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Subject: Thoughts After One Play With KS Copy rss

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Nathanael Weston
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Rising Sun is a game of warfare and shifting alliances set in mystical feudal Japan. Gods and monsters have awakened and various clans vie for control. I will not be covering how to play the game as much as providing my thoughts on the game.

Background
I find that whenever opinions get thrown out it is important to let you know my bias as you evaluate whether or not Rising Sun is right for you. I grew up playing Samurai Swords and Axis and Allies and would spend entire Saturdays attempting to recruit as many archers as possible or smash through Russian defenses before the United States could bomb Berlin into oblivion. During college I got away from gaming but returned after the industry changed a bit. My brother-in-law brought over Arkham Horror and I have been in deep ever since. I now find AH to be too long and tedious (I prefer Robinson Crusoe when I want a meaty co-op) and my favorite publishers are FFG (Star Wars Rebellion, Star Wars Armada, MoM2E), Portal Games (RC, Imperial Settlers, Cry Havoc) and Red Raven Games (Above and Below, Near and Far). I dabble in a few euro games but only if the theme is engaging for me. Lately I’ve been enjoying Scythe and Gloomhaven (currently my favorite).

Kickstarter
Upon hearing that Eric Lang had designed a game in feudal Japan I knew I needed it in my collection. I had fond memories of Samurai Swords but after playing it again a year ago the mechanisms felt outdated compared to modern wargames I enjoy. I backed Rising Sun and ordered everything but the metal coins and the art book. The game arrived this week and I invited my gaming friends over.

The game
The group assembled to fight for Japan was eclectic. One was a hardcore gamer who had participated in Star Wars Armada tournaments nationally with me. He chose the turtle clan. One played hobby games casually and they chose the Bonsai clan. A third has been in the hobby for about a year and chose the Lotus clan. The last player had only been in the hobby for two months. I was teaching him the classics (Carcassonne, Catan, Ticket To Ride, Dominion, etc.) and I was not sure how he would take Rising Sun. He chose the Dragonfly clan and I chose the Fox clan.
Because muskets.
The game was a blast to play. Teaching and playing took all of three hours which did not feel that long. I did set up the game ahead of time. I bet a five player game will take 2-2.5 hours with seasoned players. The game came down to the last two battles. Bonsai won after having a disastrous first season. He was sneaky and unassuming and everyone else focused on each other. Dragonfly clan had the lowest score but exclaimed that he really liked the game even though he lost badly. He just texted me asking when we were going to play Rising Sun again so I’ll take that as a good sign.
That game was one of my favorite gaming experiences in a while.

Pros
-Secretly bidding for battle objectives is fantastic. I think I like this even more than Cry Havoc’s system.
-The art, tokens and minis are all very well made. Each mini is incredibly detailed. So good.
-The season cards add a lot of variety to each play.
-No clan ability seemed overpowered though each ability felt very powerful (which is a hard balance to have). I will update this if my opinion changes.
-The game was easy to teach. The iconography on the board helps keep things simple. Each player gets a player shield and player board that summarize important rules nicely.
-Honor worked very well. It broke ties on numerous occasions and a subtle shift in honor had huge ramifications each round.
-Alliance also worked very well. At the start of each season players thought carefully as to what they wanted to accomplish and who might help them best. Bribery and promises (lies) happened throughout the course of each turn. It felt like a hidden-role social deduction game as we were trying to uncover each player’s schemes.

Cons
-It is hard to tell the difference between the plastic alliance tokens of the bonsai and fox clan. Not a big deal but you really need to know who is allied with whom.
-Some of the monsters have bits of humans on them. Thematically appropriate but still very violent.
-During battles we were constantly asking how much force our opponents had, especially during later seasons where armies were augmented with cards and monsters. I need to think of a way to display force as we all bid for control of a province.

Closing Thoughts
I would highly recommend that you give the game a try. I will try to update this post regularly as we play the game to see if the shine wears off.

