2 minute read

Jacob and I had some spare time this afternoon while Julie and Matthew went
shopping for a birthday present. Looking into the game closet for a two-player
game, I pulled out Senjutsu, a two-
player game we purchased at GenCon Indy last summer. This game didn't receive
broad distribution, but I have seen it locally at Rainy Day Games. I strongly recommend this game if you are a fan of
chess or stratego - you can order it online directly from the manufacturer.

Each player has 10 warriors, 3 of which are officers. Warriors can move
orthogonally while officers can also move diagonally - officers also pay a
better reward when eliminated. At the start of the game, players arm each of
their warriors with three weapons, resulting in a highly customizable setup
(learn more at the Senjutsu home page). Similar
to Stratego, one of these weapons is a scroll that, if captured, results in an
immediate victory for the capturing player. There are three ranged weapons -
swords, spears, and bows, each with their own abilities (bows are by far the
most powerful but are also scarce). You can also equip your warriors with
armor (absorbs an attack), a counter-attack (used to win hand-to-hand
combats), and a special Ninja that, when abandoned, acts as a bomb and will
destroy a capturing warrior. The arms are stackable blocks that are only
visible to the owning player.

Players alternate taking turns where they can attack (optional), move 1 space
(required), attack again (optional), move 1 space (optional), and attack
(optional). The board has a few obstacles - a palace in the center which
blocks line of site and cannot be entered, and four forests that block line of
site but can be traveled through (though you cannot attack from a forest nor
end your turn there).

When a warrior is eliminated, he leaves behind all of his arms - either player
may then recover these by moving a warrior to that space. A warrior can only
carry four arms at a time, though there are no stacking limits.

Finally, each player has a stack of clan cards that give special abilities.
Clan cards are awarded every time you eliminate an enemy warrior (only 1 per
turn though). If you eliminate an enemy officer, you also get to draw a
replacement arm block and place it on one of your warriors.

Jacob and I had a fun match. We both started defensively, firing long-range
bow shots to try and pick off enemy units, though we had both put adequate
armor on our front lines. As we moved out to confront each other, warriors
started to be eliminated - Jacob was ahead 1 or 2 warriors at one point. I was
able to penetrate deeply into his lines though, killing off a warrior and
capturing his stack, then using that stack to eliminate two more close by and
withstand a counter-attack. This was the turning point in the game, as it was
only a short while until I captured the scroll.

This is a very fun, quick two-player game that I highly recommend. The parts
are very high quality and it plays in less than an hour (15-20 minutes of that
is setup time).