Jonathan, Chris, David, Manny, and I sat down at the table around 1pm with the board already set up. Jonathan and David hadn’t played before (though I found out later that Jonathan had read through some strategy articles in preparation), so I briefly went through the rules.
We played the Sun map, and I established my position mainly in southwest with a small presence in the southeast while Manny pretty much dominated the northeast. Jonathan’s forces were mainly located in the northwest, and Chris contested control of that area while also taking a strong position in the north central area. David concentrated his troops primarily in the south central.
For the first couple of turns, Manny set about conquering all interlopers in his area while the rest of us mainly went after neutral territories. I suffered two early defeats even with two to one and three to one advantages against those annoying green armies. During the Fall season, I tried to take over a castle that David had built adjacent to my main area and ended up losing. After another large beatdown, I was down to only 5 territories at the end of the first year and in last place by a fair margin. David had likewise suffered some setbacks and wasn’t looking too good. Manny had a slim lead by virtue of having one each of a castle, temple, and theater and having possession of all but one or two territories in his region. Chris’ position looked pretty good as well with holding second place and a strong presence in the center of the board. Jonathan was pretty isolated in the northeast and in third place, but he didn’t look like he was in that great of shape.
I spent the Spring fighting it out with David for control of my area before realizing that he and I had no shot at things. By the Summer, he and I had called a truce in order to focus on trying to make a dent in Manny’s and Chris’ fortifications. Meanwhile, Jonathan sat in his area buying building after building. By Fall, I realized that Manny, having not been able to expand outside one region, was no longer a threat and that it was actually Jonathan who was about to take us all down without firing hardly a single shot in the second year.
When we totaled all the points up, I was right. Jonathan finished with a strong 54, followed by Chris at 40, Manny and David both at 30, and me bringing up the rear with only 28, my worst showing ever at Shogun.
I had set the board up prior to their arrival, and the game took about 3 hours total, including the rules explanation.
I’m not sure that focusing on dominating one region is the way to go. If you can’t bonus points in multiple areas, your chances of winning seem to be greatly reduced.
Jonathan’s mantra was “don’t be in the lead at the end of the first year.” It seemed to work well for him.You can get on a downhill slide fast in this game. I took a couple of early gambles, and, though slightly favored in each, lost. Those setbacks made me feel forced to take more chances, which also went against me. There’s a definite balance that has to be taken between being bo