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HirumaShigure

Played my first game today...

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And freakin loved it! I was worried about the theme lacking but when my "shugenja force" defeated a 5 force army from taking control of my capital... this may be the game I've been looking for, for a long time.

3 player game: my sons represented the Crab Clan and Dragon Clan, leaving me with the Unicorn. 

My secret objective was "Rice Bowl of the Empire" so I quickly took over all Crane provinces in my initial setup. During resolution of the first round I gained the "Diplomatic Mission" territory card which I used to place a peace token in an opponent's province giving the Crane capital an additional 2 face up control markers in the second round (+2 defense and honor). I then used my diplomacy combat token in round 3 to declare peace in the Crane capital, securing my secret objective for the game. 

My youngest son (Crab Clan) took over both Shadowlands territories in the initial setup. It certainly gave him great power... but at terrible costs. The Unicorn had to ride in to the Crab capital through a "Cultural Exchange" and defend the Crab people from the corrupted forces of the Crab armies for the rest of the game. At one point the Crab were attacking their former capital from three different borders. It was all a smoke screen however.  A Dragon Clan shugenja force stopped the now corrupt Crab Clan from launching a Raid that would have left their own former capital a blasted Scorched wasteland.

In the end, the Unicorn, Lion, and Crane lands were secured by the Unicorn clan. The Phoenix and Scorpion lands were under Dragon control, while their own lands were contested by Dragon and Crab forces. The Shadowlands remained in control from the fallen Crab the entirety of the game, but sadly, there in no honor to be found by falling to their corruption. 

I could feel the theme and my sons took great delight in both our victories and defeats. It was a great time.  Fast and brutal. 

A couple "screw-ups": I forgot all about my eldest son and my special abilities. The Crab ability is always active  (built in to their control token). I remembered at the start of the 3rd round. My sons hadn't read the rule book and aside from reading what the tokens do didn't pay attention to their daimyo screens either. I declared our abilities void for the first game and wrote it off as learning experience. My second "screw-up": I never once used my bluff token. I guess I played like a Lion.  :P Maybe I was too impatient and didn't want to save any of my tokens? Don't know. My eldest used his to great effect. He saved his initial Raid token he got in the first round until the 5th round to scorch a Phoenix province, allowing him to take control of the territory for an extra 5 honor at the close of the final resolution. 

Edited by HirumaShigure
proof read

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Additional observation: I was first player 3 out of 5 of the rounds. Although it would seem that going first could be a drawback, getting first player card's power totally makes up for it! Super powerful in my opinion, especially if used with a scout card. 

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Finally played a two player game - Crab vs Unicorn via random selection.

I was first player the first turn and played the first player card incorrectly. Crab was first player the next four turns and it while there are advantages to placing the last token it was hard to beat that constant first player ability.

I didn’t utilize Unicorn’s ability enough, also I think my overall plan was too scattered. My secret objective was to occupy six coastal provinces and I didn’t setup well for that, nor did I succeed. Crab won 63-29.

Learned a lot the first game. Don’t let your opponent take whole provinces during setup. Some of those cards were brutal!

Bluffing isn’t as important in a two player. I used it to some success but had other moves I would could have and should have made.

I did have a lot of fun playing and I am certain the game scales better with more players. I’m still guessing 3-5 is the ideal. Either way can’t wait to play again!

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Yeah,  I really like being first player. It's almost having an extra shugenja card each turn you get to be first player. Scores can be pretty all over the place. My game last night was 48-41-16. Funny thing was, prior to the last round. The player that scored 16 felt like the obvious threat. I was the one that scored 41. I've only played 3 player games. I'm sure I'll try a 2 player game sometime, but doesn't seem like it'd be as fun...

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Game #2 saw Lion vs Crane, and what an adventure that was. I am still guessing the game plays best with 3 or more but even 2 is deep and fun with several nuances. Fun from this game:

I took the Lion capital on turn 2, only to have it switched back by my opponent with the Unicorn card - he didn’t play it on turn 2 thinking he wouldn’t need it, and then I blitzed his capital.

I finally ventured into the shadowlands to gain that tainted power. It was remove a control marker from one of your territories to remove two special markers off the board. I had placed a peace token on the Lion-held Scorpion capital (to gain multiple face up tokens in a territory) and I removed that peace token so I could take a shot at that capital. I also removed a scorched earth token to take a shot at a dragon province with a shinobi and keep a territory bonus away from my opponent for end game scoring.

Long story short that shadowlands card cost me 6 honor, I discarded a control token from a Crab province with a peace token meaning no one could take it back, so I lost Crab territory bonus for end scoring. A failed assault on the Scorpion capital didn’t help that any. My opponent’s secret objective was to hold the Scorpion capital. He secretly squealed with glee when I had put a peace token on it during turn #2, only to scream internally when I removed it for a surprise attack on turn #5.

Scoring was closer this game, with Lion player winning 64-50 - same player from previous game.  56 if I hadn’t used that Shadowlands card...

Very fun game, even setup is becoming very strategic in two player game. It’s a more focused cat and mouse struggle. Still can’t wait to play with more than 2 players, hopefully getting that chance soon.

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