Monday, September 2, 2013

Sake and Samurai- Theme Galore

So imagine that you're really, really hankering to play a game that simulates sitting down to drink sake with a group of samurai who may suddenly attack each other and if they die turn into ghosts that then steal the sake because they like it so much. In that scenario you'd be pretty gratified to stumble upon Sake and Samurai. You would, in fact, feel like your admittedly rather specific gaming desire was about to be exactly catered to. I had stumbled across this game online a while ago and finally found a copy at the amazingly well stocked Weekend Anime in Westbrook, Maine.

Unlike Seasons, Sake and Samurai has a pretty clear theme and sticks to it. In each turn players can collect sake tokens, assemble weapons, or attack their drinking partners. Over a few short rounds the sake tokens are all gone and the player who is still alive and has the most tokens (ie. is the most drunk) wins. If a player is killed during the game they continue to play as a ghost who can steal sake or influence the other living players.

The game play itself occurs with cards and uses a set of simple symbols to describe what each card does. Thus it's easy to learn and new cards can be understood with a minimum of trouble. Many of the cards are silly - players can throw rice or soup at each other for example. They can also play cards to belch and pass gas which has various effects. Depending on your family that either makes this game very appropriate or very not appropriate for the teen players.

I see Sake and Samurai as being a close cousin to Bang. It's card driven and the symbols share that ease of interpretation. Players can attack someone in one turn and then shift targets in the next, nothing is taken terribly personally. I like Bang until someone is knocked out of the game, then they suffer a decent amount of downtime waiting for the game to end. In Sake and Samurai you continue play as a ghost and that's a nice touch. Another quality similar to Bang is that the game is appropriate for less experienced gamers, maybe even more so since Bang usually gets off to a slow start if beginners are playing.

Now it is apparent that this is a game about drinking. I'm not convinced that's a deal breaker in itself. When I played I imagined myself in an old black and white samurai movie. I don't personally want to drink heavily because that ruins my fun (and hurts my stomach and ruins my sleep) but it's fun to play a game simulating drinking and carousing. I can well imagine rowdy college students seeing this as a celebration of alcohol, but I think that illustrates that this is a game where you get out of it what you bring to it. If the theme sounds fun, then you will enjoy this game. If it doesn't then there are lots of other choices out there!

And I have to say, a great many of those choices are found at Weekend Anime. Worth a look!

I Have Been Served

This Rules Book is Awesome!
Following an attempt to play Arkham Horror with my son:

Me: Sorry Henry, that game does have many rules.
Henry: Maybe too many, dad.