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Subject: A fun, light, and challenging combat card game! Pictures included! rss

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Pone McPoneface
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Seppuku the card game, a review.
Designer and creator: Michael Grant
Publisher: Game Crafters www.thegamecrafter.com
Game website: www.seppukucards.com

Please note: This is my first actual game review here on the geek and ask the more critical reader to be forgiving if my efforts fall short of expectations.

Seppuku is a combat based card game system where 2-4 players try to defeat opposing player's samurai to gain 7 Bushido cards and win the game.

Components
All posted images are from Michael Grant and are from the Seppuku game page here on the BGG.
This independently created and designed game by Michael Grant is composed of 130 very beautiful cards stylized with Japanese wood block print graphics. The composition of the deck is as follows;
28 Bushido cards - 7 for each player encompassing the seven virtues, Gi - honor, Yu- courage, Jin - benevolence, Rei - respect, Makoto - honesty, Meiyo - glory, and Chugi - loyalty.
102 draw cards - 32 samurai divided into 4 clans (red, green, blue, and white), 5 ronin cards, 30 koku (rice fields) cards, 5 water mills, 15 armament cards, 10 honorable action cards, and 5 dishonorable action cards.






8 additional card-sized templates for a six-sided dice to determine combat are included for each samurai type. You may also just use a 6 sided dice and assign results for each samurai class. As an example, for the Shogun samurai card I assigned the following numbers for combat results- 1=1 shield, 2=1 strike, 3=2 shields, 4=2 strikes, 5=3 shields, 6=3 strikes
You can also order custom made dice directly from Michael Grant at www.seppukucards.com.




Fundamental Game Mechanic
Players must put a rice field or water mill card into play in order gain koku. This will allow players to put samurai cards into play. Each rice field is worth 1 koku and a water mill is worth 2 koku and is essentially the means of payment to your various samurai. The better the samurai the more koku you must pay him to be in your service. The Ashigaru require only 1 koku to be put into play, 2 koku are required to hire either the Yumitori or Yari samurai, while the Shogun card requires 3 koku, but is the best samurai card to put into play. Putting samurai into play and koku expenditure is cumulative, in other words if you have an 1 Ashigaru and 1 Yumitori card in play you must have 3 koku in rice field cards in play (3 rice field/koku cards or 1 rice field and 1 water mill). You can only put samurai of the same clan (color) into play with the exception of the Ronin cards which can be put into play in addition to a single clan (color).

Game Play
The 28 Bushido cards are separated from the deck and each player is given 7 of the same color to keep track of their progress/score. The remaining 102 cards are shuffled and 7 cards are distributed to each player. Each turn a player begins by drawing 1 card from the deck. No player may ever have more than 7 cards in their hand and must discard a card if they have more than 7 cards at the end of their turn. Then the player can do only 1 of the following per turn;
1. Put a rice field/water mill (koku) into play.
2. Put a samurai card into play.
3. Play an honorable action card.
4. Play a dishonorable action card. Upon playing this type of card the player's turn will end immediately with no option for combat (see below).
5. Play and place an armaments card face down under a samurai card already in play.
Note: The armament card "Uma" which gives your samurai a horse (and a reroll of an attack or defense) requires a koku for it to be played and maintained. All other armament, honorable action, and dishonorable action cards do not require koku to play.

After 1 of the 5 options from the above are made, and the player's turn hasn't ended due to playing a dishonorable action, combat will be possible if one or more samurai are in play. A player may designate as many samurai as he or she has in play to attack one opposing player's samurai. Attacks can be against a single samurai or divided among multiple samurai but each attack is rolled separately per samurai. If armament cards are with the attacking or defending samurai these are revealed and the attacking player rolls a dice for each attack. Only strike(s) count on offense and if a successful strike is made the defending samurai rolls to see if he can block the attack with a shield result. If the number of strikes exceeds the number of shields then a wound is inflicted on that samurai and the card is turn on its side to indicate a wound. Regardless of the number of strikes made per attack only one wound can be inflicted by a samurai attacking, so a result of 2 strikes would still only inflict one wound. Each samurai card can only sustain two wounds before being killed. Defensive armament cards can help absorb wounds but are then discarded. If a samurai is given his second wound he is removed from the game and the player who inflicted the kill receives one Bushido card which he or she will play face up to indicate scoring progress.
A samurai can also choose to attack and try and destroy a rice field or water mill. This is only possible if the opposing player has no samurai in play. A player can not gain a Bushido card, but can limit the number and type of samurai coming into play for that player. A single strike will destroy a rice field while a minimum of 2 strikes is required to destroy a water mill.