After Second Play
I just taught my wife the game (Bonsai) with the last game’s winner (Dragonfly). I picked Lotus at random. Dragonfly and I were neck and neck throughout the first two seasons and we had an epic battle in the third seasons where I got horribly outbid. Meanwhile, Bonsai was sneakily winning provinces that no one else wanted and benefited from some card synergies and went from solidly last place to winning when winter came. I was so focused on Dragonfly that and he was so focused on me that she quietly and intentionally stole the show. In fact she never won a battle; seppuku happened or she had her forces where no one else was. Well done!

Dragonfly used his ability quite well; whenever he marshalled Bonsai and I were terrified as to where he would move his forces. I don’t think that the clan is underpowered. Everyone had an ally for at least one season thought the alliances always made sense and they shifted throughout the game. No one felt left out as the one without an ally was typically the one with more VP. We intentionally sought out the weakest player knowing that their benefiting from our alliance wouldn’t help them as much but that meant that the weakest clan always had a friend and therefore had an opportunity to catch up.

The three player count offered a lot more control as there were less clans to worry about but I did miss a bit of the chaos of a five player game. Both player counts were fun.

So yeah. I got my wife to play a wargame and she liked it. Winning helped.

After Third Play
I ran a 5 player game a few days ago. Bonsai and Fox were new and Turtle and Lotus had 1 game under their belts. I chose the Koi clan as that had not made it to the table yet. Lotus bid poorly during summer and autumn’s battles and ended with 18 points. Fox and I ended in the 40’s. Turtle and Bonsai had very strong autumns and tied at 61. Bonsai had higher honor and took home the win in epic fashion.

-I would recommend that new players not play Fox. The clan is awesome but they were involved in every battle and found it a bit overwhelming.
-Bonsai has won all three games. It was always close and they always bid very well during Autumn’s battles but they always make a great comeback in autumn buy purchasing a lot of cards that give VP. I feel like each game we let them win because other players don’t buy those cards.
-The Koi clan is a ton of fun to play and they set themselves up nicely to outbid other players. Find as many ways to get ronin tokens and coins!

After Play Number 4

My group assembled for a six player game. I was very excited to play the game at that count and everyone assembled already had a game under their belts. We picked clans randomly. I grabbed Dragonfly and previous winners were given Turtle and Lotus.

I love Dragonfly. It’s been getting some bad reports lately and I must say it was amazing flying around the board to grab province tiles others weren’t contesting. I stayed out of every major battle and started autumn with four province tiles. I had also amassed a large amount of virtues and purchased winter upgrades that game me VP for those virtues. I ended up winning my first game!

I don’t know if I have a favorite player count but six was a lot of fun. Each province had a battle in it and everyone started each season allied. As everyone knew what to do the game took 2.5 hours with at least an hour being devoted to the final season. It slowed down as everyone pondered what their best options were.

Fox clan came in second which was its best showing so far in the games I’ve played. I really don’t think it’s as powerful as some players feel that it is. That being said, Bonsai got last and I had previously felt that they were the strongest clan so who knows. Time will tell.

Great game.
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Thomas Aikens
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nathanaelsmith88 wrote:
The game
The group assembled to fight for Japan was eclectic. One was a hardcore gamer who had participated in Star Wars Armada tournaments nationally with me. He chose the turtle clan. Two played hobby games casually and they chose the Bonsai and Lotus clans. The last player had only been in the hobby for two months. I was teaching him the classics (Carcassonne, Catan, Ticket To Ride, Dominion, etc.) and I was not sure how he would take Rising Sun. He chose the Dragonfly clan and I chose the Fox clan.
Because muskets.
For the sake of everyone concerned about this, how do you feel the balance was with players not being in an alliance and was there anyone who spent the whole game not in an alliance. I know there are a lot of people out there worried about this (I am not one of them) and I am sure they would love to hear some words of advice from someone who not only played it but also thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, how heavy a negotiation game did you guys play and how fluid did it feel?
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Keith Pishnery
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Quote:
-During battles we were constantly asking how much force our opponents had, especially during later seasons where armies were augmented with cards and monsters. I need to think of a way to display force as we all bid for control of a province.


