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Subject: Samurai - A Detailed Review rss

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This review continues my series of detailed reviews that attempt to be part review, part resource for anyone not totally familiar with the game. For this reason I expect readers to skip to the sections that are of most interest.

If you liked the review please thumb the top of the article so others have a better chance of seeing it and I know you stopped by. Thanks for reading.

Summary

Game Type – Abstract Game
Play Time: 30-60 minutes
Number of Players: 2-4
Mechanics – Area Control, Set Collection, Tile Placement, Hand Management
Difficulty – Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in 10 minutes)
Components – Excellent
Release – 1998

Designer - Reiner Knizia - (Amun-Re, FITS, Indigo, Ingenious, Lord of the Rings, Lost Cities, Medici, Modern Art, Pickomino, Stephenson's Rocket, Tigris & Euphrates, Through the Desert, Ra, Taj Mahal, The Quest for El Dorado, Winner's Circle…and the list goes on!)

Overview and Theme

Every now and again this review writing gig allows me to cast the clock back and see what was great long before the cult of the new. Well Samurai from the good doctor turns 20 this year...20 years old (I mean the microbadge image I use just below is numbered 495 - that's how far back we are going)! Of course FFG brought it back from the dead a few years back with a new edition but that too appears to be out of print and no longer features on their website.

It is perhaps timely to do this now when I see that Knizia and Vohwinkel (artist) have teamed up for another hit in 2017 with The Quest for El Dorado. Well kids...Samurai is shaking its fist at the new upstart and telling it to 'Get off my Lawn' as it hails from 1998. See the maths I did there? shake

For those not familiar with this classic...Samurai is a tile laying abstract game of area control and a scoring system that is so Knizia (in his heyday) it isn't funny. The game will forever be remembered for the gorgeous black, shiny, resin pieces.

In this review I look to better understand the genius that is Samurai and to identify why it is then that it has so few relative owners on BGG (12,500 at time of writing).

Come sit and share a green tea with me as we take a closer look. No...don't sit there I already own that spot...not there either...too close to the Buddha I'm afraid. Look I've made you a nice little spot over here where you don't get in the way...there you go. whistle

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The Components

I will be covering the original Rio Grande Games release of Samurai and the components released back then...all those years ago.

d10-1 Map Tiles – Samurai makes use of 4 jisaw-like pieces to depict the various islands of Japan. Going this route allows the game to offer variable map sizes based on the number of players. In an abstract game like this the need to scale the map to the number of players is crucial to maintain limited locations for Tile placement and also to maintain a uniformity to the spacing between Edo, City and Village locations which house Figures.

The artwork on the map pieces is fairly bland but it does the job. The map is covered with hex spaces and the land\ocean hexes are clear and distinct. The only other feature required of the map pieces is to depict the location of Edo, which was the capital of Japan in the Tokugawa Shogunate period, the City locations and the Village locations. To identify them easily Edo is coloured yellow and is the largest of the 3 locations, the Cities are red and reduced in size and the Villages are blue and consist of only one building. The number of buildings depicted in the artwork for these locations helps remind the players as to how many Figures\pieces should be placed there in the set-up.

Overall the map pieces for Samurai are well done without being mind blowing.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


d10-2 Pieces\Figures – These are the touch of class that makes people want to clamour for the Rio Grande edition of the game.

Made of black resin, these pieces have a shiny quality and a lovely tactile feel. The 3 types of Figures are the High Hats, the Buddhas and the Rice Fields. Loosely these 3 images represent Samurai, Priests and Peasants...3 iconic images of feudal Japan.

These pieces catch the eye whenever they are added to a tabletop and you really want to control them so you can have more. These were perhaps one of the earliest iconic gaming pieces of the modern board game era after the Catan settlements and the Carcassonne meeple.



Images Courtesy of Terraliptar and zgabor


The image above allows us to compare the Tiles and Figures from the RGG version on the left against the FFG version (2015) on the right. The Tiles (depicted on the right - FFG) certainly have more visually appealing artworks and win out. But the best feature of the original design is replaced with hard, black plastic pieces. The Buddha remains but the High Hat is replaced by the Japanese Castle\Fortress and the Rice Fields are replaced with a Bonsai Tree or Cherry Blossom. I like the castle\fortress implementation but the tree is a backward step.

