The only thing that I found disappointing about WoH was the fact that the board had minimal impact on the game. It is basically a mechanic for clarifying allies and providing a Spearhead (attacking unit doesn't bow) but I wished it could have a bigger impact.
So, here are my (as of yet untested, and probably unnecessarily complicated) ideas. Input is greatly appreciated.
THE COST OF WAR
I was thinking it would take a lot of time and resources to actually move an army across the Empire. To simulate this, players must be able to draw a path from attacking to defending Fortress that doesn't go through Toshi Ranbo or through other players' Fortresses. Then to commit units, the Attacker (player whose turn it is) must pay 1 gold for each tile in between.
IF you want to go through another player's Fortress tiles, they can demand a gift: either you pay them 2 gold (give them one of your "2" clan markers), or they randomly take a card from your hand. If they don't like the card, they can remove it from the game to draw one of their own Fate cards. They can demand this gift even if they are (or will be) an ally!
In order to move through Toshi Ranbo, you must move down one space on the Path of Honor as a cost (the Empress doesn’t like her subjects making war).
Tiles with “replace this tile” abilities must pay gold equal to the distance between the two tiles.
During the Attack Phase, you can send units out on Border Patrol. Place one of your clan markers on a unit, and a marker of the same number on a Plains adjacent to one of your Fortresses. Units on Border Patrol may move one tile during the Attack Phase, and will fight each other (see “Intercepting” below). They could even attack an adjacent Fortress.
*If a Border Patrol is ever moved home due to game effects, remove the markers from the board and the unit and bow the unit as an additional effect.
*You may assign Border Patrol units to defend when your provinces are attacked. Remove their corresponding marker from the board (but leave one on the unit so you remember it was on Border Patrol). That unit will be exhausted from running back to save your butt, and will bow after its battle resolves.
*Attackers and defenders may invite Border Patrol units to ally if adjacent to their fortress (or on the attacker's "path" if using The Cost of War rules above). If the Border Patrol is alive after battle resolution, you may move its marker to a Plains adjacent to the defender's Fortress (don't forget to bow the unit!) instead of moving home.
*If using "The Cost of War" rules, attacking armies may treat any Plains containing their Border Patrols as their own Fortress when making their path to the defender (in other words, it costs you 0 gold to move through your own Border Patrol tiles).
*If using "The Cost of War" rules, and an enemy army moves through a Plains containing one or more of your Border Patrol markers, you have four options: Join an army as ally (if invited by attacker or defender), move home, move to an adjacent Plains and bow the unit, or intercept the enemy army.
Intercepting: Before the defending player assigns units, create a new Battlefield not associated with any province and assign your Border Patrol. The enemy player may assign up to half of his army's units (rounded up, his choice). During this battle all units have the ability "Bow this unit: Move it home." Resolution of this battle resolution doesn't bow units, and any surviving units may still participate in battles at provinces this turn.
neat suggestions! I especially like 'tracing a path.' That way you can get to anybody, but it becomes expensive!
Your Border Patrol suggestion is interesting, but adds more complexity to the game, and I'm steamed at AEG because I wanted less than they already packed in.
Would it have killed them to have labelled spells "Spells"?