Overview
Seppuku in this reviewers opinion is an elegant, but simple combat card game that is easy to access and play. The fundamental strategy is based in hand management and how you play your various types of cards. During my game play sessions the first few turns of the game the choices became very apparent as every player on turn 1 played a rice field and on turn 2 began playing an Ashigaru if they had one in their hand. Those that couldn't play a samurai continued to play rice fields for koku. These first few turns went very quickly and then the combat and card strategy came into effect more clearly. The gaming group began to notice that destroying rice fields was not always a good strategy as if you prevented a player from being able to put a samurai into play you were only preventing an opportunity to gain a Bushido card and ultimately victory. Hand management became more apparent when you played a samurai from a specific clan without regard to looking at the other players samurai and what clan (color) they were from. There are only 7 samurai per clan and if 2 or more players are playing the same clan (color) that limits their ability to expand their army, other than the 5 Ronin cards. Honorable and dishonorable cards were very nice to have and with only 15 they didn't upset game balance and added some very nice twists to the game play. An example would be playing the dishonorable card Feast on one of your opponents samurai which would render them unwilling/unable to conduct combat as long as this card remained on them. The dishonorable card Famine card could remove it but would end the players turn immediately with no option for combat (or gaining a Bushido card). Armaments are a very nice way to build up weaker samurai, but are most effective on the more powerful samurai like the Shogun. It is a balancing act trying to maintain your rice fields, protect them with at least one samurai, and try to build up so that you can play a better samurai and given them a good armament card. My gaming group had a lot of fun with this game and really enjoyed it as a nice change of pace.

If you want a shorter game you can easily do variants by requiring fewer (and/or specific) Bushido cards. In a two player game you can do a best of 7 Bushido card match.

If you are looking for a card game with beautiful artwork, a very nice theme, and simple, but challenging game play I would highly recommend giving Seppuku a look and a play.
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Demetrio B
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Great review Pone4games.

I was absolutely surprised from the amound of fun we having with seppuku with my group. I also playing it with my wife and maybe i prefer it this way also the expansion Collection of Desires really ads to the game and giving more options to collect bushido cards.

Fantastic game.
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Pone McPoneface
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There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night, and if you go no one may follow, that path is for your steps alone. Ripple in still water, when there is no pebble tossed, nor wind to blow.
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To seek the sacred river Alph, to walk the caves of ice, to break my fast on honey dew and drink the milk of paradise... I had heard the whispered tales of immortality, the deepest mystery, from an ancient book I took a clue.
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juliahna12 wrote:
Great review Pone4games.

I was absolutely surprised from the amound of fun we having with seppuku with my group. I also playing it with my wife and maybe i prefer it this way also the expansion Collection of Desires really ads to the game and giving more options to collect bushido cards.

Fantastic game.


Thank you for the kind words. There are two more expansions beyond Collection of Desires which you may already be aware of, Ghosts of Iga and Mirror of Famous Generals which adds nicely to an already good game.
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Oliver Brettschneider
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I found the following review on The Game Crafter:

Quote:

Seppuku brings you into the world of the Samurai. You are a wealthy land owner who hires samurai to protect your lands. You must build your wealth to hire more samurai and deal with the clan clashes within the samurai all while trying to attain the seven virtues of Bushido (to win).

The artwork in this game is fantastic. The rules can be a bit dense at times because you're not only learning the game, but a bunch of Japanese words at the same time. However, it ends up adding to the flavor of the game. The game comes with some custom dice, which are both cool and make the odds system in the game quite balanced and interesting.

