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James Clavell's Shogun Card Game
James Clavell's Shogun Card Game
by Shipps Ltd. (1983)
Player Count
3 to 8

Player Ages

Playing Time
1 hour
  • Card Game
  • Movies / TV / Radio theme
  • Novel-based
  • Designers
  • Allen Shipps
  • Mechanisms
  • Set Collection
  • Betting/Wagering
  • Hand Management
  • Family
  • History: Sengoku Period
  • Authors: James Clavell
  • Rating: 0/10 from 0 users


    In this mini-series tie-in card game, 3-7 players in the basic game and 3-8 players in the advanced game try to score points by collecting cards not unlike in traditional card games. The artwork features characters from the movie "Shogun", and the game can be played in a simple (beginner) or an advanced version, which makes use of all the cards.

    There are two "colors" of cards, peasants and samurai, which are organized into several subclasses like Farmer, Servant, Samurai Wife, or Hatamoto, which all have different point values. Basically, you try to score points by getting either a complete hand of one color (but no doubles), or several cards of the same type. Furthermore, there are wild cards like the Priest, the Emperor, the Heir and of course the Shogun which all have special values in certain combinations. Several other cards like a joker (the "Buddha") or an elimination card (the "Ninja") are also part of the deck. Unlike many other card games, you don't hold the cards in your hand; four of your five cards are displayed face up in front of you, while the fifth lies face down to be kept secret till the end of the turn. This makes bluffing as important a factor as luck and strategy in this game.

    But that's not all. Right before the end (and before revealing their face-down card), players can choose a final strategy, represented by small strategy markers. "Passive" means you get the points your hand is worth (if any), while "Power Play" can double your score (or even turn a zero point hand into 20 points), but only if either you're the only one to play "Power Play", or if you're the player with the highest score this round. For every other "Power Player" there's a hefty point penalty.

    There are even more special cards that I won't go into detail about (such as the "Spy" or the "Hostage"), as well as an intricate turn sequence that allows players to play their cards almost simultaneously. Also, the deck is only reshuffled when all the cards have been used up, which may take a few rounds and will make sure that certain powerful cards only show up ever so often, and not always in the right order to be played.

    Another noteworthy part of this game is it's unique atmosphere. The rules successfully impose a courteous oriental gameplay where cards aren't simply dealt, but offered, and where Favors can be used to influence a hand. At the same time, there's always the shadow of the Ninja looming over the table, and even though it rarely strikes, it can re-arrange the whole score sheet.

    The game ends when a player has reached 500 points (or 1,000 points for "epic games"). A regular game lasts about 45 minutes.

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