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Bakufu

Bakufu

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RRP €22.99
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With multiple paths to victory and game changing cards, how will you outsmart your enemies? It’s 1192 AD in Japan and the Emperor is weak. Through either war or peace, you see an opportunity to become the first Shogun of Japan. Bakufu is a competitive and fun strategic card game for 2-4 players, where your choices matter. Each turn, you can build up your castle, attack your …
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Category Tags , SKU ZINDIE-NESSHIN001 Availability 3+ in stock
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With multiple paths to victory and game changing cards, how will you outsmart your enemies?

It’s 1192 AD in Japan and the Emperor is weak. Through either war or peace, you see an opportunity to become the first Shogun of Japan.
Bakufu is a competitive and fun strategic card game for 2-4 players, where your choices matter. Each turn, you can build up your castle, attack your rivals with soldiers, play characters to change the game, or choose a peaceful path to victory to establish your new Bakufu government. It’s easy to turn the tide towards victory, and fun to foil your enemies’ plans!
Each game is different, as players can easily change their fortunes to win through two routes:

War or Peace: You choose!

Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Simple to learn
  • Quick to play
  • Good replayability
  • Surprising depth thanks to Characters and clever mechanics like Attack Immunity

Might Not Like

  • Can be too easy to track what cards your opponents have in their hand, especially with just 2 players
  • Maybe *too* simple and quick for some players
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Description

With multiple paths to victory and game changing cards, how will you outsmart your enemies?

It's 1192 AD in Japan and the Emperor is weak. Through either war or peace, you see an opportunity to become the first Shogun of Japan.
Bakufu is a competitive and fun strategic card game for 2-4 players, where your choices matter. Each turn, you can build up your castle, attack your rivals with soldiers, play characters to change the game, or choose a peaceful path to victory to establish your new Bakufu government. It's easy to turn the tide towards victory, and fun to foil your enemies' plans!
Each game is different, as players can easily change their fortunes to win through two routes:

War or Peace: You choose!

Set in feudal Japan, Bakufu puts you in the role of a Daimyo (warlord) seeking to outplay your rivals to become the first Shogun and rule the nation. Between 2-4 players can compete, choosing to focus either on battle victories or peaceful enlightenment to win the race to the top. Will you raise a powerful army to conquer your rivals? