This week, Nige wanted to play his newly acquired copy of Shogun. This is a re-make of Dirk Henn’s Wallenstein and plays virtually identically except that it is set on a map of Japan rather than Western Europe. We last played Wallenstein at the club in September 2002 and an outline of how the game plays is in the session report.
In our game, things were looking pretty ominous from the outset when Mark G managed to get all his starting pieces in adjacent regions centred around Mimasaka. Others’ pieces were not as well connected, as everyone tried to avoid regions close to warlord Mark – mine were in three groups but two were still dangerously close to the dark empire. The first year saw most people expanding into unoccupied regions. However, that still didn’t stop Mark G going for an isolated but heavily populated region of mine. I thought I was reasonably safe but the cube tower had other ideas when it spat out 6 of Mark’s 7 cubes and just 3 of my 11. That seemed to be my fate throughout the game: cubes getting eaten by the tower at the most inopportune times. The end of the first year saw Mark K and I lagging well behind the others with 11 and 12 points versus the 19 – 21 of the other three.
The second year saw a number of skirmishes between Mark K and Steve in the east and south-east of the board, while Nige was trying to erect buildings while avoiding conflict. It worked pretty well until towards the end when Mark K surged down from Mino through Iso and Shima. However, Mark G was able to build without much fear of attack in the West. I did have a go towards the end, as I was already resigned to not being in contention but it was to no avail as Mark ran out a fairly easy winner. It was well played by him and everyone else’s error to let him get away with it.
Shogun is a pretty good game, not quite top notch but still enjoyable, even though I suffered horrendously to the fate of the tower. It went on a little too long (just over three hours) and the turn planning can take a while with slower players. However, it is a game I am happy to play again, especially as there is a second board on the reverse for some variety.