One of the greatest board games ever made is *finally* being reprinted. The 1986 game Shogun (reprinted as Samurai Swords in 1995) is being reprinted, again, as Ikusa on June 24, 2011 by Avalon Hill (which is owned by Hasbro, who has owned the original publisher of the game, Milton Bradley, since 1984). It’s about time!
The premise of the game is that you (and up to four other players) are seeking to become the shogun, or military dictator, of feudal Japan. You have three armies headed by loyal daimyo (land-owning lords) which consist of samurai (warrior nobles), wielding either sword or bow, and ashigaru (peasants), equipped with either spear or primitive long gun. Lordless samurai, ronin, are always available for hire and will fight for anyone who can afford them. In addition to these forces, the deadly (and treacherous) ninja sells his services to the highest bidder, willing to assassinate your opponents daimyos directly (though a failed assassination attempt will put one of your daimyos in peril instead!).
Gameplay is a little like Risk where the board is broken up into provinces and you place military units in each one you control. Play order is random every round, however, and secret bidding for resources keeps everyone on their toes. Actually, you could consider it to be some sort of “super”-Risk since it’s more or less the same kind of game, but with a lot more options and much more fun.
This re-release is especially well timed, for me, since my copy of Samurai Swords was damaged in a little bit of basement flooding I had a week or so ago. I’ll definitely be picking up this new release of the game.