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Reiner Knizia’s Samurai

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Reiner Knizia & David Adams



Copyright 2003, Klear Games

One of the best board game conversions I have ever seen, Reiner Knizia’s Samurai is a superb PC version of Samurai, a great abstract board game by Reiner Knizia released simultaneously in Germany and the United States by Hans im Gl?ck and Rio Grande Games. Set in feudal Japan, up to 4 players (cast as prominent warlords) vie to gain allegiance from three main groups: nobles, priests, and peasants. From the offcial site: “[you] must court the allegiance of these social groups one city at a time by promising military protection, offering favors or resources to specific castes or sending merchant ships to encourage trade in the region. During game play, these resources (military protection, resources, etc…) are represented by tiles that you must place on the map in spaces adjacent to the cities and villages that contain representatives of the social caste(s) whose full allegiance you are courting. Those representatives are represented as pieces on the game board. Once sufficient influence has been exerted on the cities, you, or your opponents may be awarded a pledge of loyalty from the population. The game concludes when there are no more pledges of loyalty to win. At that time, the population gathers into their castes and declares their support for you or your opponents. Only through careful currying of the greatest and most balanced favor can you achieve a sovereign declaration, and through such, win the game!”

Similar to most other games by Reiner Knizia, Samurai is a turn-based, hex-based board game played by placing various tokens on the board. Like his other games, Samurai features a finely tuned game balance and elegant game mechanics. With an array of tokens and tiles including the Samurai, Ronin, boat, and special tokens that allow players to replace a scoring tile or swap two tokens, Samurai is akin to a multi-dimensional Japanese game of Go: areas of influence develops as tokens are placed and areas are conquered. Unlike most board games in which you only need enough victory points to win, the challenging “majority rule” in Samurai radically changes the nature of the game, especially in a four-player game.

Although not as complex as Euphrates & Tigris, Samurai is still a very challenging and very interesting game. This outstanding PC version from Klear Games offers excellent AI of varying difficulty levels, excellent graphics, intuitive interface, and a very comprehensive multiplayer support including hotseat, LAN, and Internet. If you love abstract board games like chess or elegant tabletop wargames that focus more on the mechanics than on realism, you will love this excellent conversion of a board game classic that belongs in every strategy gamer’s collection. Two thumbs up, and a well-deserved entry into our Hall of Belated Fame.

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