Samurai spirit


Samurai Spirit - Taking a Chance on Some Samurai GuysPublished by Funforge - 2014Designer: Antoine BauzaHead Artist: Victor Corbella1 - 7 players ~ 45 - 75 minutesĐánh Giá written by Luke Muench

Years ago, Samurai Spirit was one of the first games that I considered getting rid of back in my early days of board gaming. The game felt simple, slow, và ended with us losing without us knowing what we could have done way more often than we liked. It was a frustrating, obnoxious, colorful, mess of an experience.

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After some thorough contemplation, I decided khổng lồ go bachồng into lớn this war between our brave, perilous samurai và the waves & waves of villainous ninja to see just what made this game tichồng. And what I found… was blackjack.

Having been a blackjaông chồng dealer for a time, there was a certain… nostalgia lớn the game, so I decided khổng lồ keep it, eventually considering it one of the greachạy thử co-ops of all time, but the wind’s favor is fickle, and now it’s time to take another critical eye to lớn Samurai Spirit.

Fighting For Your LifeKnow your enemy & know yourself & you can fight a hundred battles without disaster. - Sun Tzu

Samurai Spirit, lượt thích most co-op games, tasks players with trying really REALLY hard not lớn die. Which, of course, like most good co-op games, you will die. A lot. Like, 6 out of 7 times. It’s so brutal that when you pry open the box, the familiar lid-squeak starts lớn sound more lượt thích a taunt - “Really? You’re gonna try THIS again? HAH! Good luck with that.”

The Samurai win the game if all players are able to lớn survive 3 waves of ninjas while also keeping one building intact and one villager alive; that’s a lot of stuff to lớn protect. Like a leaning tower of porcelain vases held together by some twine; eventually, one of them is gonna get smashed, & more will spitefully crash lớn the ground in the process.

This means every action is vital and must be carried out with precision. Players are forced lớn collectively manage what few resources they have in hopes of lasting long enough lớn make it through the hour run-time.


Turns are very simple; on your turn, you will bởi one of three things:

Draw a ninja card lớn giảm giá with.

Pass your power token to lớn another player.


This easy, quichồng framework leads a lot of players to initially take this game for granted, và if you don"t have someone to lớn explain the subtle nuances of this game, you’ll likely find yourself questioning why your friover would hate you so much khổng lồ make you play such a mindless title.

You will most often (by far) draw cards, each adorned with a few symbols to lớn be mindful of:

The number at the top left of the card (commonly 1 through 4) shows that ninja’s strength and how much strain it puts on you if you fight it.

The symbol in the bottom left corner of the thẻ illustrates a punishment for fighting this thẻ, assuming it’s at the top of your pile of baddies.

The symbol at the top right of the card shows which resource this ninja is attacking, allowing you khổng lồ defend that resource if you so choose.

If there’s fire in the background of the card, that can be bad, but only if this ninja finds itself in the spy pile (which we’ll get khổng lồ later).

All this information comes together and asks you one question; vì chưng you fight this card or defover against it?

Fighting a card adds its value to lớn your combat track; if you combine card values to hit the highest number on your board, you unleash an extra special ability specific lớn your character và replenish your combat trachồng partially, helping you fight more baddies. Go over this value, though, & you’re forced out of the round, burning down one of your precious fences in the process, allowing the fire to lớn reach ever closer towards your houses.

Defending a resource means that thẻ doesn’t do anything negative sầu khổng lồ you & you protect that thing from being damaged by your negligence at the end of the round. Each resource can only be protected once each round by each player, meaning that once that slot is filled, you’ll be forced to lớn fight other, potentially worse minions down the road. Plus, if you don’t defkết thúc a resource before the end of the round, the team loses one of that resource, making you in part the source of the bad things happening. Nice going, samur-die.

Which cards you interact with each turn of the game will have sầu huge repercussions later on. Fighting a minion early on that does fire damage to the town and choosing not to cover it could force you to burn through your resources quickly. If the first minion you fight in the round is value at “1”, you’ll be incredibly limited in what you can fight after you partially refresh your combat traông chồng.


