Reiner Knizia's Samurai

App of the Day: Reiner Knizia's Samurai

Simple rules are the prerequisite for a good board game, and there are two reasons why. The first is that people can get down to playing the thing relatively quickly. But the second is that a combination of simple rules can lead to extremely complex systems: depth is not necessarily a matter of detail.

Samurai was designed by Reiner Knizia, the board-game megabrain from Germany, and is set on a hex-based map of feudal Japan. Yes I know the spod-klaxon goes off when there are hexes around, but ignore it. Scattered across this map are three types of figures: Buddhas, soldiers and peasants. Up to four players take it in turns to put down tokens around these figures, jostling for influence. When the figure is entirely surrounded, for example if every empty hex around it is occupied, the player with the most influence captures it.

Samurai's tokens are blunt and few, each with a number from 1-4 that reflects their influence. There are tokens for Buddhas, soldiers and peasants, which affect only the corresponding figure. There are ships and cavalry, which have little influence but can be used quickly. Then there are the Samurai themselves, which influence every type of figure.

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