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Subject: Finally got a chance to play Samurai Sword - disappointing. rss

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Paul Tessmann
United States
Tustin
California
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I played two games over the weekend, one with 7 players, and one with 6 - here's my experience with it;

The basics - Samurai Sword is a game made by the designer behind Bang!, and plays very similarly to it. Just like in bang, each player is given a hidden role (Shogun, Samurai, Ninja and Ronin), a character card that gives a special perk, a hand of cards, and then tries to beat the crap out of eachother until time runs out. There are a few major differences - In addition to life points, each character starts with Honor points (Shogun 5, everyone else 4). If you die, instead of being out of the game, your character goes inactive until your next turn, and whoever killed you takes one of your honor points. On your next turn your health resets and you continue playing as normal. Instead of equipping guns and using bullets to attack, the two were combined into one, and attacks take the form of Weapon cards (so instead of playing Bang on your neighbor, you'll play a Katana, which has its range and damage listed on the card). The game ends when one player runs out of Honor points, and to move this process along everyone loses an honor point each time the deck is depleted. The winner is determined by who has the highest score at the end (usually calculated by Shogun + Samurai vs total of Ninja vs Ronin x3)


The big improvement I heard going into Samurai Sword is that the game has managed to solve the problem of people dying and having to sit out the whole game, and it does so quite well - my last game of Bang! with 8ish people resulted in me dying before I even got a turn. There are two factors that contribute to SS fixing the problem - one of which is the addition of the honor system so when you die, you lose an honor instead of being out (but creates serious flaws as I'll explain below), and the other being that everyone farther down got to draw additional cards to start the game. The latter is a rule I plan to implement at my next game of Bang! to see if it helps solve the early deaths that usually happen in larger games.


As for the games, in one I was the ronin (solo team) and the other I was the Samurai (only Samurai on the board, so my points were doubled for the team). In the Ronin game everyone was more or less passive, only picking off people who were low as they didn't want to accidentally kill someone on their own team, whereas being the Ronin I just murdered everyone I could. I eventually won the game as I drew a huge amount of table-wide damage cards (discard a parry or lose a life / discard a weapon or lose a life) and had 2 concentrates (extra attack) on the board, so I was taking down someone at least once or twice a turn. I think the final score was something like 12 to 4 to 2.


The second game (samurai) is what highlighted why living longer is actually detrimental to a game like this. In Bang, if somebody kills an Outlaw, it could be the Deputy knowingly eliminating one, or it could be an Outlaw who accidentally killed his buddy, and since he's out of the game there's lesser chance of backlash. In Samurai Sword, I was seated next to the Shogun and started railing on my other neighbor. As soon as I attacked him a second time, the entire table guessed I was the Samurai and turned on me. In Bang, this would have put our team 2 people up before people got wise, increasing our odds of winning the game. In Samurai Sword, it resulted in everyone draining me of honor until the game ended and our team scoring a measly 2. Due to this, in certain sized games there is no reason not to have everyone pile on the Shogun until the last possible second, which makes little sense to me from a thematic standpoint. Once you get to 7 (and add in the second Samurai) is the only time it's not the most optimal move.


Ultimately, Samurai Sword is decently fun and if you can find a copy for MSRP but don't own Bang! it's worth a try, but honestly I like the feel of Bang! much more since killing your neighbor in Bang could screw you, whereas with the Honor system it's always advantageous to kill anyone near you, even if it would involve the Samurai killing his Shogun (which seems really backwards).
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Radosław Michalak
Poland
Bytom
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Gaming is for having fun. Fun requires clear rules.
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One hint: SS is a bit harder than Bang!
You can't simply try to kill anybody and live as long as possible. You have to guess roles by acts, not just see it when player is dead.
Ninjas can't just attack Shogun and who they guess is Samurai, they also have to find out who is Ronin, which is nearly impossible = kill everybody who has too many honor points. If hhe's also a Ninja, then no problem, averything stays in team, if he's Ronin - great.
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Mike Flynn
United States
Olympia
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Good review. I agree with most of it. But there are a couple details you left out that change things a bit.

There is a rule called "Deadly Strike" (page 7), which states that, "if the game ends because you were defeated by a player on your team, your team suffers a penalty of 3 Honor Points." So, if the Samurai starts attacking his Shogun willy-nilly like you suggest, that could lead to distrust by the Shogun which the Ronin and Ninjas could (SHOULD) take advantage of to get the Shogun to attack the Samurai and possibly get the penalty.

Also, if you run out of cards in your hand, you become "harmless" and may not be attacked. This is an interesting element as you can intentionally run yourself out of cards to avoid attacks, or on the other side, force someone who has no cards to draw cards in order to attack them.

There's a little more depth to this game than I think you give it credit for. For me, I really want to like Bang! but the early player elimination pretty much ruins it. Samurai Sword fixes that problem quite well. Give it a few more plays and see how you feel about it.
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Matt Freitas
United States
Spring
Texas
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Yea

I hated bang as in a 6+ player game getting eliminated before i even had a turn meant 1+ hours of sitting there staring at other people play a game.

And this is simply unacceptable to the point i refuse to play it ever.

I just played 2 games of Samurai Sword 7 player last night and we had a lot of fun. My first game was a wash we let the one player who did nothing just sat on her honor tokens win because she was the ronin and we assumed she was a samurai so we left her alone.

But our second game involved a lot more killing and using of harmless and became a very interesting game.

It's not the best game ever, but it is a fun simple party game.

The rules actively state you need to find and kill the ronin in a 6-7 player game as it's super easy for them to win. You have to make sure you never leave two people low at the same time even if it means taking a flower from your teammate because giving the ronin two flowers late game is pretty easily the game.

All in all it's fun and miles better then bang, i can't wait for the expansion.
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Levente Domonkos
Hungary
Budapest
Budapest
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I'm sorry, but all your complaints come from looking at the game as it was Bang! The metagame is so much deeper in this one, you can create much much more chaos because it can be worth to kill your teammate to deny anyone elso to do it. This game is MUCH MUCH MUCH more tactically rich than Bang! I'm sorry you did not inderstand how to play the game. I guess smart games are not for everyone
 
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