Take control of your Samurai army and fight for control over Japan in this light area majority game!
2-4 players, ages 13+
Playing time: 30-60 minutes
Design & Artwork: Milan Tasevski
Publisher: Archona Games
Small Samurai Empires is played over the course of 3 eras, each consisting of 2 rounds.
To start an era each player picks a Destiny card from their hand and places it next to the board, this’ll determine the value of each region during the end game scoring.
Players take turns placing one of their tokens face down on an empty slot of the board, programming their actions for that round, and also carrying out the neutral action printed next to that slot. Once everyone has finished placing their order tokens, they get resolved starting from the south of the map and going upwards. Players carry out the actions shown on the tokens in the corresponding region, allowing them to place or move new armies, attack opponents, harvest or build a castle.
In the second round of an era, players begin placing order tokens again, and now it’s also allowed to cover tokens placed in the previous round, either by yourself or by opponents. This time, resolving is done from north to south, with all actions that weren’t covered being carried out for a second time this era.
When all actions are resolved the era ends, and players gain points and influence based on how many provinces in each region they control.
After the third era players check their influence for each region and gain additional points based on the number of Destiny cards that were played, and the most points wins!
Small Samurai Empires might come in a small box but there’s definitely enough strategic decisions to make. The game does an excellent job combining familiar area control with action programming, the two mechanisms flow together seamlessly and it feels really fresh.
The game also comes with beautiful samurai meeples that make the game stand out.
Overall this is a very enjoyable area control game that well deserved a spot in my collection!