Battle for Rokugan Review

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05 Aug 2018 23:30 #279297 by Matt Thrower

The first counter goes down on the board, sliding off the owner's thumb with a satisfying thwack. Its arrowhead points at my capital like an accusation. Besides that, I'm clueless. What is it? Given that it's sat on a territory border, it's either an army or a bluff. But if it's real, how many samurais are rolling in my direction? My palms begin to sweat. What do I need to do to defend myself? 

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06 Aug 2018 08:12 #279298 by WadeMonnig
Excellent review. This has been on my radar and your breakdown makes it all the more appealing to me. And it has a low MSRP.

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06 Aug 2018 09:04 - 06 Aug 2018 12:12 #279299 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Battle for Rokugan Review
This review did a great job of capturing the visceral experience of playing Battle for Rokugan. For those familiar with Legend of the Five Rings, Battle for Rokugan does a nice job of distilling the setting down into a compact game while still retaining the flavor of the seven clans. Aside from the setting, I agree that this game is a very sleek and efficient version of the Game of Thrones DOAM game from years ago. Each time I have played Battle for Rokugan, the entire game has clocked in at about an hour, including setup, teaching and takedown. The game moves at a brisk pace, even though players are constantly making meaningful decisions within the fog of war. Dollar for dollar, this game is an incredible value and certainly worth consideration as Game of the Year.
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06 Aug 2018 10:29 #279314 by Hadik
Replied by Hadik on topic Battle for Rokugan Review
I have a game group that has enjoyed playing conflict games such as Dune. Lately though, we’ve been drifting into “not in Kansas anymore” territory. Last session we played the Bob Ross Art of Chill game (actually fun).

I’d like to return to martial games and feel like this could be a good one. I was thinking about Shogun, because: cube tower.

Which of the two would you recommend?

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06 Aug 2018 11:04 #279316 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Battle for Rokugan Review

Hadik wrote: I have a game group that has enjoyed playing conflict games such as Dune. Lately though, we’ve been drifting into “not in Kansas anymore” territory. Last session we played the Bob Ross Art of Chill game (actually fun).

I’d like to return to martial games and feel like this could be a good one. I was thinking about Shogun, because: cube tower.

Which of the two would you recommend?


I haven't played Shogun, but I have played Wallenstein, which is essentially European Shogun. The Shogun map is less ideal for a multi-player game. The cube tower was a moderately fun gimmick, but the rest of the game was too euro for my tastes. Wallenstein isn't really a conflict game so much as a building game with some conflict added in. The game runs too long for what it is, and the pace drags.

While Battle for Rokugan isn't as dynamic or deep as Dune, I think that Dune fans would like Battle for Rokugan more than Shogun. The conflict is direct, and there is a lot of potential for bluffing and player interaction. Each clan has a special power and and an extra token, which is just enough to give a different feel to playing each clan, though the differences are mild compared to the differences between the factions in Dune.
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06 Aug 2018 11:08 #279317 by Stormcow
Replied by Stormcow on topic Battle for Rokugan Review
Excellent, underrated game, the kind of complete package that I was afraid FFG would stop making. Some guys on TOS claim that the game is better with the secret objectives just stripped out entirely; might be true but I'd still need to try it out myself.

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06 Aug 2018 11:29 #279319 by BaronDonut
Hey, great review! I feel lukewarm about the GoT game, so didn't think there would be anything here for me, but now I'm interested.

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06 Aug 2018 12:34 #279326 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Battle for Rokugan Review
I have just a few mild complaints about Battle for Rokugan, though I have found solutions for each of them. None of these issues detract from the game play as designed.

1. Even though the game has seven clans, it only scales from two to five players. I made a few extra scout and shugenja cards for two more players, plus there is a variant posted at TOS that reduces tokens played each turn in exchange for one or two extra turns to accomodate the extra players.

2. Flipping all your combat tokens at the start of the game and shuffling them around for randomization is less than ideal. I got some small felt dicebags and did iron-on transfers of clan symbols, for use as token drawbags.

3. Box storage is a mess unless you add in some bags. Each of the 7 factions needs two small bags, one for combat tokens and one for control tokens, plus one more bag for other game tokens. If you don't bag those tokens separately, setup time will be much longer, though putting away the game would be just a quick box sweep. Really small ziploc bags are good enough, like 1" x 2".

4. The box and insert are perfect until you punch out the tokens. If you bag the tokens (see #3 above), you will need to take out the insert to get the lid closed all the way.

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06 Aug 2018 12:38 #279327 by Ken B.
Replied by Ken B. on topic Battle for Rokugan Review
Nice review.

I've thought it over and realized...I'm not in the market for a shorter or lighter version of Game of Thrones. When I want to play GoT, it's because...it's GoT.

It's nice that there is a faster playing alternative for those who want it and don't mind (or who actually relish) the theme change.

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06 Aug 2018 16:34 #279338 by Matt Thrower

Hadik wrote: I have a game group that has enjoyed playing conflict games such as Dune. Lately though, we’ve been drifting into “not in Kansas anymore” territory. Last session we played the Bob Ross Art of Chill game (actually fun).

I’d like to return to martial games and feel like this could be a good one. I was thinking about Shogun, because: cube tower.

Which of the two would you recommend?


What Shellhead said. Shogun/Wallenstein are "Waro" games: economic euros with a mild conquest element. That might be what your group is looking for - and the cube tower is a neat gimmick, a way of evening out the swings of randomness through the game - but it's not really a conflict game as such.

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06 Aug 2018 16:40 #279340 by Matt Thrower

Stormcow wrote: Excellent, underrated game, the kind of complete package that I was afraid FFG would stop making. Some guys on TOS claim that the game is better with the secret objectives just stripped out entirely; might be true but I'd still need to try it out myself.


They're the weakest element, certainly. I think the easiest fix is just to hand back own-capital cards on pain of them being worth zero if you don't. In fact, I'm surprised this isn't an official rule, to the point where I did a lot of head scratching, wondering if I'd missed something before making it a house rule. But no, it really does seem to improve the game.

Some of the others are very "swingy", difficult but worth a lot of points. Like the one I mentioned in the review for conquering coastal provinces. There's another really weird one that's worth ten - the most in the whole deck I think - but you actually have to conquered fewer provinces to get it which is a bit topsy turvey. Does kind of make me feel that they could have evened the objective deck out a bit better with a little more imagination.

The only major critique I have of the whole package is that it helps a lot if everyone knows what cards might be in the game, objectives and province bonuses included. It helps you plan and to look for patterns, otherwise you can be blindsided out of the game. Some of them are very powerful.
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