The only area of the rules that we found confusing was the area about having multiple samurai attacking a single player. The wording there made the three of us have three different interpretations of how it could be done. So a little more refinement there would be cool, and an example of play in the instructions could probably have helped us work through this bit of confusion.

The flaw that made us rate this a 3 instead of a 4 or 5 [out of 5] is that the game progress is slow. This is mainly due to attack and defense not both inflicting damage during battle. If combat were changed so that when you rolled damage on the dice, whether you were attacking or defending, then you inflicted damage, then the whole thing would be sped up, and the game would be far more compelling.

As the game sits, it is a solid 3 maybe 3.5 stars [out of 5] in my opinion. If it ran a little faster, it would be a staff pick.


What do you think about the game progress, and the suggested solution above? As I am still waiting to receive the game, I find it hard to evaluate this by the rules alone, but I'm courious about your opinion as I like games that move along quickly.
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Pone McPoneface
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There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night, and if you go no one may follow, that path is for your steps alone. Ripple in still water, when there is no pebble tossed, nor wind to blow.
badge
To seek the sacred river Alph, to walk the caves of ice, to break my fast on honey dew and drink the milk of paradise... I had heard the whispered tales of immortality, the deepest mystery, from an ancient book I took a clue.
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Imagine wrote:
I found the following review on The Game Crafter:

Quote:

Seppuku brings you into the world of the Samurai. You are a wealthy land owner who hires samurai to protect your lands. You must build your wealth to hire more samurai and deal with the clan clashes within the samurai all while trying to attain the seven virtues of Bushido (to win).

The artwork in this game is fantastic. The rules can be a bit dense at times because you're not only learning the game, but a bunch of Japanese words at the same time. However, it ends up adding to the flavor of the game. The game comes with some custom dice, which are both cool and make the odds system in the game quite balanced and interesting.

The only area of the rules that we found confusing was the area about having multiple samurai attacking a single player. The wording there made the three of us have three different interpretations of how it could be done. So a little more refinement there would be cool, and an example of play in the instructions could probably have helped us work through this bit of confusion.

The flaw that made us rate this a 3 instead of a 4 or 5 [out of 5] is that the game progress is slow. This is mainly due to attack and defense not both inflicting damage during battle. If combat were changed so that when you rolled damage on the dice, whether you were attacking or defending, then you inflicted damage, then the whole thing would be sped up, and the game would be far more compelling.

As the game sits, it is a solid 3 maybe 3.5 stars [out of 5] in my opinion. If it ran a little faster, it would be a staff pick.


What do you think about the game progress, and the suggested solution above? As I am still waiting to receive the game, I find it hard to evaluate this by the rules alone, but I'm courious about your opinion as I like games that move along quickly.


As for game progress being slow I have seen this happen during some of my game sessions. I attribute this mostly to a player not fully understanding (or maybe over thinking) the game. If you have a player who is determined to destroy everyone's rice fields and mills (koku) the game can extend for an extremely long amount of time as players will not be able to place a samurai card to do battle and gain or give a Bushido card.

One house rule I have added was to not allow koku to be destroyed at all, or limiting the destruction to always leave a player at least 2 koku.

Combat can sometimes slow down game play, especially if you roll dice like me! But, that's why you want the best warriors on the board. Depending on ashigurai to get the job done will only be accomplished in groups!

This leads into the second comment made in the review about combat. I am not sure if I understand the confusion. When we play, a player who is attacking a samurai with multiple samurai just attacks normally, either one at a time or if you have additional dice you can roll them all together. I am not sure how dividing this up will change the combat result, but maybe the confusion is the defense roll (is it one per attack or one for all attacks?) The way I interpret the rules is that a single samurai can only defend once, so it is advantageous to attack a target with multiple samurai. Also a single samurai, no matter how well he rolls, can only inflict one wound, so having multiple attackers is the only way to potentially kill a samurai in one round. This also fit my historic studies of great samurai masters and how they were brought down, usually by being attacked by multiple enemies rather than one-on-one.

I hope I am answering your question adequately, but feel free to follow-up for any clarifications or additional questions.
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