I saw a suggestion to use dice for this.
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Kevin
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nathanaelsmith88 wrote:

Cons
-During battles we were constantly asking how much force our opponents had, especially during later seasons where armies were augmented with cards and monsters. I need to think of a way to display force as we all bid for control of a province.


- Another thread suggested using D20 dice on the board to show everybody's force.
- Please let us know what you think of a 3 player game if you get a chance.
- It's interesting how a couple of youtube reviewers are very meh about the game.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RvLyJEp6Sg&t=22s
https://youtu.be/0eNIX8WT9Oc?t=3h4m7s
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Nathanael Weston
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1. Not being in an alliance is just fine. In the summer one player wanted to be alone so that (they later revealed) they could betray to their heart's content. It was terrifying as betrayal is the one action where no one else gets anything positive and being alone means that you do not lose honor. Throughout the game alliances shifted a lot but I feel that we could have been far more strategic in the alliances we made and broke.

The winner had an ally in each season but it is important to note that he was one force away from losing the last battle and ending in 4th place. No one player spent a season without an ally, though one player spent summer and fall alone. In the second to last battle he was one force or one honor away from winning the battle and the game. The ending was that close and the second-guessing that all of the losers did was fantastic at the end of the game. So many key decisions to make!

When selecting allies ponder what you want to achieve in the round and look for players who want that too. Do you need to build a stronghold? Who else is low on strongholds and will likely play the Marshal political mandate for you? Who is taking two actions this season?

2. Each season around 2-3 coins and 1-2 ronin were used as bribery for one reason or another. As each player took their turns we all participated in discussing the ramifications of each move. The game moved a bit slow because of it but we all agreed that we loved the banter of who was getting invaded and the speculation as to what would happen next. Power shifted so frequently and it was very entertaining. The group had a competitive but lighthearted mood and I think that helped the tension of learning a new game and simultaneously wanting to do well. I will update my OP once I teach the game to an overly-competitive person.
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Nathanael Weston
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jrigkvn1229 wrote:
nathanaelsmith88 wrote:

Cons
-During battles we were constantly asking how much force our opponents had, especially during later seasons where armies were augmented with cards and monsters. I need to think of a way to display force as we all bid for control of a province.


- Another thread suggested using D20 dice on the board to show everybody's force.
- Please let us know what you think of a 3 player game if you get a chance.
- It's interesting how a couple of youtube reviewers are very meh about the game.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RvLyJEp6Sg&t=22s
https://youtu.be/0eNIX8WT9Oc?t=3h4m7s


Will do. I have a 3-player game scheduled for tomorrow. If that shakes out I'll update the OP.

Thanks for sharing the D&A Miniatures review. I feel that, like them, gamers will either love it or hate it. It looks like a dudes on a map game but the diplomacy and battle system will turn a lot of gamers off who are expecting something else.

Again, my first game was fantastic and I expect the experience to improve the more familiar my group becomes. That being said I just played one game and perhaps I had the perfect mix of gamers. Time will tell.
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Jon Snow
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Nathanael,

Thanks for the review and your subsequent posts. It sounds like you have the right group to enjoy this game to the fullest!

Obviously what you say goes, since you are wearing a Big Furry Hat!
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Pieter Buntinx
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If my calculations are correct, now would be the perfect time to fling poop.
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nathanaelsmith88 wrote:
The last player had only been in the hobby for two months. I was teaching him the classics (Carcassonne, Catan, Ticket To Ride, Dominion, etc.) and I was not sure how he would take Rising Sun. He chose the Dragonfly clan and I chose the Fox clan.


nathanaelsmith88 wrote:
Dragonfly clan had the lowest score but exclaimed that he really liked the game even though he lost badly. He just texted me asking when we were going to play Rising Sun again so I’ll take that as a good sign.


If a new player loses badly to experienced gamers, still has fun and even asks for a follow-up game, that's one of the best recommendations a game can get in my opinion.

