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Subject: Purple Phoenix Games Solo Chronicles rss

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Travis Lopez
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Le Claire
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Original is found at: http://www.purplephoenixgames.com/solo-chronicles-samurai-sp...



One of the best parts of the board gaming experience is finding a fun group of people with whom to play! Sometimes, though, coordinating a game night is easier said than done. We all must occasionally forego the group experience and face the world as the Lonely Only. But fear not! The world of solo-play is a vast and exciting realm! What follows is a chronicle of my journey into the solo-playing world – notes on gameplay, mechanics, rules, difficulty, and overall experience with solo variations of commonly multiplayer games! I hope this will provide some insight as you continue to grow your collection, or explore your already owned games!

As a Samurai, you spend your life traveling across the land to help those in need. Most recently, you and a handful of other Samurai have been contracted by a small village to defend them against a clan of invading raiders. Only by working together, and by using your extensive training, will you succeed in keeping this village safe!

Samurai Spirit is a cooperative game of press-your-luck. Players take on the role of a Samurai, each with a unique power, and take turns drawing cards and fighting off the invaders or offering support to your fellow Samurai. Invaders can have recurring negative effects, so strategize wisely on how best to combat them and see how far you can push your luck each round. If you are able to survive through 3 rounds (waves) of invaders with at least one surviving farmstead and family, the Samurai are victorious and the village is saved! If any of the Samurai are killed, or the village has been completely destroyed by invaders, then the game is lost. As a solo game, Samurai Spirit plays essentially the same as in group play, with only 2 main differences – the solo player controls 2 Samurai instead of 1, and the support tokens from the unused Samurai are each available for use once during the game.

For such a neat theme, this game falls short for me. It seems simple enough, but there are areas of ambiguity in the rules that lead to some confusion. For starters, the text size is so small that I am not able to find any information at a quick glance! The text itself is not always clear either – like when, at the end of a round, the rules say to collect all cards used this round, does that include cards that have been discarded due to Samurai abilities? How about the cards of the Intruder stack that are presumably discarded after being revealed? The rulebook offers no clarification, and I honestly still don’t know the right answer.

The order/layout of the rules feels mismatched too – relevant information is not always grouped together, and I find myself flipping between several pages at a time trying to figure out one single thing. For example, in the ‘Fight’ action description, it says that if you reach your Kiai value exactly, you can activate your Kiai ability. You have to turn the page to a different section to see exactly what activating that ability means, and then you have to flip an additional 2 more pages to see what each individual Kiai ability is! Why not just put them all in one place? It would certainly be easier to understand if all relevant information was grouped together.

The prominent mechanic of Samurai Spirit is press-your-luck, and I would definitely say that this game is very luck-based. When setting up the game, the initial deck of cards is randomly selected and that can impact whether or not you are able to complete certain requirements each round – if there aren’t enough hat/farm/doll cards for each Samurai, you are guaranteed to incur a penalty at the end of every round. Actual gameplay is very luck-based too, and for me it feels like there are no good ways to strategize – your choices are all dependent on the luck of the draw. You can push your luck to draw more cards and use special abilities, but since you are suffering from recurring penalties each turn, it feels futile to keep going at a certain point.

For me, Samurai Spirit is repetitive and kind of boring – suffer penalty, draw card, and repeat until you eventually pass or the deck runs out. It’s like a too-complicated version of blackjack in which the deck is stacked against you. It’s such a bummer because the theme and artwork are neat, and the gameplay (in theory, at least) should be effective. But the actual execution is too reliant on luck to be successful.

I do quite a bit of solo gaming, but this game is never one that I willingly decide to play. I honestly only broke it out recently as a refresher for this review. Perhaps it is better at higher player counts, but since that is not where most of my gaming occurs, Samurai Spirit is a dud for me.



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Nic C
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Kaneohe
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Re: Purple Phoenix Games Review
I give you a "thumbs up" because I respect your reviews. I like this particular game, but that is neither here nor there. I appreciate your reviews.
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Travis Lopez
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Le Claire
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Re: Purple Phoenix Games Review
Thank you! Some of us liked this one, but didn't really fall in love with it. This review in particular was for the solo experience, so take that all as you will.

Thanks for the comment and we promise that we will try to give you honest reviews every time we post.

-T
 
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