But that discussion is mute anyway as the lovely tactile feel and classic look of the original Figures wins out over any plastic re-implementation. That classic look was the perfect fit with the abstract nature of the game. Plastic miniature-like pieces seem out of place.

d10-3 Player Tiles – These are functional, hexagonal tiles that can be placed onto the hexagonal spaces on the board. They depict a range of icons, 3 of which match the 3 Figures outlined in the last point. Then there are additional icons in Ships, Ronin, Samurai and 2 special tiles.

Each tile depicts only 1 icon of a given type and a number to represent the influence of the tile. I will cover the Special Tiles in the body of the review.

Some tiles have a few Japanese characters on them to denote that as many of those tiles can be played in the one turn, but the Player Screens also highlight this fact. Of course each player has a set of Tiles in their colour, which matches the colour on their Player Screen.

These do the job and that's all they need to do really.


Image Courtesy of OldestManonMySpace


d10-4 Player Screens – Knizia had enjoyed much success with Tigris & Euphrates, which used Player Screens, and a year on he decided to implement them yet again.

In Samurai the Screens serve two functions. First they highlight the types of Tiles the players have access to. Two boxes below the images also highlight that only one tile can be played per turn from the 4 options on the left, but a player can play as many tiles as they wish from the 3 types on the right in a single turn.

The Player Screens also serve a more traditional purpose, they hide things. The Screens allow the players to hide both the Tiles they currently have access to as well as any Figures they have captured during the play. This allows for the scoring to be hidden when playing with 3 and 4 players.

The backs of the screens are illustrated to represent the classic rice paper walls and sliding doors of traditional Japanese houses and remind each player of who is playing what colour. The Screens also have a little flair in that several people are illustrated in silhouette, as if you were looking at a wall with people illuminated on the other side of it. This hints at the fact that there are things behind each Screen which are something of a mystery to you.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


d10-5 Rules – The rules are pretty good but they can be problematic at times when you need a reminder about a given aspect during play. This is because they often provide really important pieces of information in unusual spots, often in and around images that appear to be there to offer an example. As gamers we don't tend to regard these locations as the places for a critical ruling and so I have found myself more frustrated in trying to use these rules than many others.

The Rio Grande rules are also multi-lingual, allowing for English and German, such was the market at that time. Sorry Japan...the game was about you but not for you. shake


Image Courtesy of Alice87


Overall this edition of Samurai is remembered (from a components point of view) for those lovely Figures alone. Everything else does its job well without gathering any attention. Overall I think the production represents decent value for money.

If I had to seek out the harder to find Rio Grande version or buy the newer FFG edition...I'd go for the original any day of the week.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


Set-Up

Image Courtesy of zakwas


I don't normally say this too often, but the set-up is a little involved in this one, namely because the board must be adorned with Figures and it is probably debatable if this element of the game is indeed part of the set-up or actually part of the play. I'm sticking it here regardless.

First the board must be put together in jigsaw-like fashion. The more players at the table, the more parts of Japan are added (there are 4 map pieces in total).

Then the capital Edo must be filled with 3 Figures, one of each type.

Now it is time for the players to do their bit. First they take a coloured Screen and 20 Tiles in the matching colour. Each player selects the 5 Tiles they wish to start with before flipping all other Tiles face-down and mixing them thoroughly. The 5 selected Tiles are hidden behind each player's Screen.

Now it is time to fill the board with Figures. Each player takes turns in placing a single Figure of their choice onto any of the City locations (red locations) of which there will be 3 at most. Each City location must consist of different Figures (never two of the same). Once the Cities are full, the players continue to place Figures into the blue Village locations, which can only hold one Figure each.

This placement is done in clockwise order and the players should consider their starting 5 Tiles to identify if they can derive any sort of advantage (e.g. having like Figures near one another).

It's also important to state that based on the number of players in the game, only a certain amount of each Figure will be used. The quantities of each Figure type are always even however.

Once the map is dotted with lovely black Figure pieces, the game is ready to begin.

NB – The game can be played (and it is recommended for first time players) with the players randomly selecting their 5 starting Tiles.

Experienced players are likely to prefer the Set-up as outlined above as they can tailor their initial strategy from the get-go.

The Play

As befitting any good abstract game, the options afforded to the players and the play of a single turn is streamlined and uncomplicated.

If you missed it up in the components section, I will be referring to the pieces (those lovely black pieces the players are trying to capture) as Figures from this point on.

The playing of Samurai can be outlined thus :-

d10-1 An Overview –

Image Courtesy of henk.rolleman
What is Samurai all about? Well it's about clever tile placement in order to establish influence over Figures, with the aim being to capture them.

The 3 Key Figures are called – High helmet [we refer to them as towers], Buddha and Rice Fields and they enable a player to score at game's end and hopefully win.

d10-2 Select and Place Tiles – A player is able to select one or more tiles from the 5 at their disposal (behind their screen) and place them on the board.

mb Selecting Tiles – A player is only allowed to play one tile that is featured on the left side of their player screen (tiles without Japanese language characters). These tiles tend to offer higher influence values in addition to the Samurai Tiles, which can influence all 3 types of Figures.

But in addition (or instead of) a player can play any number of tiles outlined on the right side of their screen (these feature small Japanese language characters). These include the Ship and Ronin Tiles (which can influence any of the Tokens) and a special action Tile.

mb Placing Tiles – A player can place their selected Tile(s) onto any land location that does not already feature another player tile (their own or someone else's). A tile cannot be placed on an empty Village or City location or Edo when it is empty either. Ships break this rule as they can only be placed onto empty sea locations.

What the players are trying to do is to influence the various Figures (the symbols of classic Japan). Every available space on the board (land or sea) will always be adjacent to at least one Figure but many are adjacent to multiple Figure-sites.

Tiles with an icon matching one of the three Figures, can naturally only influence that Figure type. The Samurai, Ship and Ronin Tiles (9 in all) can influence any Figure but they offer lower values, generally speaking.

d10-3 Capturing a Figure – A Figure will be resolved and possibly captured once all land spaces that are adjacent to it are filled.

At this point the players assess the relative strengths of the tiles in those adjacent locations. Who owns which tile is obvious based on the colour of the images on the tiles.

The player that will capture the Figure in question is the one that has the highest influence (sum total) of all adjacent tiles. This can include Ships in the adjacent waters.

But I did use the phrase 'possibly capture' at the start of this point. This is because a Figure can be removed from the map and given to no one if two or more players tie for the highest influence.

A player that wins one or more Figures places them behind their Player Screen, away from prying eyes (more on this soon).

d10-4 Refresh Tiles – A player ends their turn by drawing a number of tiles to return their 'hand' to 5 (which are of course kept behind their screen).

d10-5 The Two Special Tiles – Samurai already allows its players to surprise their opposition by allowing them to play multiple tiles in a single turn. But it also has more tricks up its sleeve in the form of the two special tiles.

mb Token Exchange – This tile is played by replacing another tile already on the map that is owned by the active player and allows it to be placed somewhere else. Consider that the tile being replaced may have already served its purpose in capturing a Figure and this tile is mighty handy, especially if other players are calculating the tiles you have left. whistle

mb Figure Exchange – This tile allows a player to exchange any two Figures on the map, switching their positions. The only restriction to this switch is that it cannot result in a location having two of the same Figure present.

Consider that this special tile is on the right side of the Player Screens (other tiles can be played in conjunction with it) and it allows for all manner of surprising moves.

d10-6 Triggering the Endgame – Samurai makes use of a variable endgame trigger, which keeps the players on their toes.

The game will always come to an end at the end of a player's turn when one of the following occurs :-

mb Figure Extinction – If any one of the 3 Figure types has their last piece removed from the board.

mb Stalemate Supreme – I totally made that term up but it refers to the possibility of a 4th Figure being placed to the side of the map when two or more players tie for most influence. This too will trigger the endgame at the end of the player's turn in which this occurs.

One thing that is quite clear is that the players are not guaranteed an equal number of turns and the players have the ability to push for the endgame if they feel they are in a winning position.

These two aspects are not that common in modern designs at the moment (2017\18). It's an interesting observation.

d10-7 Scoring and Winning –

Image Courtesy of CarlosXhiangqi
Once the game is over it is time to reveal what Figures each player managed to secure and see who has taken the win.

This is classic Knizia...so the scoring is quite intricate and takes a little getting your head around.

The following points are in a sequence, so if point one is not satisfied by a player, then go to the next point to see if someone wins then and so on.

mb If any player has the most Figures in 2 (or more) of the 3 types, they win. Otherwise...

mb Anyone that does not have the outright 'most' of one Figure type is eliminated. Any players that have the most Figures of a single Figure type (ties don't count) are still in the running and...

mb They then set aside their 'most of 1 type, Figures\pieces) and count up all other Figures they have. The player with the most 'other' Figures takes the win. If there is still a tie...

mb The players still in the hunt count up all the Figures they managed to capture with the highest total taking the win. If there is still a tie...

mb The players share the win.

mb Referring back to the second point in this section, if no players managed to have the 'most' of a single Figure type, the players revert to counting all the Figures they have with the highest total taking the win. A tie here results in a shared victory.

