Rising Sun can be a very challenging game with lots of variation: card deck selected, the clan you are playing, the gods that are available. Below I offer some thoughts on generic tips and strategies that might help new players in the game.
During the Game:
Your Enemy’s Enemy; This sounds almost like a Chinese proverb from the art of war, but it’s a truism of Rising Sun – your enemy’s enemy is your friends. Sometimes the best choice of ally is the one that is targeting the same player / same issues as you. If you need to get troops on the board, but they don’t – you will not be good allies in your actions. If you seek to capture the same territories then there will be no war, just a decision by the number of pieces in play – this again is often a poor ally. However, if you are both seeking to attack the same player (between you or either side) then this can make for a good strategic pact. If nothing else, players lower in the leader board should band together against those at the top. However, be careful not to leave top scoring players in their own alliance!
Honour not Victory; When it comes to the battles, do not always try to win the land. Sometimes you want this as there are ways of scoring lots of points from area control, but sometimes it is unrealistic for you to win or at least costly. You want to also win honour which can come from the sacrifice of your soldiers, capturing their soldiers or the epic poetry of the souls lost across the battle. A third player in a battle may have no chance of winning, but by focusing on telling the tale of those who fought they can walk away with more points than either of the other players.
Movement; Movement is important in this game. You are rewarded for taking provinces and then moving to another in the next round – you are not rewarded for holding a fortress for three turns. Early players often underestimate the power of this movement and the use of double moves / waterways to turn the balance of power in a region. Watch out for where your enemies can move in the final phase and which regions you have already controlled before in the same game.
Power of Prayer; The gods can be very powerful in this game, one method of getting extra movement or reinforcements in battle. I would focus on one or two of the four available through the game, but be careful to make sure you have enough honour when seeking an important God – otherwise you will lose on ties and the investment will have been wasted.
Resolution Order; As mentioned in my review, one of the big factors of this game is the way that the fights are resolved in a pre-determined order. Look early at this order and make sure you are not being drawn into fights early in the round just to lose a fight later in the round. It’s hard to know when this is happening, but you can be aware of the risk and play for this.
Actions to Block; There are only two of each tile in the pack so when it comes to your turn you may choose an action for your benefit or you may have the chance to choose an action to deny another player. If other players need a fortress on the map, but only the player selecting the tile can build them, then perhaps there is a strategic advantage to denying them that tile. Be careful though as you may find yourself backed in to a corner by this strategy – building your own momentum is key too.
Going Last; Having chosen a tile, such as a movement tile the resolution order for the action goes clockwise around the table ending with you. Don’t be determined to chose the same action as you had planned – the board state has changed and you should react to the new environment. Also think about how many more times you can move that turn, will this be the final board state or will a new deployment tile change this further?
Asymmetrical Abilities; Lastly, don’t forget to play to your strengths. Players who get cheap cards should buy plenty, whilst players who get to deploy their troops into fights for free should try and avoid deploying them during the round (or surviving the fight!). Other players’ strategies are similarly predictable and knowing that a player will commit to s strategy should allow you to reduce the number of tokens you waste in the fight phase.