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Subject: Reflections and tips after our first game. rss

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Mike Beiter
United States
Tonawanda
New York
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We played a 5 player game of RS last night with all first time players.

The rules were quite easy to teach and players had very few questions. The only area that tripped them up was the wording of "you and your ally" for mandates.
Players needed to be reminded that even when not in an alliance, they get the bonus.

There was also some confusion on Ronin, in how even if you acquire them, you still need to win the bid to use them.

Otherwise the players were very pleased with how easy it was to learn. They needed to go through a full season to catch on and by Summer, the game was in full swing.

In Spring, the dreaded combo of Koi + Lotus occurred and sure enough they did Martial and Recruit.
Lotus cleverly buried the 2nd martial so poor Turtle clan was deprived of their go to mandate.
I was dragonfly and allied with Turtle and we focussed on training and harvesting to get some season cards and get some resources and to deprive Koi and Lotus from a huge benefit as they had the largest board presence.

Bonsai also trained and focussed on a monster strategy.

I took Righteousness to gain a bonus for my killed figures. Spoiler alert, I got next to no points from it all game! My opponents NEVER killed my troops. They only captured them. And in nearly any war where I had 2+ troops, I won the battle anyway.
So if you are deprived of strongholds and can't get a lot of figures on the board, I'd avoid that virtue.

So the first war phase was upon us.
Despite me urging players to spread out, most of my opponents turtled. They stayed in 1, maybe 2 provinces. Save for Koi and Lotus who had plenty of troops thanks to their strongholds.
Koi Marshaled as his 2nd mandate for the season so their board pressence was huge.

I tried to climb the honor ladder by worshipping Ameterasu, but Koi denied me by sending his own Shinto.

Turtle had exclusive use of the 2 ronin bonus from Hachiman and I had a lot of coin from Tsukuyome.

So of the 7 provinces, several were taken up by clans turtling in their starting area.

Bonsai had to move out and find a province or two to claim. He got into a battle with Koi and myself and here is where things got political and fun!
Koi had a lot of coins and Bonsais army hinged on his Oni Surviving. So I told him, I'll dump my coins into winning capture, so you'll win the province!
We plotted and schemed and in the end, Bonsai didn't stick with the plan and committed seppuku instead!
So Koi won the province and my resources were wasted.
And to add salt in the wound, Bonsai forgot that seppuku raises your honor! He shot up to 2nd place thus tossing his oni strategy out the window.

In another fight it was Bonsai vs. Koi again and Bonsai was up on resources, and he knew Koi couldn't be allowed to take hostages. So he dumped a ton of coins into it and Koi played 0! Bonsai won his only province but Koi had a ton of resources to take me on in the final battle.
So I was crushed and after Spring ended the province scores were:
Koi 2
Lotus 2
Dragonfly, Turtle, Bonsai 1 a peace.

So the game moved into Summer and Turtle and Bonsai allied. I pleaded with Lotus not to ally with Koi twice in a row, well, more threatened. I said if you two team up again, I will see to it that this game becomes a 3 on 2!
So I had my ally and Koi who had the best board presence was alone.

So Summer moved along nicely. Koi and Lotus still had the most presence.
Sadly Lotus was still to afraid to spread out. He had like 6 figures all in one province. Bonsai was similar.

I on the otherhand in Draginfly style was flying everywhere, it just sucked that I barrely had troops. I bought the enhancenent to give me the bonus bushi whenever I summon and that helped a lot.

I ended up bying the Oni of Blood for +4 night as I suddenly had the lowest honor thanks to Bonsais seppuku.

We hit another helpful learning moment, Lotus forgot that betrayal is like figure for like, and he chose to betray me and remove my oni but I pointed out he had no monster of his own to do it with, so he chose a different mandate and I eyed him suspiciously the rest of the game.

Koi took full advantage of his honor and did a lot of Kami Worship.
He even got to choose a harvest mandate and gained a ton of bonuses.

Moving into war, it was similar to Spring.
Most players were in oy a couple provinces and had huge forces in areas that were meaningless to them.