Thanks for your thoughts! Judging from the games you like, our tastes are very similar so this game should be well received in my group too.
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Mike Rice
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I played once on Saturday. I also used the Dragonfly Clan and came in last. It seems like a great ability because it's very straight forward, but yet I had a hard time figuring out how to utilize it. Seems like that ability is opportunistic and I struggled to find my "opportunities." This week I'll be playing with 3-4 and I may consider not using that clan just to see how it plays out.
 
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Nathanael Weston
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Ricekreem wrote:
I played once on Saturday. I also used the Dragonfly Clan and came in last. It seems like a great ability because it's very straight forward, but yet I had a hard time figuring out how to utilize it. Seems like that ability is opportunistic and I struggled to find my "opportunities." This week I'll be playing with 3-4 and I may consider not using that clan just to see how it plays out.


Interesting. Dragonfly clan had a great spring as he spread out early but in summer he turtled and was involved in three battles where he bid poorly. That really knocked him out of the game. I feel that he should have moved to other areas of the map that other players were vacating. Tonight I'm playing a three player game and last game's winner selected Dragonfly as his clan. I'll let you know how that ends up.
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Ian Allen
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I agree about the gruesome figures - just a few of them.
I have kids I might want to play this game with me.

I got rid of the corpses hanging from this mini's weapon and got rid of the heads on his belt and this is the result. Much more family friendly.



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My 11 year old daughter looks at me and says, "this model has severed heads. AND THE HEADLESS BODIES ARE NAKED!" Probably shouldn't be funny but I couldn't stop laughing.
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Quote:
-Some of the monsters have bits of humans on them.

Love the way this is phrased!
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glookose wrote:
I agree about the gruesome figures - just a few of them.
I have kids I might want to play this game with me.

I got rid of the corpses hanging from this mini's weapon and got rid of the heads on his belt and this is the result. Much more family friendlY


How did you take away the corpse that touches the body? Can you show that side of the sculpt?
 
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GrandKhan44 wrote:
glookose wrote:
I agree about the gruesome figures - just a few of them.
I have kids I might want to play this game with me.

I got rid of the corpses hanging from this mini's weapon and got rid of the heads on his belt and this is the result. Much more family friendlY


How did you take away the corpse that touches the body? Can you show that side of the sculpt?


I just cut it off with a hot knife and ruffed up the surface a little and painted over it - the area looks like a rough fur coat anyway, so you don't notice the spot where the bodies were attached unless you are looking for it.

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glookose wrote:
I agree about the gruesome figures - just a few of them.
I have kids I might want to play this game with me.

I got rid of the corpses hanging from this mini's weapon and got rid of the heads on his belt and this is the result. Much more family friendly.


Hey Ian, how do explain seppuku to them? Just curious. I like the custom removal of the body parts, well done.
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Thilo M.
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jsteedhayes wrote:
glookose wrote:
I agree about the gruesome figures - just a few of them.
I have kids I might want to play this game with me.

I got rid of the corpses hanging from this mini's weapon and got rid of the heads on his belt and this is the result. Much more family friendly.


Hey Ian, how do explain seppuku to them? Just curious. I like the custom removal of the body parts, well done.


Seppuku means they run away! Obviously you gain honour because we teach our kids not to fight don't we?
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Ian Allen
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jsteedhayes wrote:
glookose wrote:
I agree about the gruesome figures - just a few of them.
I have kids I might want to play this game with me.

I got rid of the corpses hanging from this mini's weapon and got rid of the heads on his belt and this is the result. Much more family friendly.


Hey Ian, how do explain seppuku to them? Just curious. I like the custom removal of the body parts, well done.


Thanks.

I am not a prude, but I also do not like extreme violence and gore. Some things just cross my personal line. That is why I don't play Kingdom Death despite it looking like an intriguing game and why I am not going to back HATE despite some of the minis looking really cool.

When we play games where people are attacking and perhaps killing each other, it doesn't hurt the game play any to just say that people are being exiled, removed from play, banished, defeated, and so forth, so that is what we usually go with.

