Game Title : Kouetsu-gunki
Publisher : Game Journal
This game is published as an issue game of a new “Game Journal #8”.
Game Designer : Makoto Nakajima
Game Theme : Area control between Shingen Takeda and Kenshin Uesugi.
Period : from 1541 to 1570
Map : Central Japan area, which covers Kou-syu, Shin-syu, and Etsu-syu.
Units : no description about unit size.
Sohsyun Yamaguchi does the artwork. As always as his many works, the map looks great and component is okay. But, in my private opinion, the counters are too dark especially in case of Takeda’s home army and Uesugi’s home army. I like the units, which are bigger than these and have lighter color. Otherwise, everything looks okay for the magazine game.
The basic game is composed of 8 turns.
Each turn is composed of
Area control determination
Return of overall commander
Return of general
Victory point calculation
Background of History
Shingen Takeda and Kenshin Uesugi were the greatest rivalry during Sengoku-era. They fight 5 times to each other around Shin-syu area. This game covers all of these battles at strategic level.
Basically, Takeda is better at betrayal and Uesugi is better at battlefield. And between these two warlords, there were many minor Shin-syu warlords. This fact makes the war between these warlords complicated and long.
In short, no side can get the total victory on this strategic battle. And the situation had changed by Oda Nobunaga who came out as a comet to be the strongest warlord in all the Japan.
Characteristic game mechanics
This game is a typical Makoto Nakajima’s game. He became famous when he designed “Taiheiki” in 1986. Basically this game uses the same mechanics for movement and combat.
During movement, each player alternatively moves their units. One movement is defined to move units in one area to adjacent area. In this system, as long as you have movement, you can move the same units as you wish. But, there is no combat and/or overrun during movement.
This mechanics is very unique. Usually in most Wargame, you can move all of your units, but each unit can move only once. In this system, the mechanics are totally different. You must be careful to study the mechanics.
During combat, you must fight if your units have the enemy units in their area until only one side remains in the area. Basically you can roll a number of dice, which equals the number of your units in the area as long as your commander’s leading rate is large enough than it. And each 6 on your roll inflicts one hit on the enemy.
The most important topic in this game is many minor Shin-syu warlords. They are randomly distributed to each side at game start. So that, the starting situation is always different. This fact makes that there is no theory in this game. Every time, you must analyze the situation carefully.
Victory points are awarded mainly to area control. But, getting area control is somewhat tricky. If you have warlord who comes from that area, you can get the control automatically. If you have units but no unit comes from that area, then you must roll one die and check it with the total of your units’ position rating. Even Shingen and Kenshin have the position rating of 2. That means unless you do not concentrate several generals in one area it is not sure that you can get the control. This is really true even if you won the battle against your enemy in that area during this turn. This fact seems that this game covers not only military aspect of the battle but also diplomatic and governmental aspect of battle.
Recruitment is also affected by similar mechanics. If you have the control of the area and you have the unit, which comes from that area, then you can get the recruitment in that area.
This fact makes the situation dilemma.
If your adjacent area is controlled by neutral Shin-syu warlord, you can destroy it by combat. This is quicker and more certain way to invade that area. But, you might lose several steps during combat and also more importantly you will have difficulty to get the control of the area even though there would be no enemy after the combat. And you will lose the chance of getting recruitment in that area forever, because you destroy the unit who comes this area by yourself.
So, the many minor Shin-syu warlords look very weak and less important at first glance. But, the reality is totally different. They are central players from one viewpoint. Honestly speaking, if you become an invader, you will have serious difficulties in this game. You should be more a white knight for Shin-syu warlords than an invader. But, the time is limited and you must win the game by getting more VPs than your opponent. You must decide what should be done every chance of movement.
As above, VPs are awarded mainly by area control. Since the famous Kawanakajima is an only 3VPs area and locates at the center of the map, the famous Kawanakajima battle is almost dead certain. In history, there were 5 Kawanakajima’s battles. You will have several big battles during the game; maybe sometimes they are not Kawanakajima exactly but around it.
In summary, this game is, as always as Mr. Nakajima’s game, very great. This game is filled with strategic decisions, in movement, in betrayal, and in combat. And this game is also very story telling. During the first half, you must conquer Shin-syu. Then, you will face your rival at the center of the map. There might be legendary series of very big battle around Kawanakajima as above.
This game is very satisfying for Sengoku-fan in Japan. I’m amazed that this battle is simulated as a strategic level for the very first time. And I believe the second time could be difficult to be, because this game is very successful.