Clear as mud?

What Defines Samurai and Why is it a Classic?

Samurai was turning heads as an abstract long before Santorini and Azul were thoughts in their designers minds.

Here's why -:

d10-1 Highly Strategic –

Image Courtesy of KSensai
The strategy woven throughout Samurai begins before a player can even place their first tile because it starts with the players setting up the board. Having some knowledge of their starting tiles means the players can try to gain an edge right from the get-go and if they are lacking a certain Figure amongst their opening tiles they can deliberately try to minimise how many of those are placed in close proximity.

The game is then all about your strategy and how you go about setting up advantages in some areas and when you play those important 'wild tiles' (Ships, Samurai and Ronin) that can influence any Figure. It would be fair to say that Samurai is a rather cerebral experience as an abstract and that's not a bad thing. But I do see this design as having more in common with Go and Chess than it does with Santorini and Azul.

I could go on here but some of the strategy of the game deserves to be split into their own points. So without further ado...

d10-2 Timing – Samurai is a game that rewards precise timing. You don't want to be the player that places the second to last tile near a Figure because it could result in a player 'trumping' you. This is commonly done by placing the final tile needed to trigger a capture and at the same time increasing your influence total to beat out the competition.

Timing is also highly important in relation to when you decide to use those pieces on the right of the Player Screens, allowing a player to play multiple tiles at a time. These moves can be crushing if played at just the right moment, snatching Figures away from the opposition that they thought they had well and truly under control. devil

d10-3 Burning too Brightly – But playing multiple pieces too quickly will see your candle burn too fast and that can see a player run out of pieces before the opposition, allowing them to capture some valuable Figures relatively easily. Managing your hand and tile pool is an important facet of the game.

d10-4 Defense vs Offense – Samurai (perhaps more than any other abstract design I've played to this point) has a knife-edge balance between these two forms of play. Knowing when to react to an opponent's move to stay competitive in the race for a Figure(s) capture and when to close a Figure out in order to secure its capture and avoid a raid by an opponent is tricky and can be gut-wrenching. There is always multiple locations that want you to prioritise them for a tile placement...getting those decisions right is a challenge indeed.

d10-5 The Scoring – This is the defining feature that Knizia built his 'classic' period of game design on and it works brilliantly here. No one Figure is worth more than another, the value of a Figure type is purely dependent on what you already have behind your screen and what other players have been collecting. This means that the players have to play each game on its merits, responding to the 'state of play', which can be quite fluid in the early to mid-game.

Then there is the nature of the victory conditions themselves. They require a player to be either dominant (majority two from three) or to secure at least one majority and have the most of the rest. To some degree these conditions are almost at odds and the players must always be thinking about what Figures they have and what they think their opponents have in return. It's a form of player interaction...not direct interaction...but it will dictate and determine how the players prioritise certain Figure types throughout the game. It is very clever.

d10-6 Working in Isolation...Bad – This is a far more subtle point but with only 20 tiles (and two of these not offering influence) a player dos not want to be doing all the work to force the Capture of a Figure, they would much rather place one of the two tiles required or 1-2 of the 3 tiles in others.

This is harder than it may seem however. Naturally the best move is to come in at the last minute with a better influence Tile(s) but each player only has so many high-valued Tiles at their disposal. The reality of this reveals that good Samurai players need to be more subtle at times. This can involve playing a low-valued Tile near a Figure in order to draw a mid-valued response from an opponent. But all the while you had a Ship or another Tile ready to close out the Figure and secure its capture!

Trying to entice someone into forcing the capture of a Figure, letting them think that they have bested you, when you never wanted that Figure at all, is also mighty satisfying. Why didn't you want it? Well you've been watching what people have been collecting and you are too far behind in the Buddhas anyway. No...you wanted them to place a tile there because it helped you to close out the Rice Field nearby because you know there is a tight contest for them. That's good play. meeple

d10-7 Tight Designs are Great Because... –

Image Courtesy of Suryoyo
They give greater meaning to the scoring rules and margin of victory. But there is another reason in Samurai too...they give real value to the ability to force a tie for a Figure. There is nothing more enjoyable in Samurai than to force a tie for influence around a Figure or two, when that Figure is desperately needed by the other player...and only of moderate value to you. In this way Samurai also allows its players to try and keep perceived leaders in check or to strengthen your leading position.