In the case of Seppuku I will probably just say they honorably removed themselves from the battle.
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glookose wrote:
jsteedhayes wrote:
glookose wrote:
I agree about the gruesome figures - just a few of them.
I have kids I might want to play this game with me.

I got rid of the corpses hanging from this mini's weapon and got rid of the heads on his belt and this is the result. Much more family friendly.


Hey Ian, how do explain seppuku to them? Just curious. I like the custom removal of the body parts, well done.


Thanks.

I am not a prude, but I also do not like extreme violence and gore. Some things just cross my personal line. That is why I don't play Kingdom Death despite it looking like an intriguing game and why I am not going to back HATE despite some of the minis looking really cool.

When we play games where people are attacking and perhaps killing each other, it doesn't hurt the game play any to just say that people are being exiled, removed from play, banished, defeated, and so forth, so that is what we usually go with.

In the case of Seppuku I will probably just say they honorably removed themselves from the battle.


I get it, and of course everyone should feel free to make whatever changes they need to a game to play with their family.

I'm just not sure how it actually would work in practice. The kids I know who would even consider playing a game like this are generally an inquisitive and bright bunch - and Seppuku is a real thing, and of course Google and Wikipedia exist.

If I tried to pull this with either of my nieces when they were 10-12 and playing a bunch of games with me, within hours of the game ending they would be calling me asking why I lied to them about what the word Seppuku meant. And shortly after I would hear from my sister about how they are not allowed to play "that" game anymore
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Ian Allen
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I agree, it is not easy to keep children innocent in this age of social media and instant gratification and ubiquitous electronic devices.

I retired from the IT world to become a homeschool dad, my kids are both 10 years old, we got rid of cable 6 or 7 years ago.

The kids do not have their own cell phones or ipads yet. They do have access to the internet on PC stations, but we monitor what they look at and what games they play as closely as we can.

There is so much violence out there and so much horrible stuff.
I am not yet ready to give up, so I am shielding them as long as I can.
One kid appreciates the euphamisms and doesn't like talking about violence and death. The other is very inquisitive and keeps me hopping.

Everyone's level of what is acceptable is different, but I just don't think that children should have free access to every violent bit of information that is available to them. My personal opinion is that that is not a good thing.

I get into a lot of free speech debates with people and I eventually hear "censorship is bad" "people should be allowed to create any piece of sick, depraved garbage they want to" "if you don't like it, don't look at it" ...
The problem with that is - humans want to see violence. We all look at the grisly car wreck as we drive by.
There is a part of human nature that makes us want to watch that stuff. And then when we watch a certain level of violence, that becomes acceptable, and then we don't get a thrill until the violence level is bumped up, and the cycle continues.

You don't see a trend of less and less violent movies. People today would be bored silly to look at the shows that tried to give moral messages from the 50s and 60s. All those black and white shows where the kids mis-behaved and then the parents found out about it and taught the kids why what they did was wrong and the kids apologized and corrected their behavior and everybody was happy.

That stuff is never coming back.
Instead we are getting more and more obsessed with murder shows, crime lab dissections, serial killers, and on and on.
It seems like we are in an ever-expanding quest to find out what the bottom is.

And I want to look at that stuff too. I watched all the slasher movies when I was younger. When the newest Friday the 13th movie came out we all rushed out to the theater to watch it. I watched the Hellraiser movies and read Clive Barker and so forth just like everybody else.

At some point though - and I am in my 40's now - I got sickened at seeing CSI and Dexter and Saw and the Ring and on and on and on.
I just don't want to see anymore cop shows where they are solving some sick murder and talking about rape and torture and cannibalism and seeing people pull out the plastic sheets to protect their apartment from blood when they chop someone up.

I avoid that stuff like the plague now. It makes me feel bad to be a human to see it.

And yet there is part of me that is drawn to it anyway.
I watched all of Breaking Bad even while saying to myself that the subject matter was pretty rough.
I am not proud of myself that I watched it and I don't always win the battle against my inner nature, but I do try very hard to avoid watching as much violent stuff as I can.

