Monday, December 8, 2008

Shogun - First Play

It's been awhile since I made an entry because I haven't been to a game night in the last three weeks. Fortunately, Ed and I were able to make the one at Ray's on Saturday, and our first action was Shogun. Steve had just purchased it and was eager to play. He, Dee, and Ben joined Ed and I.

I had read about the Shogun's combat mechanic, but this was my first experience with the combat tower, which Ed promptly christened The Slide of Pain. I have to say that I like it. It's quick, and it's easy to figure out. Most of all, though, it's fun.

The game involves a lot of indepth thinking, which makes it good for players who like strategy. Having even one person who doesn't make decisions quickly, however, can slow the game down to sluglike proportions. I guess, however, that the same can be said for any one that requires a lot of thought.

While Shogun has the feel of Eurogame with combat, the metagame in my single experience devolved into Risk-like maneuvering for alliances. In fact, the whole game seemed to resemble Risk quite a bit. When we first set up the board, jokes were going around the table about how many bonus armies did you get for controlling the whole continent and who was going to get Australia.

Overall, I enjoyed my first experience with the game even if it did run a bit long. Ed claims that he won because he accomplished his goal of capturing and controlling Bitch'n (actually Bitchu, but who wants to quibble). The actual points leader was Dee, who came in two ahead of me and one ahead of Steve. I was knocked out of contention by a random attack from Ben, who was no where near having a chance to win and who later admitted to not having a clue what he was doing. Playing with him was like playing with a random chance element thrown in.

I need to play more times to get a better sense of how well I like Shogun, but my first impression was pretty positive. From a strategy standpoint, we debated a bit at the beginning whether it was better to control a region or have a bunch of territories spread out. After playing, I would lean toward controlling a region; it's a big advantage to be able to build and tax territories that you know cannot be attacked.

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