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Subject: Samurai as a 2 player game rss

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Sharon Khan
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I love Samurai with 3, and have played it that way many times, although there can be problems, as if the third player is significantly worse than the other two players, the player to their left is likely to win the game. More recently we've tried it with 2, and I can see us playing it this way more often (especially as we don't often have 3 who know the game!).

Rules - how are they different in a 2 player game?
The number of islands used varies with number of players - with 2 players you only use the big island, not the others. This also means there are less of each type of piece - 7.

How is the game different with 2?
The main difference with 2 is that it's much more calculable. With 3 or 4 there is a memory element, remembering who has which type and how many. With 2 the memory element is removed, as it is easy to work out what your opponent has behind the screen.

The other difference is that there is less time between your turns. In 4 player it feels very chaotic, which is why I've generally played mostly with 3. With 2, you can plan much more. There is a lot of timing to not being the penultimate person to play on a tile, and forcing your opponent to be, whereas with more players this is less controllable, although it's still something to consider.

Also, as there's only two of you competing for pieces, you really want to go for pieces without overloading them too much and running out of useful tiles. It means that timing becomes more important, as you maximise the use of even your weakest tiles - you don't want to use them to effectively "skip a turn", or direct a piece to a different opponent as you can sometimes in multiplayer.

Verdict
Samurai works very well as a 2 player game - a lot more tactical than the multiplayer version, due to the increased control. It also removes the problem of a weaker player swinging the game to their neighbour. I hope to play it many more times with just 2!
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Laszlo Molnar
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It's really a deep tactical game with two. I really enjoy Samurai with 3 but I just LOVE it with 2.
There is a tiny problem though, that can be seen after some dozen plays: the starting player has a slight advantage over the other one in a 2-player game. There were some debates about how this problem could be solved and there is one that seems to really work well (suggested by astroglide at www.mabiweb.com): remove the "2" ship token from the tileset of the starting player. Only for advanced players!
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Russ Williams
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sa266 wrote:
With 3 or 4 there is a memory element, remembering who has which type and how many. With 2 the memory element is removed, as it is easy to work out what your opponent has behind the screen.

It's especially easy to work out what your opponent has in the 2-player game if you follow the rules for 2 players and put the figures in front of the screen, not behind the screen.
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Sharon Khan
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russ wrote:
It's especially easy to work out what your opponent has in the 2-player game if you follow the rules for 2 players and put the figures in front of the screen, not behind the screen.


Is that really a rule? We do often play that way, just coz it seems pointless not to, but hadn't realised/remembered that it was an actual rule - just thought we were saving time and effort!
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Russ Williams
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sa266 wrote:
Is that really a rule? We do often play that way, just coz it seems pointless not to, but hadn't realised/remembered that it was an actual rule - just thought we were saving time and effort!

The English translation by Jay Tummelson says "With 2 players, the figures are placed in front of the screen." The published German rules I have also say so.
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M K
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Drew1365 wrote:
Playing with open figures in 3 and 4 player games adds a level of thinking, too. Try it.

I completely agree with you. My experience has shown that people aren't often motivated enough to do the memory work and the game then easily becomes random and chaotic, with people just playing what seems like the best move. Scoring is too complicated to rely solely on playing like that.
I think the game offers a lots of space for strategic and tactial considerations, and it's pointless when they fall flat just because people can't (or aren't even inclined to) remember all of the captured figures.
It's like playing chess blindfold! I think Samurai is deep enough and I think the memory work just distracts people from playing smart, strategic (or tactical) moves + it also takes too much time.
I definitely play only with the open figures.
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Derek H
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Mislav wrote:
Drew1365 wrote:
Playing with open figures in 3 and 4 player games adds a level of thinking, too. Try it.

I completely agree with you. My experience has shown that people aren't often motivated enough to do the memory work and the game then easily becomes random and chaotic, with people just playing what seems like the best move. I definitely play only with the open figures.

Ditto. I think Knizia spoils some of his games by introducing a memory element to what is, as far as I can see, information that is gathered "in public view".
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