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We Must Tell the Emperor» Forums » General

Subject: I am the Emperor?!? rss

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David Kennedy
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So I'm reading the rules for the Expansion Kit when I come across this comment vis-a-vis card #60.

"If you survive this final card, you still win the game (see 11.0). In fact, the Allies do accept one surrender condition, which is that you, the Emperor, remain on the throne of Japan!"

This is quite shocking to me. I understood the player role in the game is akin to that of Tojo. You don't handle the day-to-day operational and tactical details. Rather, you are the civilian liason between the Emperor and the Japanese Army and Navy. Your role is to provide some strategic direction -- offensive focus here, prioritize these resources, fortify here, etc. Frankly, compared to most games, you don't have a lot of control.

I also think this notion the player is the Emperor is flat-out wrong. Event card #31, Imperial Intervention, sees the Emperor making a decision and overriding you, the generals and admirals. He decides that Guadacanal is to be abandoned. This can be quite maddening under some circumstances (most memorably for me when the IJN forestalled the Midway debacle http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/610113/no-midway) and I love this game-play dynamic. I also thought this underscored the circumscribed role of the player in the game.

So I was puzzled to read this.
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Steve Carey
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That's just flavor text that Alan inserted, and I didn't mind it at all - the player is "Japan" and at this level it's just abstracted within the ebb and flow of play.

Really, the player can envision whatever role(s) they do or don't want during the game, but if defeat befalls us then we know who's really to blame.

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Brett Schaller
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I think you're reading entirely too much into this.
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David Kennedy
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Steve Carey wrote:
That's just flavor text that Alan inserted, and I didn't mind it at all - the player is "Japan" and at this level it's just abstracted within the ebb and flow of play.

Really, the player can envision whatever role(s) they do or don't want during the game...

I disagree. I think this issue is really central to the design of the game. The crucial question for the player is "What's my motivation?" Before you can answer this question, you have know who you are. The idea I am some abstract embodiment of the spirit of Japan is way too vague.

Remember, the game is all about abstraction. The relationship of the player to the Emperor is at the heart of the narrative. You don't really call the shots day-to-day. You do exert some control over the broad strategic plan and operational emphasis. But, at the end of the day, you serve the Emperor. That drives your motivation in the narrative. In this regard, I think the name of the game is very meaningful and simply brilliant. It is a shame to diminish it.

If you simply want to play the game by flipping the cards, go ahead. In the words of one of our colleagues, go along for the ride. Needless to say, your performance on the stage will suffer. Rest assured, the Emperor will take note and the fate of Japan will suffer because of your indifference.
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