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4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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  • Simple mechanics
  • For 2-4 players
  • Takes about 45 minutes to play
  • Strategy game
  • Political struggle
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Product Description

Product Description

For centuries, Samurai have represented unfailing courage, imperturbable loyalty and internal harmony. There are three Samurai forces: peasants, clergy and nobility. The way to power leads through these three: peasants, represented by rice fields, clergy, represented by Buddhas and nobility, represented by high helmets. To become a Samurai, one has to be supported by one of these forces and have strong connections to the other two. Each player has an identical force and they deploy their forces to the spaces around the power figures. When a figure is surrounded, it is captured by the player with the strongest sympathetic force. To win, a player must gain dominance in one of the powers while getting better support from the other powers than the other players.

From the Manufacturer

The Samurai - for centuries, the name has represented unfailing courage, imperturbable loyalty and internal harmony. Today the name is no less respected and stories of the Samurai myths and legends have become more and more popular. In Japan, there were three Samurai forces: Peasants, clergy and nobility. The way to power in old Japan led through the peasants, the clergy, and the nobility. To become a Samurai, one had to be supported by one of these forces and have strong connections to the other two. Samurai is the latest game from award-winning author Reiner Knizia. The three forces are represented by rice fields, Buddhas and high helmets. They are presented in molded plexiglass, finely polished and noble black. The board comes in four pieces, representing the four major Japanese islands. To win, players must skillfully position their forces to gain the majority surrounding the cities and villages to capture figures.

Product Information

Product Dimensions 14.8 x 10.8 x 2.2 inches
Item Weight 2.5 pounds
Shipping Weight 2.7 pounds
Domestic Shipping This item is also available for shipping to select countries outside the U.S.
International Shipping This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
Item model number RGG116
Manufacturer recommended age 10 - 14 years
Best Sellers Rank #418,622 in Toys & Games (See Top 100 in Toys & Games)
#10,370 in Toys & Games > Games > Board Games
Customer Reviews
4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Mumford on February 6, 2007
This was the game that first led me to suspect that Reinier Knizia (designer of Samurai and other games) is a genius. I had already played Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride, and I was looking for something else. I chose Samurai almost by chance. After a few plays I was impressed. After a few more plays I thought "this game is amazing"! And now I have 12 Knizia games. In the games of Reinier Knizia, we can see a great mind at work.

Samurai is not a complicated game. It has about the same level of complexity as Settlers or Ticket to Ride. But it has a spark of magic that those more famous games lack in my opinion. The magic of Samurai is in how beautifully and perfectly all the pieces fit together. At the beginning of the game players have lots of options. Every turn, players select and place a tile on the board. Things start of get a little crowded after a while, and players are realizing the consequences of their early tactical choices. By the end players are playing in certain last spaces, hopefully spaces they have planned for in advance.

You can't play too forcefully, or you will spend too much of your resources on one place. The battle is being simultaneously fought all over the board. Players can't afford to leave any area uncontested.

Samurai is beautiful and original to look at. The board itself is a die-cut irregular shape in the form of a map of Japan. The pieces that are contested (rice paddies, buddas and high-helmets) are a lovely black shiny acrylic. The board and bits are VERY satisfying to play with. The artwork is very well rendered by Franz Volwinkel.

This game scales particularly well. With four players, the entire board is used and all bits. With fewer playes only portions of the board are used and fewer bits. With 2 players, or 3 or 4, the game feels exactly the same. It plays quickly and smoothly, in about 45 minutes. My kids like it, and pretty much everyone else that I've introduced it to.
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My first introduction to Reiner Knizia's Samurai was actually through a PC game version of it which I believe was shut down due to copyright issues. A shame really as I would have never given this product a try had it not been for that playable demo.

This product comes with 4 fairly heavy duty cardboard island pieces that make up the game board, 4 sets of colored unit cards and 3 sets of markers (Rice, Buddha and high helmets). The included rulebook is made up of a few pages with detailed and quality instruction that make picking this game up simple.

The youngest player starts out by placing 1 of the markers onto an available city, then the next player and so on until all of the markers have been placed.

Now the game begins!

Again the youngest goes first with play continuing clockwise around the table. The player places one or more of his cards on the board trying to surround some of the previously placed markers. Once a city or village has been completely surround on land, the total amount of cards are tallied to determine who wins the marker.

The cards each player can use come from a pool of about 24 and he gets to pick 4 to start with and after each round draws enough randomly to retain 4 in hand.

These come in a variety of forms from Samurai to Boats with some only influencing a given marker. They range in strength of 1 to 4 so the numbers are easy to calculate.

While my description might make it seem overly complex, the game is really simple and after one or two games you'll have the rules down. Mastering it on the other hand...

An excellent game which is worthy of shelf space on any avid board gamer's bookshelf. I only wish the box was a bit smaller.
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As my title suggests, this may be a perfect game. You can read the description to get a sense of the rules, so I will not go into a detailed explanation. I will just say the game involves the placement of tiles wisely to exert influence on three different types of "statues": buddhas, warriors, and rice paddies. The greatest influence around a city or village containing the statues wins them and your goal is to try to dominate 2 of the 3 types of statues. Here are the reasons why I think the game is perfect:

1) The game time is not overwhelmingly long, hence playing 2 or 3 games back to back is very reasonale. It runs about 30 minutes for 2 players and 4 players is usually under an hour.

2) The game scales wonderfully for 2, 3, and 4 players.

3) The winner is determined mostly by strategy and only slightly by luck. The order of the tokens you draw is luck, but everyone will draw the same tokens, only the order will be different. So you have to adjust your play if you are not getting the strong tokens early, but rest assured, those tokens are coming. There has to be a slight amount of luck in my opinion. Games that have no luck involved almost always have an advantage to the player who goes first and that advantage can be quite difficult or even impossible to overcome depending on the skill of the players. A slight bit of luck is often needed to remove the advantage of going first.

4) The decision making on each turn is very important, but not so burdensome that the game is not fun. Sometimes you will have tokens that allow you to play multiple tokens in one turn. But you always have to keep an eye on balancing your play to win the rewards in a balanced and efficient way. It is just the right amount of thinking involved in my opinion.
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