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Sweep Across the Land and Secure Your Empire! It is the sixteenth century in feudal Japan, where war rages across the land. Amid the chaos and conflict, you have risen to power as one of five warlords mighty enough to conquer and control the whole empire. Your victory depends on how expertly you extend your domain while defending it from your enemies. Send your daimyo leaders, samurai, and ashigaru warriors into battle to seize new provinces and lay siege to castles. Spend your hard-won treasury on building fortifications and bolstering your forces with ronin and ninja. Prove the strength of your strategy, defeat your rivals, and earn the exalted title of Shogun. ikusa
  • Set details:
  • The classic rules of this game have not been changed – still a challenge for any strategy board gamer.
  • The box and game board design have been radically improved. The game board has a new "period feel."
  • All of the classic sculptures used for the figures are back with new colors.

User Reviews (4)

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I play yellow
Miniature Painter
28 of 28 gamers found this helpful
“Massive Japanese Medieval Warfare”

I’ve never played the previous incarnations of this game, so here’s a review by somebody who is new to Ikusa/Samurai Swords and the experiances I had.

What is Ikusa?

Ikusa is a big dudes-on-a-map area control game that is all about movememnt and fighting set in medieval Japan. It is basically a box of toy soldiers – with all the joy and fun you’d expect from one.


Players begin the game in different provinces and fight their way throughout medieval Japan concquering more. The goal is to control a set number of provinces (conveniantely represented by cards), which is different depanding on the number of players.


My first experiances were two-player games, which wasn’t optimal, because the game is meant to be played by 3+ people and two-player games come with some extra rules and tweаks. Once we wraped our heads areound the rules though, there was no doubt any more – we knew exactly what we’re doing from round 1. So I’d say – easy and clear enough. As always, having an experianced player teach you the game is a huge plus.
Mechanics are streamlined and easy to follow – you bid, then you move armies, then you fight.


As I already said earlier – this is an army-movment wargame. There isn’t too much oter than that, but trust me – you’ll be occupied with plenty of stuff to do and won’t feel bored.
At the start of the turn people select their actions (worker placement style) – they can reqruit new soldiers, hire neutral Ronins to help them, build fortifications or hire Ninjas to spy or kill other player’s generals. All of these are essential for success and this decisions are critical.
I love the battle system. Players get their army-cards which are outside the gameboard – Heroes of Might and Magic (the video games) style. The positions and distribution of your soldiers amongst your 3 armies is quite important. The whole army is represented by a single standard bearer figure on the tactical map. Once two armies clash, players roll 12 sided dice in a set initiative order to determine the end of the combat.
Outside of that movement and strategizing is essential, so players are forced to ally and betray each other all of the time. If you’ve read some of my other reviews you already know that I LOVE player screwage and Ikusa has planty of this. Delicious.

I’d also like to touch on the set-up side of things. It’s pain in the butt! Prepare at least 30 minutes of set up time before the game even begins. You have to place ALL the soldiers everywhere on the map and the army cards. This always takes a while. However, when the game is fully set-up it is very satisfying and cool to look at.

Player Interraction

There is nothing but player interraction in this game. It’s massive battle after massive battle. Ameri-trash goodness.


I am in no way expert in Japan and Japanese history, so I don’t know all the clans and families represented in the game, but my guess is they are represented well enough. The theme works beautifully. The game has little words like Koku and Daimyo that you start using immediately. This leaves a nice feeling and really can sparks one’s interest – I wanted to learn more about the real Samurai after every session of Ikusa.
Not to mention the game has 60+ province cards and that’s 60+ Japanese names you use all the time. It’s thematic and wonderful.


Here we go. I heard that the previous versions had worse quality components. The ones in Ikusa have beautiful art and the sculpts of the toy soldiers (I refuse to call them miniatures) are good enough. That being said, pretty much everything is thinner and weaker than it should be. The little tokenbox provided bents everytime you touch it. The little screens used to hide your bids are also easily bent, the cards are thin. Of course these components can live forever if you touch them very gently (and I am super gentle when it comes to board games), but everything is – sadly – on the cheap side.

