Archive for the ‘Shogun’ Category

Within the board game community I often overhear outrageous comments about how to play Shogun. It is as if some of these urban myths have become acknowledged as simple truths. I feel it is my duty as a dedicated Shogun enthusiast to deal with these myths once and for all.


 – If you rule Awa Boso you will always win the game


First time I heard about this rumour was on a gaming trip to southern Jutland. Apparently some newbie had been teaching this nonsense to people who were new to the game. At that time I did not think more of it since it was obviously not true. Coming back to Copenhagen however I frequently stumbled in to people who implemented this strategy in their game. Obviously the “Awa Boso Strategy” (ABS as it is often referred as) has spread throughout the country now and for some reason people don’t question its source. I would urge people to stop glorifying the Awa Boso Strategy as there is no well documented evidence that this strategy actually works (even though it can be a nice province to have).


– A cosy second place is worth fighting for


I do not know who came up with this ridiculous idea but clearly it is looser talk. There is no glory in being second. Either you rule Japan or you don’t, there is no in-between.


Listening to old Japanese music while playing will increase some peoples chances of winning


Even though most people would discard this as pure nonsense, I have recently discovered that having the right atmosphere can be quite crucial. I am not saying that listening to Japanese music (preferably old flute music) will make me play better, but I have experienced that I play much worse in its absence. I guess this has to do with something about me playing poorly and taking all the wrong decisions if not in the right mood. I have experienced the same with other games like CoN. In this case the Lord of the Rings soundtrack really does it for me.


– Mind games never work


I just can’t understand why some people won’t acknowledge the power of mind games. I really do believe that mastering mind games is an underappreciated part of board games. It is well documented that you can psyche an individual by repeatedly telling him that he is worthless. The same applies in Shogun. One of the secrets to my success in Shogun is my mind games. I often keep telling my opponents that they are taking the wrong decisions and eventually they will believe it themselves. While undermining their game I will suddenly attack an unexpected province which will often be the winning move. I can certainly understand why people won’t acknowledge mind games given that most people are not mastering this strategy and are therefore a bit jealous. Nonetheless, mind games will always be my main approach to winning a board game.

Author SwedishViking


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I am not trying to say that there is only ONE single strategy that works in Shogun, clearly this will depend on circumstances (i.e. position, winters, etc.). However, I do believe that if you follow some guidelines it will significantly increase your chances of winning. Some people will probably disagree on some of the guidelines that I propose below (obviously people that never win in Shogun), but I have certainly found these useful myself throughout the years:


  • The victorious Dynamo will often be predominant in 2-3 regions (Building-wise)

–          Trying to achieve dominance in only one region is the recipe of failure. Dominating two regions can be sufficient in some cases, depending on how well positioned your adversaries are. Dominating three regions will almost always guarantee your victory, but will at the same time be much more difficult to protect. Everything above three regions is pure suicide. So the trick is to consider whether having most buildings of all types in two regions would suffice or if you have to dominate a third one. Needless to say you never know how many regions you need to dominate when you pick your provinces at the beginning of the game which makes it hard to strategically deploy your samurais.  Personally I prefer to deploy my samurais in a way that enables me to dominate three regions if necessary, i.e. close to borders.


  • Abandon provinces that are not adjacent to enemy territory and protect your fronts

–          This strategy will necessitate that you keep you peasants satisfied, primarily by giving them enough food. So before you conquer a dozen of provinces make sure you will have enough rice for the winter. A revolt can have disastrous consequences if you only have one samurai protecting a province.


  • Deploy your samurais in corners and close to borders and keep enemies as far away as possible

–          When choosing your starting-provinces you should try to minimize the number of provinces positioned adjacent to enemies. This can be achieved by keeping close to corners.  Also try to place your samurais close to the borders; this will give you the opportunity to dominate three regions if necessary.


  • Have your strategy planned out from the beginning

–          You only have six rounds to achieve victory so it is of utmost importance that you have a plan figured out from the start.


  • Always try to secure a couple of provinces that are unreachable to your opponents

–          These provinces should be used for buildings, especially the expensive fortresses. I have often been unable to build anything in fear of losing the provinces.


  • Always choose your provinces wisely

–          When picking province cards you should try to get: 1-2 provinces that provide you with 6-7 gold, 1-2 provinces providing you with 4-5 rice, and 4-5 provinces with 2-3 building spaces. Of course this is not a rigid rule. For example, there is no point in picking a province that is surrounded by three other enemies. However, possessing the mentioned provinces will let you build what you want and at the same time supply you with enough rice for the winter. These provinces should preferably be situated far away from enemy land.


  • Keep low profile in the first year

–          This strategy does not apply if you can get a strong head start (8-10 point) in the first year. If this is not the case, however, one strategy that I often use is to divert player’s attention by not getting too many points in the first year and at the same time do the groundwork that will enable me to claim victory in the second year.


  • Play it safe

–          Taking chances in Shogun are rarely rewarded. If attacking an opponent be sure that you have the upper hand.


Author SwedishViking

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In Shogun, before waging war against your opponents you should think twice.

Some people would say that you learn from your mistakes – I disagree.  At least not when it comes to leading samurais into battle in Shogun. You would think that attacking an adjacent province with 4 samurais against a single defender would be a obvious win. I have proved this to be wrong many times. Why is this?

Needless to say, the predictability of the old Japanese tower cannot be compared to die rolling. Using the former example, if each samurai were to contribute to the battle with one die, the probability that the defender would win would be very slim. Obviously there are a lot more factors that have to be considered in Shogun:

  • Will the peasants fight against you? If they will, how many are there in the tower.
  • How many opponent samurais (returning war heroes) are lying around in the tower.
  • Based on previous battles how likely is it that enemy-cubes will assist in the battle (if no blue cubes have come out the last 3-4 battles the chances are that they are stuck in some corner or up against the wall)
  • How many allied samurais are there in the tower and are these likely to come out and fight in the battle.

Because you have to take all these factors into account the decision to go into war can be quite difficult and even when you are outnumbering your enemy it is far from a certain victory.

Author SwedishViking

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