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Samurai Vassal

This is a small-box 2021 edition of card game with a Shogun-era samurai setting that was first published in 2018. It's designed by Jeffrey CCH, Kevin TKW and Kenneth YWN, and published by ICE Makes. This edition has good-quality linen-finish cards and plastic tiddlywinks counters for tracking players' points.

Samurai Vassal is essentially a bluffing game where, in the basic game, the 2-6 players all start off with identical hands of six cards. It's very similar to Take the Throne (Deathtrap Games) which we featured recently on Board's Eye View. In Samurai Vessel tho' there's an additional deck of 'character cards', all with different powers, and you'll mostly play so that players each draft one of these as an additional card.

Each round, players simultaneously choose a card and play it for its number and effect. Before choosing and playing your cards tho', players will want to discuss what cards they intend to play or want others to think they intend to play. The game is, in effect, a variant on the Prisoners' Dilemma. Cards are numbered 0-5 and where there is a majority of cards played of a specific number, that wins. In the event of tie tho', it is the higher number that wins. And, Daimyo and Ambassador card effects override majorities...

Samurai Vassal is won by the first player to collect 12 prestige points. The game uses a cumulative scoring system: you score the prestige points value of the card with which you won and you place that card face-up in your 'reserve'. Any subsequent wins are placed face-up next to that card and you score the prestige points again for face-up cards already in your reserve. Losers place their cards in their reserve face-down, and they flip face down any previously face-up cards in their reserve. However, players all have an Adviser card: it has a face value of zero and automatically loses the round but its effect is to recover all the cards in your reserve (including the Adviser) and return them to your hand...

At Board's Eye View we've enjoyed the basic game most at higher player counts but we got a particular kick out of incorporating the additional character cards with their various different special powers and effects. It's these that bring players back to play again, to the extent that we've been tempted to house rule an increase in the number character cards each player drafts. However you play, Samurai Vassal plays quickly and without a rules overload: this is a game you can play pretty much straight out of the box.

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The first player to reach 12 prestige points wins Samurai Vassal. Doodle Jump

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