Thursday session: Shogun, Dolmengötter

Shogun box panorama

Yesterday’s game session was mostly about Shogun, the Dirk Henn game of warring Japanese daimyos in the 16th century. It’s a redevelopment of Wallenstein, which I’ve played once as play-by-web (and I didn’t like it). Now most complex games are better learnt by the board, so I was willing to give Shogun a go.

Shogun is a pretty neat game, but not my favourite. It does several things right: there’s a nice economy of scarcity, the simultaneous planning phase is very nice, I like the way the battle tower works (battles are resolved with a clever cube tower device), the whole structure of the game just works pretty well in my opinion.

However, while the game is rather good at what it tries to be, I just don’t like the genre. It’s a multi-player war game, where players struggle for the different provinces of Japan. You win some, you lose some and in the end you try to win more you lose. Nothing is permanent, anything can be taken from you… it’s just not my cup of tea.

There’s plenty of interaction and with a midpoint scoring, this is one those games where being in the lead after the first scoring is not a game-winning strategy. Standing out means getting beaten. Of course, one must not hang too far behind: I was dead last after the first scoring and while I played a good second half, I was able to rise one step to third. Petri, who was leading by few points after the first scoring dropped last, mostly because I beat him senseless. That’s not nice, but it was the best thing for me: I was able to score quite a few points with the provinces I stole from Petri.

Shogun is a highly chaotic game: there are small inputs of chaos all around the system. The battle tower is chaotic, the actions are resolved in random order, the combinations of player order and special cards are random, there’s a random event every round… So planning anything long-term is really, really difficult. That is something one needs to accept when playing Shogun.

So, Shogun is a good game, but not for me. I would play again, but given an opportunity to play something else I would probably skip Shogun.

Die Dolmengötter box

We didn’t have much time after Shogun, but enough for a game of Die Dolmengötter. Everybody had played before, which is always a bonus. It quickly turned out to be my game: I was getting quite a few dolmens on top of the piles. However, Hannu was doing the same, just few steps behind me. Petri and Tero were building their dolmens on the bottoms.

In the end I won, but I had only five points more than Hannu. Tero and Petri were able to catch up a bit, too, Tero lost just five points to Hannu and Petri was two points behind Tero. So, it wasn’t quite the slaughter it seemed to be. Hannu still claimed to be completely lost about the game, and I suppose it’s no wonder: Dolmengötter is a clever game. I started to feel in control of the game, now that I’ve played four games.

In any case, I’m seriously fond of the game. It’s very quick, but very meaty for a 20-minute game. I upped my rating to nine, because this gem certainly deserves it.

Tomorrow I’m meeting at least Olli for some 1825 action. Expect reports on Sunday!

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