Take hostages was again very popular.
I finally got to pull off a seppuku and imperual poets combo for a small handful of points.

I had the war upgrade that gave me 2 vp and 2 coin per each virtue I had and that was very nice.

War began and it was similar to Spring. Koi and Lotus had their 4 province tiles each and the rest of us had only 2.

Autumn began and when you looked at the score track. Lotus had 0 I had around 10 or 15 and the rest were around 5 to 8. So I was "ahead" but we knew Lotus and Koi were set to get 20+ province tile VPs.

A train mandate came up early and I nabbed the oni of Spite! And paired with dragonfly, this was BRUTAL, for Koi... This oni steals 2 vp evety time it enters an area for higher honored opponents, and sadly Koi was the only player I could use it on, and oh I did! I used marshall and the Kami to grant movement amd just kept siphoning his VP. I was surging ahead!

Lotus was gaining a ton of resources through mandates and abilities.
And sadly Koi had next to nothing. Bonsai had way of the serpent and made a lot of coin by taxing those using fishing routes.

War was upon us for the final time and the last mandate was Koi, and he betrayed and took a single figure from both me and Lotus helping him snag uncontested provinces.
Which was good for him because that was all he took that war. His resources were so low that the rest of us beat him soundly.
Lotus realized with annoyance that he devoted so much effort into gaining resources, but he never spread out to contest anything!
Turtle had a ton of ronin, but it didn't matter as he had low resources to activate them.

So Winter arived and the provinces were couned. Koi and Lotus both got the 20 vp level, the rest of us the 10.
I was in the lead, then winter bonus cards kicked in and Lotus tied me thanks to his 3 strongholds! But I was more honorable. All the VP I syphoned from Koi put him in second to last just ahead of Turtle.

But then Bonsai had both form of the beast cards giving 3 vp per monster he had.
He had 3 monsters, so each card gave him 9 points.
So in a huge leap of 18 points, Bonsai sailed ahead and won by about 12 points!

We were first timers and were not paying attention to his winter bonuses. And we assumed Lotus and Koi were the threats.
So we had so much focus on them that Bonsai took the game.

We had a blast. Some great negotiation and tabletalk ensued.

People definitely needed to be reminded that you should be talking to players, especially your partner.

But the biggest take away I have is, DON'T TURTLE! SPREAD OUT!
Lotus probably should have won had he used his troops better. He had nearly every figure of his on the board for 2/3 of the game but he never used them.
Turtle was in a similar trap.
Bonsai also kept piling his figures in an area only to see his foe abandon it.

I think "Risk brain" set in. People felt that if an area had less than 4 of your figures, it was weak and should not be diluted.

But the reality is, all you really need is 1 or 2 figures and a handful of coin and you could win a battle if played smart.

Sadly due to conservative styles, most of our battles were landslides.
But the ones where resource allocation mattered were very fun. I was quite drawn in.

In summary, we all adored the game.

I'll be showing it to a bunch of new players tonight!
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Jeffrey Nolin
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Nakamachi, Hiroshima
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Players may not ‘get’ the emphasize that distribution of ‘different’ provinces is how final scoring works during the rules explanation, so a good teacher would point that out again after provinces were won in the Spring battle phase and the new set of province tiles are being put out for Summer battles (X already has that, so will want to try for those). Also, doing a couple Harvest mandates and taking several provinces should show others the benefits, outside of battles, to spread out a bit.
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Mike Beiter
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longagoigo wrote:
Players may not ‘get’ the emphasize that distribution of ‘different’ provinces is how final scoring works during the rules explanation, so a good teacher would point that out again after provinces were won in the Spring battle phase and the new set of province tiles are being put out for Summer battles (X already has that, so will want to try for those). Also, doing a couple Harvest mandates and taking several provinces should show others the benefits, outside of battles, to spread out a bit.


That's all true. And that's exactly what I pointed out. However when it was time to abandon a redundant province, the players moved their mass of an army all to the same fresh province.
They just had this paranoia about being too spread out and defenseless that I could not get them to shake.

In my 2nd game with all new players I used game 1 as an example and they trusted me more and spread out.

 
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