Boardgame Review: Bushido: Way Of The Warrior

31 10 2010

Sigh, another late post. But better late than never, that’s what I say.

Anyway, here’s another type of post I’m hoping to make a regular thing: the boardgame review. Boardgames aren’t that big in the Philippines so you don’t see much mainstream stuff on it – mostly local gaming is based around CCGs and miniatures. However, we are making some headway with our regular meetups and the local community’s got a fair-sized collection between them.

I got into the board game scene two years ago and it’s been a blast. Anyway, I’ve got my own board game collection and I’ll go through them one by one to show them off and hopefully attract some players to our regular Friday Nights @ Hobbymania.

Here’s one of my more recent acquisitions, the German game Bushido: Der Weg Des Kriegers. You can tell it’s German from the name alone. This is one of the more non-standard German designs – it’s more French than anything else. Germans seem to like to avoid overt conflict in their games – this one has its fair share of combat albeit a bit limited.

D0n’t have any images of my version in action, but above is an image from the game’s demo at Essen 2008. The commercial version has thinner map tiles and none of the figs – just tokens – but the game’s essentially the same: you’re all daimyo from different families trying to get the office of Shogun via reaching 50 Daimyo honor first.

While part of the game is played on the map, the other half is the record board, where samurai and daimyo honor are tracked, along with your food and katana rankings and the current turn number. The game’s got some pretty goof art and it’s got that German design aesthetic that makes things look pretty clean and organized.

Anyway, back to the game – like I said, you’re all daimyo hoping to win – however, you can’t win alone. Every turn, you choose other players to become part of your court. One of them becomes the Sensei, your political officer, the other becomes your Samurai, which is your general, and another becomes the Bushi – the person you’re going to beat down. If you’re five players, there’s the Hatamoto, who’s  only job is to stab you in the back. I don’t advise five players because it slows down the game and becomes a bit unfun – four players is the sweet spot for this game, though an expansion gives you six players. Haven’t tried that version yet, but it looks to be more balanced than five.

The daimyo and his court

Every turn begins with the player drawing resource tiles and a chance to invite someone to a tea ceremony. A successful invitation gives you a chance to convert your samurai honor – which does nothing – into daimyo honor. After that, the Sensei gets a chance to do play political actions that can ruin or brighten the daimyo’s day – they can also help the Sensei when his turn comes around. Next, the Daimyo rearranges his troops and gives the Samurai troops to attack the Bushi.  A successful attack nets the Samurai a bunch of samurai honor and the Daimyo gains a province – which usually improves his food and daimyo honor. Fail and the Samurai risks being ordered to commit seppuku and lose all of his samurai honor.

After that, the turn marker moves and the daimyo position gets passed to someone else. This goes on until someone hits 50 Daimyo honor or the turn marker hits 12 – whoever has the most Daimyo honor then wins the game.  It sounds pretty simple but there are some nuances that make it a lot more complicated and fun. We actually finished a game on the fourth turn because of some careless planning and judicious attacks.

Definitely something I’d like to play again and I recommend it for its pseudo-Euro feel.






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