Author: Reiner Knizia

Hans im Glück 1998

Awards: none



Once again Reiner Knizia has chosen to move back in history. After his award-winner "Euphrat & Tigris" he went into another part of history - to ancient Japan.

In "Samurai" the players take up roles as territorial Lords on Japan, and they must try to become most powerful. Before the game starts an equal number of tokens representing helmets, Buddhas and Rice-fields are distributed among the towns of Japan. These represent the different social groups in Japan and players must try to get as many of them as possible. The smaller towns receive one token, whereas the medium towns two tokens and the capital city three tokens. After this, the setup is finished and each player receives a set of influence-markers in his colour. Each player has the same set (helmets (value 2-4), Buddhas (value 2-4), Rice-fields (value 2-4), 5 Samurais (value 1-3), 3 Ships (value 1-2), 1 Rider (value 1), 1 Figure-change, 1 marker-change). These influence-markers are mixed, and each player draws a hand of 5 markers - the rest is left mixed and positioned next to the player to form a drawing stack.

The game starts with a random player and proceeds clockwise. In his turn, a player may put one of his influence markers on a free space of the map. He may also chose to put additional ships or the rider onto the map, but the player may also wait with this option since he doenīt have may of these cards. Normally all cards must be place on land - the exceptions are ships which must be placed on water. The aim of the placing of the markers is to surround cities with tokens with the markers. Whenever all land-spaces around a city are occupied, the game stops for evaluation of the cities. According to the figure(s) in the city, the players add up their influence on the figure(s) according to their influence-markers. So, if a city contains a Buddha, each player has as many influence as he has markers around the city showing a Buddha. Furthermore, a player may get additional points by placing Samurais, ships or the rider, since these markers influence all three social groups. The player who has the highest influence on the token gets it and places it behind his screen to keep his total of tokens secret.

The game continues until the last token of one of the three classes has been won by a player. Now only a player may become winner who has most tokens of at last one group. If a player has most pieces of two groups he wins the game, but if (as usual) each player only has the lead in one group, the players need to count their other tokens. Now the game is won by the player who has most tokens NOT belonging to his leading group.

The game makes use of clever game mechanics and the players need to plan carefully in order to get as many tokens as possible. Furthermore, a constant watch must be kept over the tokens gained by the other players in order to prevent them from gaining a significant lead. Very intelligent are the included markers for changing one token or one marker, since these will make the game a bit less predictable and teir use also means fun since they can certainly spoil the plans of another player. I think that "Samurai" definately is one of the best Knizia-games I ever played, and if the Nürnberg-convention in spring 1999 doesnīt carry an really brilliant game, "Samurai" is scheduled to get quite high in the german game awards.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany