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Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan» Forums » Sessions

Subject: battle report and mini-review after one game rss

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David Boeren
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One of the guys had picked up this game and wanted to give it a try, neither of us had played before.

The components are great and we had several passers-by asking about it or admiring it. The only two nitpicks I'd have would be the map, which has nice artwork but is thin cardboard so it's hard to get it to lie flat, and the box, which is too small. It's possible to pack everything back in the box, but you have to spend a lot of effort to do it and it keeps you from storing the blocks in the bags - instead you have to stack them manually into exact walls or it won't close. If I pick up a copy I plan to build box extensions - glue some cardboard to the inside walls to raise them up higher so the lid still fits but there's more room.

Anyway, on to the gameplay...

I was playing black (Tokugawa). The first thing I noticed is that he seemed to have significantly more blocks than me, plus a large reserve of Mori blocks. I had some apprehensions over whether it would be an even game or not, BUT I had no idea how many symbols his blocks were worth. Maybe they had fewer on average than mine, and fewer blocks are easier to keep loyal so in effect one block with 2 symbols is better than two blocks with 1 symbol apiece. I quickly decided that my best bet was to try to maintain a castle lead so I'd get one extra card per round and was willing to trade that in return for letting him lead in resources.

The action started in the center, I started mustering forces in the South to send Northward. My northern troops had a hard time of it, being chased around and suffering from attrition. I had no matching cards for them at all, so I ran away from several battles losing 1 block each time - he didn't want to (or wasn't able to) commit more troops to cause heavier losses but I was ground down over time anyway and lost about 3-4 blocks in this fashion - which lost me control of the north and east map edges. However, my armies from the South were moving up and on the next turn I had a sudden reversal where I drew the right cards and a stack that he'd been harrying turned to fight! I kept my losses small and worked on punishing him in the battles where I had the advantage, he typically lost about 3 blocks and midway through the game I had an attrition advantage from killing more of his blocks than he had of mine.

As the game went on, I realized that most of your reserve troops would never leave the bag - I think we'd both expected more armies to show up, probably part of the uncertainly mechanism that lies at the core of the game.

In the south west, we traded back and forth until a major battle erupted that he won by playing a Loyalty Challenge card which was a huge swing. Instead of him losing 3 to my 1, it was flipped so that card was responsible for a 4-block swing. Honestly I wasn't too happy about that, it seemed like too big an amount to happen on luck like that, but I recognize that this is kind of what the game was about. I drew my own Loyalty Challenge card which I played in the final battle of the game, but it was unsuccessful.

At the end of the game, our two biggest armies (6 blocks each) clashed near the center of the board. He had the cards to get five of them to fight, while I was able to compel all six of mine. We had built a supreme force of matching clan symbols and duplicate horsemen which took our impact just high enough to cause five casualties. The rules say that you have to take casualties first from the blocks that actually fought and with his main general at the battle he was lost which was the instant win condition.

Overall it was a pretty good game. I think a couple of replays will be necessary to get a better understanding of how to manage loyalty and how many Loyalty Challenge cards are in the decks.

One thing neither of us was that fond of was having to discard half our cards each turn. It often felt like we'd just built up a good hand and were then forced to lose our cards before putting them into effect as much as we'd like. I think the intent is to "strike while the iron is hot" - if you have cards to get your men to fight you'd better do it right now, which means you'd better have them in position to be ready to fight as much as possible.

The movement penalties for bigger armies did a good job of preventing giant stacks from dominating the game, mostly we saw armies of 4-6 in size.

I'll have to consider picking up a copy before they're all gone, some of the stores are already out of stock and there's no knowing when more copies will be printed
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Kev.
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I'm on turn 5 of a solo run thru.
This is a very intriguing game.
After two turns I realized if I did less, I could accumulate more troops and cards.
Lots of trade offs here.
That Loyalty card is a pisser.
Thanks for the report!
 
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Joel Tamburo
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Nice report, but the mapboard comment makes no sense. It is a fully linen wrapped hard mounted board not "thin cardboard".

Something to remember about Tokugawa is they both have more loyalty cards they can play and the fewer loyalty cards that can be played on them are also more easily countered. This is because Tokugawa has fewer different clans in their mix and thus more cards for each unit, thus making it a lot more likely that they will win a loyalty challenge.
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R Larsen
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Yeah, strange with your map board.
I believe that all games are supposed to ship with a high quality, mounted board (as mine is).

And I am surprised to hear that Tokugawa had problems in the beginning of the game. I have only tried a single game, so might have done something silly, but it seems that Tokugawa has a big advantage, at least in the north and east at the start of the game. But I guess there are many ways to play.

Thanks for the report.
Ras
 
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David Boeren
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I'll have to ask him about the board. Perhaps there's something odd going on, like an advance copy, or he made an extra board to preserve the original? No idea... But, good to know that it's supposed to come with a mounted version.

The problems were likely as not of my own making due to inexperience and/or poor card draw. I did though have one clan that I had a great deal of trouble drawing early on which led to one stack being chased off multiple times. Probably just bad luck then.
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