Game Title : Shinsen-gumi
Publisher : Bandai
Game Designer : uncredited
Game Thema : Shinsen-gumi’s missions in Kyoto during chaotic Bakumatsu era
1 game map, 2 counter sheets, 72 cards, 4 playaids, 1 rulebook
The best part of this game is components.
The map covers the most of Kyoto in those days and is really beautiful. Since it uses only black and red ink, it is not very functional. It is hard to judge which line is boundary between areas. But, the black and red drawing looks very beautiful and has very attractive atmosphere of the date.
Another good point is that there are huge numbers of named counters which have real person’s name in the event. Since at least in Japan we have a number of fictions and non-fictions of Shinsen-gumi, this is really good thing that we can find many persons of Shinsen-gumi and their enemy in countermix.
The worst part of this game is very poor game system. I’m quite sure that design team hadn’t playtested enough this game.
In this game, each player plays one of team leader of Shinsen-gumi. Yes, every player is Shinsen-gumi. And each compete each other to gain the most victory points.
The game is played by game turns.
In each game turn, each player draws a random event card. There are varieties of minor events in cardmix. But, most of them are not so important.
Then, each player decides which area in Kyoto to have his team patrol this turn. I’m really sad that there’s no strategic difference among the areas on the beautiful map.
Then, each player checks to see if his team arrive the area as he planned. There are several types of accident that prevent some members to arrive there. The possibility of accidents become higher if the area is further from the base.
So, as you imagine easily, it is better to go nearby area and hope to encounter weak enemies by accident is the best strategy. This is really exciting. Ha, ha, ha.
Once members got to the area, the player can assign missions to them.
There are 4 types of mission, spy, patrol, investigation and reserve.
Spy mission may give the player the information of enemy meeting.
Patrol mission may give the player encounter of enemy.
Investigation may give the player victory points.
But, all of the above have a chance of being ambushed or attacked by enemy.
Reserve mission can give the player to have a chance to help the other attacked mission team.
Missions are resolved by drawing result cards. But, the checking system is somewhat cumbersome and cause many errors. Again, there’s no strategic difference among options.
If you encounter enemy, you must fight. First, determine which party has priority. In case of ambush, ambushers have priority in the first round. In other cases, the larger party has priority. In case of the same size parties, Shinsen-gumi has priority.
The priority gives the party to make pairs of fight. Once pairs are made, resolve the fight in order of priority. If first attacker kills the enemy, enemy cannot counterattack. Each counter has fight value. Roll a die and add the difference between the attacker’s value to defender’s value. And consult the fight result table. The results are really bloody. The fight value is also a hit point of the person. Most of regular members and enemies have fight value of 1. So, 1 hit can kill most persons. So, the combat is very bloody.
Some important members have 2 or sometimes 3. They are much stronger than the usual members.
If you have some information about enemy meeting, you can assault the meeting. In this case, you have priority and will encounter the larger number of enemies.
The victory points are mainly scored by killing enemies. 1 strength enemy is 1 point. 2 strength enemy is 5 points. 3 strength enemy is 10 points.
You can also get the victory points by investigation mission. And some event card can give the player a chance to have special victory points.
The game continues 12 turns. I think this is too long, since the game is boring due to the lack of strategic meaning on many decisions.
So, I must say the original rule is really frustrating at least for me.
But, as I wrote first, the components are best among this topic. So, I hope I can make my house rule to revive this beautiful attractive looking game in near future.