Review – Samurai Spirit
A cooperative game.
Title: Samurai Spirit
Year Published: 2014
Designer: Antoine Bauza
Game Time: ~30 Mins
Set-up Time: >1 Mins
Theme: Ancient Japan
Mechanic: Variable Player Powers
How to win: Survive 3 rounds..
You and your fellow samurai companions are the only standing obstacle between one frightened village and a full horde of blood-thirsty villains. The fight seems unfair as the seven of you might not seem to measure up to the dozens of enemies who want to slice you to pieces — but this comparison doesn’t take into account your strong combat skills and an efficient team spirit that binds your samurai squad enough to face the threat. Above all else, when everything seems desperate and lost, your enemies will discover that inside each of you lies a true beast, a warrior spirit ready to unleash its full power!
Set Up & Game Play
Place the Village game board in the centre of the table. Place the 6 Farmstead tokens building-side-up on the dedicated spaces (3 left and 3 right). Place the 3 Family tokens doll-side-up on the corresponding spaces.
Place a number of Barricades equal to the number of players + 2 on their dedicated spaces.
Shuffle all of the Plunderer cards (values 1, 2, 3, and 4) together face down and count out a number of these equal to the number of players × 7 to form the Raider stack.
Set aside the Lieutenant cards (value 5) and Boss cards (value 6) to be added later.
Each player chooses a Samurai board and places it on the table human-side-up. Put a Samurai meeple on space 0 of the battle track, and a support token on the support slot.
Give a random player the active player marker
The game lasts 3 rounds.
Players take turns clockwise until the Raider stack has been used up OR until all players have passed.
At the beginning of your turn, check to see if you have Raider cards to the right of your board. If the last card has a penalty you MUST apply it now. If you are unable to apply the Raider’s penalty you receive a wound instead. If there are no more cards or no penalty on the last card then nothing happens
Then you carry out one of 3 actions. Fight, Support, Pass.
1 – Fight
Turn over the topmost Raider card on the stack, this is your current opponent. You must decide whether to Confront the Raider or Defend against it.
Confront – Place the Raider card TO THE RIGHT of your board on the combat line. Move your Samurai meeple to show the total of the values shown on your Raider cards in the combat line.
How the total compares to your Kiai value determines what happens next:
If the total is LESS THAN your Kiai value, you stand your ground (nothing happens).
If the total is EQUAL TO your Kiai value, you may immediately activate your Kiai. (more on that later)
If the total is GREATER THAN your Kiai value, you are overcome by the raiders and you immediately remove one village Barricade.
Every Samurai possesses a very special power, called Kiai. Whenever you reach your Kiai value exactly, then you can activate your Kiai immediately…
1. Use your Kiai’s effect, if you like but why not? They’re cool!
2. You always remove the first raider card from your combat line and place it face-up on the discard pile and update your battle track accordingly, which means you may re-activate your Kiai on a future turn
Defend – Place the Raider card TO THE LEFT of your board, matching the symbol. You can only defend against Raiders with a hat, farm, or doll symbol if you don’t already have one.
If it has the same symbol as a Radier you have already defended against, or the no symbol, then you cannot Defend against it. You can defend against a maximum of 3 Raiders, keeping their symbols shown at all times.
2 – Support
Help a fellow Samurai by handing them your support token. You move the topmost card from the Raider stack onto the Intruder stack without looking at it. The Samurai who received your support token benefits from your talent on their next turn.
After completing their next turn, they must hand the token back to you even if they didn’t use it.
3 – Pass
Lay your meeple down on its current space in the battle track. You can neither receive cards, lose cards and you no longer suffer the penalty from raiders.
If your Samurai meeple is already past your Kiai value then you MUST PASS.
If the last Raider card is dawn, or all players have passed, the round ends. If all players have passed, the remaining cards in the raider deck and placed on the intruder stack.
Each Samurai who has not defended against a Hat symbol takes a Wound.
Each Samurai who has not defended against a Farm symbol destroys a Farmstead. If playing on hard or heroic, apply the penalty on the back of the Farmstead… these are harsh.
Each Samurai who has not defended against a Family symbol destroys a Family.
Then, bonuses are applied for each remaining family in the Village.
Reveal cards one by one from the Intruder deck. For each Raider with flames in the bottom right, remove a Barricade from the Village. If a Barricade cannot be removed, remove a Farmstead instead… If playing on hard or heroic, apply the penalty on the back of the Farmstead again…
End of the First Round
If at least 1 Farmstead AND 1 Family remain, the second round begins. Collect all played cards and reset meeples to 0. Add a Lieutenant for each player to the Plunderer cards and shuffle the Raider stack. The last player to take an action, even if it’s to pass, gives the 1st player marker to the player on their left.
End of the Second Round
If at least 1 Farmstead AND 1 Family remain, the third round begins. The set-up is the same as Round One except you add a Boss for each player to the Plunderer cards and shuffle the Raider stack.
End of the Third Round
If at least 1 Farmstead AND 1 Family remain, the Samurai win!
Surviving is great but having a score to beat is also good. You get 1 point per Farmstead remaining, 1 point per Family remaining and 1 Point per unwounded Samurai (Human or Animal). This is a Maximum of 10 points.
Something important to mention are wounds.
A Samurai can sustain one or more wounds in a round and they also sustain a wound at the end of the round if they have not protected the peasants (hat symbol). Wounds have the following MAJOR consequences:
1st wound: Place a wound token on your board, no effect
2nd wound: Your fighting spirit has been awakened!
Return your wound token to the supply and flip your board animal side up.
Keep the Raider cards where they are and set you meeple on the track.
3rd wound: Place a wound token on your animal board, no effect.
4th wound: The Samurai dies, the Village loses faith in you and the game is lost.
So this is a very very simple game. Most of the time you’re drawing a card and deciding if it’s going on the left or right of your board. That’s it. (That’s not ‘IT’ but you know what I mean)
You have to look to see if you can defend against it, what it’s effect is, it’s strength etc Plenty to think about how it effects this turn, and future turns.
Of course you can support another player with your ability. Some abilities protect the active player from certain abilities of the Raiders so for the good of the team you may have to support another player to stop them taking a wound or destroying a Barricade…
But even then, supporting adds a Raider to the Intruder stack so to prevent that loss of one Barricade, you may have just burned one down anyway!
It starts getting very tough as the Baddies get bigger, Barricades start to vanish and you start gaining wounds…
Good management of the Kiai is Key… I. When you activate it, you remove the last Raider from your Combat line and reduce your value accordingly. Manage it right and you can activate your Kiai a couple of times a round.
Flipping over to the Animal side increases your Kiai value but puts you closer to defeat…
So far my favourite co-op game and pretty much the only game I play solo.
I give it 8/10