn.
Here's what the rulebook has to say about the Bluff token.
Sometimes the best strategy is deception. The bluff token allows a daimyō to feint in the hope of drawing out the enemy.
To bluff, a player can place this token as if it were any nonblessing combat token.
Placing a bluff token is also how a player saves a valuable combat token for the next round since players place all but one of their combat tokens that are behind their screens.
Discarded bluff tokens are always returned to their owners’ hands.
So right away we're told that the bluff token serves a double purpose:
- Feint to draw an opponent's attention or resources.
- Saving a valuable combat token for the next round.
I would argue that the second function listed is actually the primary function to be considered when you're thinking of using a bluff. Focusing too much on the feinting element was my initial mistake, and led to my confusion over how the token was intended to be used. I think it's unfortunate that the rules talk about using deception here, when deception is simply a core part of the game, rather than something linked to this specific token.
Now I think of the Bluff more like a "Pass Token" with the feinting purely as a side effect.
If you draw an underwhelming starting hand (Say A1, A1, A2, A2, N1) then there's very little reason to use a Bluff. All of your best tokens are sat in your pool, and every Bluff you play is risking one of these tokens going unused at the end of the game. If you want to feint a Raid or Diplomacy, you're probably better off using one of your A1s and getting a fresh set of tokens next round.
If you draw a strong hand (Say a Crab drawing A3, A4, A5, Raid, N3) then suddenly your Bluff becomes almost a necessity. It's unlikely you're going to have the best use for all of these tokens on turn one, so you'll want to be trying to hold one back for at least a turn. Here, the Bluff is much more a hand-management mechanic, holding back the A5 or the Raid so that you aren't blowing all of your best resources before the second turn.
Hand management can be surprisingly relevant in this game. As an extreme example I played against the Crane clan, and that player loved using their Bluff, I think they did so every single turn to try and mislead and deceive. By the end of the game both of their Diplomacy tokens sat unused in their pool, and it felt like a slightly sour ending.
By comparison, using the Bluff to faint doesn't appear to achieve a great deal. As mentioned earlier, the Bluff token doesn't do anything that you couldn't do with a weak token, and in some situations is actively worse for you. If we ignore the hand-management element I can't think of a single situation where I'd use a Bluff token over an Army 1.
To put it into concrete terms, think of it this way. Would you ever use a Bluff token on Turn 5?
So when I teach the game to new players, I'm going to give them the hint to think of the Bluff Token as the "Pass Token", and remind them that feinting can be done with any token.
- Last edited Mon Jan 8, 2018 10:54 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Jan 8, 2018 10:52 am
Totally agree. The Bluff token can be used to help save other tokens for a devastating late turn.
Goof analysis there, thanks.
I came to the same conclusions. There is nothing bluffy about the Bluff token. It’s just a way of keeping a token for the next round, at the cost of drawing less tokens (4 instead of 5). In almost every other case, Army 1 is better.
The Bluff token also causes most rules issues, as it’s not enterily clear what happens to it, when it’s discarded before battle (a cost to play territory card, for instance) or what happens with to it, when First Player card targets it.
I think the rules allowing “faking everything with everything” are just weird and inelegant, rendering Bluff token quite useless. Also, the punishment for using Bluff token (less draw) discourages from using it.