Luck Be A Ninja TonightIf I should come out of this war alive, I will have sầu more luchồng than brains. - Manfred Von Richthofen

This is about when you start to lớn wonder “what is the distribution of cards in the deck?”, a question that has an ever changing answer. Samurai Spirit comes with 52 cards with an even number of 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s lớn fill that roster, but only 7 cards are added khổng lồ the deck per player, meaning there are always at least 3 cards removed from the deông xã. This results in the first round having a new, deeper meaning as players scope out how many of each thẻ are in the deông xã, what symbols are more prolific than others, how important it is to lớn defover one thing over another, và so on.

Then, after the 1st round is finished, a 5 value thẻ per player is added to lớn the deck, adding some hulking brutes to lớn scare players, as they can make a serious dent in your fight track. And if you manage to make it to the 3rd round, bosses appear, each 6’s and each with their own brutal and often disastrous negative sầu effects when they are fought.

This also results in players understanding how many turns each player will have roughly; I say “roughly” because card effects & player abilities can alter this in ways that are both positive sầu và negative for the team, mitigating the luông xã headed in the players’ direction.

Yes, each character has their own crazy special ability that is always active sầu, allowing them lớn help both themselves & others. On a players turn, they will always be able to lớn use these powers, like being able to lớn pass odd-numbered cards, fighting 2 enemies each round, or killing enemies drawn if their value is the same as what’s already in their fight track. Additionally, rather than drawing a thẻ, you can lkết thúc this ability khổng lồ someone else, helping them better khuyến mãi with their turn, which can be critical if they’re low on health or need khổng lồ get rid of a particularly nasty enemy. That said, lending powers does have a price; the top card that would have been drawn is placed in the spy pile.

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At the kết thúc of the round, there’s a một nửa chance that the thẻ in question has flames in the background, meaning that this arsonist ninja burns down one of the town’s fences, or worse, one of the houses if no fences are left. If there’s no fire though, then no harm no foul. This aspect provides the game with a palpable tension as players wonder if they’re willing to lớn risk putting juuuuuuuuuuuuust 1 more ninja inlớn the spy pile if only khổng lồ squeak by another few turns.


It’s easy to lớn look at this game and see an insurmountable amount of luchồng gazing out menacingly, but there are a lot of tools at the players disposal lớn deal with it, as long as everyone is paying attention. Samurai Spirit was the first game that ever made me feel lượt thích a part of a team, with each thành viên having their own powers, roles, and insights into the oncoming threat. Many games have been sent quietly pondering và discussing what each person should vì on their turn, almost like a council of elders deciding the fate of the village. One misstep và the whole place will burn to lớn the ground, but with just the right touch, maybe we can make it through the night.

And sometimes that means doing absolutely nothing.

To Pass Or Not To PassThe object of war is not lớn die for your country but khổng lồ make the other bastard die for his. - George S. Patton

The final action a player can take sounds ineffective & boring; why would a player voluntarily stop playing the game for a few turns until the round is over? Surely there must be another way?

Well, consider this; it’s the start of your turn. Your combat track is at an 8 out of 9 & you’ve defended all 3 of your symbols khổng lồ the left of your board. Chances are that you’ll draw higher than a 1, busting you out, forcing you lớn burn a fence and pass anyway. Better to lớn pass now and not suffer an additional consequence, right?

While that was a more extreme & obvious example, there are a few situations where tactically passing can be the difference between life & death for the team, especially if player death is on the line due to lớn negative thẻ effects.


A player’s health is the last and perhaps most intriguing puzzle of them all. At the start of the game, everyone plays as your average, human samurai guys, looking buff và cool khổng lồ the touch. If they take 1 damage, whatever, they can shrug it off like bros. But if they take a 2nd damage, oooooooooooOOOOOOOOO, now you’ve sầu made them MAD, so mad that they transform inlớn their fursonas, ranging from a tiger with a 6-paông xã lớn a dapper-looking fox. This furification isn’t just lớn look sexy, though, it increases their fight gauge (allowing them to lớn combat more baddies) và improves their kiai, making it more beneficial to lớn hit your high-mark.

However, you cannot heal either of those two damage points you’ve sầu already taken; once you enter this bestial size, there’s no going bachồng. With 2 remaining health points, you have to be extra careful; thất bại those & it’s game over for everyone. This means that players will, at some point, want lớn take damage in order to lớn power up and fight off the bigger enemies later, but they’ll have sầu lớn vày so cautious & intelligently in order lớn not push themselves too hard.