d10-8 Forcing the Endgame – Much like Puerto Rico, (which would follow 4 years later), Samurai allows its players to have a say in when the game ends and as such it adds to the strategy of the game. Players that think they are in a winning position can seek to force the capture of all Figures of a given type or try to force a 4th Figure to result in a tie. Contrary to that, a player that believes they are not in the running to win yet have to be careful about helping to capture Figures that are in short supply. I really like this element of the game.

d10-9 Variable – This is a rather unique point for a design like Samurai because in most cases the terms 'Abstract' and 'variable' don't usually go together. Sure Santorini pulls it off but it needs those God Powers to achieve it. Samurai allows for variety in two ways, in the set-up (Figure placement and Board make-up based on # of players) and in the different varieties of Tiles that the players can hold at any one time. Now that I think about it, the tile drawing and having to make the best use of what you have each turn rather reminds me of Neuroshima Hex.

d10-1d10-0 The 2-Player Game – The key difference when playing with just two is that the players place their collected Figures in front of their Screens (not behind). This still allows for some mystery (the Tiles each player holds for their next turn) but the players have full knowledge of the Scoring situation of each player and this means some Figures on the map have added importance and become hotly contested.

It feels even more tense than the multi-player format and makes the game more tactical as the players can target specific Figures to outdo their opponent.

Playing with two tends to see plays only last 30 minutes (even with deliberation) and that's a nice time frame.

The Final Word

I'm really happy to have reviewed Samurai as it is a classic in game design for sure. It is a defining point in Knizia's Golden Period, a spate of 8 classic designs in 6 years (1997-2003), and I left some good games out too.

Samurai is a rarity indeed, an abstract design that works as well with multiple players as it does with two (yes Azul I know you exist, we will share a wine together soon).

Samurai is defined by its scoring rules, its iconic resin figures and the ability to pull off surprising moves and clever plays. It is a game where timing is crucial but 'time' is the resource in short supply because that clever play that allowed you to capture a Buddha, just saw you lose that Rice Field over there. wow

But there is one word I haven't used in the main body of this review...and that is 'Fun'. The question, 'Is Samurai fun to play?' is an interesting one indeed. For me the game is very cerebral, ‘thinky’, calculating. And for that reason I don't think it would be considered 'Fun' for some gamers. That was certainly the response from two gamers in my circle this past week. They could appreciate the design but they had no real desire to play it again over other options. For them it wasn't 'fun' in the same way that building a civilisation is or creating a network across a map can be. So I think Samurai is one of those titles where beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

For me the more apt adjectives are 'clever', 'intriguing', 'engaging' and 'ruthless'. Personally I do find the game to be fun, but not in the 'rolling dice and killing things kind of way' or the 'being down to my last bullet in a zombie game and I have three shambling monstrosities on my heels'. For me the fun here is in the out-manoeuvring that is possible, in finding the clever play and ‘eeking out that narrow victory.

For many gamers this will not be their cup of tea.

In this respect I think games like Santorini and Samurai are a great example of two games within a genre that can appeal to some people and not to others. In truth they are really both 'thinky' but they just present the challenge in different ways. If you have an opponent or two that would really engage with this type of game and play it repeatedly (to get better at it) then Samurai could be a great game for your collection. In this modern age of 'buy, try and move on', I wonder where that places a game like Samurai? This I think answers the question as to why only 12,500 BGG users own the game (not to mention that it is available on several online gaming sites).

I for one am happy that FFG brought Samurai back into print as I think it deserves to be found and explored by modern gamers 20 years on. I could almost keep this in my collection from a collector's point of view...almost. But I don't have the gaming circle for it unfortunately, whereas Santorini is enjoyed and Azul will be a massive hit I think.

Well that about wraps things up folks. ‘Til next we meet, stay Zen and all that and capture those cure little Buddhas! mb


Image Courtesy of jsper


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Herodotus Halicarnassus
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Neil Thomson wrote:

For me the more apt adjectives are 'clever', 'intriguing', 'engaging' and 'ruthless'. Personally I do find the game to be fun, but not in the 'rolling dice and killing things kind of way' or the 'being down to my last bullet in a zombie game and I have three shambling monstrosities on my heels'. For me the fun here is in the out-manoeuvring that is possible, in finding the clever play and ‘eeking out that narrow victory.