Final thoughts

If you like Japan and/or dudes-on-a-maps and/or tactical wargames and/or oldschool computer TBS and/or toy soldiers you will love Ikusa.
It is just all-around satisfying experiance. You watch your armies rise and fall, you learn things about Japan and you play with plastic soldiers. What’s not to love?
If I could cхnage anything – that would only be a quality upgrade for the components. Other than that Ikusa is simply a great game and I recommend it!

Player Avatar
PC Game Fan
I play yellow
32 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“Shogun/Samurai Swords has returned with rules unfettered and components beautified”

I’m so glad they reprinted this game again. To me, Shogun was the strongest of the Milton Bradley Gamemaster series as far as a big multiplayer strategic experience goes.
The limited real estate and confined space of feudal Japan necessitates diplomacy and with four plus players this game can be a real blast. Its appeal is inversely proportional to the number of players though: the two player game, while still fun, loses the great interactive, truce/backstabbing aspect of the 4 plus player game. Also, the bidding part takes a hit too.
One great thing about this version of the game is not only did it see another name change, there has been some really strong production and cosmetic upgrades. One gripe I have about these changes are the removal of the plastic katana that denoted turn order in the original. The game uses card chits instead which, albeit more functional, don’t lend themselves well to impromptu dueling or eye poking.
The other gripe is some of the art, while well-done, is a little too comic book style. I would have preferred a classic Japanese style approach, to go with the game’s setting. All the other changes they’ve made are great.
The old Styrofoam trays have been replaced with durable plastic castles with deep trays. These are superb and look really ****** cool.
The board is gorgeous and has a vanilla tone to it.
The cards are of top quality “woven” stock. All the card in the game is heavy.
The figure colors are much less flashier, replaced with muted earth tones.
There is a nifty box for you to hold the ninja, 12 sided dice, castles, fortifications and Ronin in.
As far as the rest of the game, it is unchanged. The fantastic scuplts for the miniatures are retained from the original. The rules are the same, though written with more clarity and detail.
While this review has mostly focused on the changes to this version of the game I will touch briefly on this games mechanics and appeal.
The historical aspect is limited. While it is represented in unit types and the map of Japan, it is missing from the gameplay. You start in random provinces. Famous players during the period (late 1500s Japan, like Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyesu) are represented only in name. Don’t let this dissuade you from playing this fine game. If feudal japan and its gory, war filled, yet highly cultured past appeal to you, this games captures the feeling well.
The game has mechanics not seen in other broad strokes of similar bent. Bidding is involved, army experience, espionage and assassination. Ronin can surprise attack in a truly inspired mechanic.
Check out the rules and if it sounds fun, well it is. A great, beautiful strategy game with heart. And sessions seldom last over 4 hours!

Player Avatar
Legend of the Five Rings Fan
Spider Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
Went to Gen Con 2012
18 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“Used To Be Samurai Swords...Still Great!”

I bought this game years and years ago under the name Samurai Swords and my friends and I love it. The game is designed to best played with as many people possible since creating alliances to team up against other players is a must and then later betraying them to garner yourself a victory is fantastic fun. A little tip, if you can always buy your sword (which will determine turn order) and the ninja if you can (since it will prevent other players from assassinating your generals/daimyo). If playing a feudal Japanese warlord in a strategy game setting interests you then this is the game for you.

Player Avatar
I'm Completely Obsessed
20 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“good game”

pick up this game if you like to play
axis and allies…
warlord of europe
strategy games
games that takes at least 5-6 hours
like many others this type of games are great…. very fun to play… when i try to explain to people what the game is like i always say…”it’s like risk and monopoly get married and have a baby lol… i love this kind of game…though the only weak point of the game is the length of it… it takes a very long time to finish… i hardly ever finish the game… if you have like minimum of 4 people in your group and know that all of you will finish the game…. love history this is the game for you…. but if your group get most of your games from barns and nobles this may not be the game for you…stick with catan or monapoly or something
i would say my friends loves playing it
my wife hate to see it on the kitchen table(coz she knows its gonna take like 80 hours )


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