Today we are reviewing another strategy board game that will offer you and your friends an exciting gaming experience. Let’s get acquainted – “Battle for Rokugan”. From the title you can already guess that the events will take place somewhere in Japan.
Fantasy Flight Games’ Battle for Rokugan takes place in the Legend of the Five Rings setting. The events of the game take us to the early days of the Emerald Empire, when seven clans fight for control of the entire territory. You take on the role of a daimyo, the leader of one of these seven clans with the sole goal of taking over Rokugan, making it part of the clan, and ultimately gaining complete control of the Emerald Empire itself. For better or for worse.
The game is published in the Russian Federation and the CIS by Hobby World, so there is no point in worrying about the quality of translation and printing.
But first, let’s look in the box
- Playing field.
- 7 clan screens.
- 5 Shugenja cards.
- 10 exploration cards.
- 22 region maps.
- 10 initiative cards.
- 1 starting player card.
- 12 secret goal cards.
- 189 battle tokens.
- 210 control tokens.
- 15 peace tokens.
- 15 scorched earth tokens.
- 11 special tokens.
- Round token.
- Rules of the game.
Let’s create our own empire
The Battle of Rokugan package includes several components necessary to play the game, some of which we will discuss below. First, Rokugan needs to be prepared for the war that will soon happen on these lands. When setting up the board, it’s recommended that you follow the steps outlined in the well-illustrated rulebook, although over time you may find ways to speed up the setup so you can dive right into political intrigue and ruin friendships.
To start, take the territory cards and place them in piles of two with the same icons, choose one of the two cards or ask a friend (or friends) to choose one of them, holding them face down, then move the card face down under the corresponding symbol at the bottom or the right side of the playing field. Place the unused territory card back into the box as it is useless for the rest of the game.
Now that the territories are prepared and ready to start, each player can choose one of seven clans: Crab, Crane, Dragon, Lion, Phoenix, Scorpio and Unicorn. Each clan comes with a bluff token, a stack of combat and control tokens, and a daimyo screen that has a unique ability that needs to be read to other players so they know how serious their fights against you will be. It is also recommended to place all the combat tokens, with the larger of the two tokens being placed face down and shuffled to create a random event stack.
You or another player will then deal each player two Scout cards, one Shugenja card, and two Secret cards. Scout and Shugenja cards have unique one-time use abilities that can only be used during a specific phase of the game. Secret cards are immediately reviewed by players and you choose one of two given to you as a secret bonus objective for extra points in the endgame. The second card you did not choose is returned to the box.
Now you have to populate the capital with one of the control tokens. These are placed face down on the board in their respective cities, after which you take a number of control tokens based on the number of players at the table for the next stage.
The starting player is determined by shuffling all the clan symbol cards in play, then turning over the top one to reveal the starting player, who receives the appropriate tag for that round, then their card is placed back in the box.
If you have five players, shuffle the remaining clan cards and begin the next setup phase. If you have fewer players, add neutral initiative cards, marked with a red symbol in the top right corner of the card, shuffle a few of these cards into the initiative deck along with the remaining clan cards until there are four cards left in the deck.
Finally, starting with the first player and moving clockwise, place one of the control tokens you set aside earlier in any empty province in turn until all players have placed their tokens, and then place the round tracking token in the appropriate space. The time has come to take over Rokugan.
How is it played?
One session in the Battle of Rokugan lasts five rounds, taking place in three phases, starting with the Rise phase. At the beginning of the turn phase, you designate a new starting player. If a neutral Initiative card is drawn, follow the card’s instructions: Once two people have met the card’s requirements, the closest two to the right of the current starting player becomes the new starting player.
Then take five or six (depending on the circumstances) from your pool of combat tokens mentioned earlier, including the bluff token that is in front of you off the screen. Flip them face up and you get your starting hand for the round. All players play their territory cards if they have them, or they can choose to pass this turn, which will alternate with the first player and then clockwise until all territory cards have been played or until everyone has dealt a card this turn. round.
During the placement phase, you begin to either play mind games or simply carefully plan your attacks. Players place five of the six combat tokens in their hand on the board. These combat tokens are placed face down along the borders or inside provinces depending on the type of token.
Each token has its own symbol, and under some symbols there is a number – this is the total strength of the token. These symbols represent army, navy, shinobi, blessing, diplomacy, raid and bluff. Details of what each token does are also on the inside of the Daimyo screen.
Army Tokens are your main combat tokens, which are used to attack other provinces and defend your own. These tokens can be used to defend along the coastline in case a Navy token attacks your province. They also allow your armies to attack distant shores. They can be placed on any coastal border, they act like army tokens and can only be used to attack and defend coastal borders.
Shinobi are used to attack any province and are stationed in the center of these lands. It can be used for both offense and defense, depending on the province you send your silent assassin to. They are also used to initiate raids.
Blessing tokens give your already placed tokens a bonus.
Diplomacy tokens are placed in a province you own and create permanent peace in that province, protecting it from current and all future attacks. Raid tokens, on the other hand, create destruction in the Emerald Empire. These tokens can be placed in any province you don’t own, and can only be summoned if shinobi are also in that region or in a province adjacent to one you control.
And finally, a bluff token, which is used in place of another combat token that you want to save for later. This is a great tool for tricking enemies into spending their tokens. The bluff token is returned to the player’s hand during the resolution phase after it has been revealed.
Finally, there is the resolution phase, which consists of seven steps.
First, open your combat tokens. Players turn over their combat tokens, which have been placed on the board for everyone to see.
Second, discard the bluff tokens and all illegally placed tokens, the bluff tokens are returned to the player, and the illegal tokens are sent to the discard pile.
Third, resolve all raid tokens by discarding all combat tokens from that province or along the border, and removing all control tokens. The raid token is replaced by a scorched earth token, which will be discussed later.
Fourth, you resolve diplomacy tokens in the same way as raid tokens, only you don’t need a shinobi to activate them, leave the control tokens on the board and put a peace token in the province.
Fifthly, solve all the emerging battles in turn, for this, each player adds up his total strength or defense, if any, and the one whose number is higher wins. If two players attack a province, the one with the higher attack total takes that region and places the control token face down. If the defender wins, he places a control token face up, giving him a future defense boost. All combat tokens that participated in the battle are discarded. If a control token is discarded, it is returned to the player’s collection rather than discarded.
Sixth, if a player owns all the provinces in a region, he may draw a territory card of the same type to use in the next round.
Finally, the round changes.
After five rounds the endgame begins. To determine how much honor you have, add up all the flower symbols from each province you control, including all the honor tokens placed on the board. You gain one additional honor for each control token you raise, excluding shadow lands. You gain an amount of honor from your secret goal if it is completed, and you gain five honor for each full territory you control.
The winner is the one with more honor. That’s all. If you have played enough of the standard rules, it is possible to make some changes to them, which will add replay value to “The Battle of Rokugan.”
“Battle of Rokugan” is a fun strategy game where trying to outsmart your opponent is both a challenge and a great way to recharge your brain. The challenge increases when you become the first player and then you have to think two steps ahead.
Magnificent illustrations convey the atmosphere of feudal Japan. Those looking for an addictive game of bluffing and strategy will find everything they want in Battle of Rokugan. One session doesn’t last long, so you won’t need a lot of free time.
And we express our gratitude to Hobby World for providing the game for review. You can purchase it at the Hobby Games store.