For many gamers this will not be their cup of tea.


I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy of Samurai when FFG reprinted it. I have only played it with two players, but what we like about it is hinted at in the above quote: Samurai (like some other Knizia games) is a game where you are primarily playing the other players, not playing the game. The rules provide a lovely, elegant framework in which to out-plan, out-think, and/or out-wit the other player(s) at the table. The mechanics of the game stay firmly out of your way and let you directly set your wits against those of your opponent(s). For that reason, as you say, some gamers will be turned off by this exceptionally superb title.

Excellent review of an excellent game!
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Jeff K
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A great review of a truly classic and great game. Still one that often sees the table for me.

Neil Thomson wrote:

Made of black resin, these pieces have a shiny quality and a lovely tactile feel.


Just to add: that wonderful resin is of course known as bakelite, and can be found in other games, but perhaps not often enough for my tastes. It is quite nice. The newer FFG version has regular resin pieces, with a different theming but a little more detail.
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Malcolm
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A great, classic game but for me it is a pure two player game.

With more it's simply the winner is the person sat behind the worst player.
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Xookliba wrote:
Just to add: that wonderful resin is of course known as bakelite

Just to add pedantically: various resins are colloquially called "bakelite" (which is a specific chemical (C6H6O·CH2O)n) -- a bit like how many people call the graphite in pencils "lead", or how people many call any kind of photocopy a "xerox" -- but I doubt that the Samurai pieces are literally bakelite (which is one of the earliest forms of plastic and which looks rather "retro" to modern eyes). (Similarly about Hive pieces which are often colloquially called bakelite.)
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Neil Thomson wrote:
The Buddha remains but the High Hat is replaced by the Japanese Castle\Fortress and the Rice Fields are replaced with a Bonsai Tree or Cherry Blossom. I like the castle\fortress implementation but the tree is a backward step.

Pretty sure that's a sheaf of rice, not a tree.
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Excellent review on one of my favourite games!

Herodotus Herodotus wrote:
Samurai (like some other Knizia games) is a game where you are primarily playing the other players, not playing the game.

And this is exactly what makes the game shine for me. Fun is when your fellow players re-name the 'Swap' tile as the 'F-U' tile, when they suggest totally legitimate ways to screw over other players when it's not their turn, when there's liberal swearing at someone placing a tile to contest 'their' piece.

Brilliant, elegant games like these are rare these days.
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Neil Thomson wrote:
Of course FFG brought it back from the dead a few years back with a new edition but that too appears to be out of print and no longer features on their website.

It's with Z-Man Games now:
https://www.zmangames.com/en/products/samurai/
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Herodotus Herodotus wrote:
Samurai (like some other Knizia games) is a game where you are primarily playing the other players, not playing the game. The rules provide a lovely, elegant framework in which to out-plan, out-think, and/or out-wit the other player(s) at the table. The mechanics of the game stay firmly out of your way and let you directly set your wits against those of your opponent(s).

So much this. I've only play T&E, Samurai and Battle Line, and they all give me the feel that I am competing with my opponents, not focusing mainly on myself and score more points. Even I like point-salad games a la Trajan, La Granja, I find Doctor's games to be more engaging.
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nigelreg wrote:
Herodotus Herodotus wrote:
Samurai (like some other Knizia games) is a game where you are primarily playing the other players, not playing the game. The rules provide a lovely, elegant framework in which to out-plan, out-think, and/or out-wit the other player(s) at the table. The mechanics of the game stay firmly out of your way and let you directly set your wits against those of your opponent(s).

So much this. I've only play T&E, Samurai and Battle Line, and they all give me the feel that I am competing with my opponents, not focusing mainly on myself and score more points. Even I like point-salad games a la Trajan, La Granja, I find Doctor's games to be more engaging.


Ah thanks for that.
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russ wrote:
Xookliba wrote:
Just to add: that wonderful resin is of course known as bakelite

Just to add pedantically: various resins are colloquially called "bakelite" (which is a specific chemical (C6H6O·CH2O)n) -- a bit like how many people call the graphite in pencils "lead", or how people many call any kind of photocopy a "xerox" -- but I doubt that the Samurai pieces are literally bakelite (which is one of the earliest forms of plastic and which looks rather "retro" to modern eyes). (Similarly about Hive pieces which are often colloquially called bakelite.)



Yeah I was reluctant to say these pieces are made from bakelite because the weight of them doesn't feel right to be bakelite.
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