If you haven’t played Shogun, then check out my review. This is a very different type of war game and has lots to offer even experienced gamers. If however, you have played it against good opposition and are looking at strategies then here are my initial thoughts;
During the Game;
2 out of 3; Build two out of the three buildings every turn (on average). You won’t have enough money to build three out of three. If you try to build too much in the early game you won’t have the troops to defend those buildings, because they cost money too. If you build only in the later game it will be hard to build strategically because of locations and the lack of turns.
Building Early; Also, a building that you control in the first half and second half will score you a total of two points (regardless of the most of it’s type condition) where as in the second half it becomes less valuable to build. This is most true of the lowest point buildings – the theatres. They are cheap to build and in the early game they are the most point efficient. Of course there is less value to having the most of them, but this may also keep opponents from trying to fight for these.
Tie Brake Autumn; The final turn before each winter is a key building phase – this will be the time to brake the ties and build in regions that have no buildings of one type. Be careful though, as by the same token this is a very good turn for invasions!
Treasure Turn; The timing of the treasure card is important – in the late stage of the actions it may allow a player to deny another player the chance to earn money. This can be a huge swing between players as this would prevent building / armies in the latter phases of the round or the early phase of the next round. There is little money in the game and one denial can be meaningful. It’s also important to remember that treasure at the end is pointless – have enough for the final turn, but no more than you need. This might make you think twice about the regions that you seek to get treasure from – and the risk of revolt.
Revolts; They are possible during the winter if you don’t have enough rice, however these are clearly avoidable. If you allow the revolt to happen, or cannot avoid it due to your rice collection being attacked, then you will need to spread your armies out. A revolt can occur anywhere, and one cube in a province is unlikely to be sufficient.
Max Rice / Treasure; The amount that you can gain is 7 (+ 1 for the relevant card). An average of 4 per turn rice should be enough, but a higher average of treasure will be needed. Try to milk provinces you won’t need to hold or which are heavily defended, but don’t expose the provinces to revolution if you will struggle to get an army back to them.
Attack / Defence; The bonus cards that you select from include options to attack or defend better. These can be great ways to bring troops into the game for free. Taking the defence card can of course help protect your provinces, but sometimes it is even more effective to take the attack card. This can halt the leader from being even more opportunistic in his attacks (regardless of the target)! Denial of the opponent can be a powerful tool.
Two Moves; There are two attacking moves – using them in combination can be effective. I see a lot of players try to use them to take different provinces but this can stretch the army thin. Sometimes one will be for neutrals and the other for an opponent. Sometimes though it can be an opportunity to use the first one to re-position and the second to attack. Also, it can be an effective tool to use the first attack to weaken the position of the army to be hit by a bigger force with the second. This one two punch can reset the tower and result in the army being permanently weakened on your border.
Defend Rice/Treasure; If the move is first then you will need to think about using the move to defend your own rice / treasure. Losing this, even for a turn would be a huge loss for the whole game.
Stacking the Tower; It’s like card counting in poker – keeping a rough track as to whether you have more or less cubes in the tower can tell you who is easier to fight. Also, keep in mind whatever is at the base of the tower is also thrown back in – this might make it a particularly strong time to attack or a particular target is easier than another.
Transport Tower; This is the other way to use the tower. Using wars on either side of the map to potentially shift the armies held in the tower from one fight to the location of the next. This is a risk, but given you can choose the attack at the time, this can give you options to re-allocate across a large part of the board without the slow and steady movement across the map.
Defended Provinces; Bounded by the sea and by armies, here you can build the key buildings of value which will win you the most in a region. BE careful not to leave a shipping route open. Be careful to make sure you can build 2 or 3 buildings in such a place.
Cost Order; When you get to an action card, you have to do it if you can. So if you have too many costs for the treasure you have then pay close attention to the order. If you get this wrong, you could end up building a castle and not having enough armies to defend it. Blocking an opponents treasure can also lead to this – that’s why it’s so powerful.
Use Events; These are random opportunities, but you can see them well in advance (most of them anyway), and this means that you can use the actions which provide additional defence to castles / block shrines from being attacked to give you strategic boosts to your defence. Vulnerable areas can suddenly become safe, and the varying strength of neutral regions can accelerate or slow the growth of the player’s territory.