I love shows about dystopian futures and frequently those type of shows are to be found after a zombie apocalypse. So I watched Walking Dead and thrilled in the plot and the drama and yes, some of the violence.

However, my point is - that I think there is a point where the violence reaches a certain level, that it is just too sick to put into your brain and store there, back in your subconscious.

When Walking Dead had that recent season ending scene that was just way over the top, it crossed the line for me and I had to give up one of my guilty pleasures of watching that show. There were already a lot of gross moments in the show that I turned my head rather than watch, but they were usually over pretty quickly, but this one went on and on and on and was not something you could easily turn your head from and avoid.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Negan very graphically bashing people's brains out with a barb-wire covered baseball bat and psychologically torturing them all night long about who he was going to murder with it


Seeing things like that absolutely desensitizes us to violence to some degree and that the world may be heading for some serious long-term problems resulting from that.

I think that young kids playing games where they murder people with every manner of gun or knife or whatever, over and over and over, cannot be making us better people.
Usually when I say that - someone jumps up and says "just because my 13 year old son plays games where he murders people with a sniper rifle and a shotgun over and over and over doesn't mean that HE is going to kill anyone - that's ridiculous".
But when I think about all those games I have personally played, I do feel like I have a pretty good idea what it would be like to blow someone away with various weapons. I think if I had the inclination or need to shoot people, that it would be easier for me after all that virtual training.

Can it possibly be making us better humans to have ever increasing levels of graphic, horrific violence?

My personal opinion is NO - that immersion in a culture of extreme violence makes us worse humans in very subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways.

I don't think I am ever going to go out and murder anyone, but what if I had a life-changing experience and was at the end of my rope. What if I was a person who was easily susceptible to suggestion? What if I snapped? Would you rather have your kids playing in the backyard next to a neighbor's yard that has a book club at the library for their major source of entertainment, or a neighbor who watches Dexter and CSI and has a big SAW movie poster on his living room wall?

I don't really want to get into a free speech debate, because I have heard all the arguments exhaustively and I realize that more people disagree with what I am saying than agree with it.
I just have a tendency to rant on about things I feel strongly about.

I am prepared to take flak over my position.
I find that people that agree with me (i'm assuming there have to be some out there somewhere) don't usually speak up, but that people that disagree with me are usually very vocal on the subject.

All that to explain why I would use a euphemism rather than teach my 10 year old kids about ritual suicide in a board game.

They have the rest of their lives to be exposed to the truth about how horrible human beings can be, but I only have a handful of years where I can shield them from that stuff and show them how to filter it and give them my view of what is acceptable and what isn't, so I am making the most of my time.
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Dave Maynor
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Fantastic job modding that mini. I mean, don;t get me wrong... i died a little inside when I saw that. My blackened soul screaming out in agony, crying 'Travesty!' and 'Heretic!' the whole time. But great job.

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Hah! Thanks -lol ...
 
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100% agree with everything you’ve said about violence these days and the mod looks great! I have a 5 year old who loves board games as much as I do and as soon as I saw the hanging bodies I knew I was in trouble. Just when I thought I had gotten the mini hidden away and forgotten about he spots the WAY WORSE artwork on the inside box wall...fail. They were definitely prepping for their upcoming Hate gore with some of these designs...
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Ian Allen
United States
Madison
Alabama
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Ugh .. yeah ... I hear you.

Zombicide is not that gross of a game component-wise, but the box art is kind of gross. I have strained my Tetris skills to place it out of sight on the shelves and sideways and behind other games so the kids can't see it.

I have a copy of Kingdom Death that I don't play - I just bought it because it had no minis or board and I wanted the challenge of finding proxy minis for it that were not gross.

I succeeded at finding proxies, and the box art is all black so no problem there, but that rulebook is realllly bad. I am probably going to trade the game off unplayed rather than risk my kids looking through that rulebook.
 
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Pat E. Cakes
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Oregon
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If your child is smart enough to craft a logical question or comment, they deserve an honest answer or conversation.
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