Some Serious Chinks In the ArmorWar does not determine who is right, only who is left. - Bertrvà Russel

Now, I wish I could leave it at that. I wish I could say, “Wow, I was wrong, this IS one of the best co-ops out there.” I wish I still liked this game as much as I did way baông chồng when.

But here’s the thing, the naked, furry truth of the matter; before this review, Samurai Spirit sat on my shelf untouched for months. Every time I looked at it, considered it, I thought to myself, “No, this isn’t the right time for that.” And it wasn’t, because if anything, Samurai Spirit aggressively rewards devotion, but little else.


The day after I originally drafted this Review, I went khổng lồ a local gaming MeetUp where I attempted khổng lồ teach five lightly experienced gamers to this co-op, each drawn khổng lồ it by the beautiful artwork and fun themes. After the first round of play, though, I suddenly grew tired, even exhausted by the experience, và the players looked lớn be the same way.

In order khổng lồ have sầu a chance at winning the game, you need lớn pick your character layout carefully, but often in obvious ways. If I can pass even-numbered cards, then the character who ignores the negative effects of those cards should probably be adjacent khổng lồ me. So while randomly dolling out abilities is a recipe for disaster, picking them feels more like an inevitability once one person picks the first character.

Throughout the game, I had to explain the rules 5 or 6 times, reminding me of just how many nuances are present here. Cards & characters are covered in icons, each “simple” action has repercussions 5 turns later for other players, & it can be hard to reĐiện thoại tư vấn who does what in terms of their abilities.

But more frustrating, I began to lớn feel lượt thích a reluctant DM. Samurai Spirit is rife with alpha gaming, to its core. All information is public, và often times the game is best when everyone is working together to devise a plan of action to lớn exexinh tươi on. That being said, new players will have sầu no idea what a good plan looks lượt thích, often looking lớn me for advice. So either I become forced to lớn make most of the moves of the early game to lớn help teach everyone general strategies or I sit back & allow them to lớn figure the system out for themselves, which is no fun for me and can actively frustrate others when they have no clue what to do. There were many instances when people would just tell others what they “needed to do” on their turn, to such an extent where I needed to speak up about how players “needed” lớn stop quarterbacking.

The final killing blow was when one player in a seven player game was knocked out early in the 2nd round, busting due to lớn an unlucky draw. This meant that he would have to lớn wait out the rest of the round, roughly 20 turns, before he would be able lớn vì chưng anything else. Since the number of cards scales based on player count, games can vary from half hour to a massive sầu 2 full hours slog. And while the game doesn’t have sầu player elimination, it certainly can lead to instances where you sit around doing nothing for almost a half hour, and that, lớn me, is an unacceptable mechanic in any game.

Now, some may argue that this game may be better at smaller player counts, maybe 3 or 4, và that may be true, but the game clearly sells itself on being a 7 player game, a count that BGG users suggest is the best way of playing the game. While less players can make the game more manageable, it also makes the game much easier, as well as susceptible to the RNG of what cards are excluded from the deông xã at the start of the game. You might kết thúc up with a dechồng flooded with 1’s or with very few villager icons, making each experience more & more inclined khổng lồ some unfortunate odds. And ultimately, that still doesn’t remove sầu the barrier to entry, as players need khổng lồ play the game 3 or 4 times before becoming familiar enough with the game khổng lồ be competitive sầu without someone guiding their actions.

A Spirited ExperienceThe two most powerful warriors are patience và time. - Leo Tolstoy

There was a time when I would freely pronounce to lớn the heavens that Samurai Spirit was by & far my favorite co-op game, adorning my shelf in high esteem, but now I have the sneaking suspicion that it won’t last for much longer.

It forces me khổng lồ scratch my brain in ways I enjoy, makes me genuinely feel lượt thích a part of a team, and forces me to think long và hard before acting, but it asks too much. In order to lớn wring out the best experience from this game, I’d need to lớn draft the same team again and again, players of equal interest, dedication, & skill level.. That leads to an inflexibility that, much lượt thích the rigid samurai code, leaves little room for fun.

Who Should Get This Game: Those who don’t mind stumbling through the first few games và plays with the same group week-to-week.Who Shouldn’t Get This Game: Anyone who is bothered by altrộn gaming or doesn’t want to think too hard when playing games.

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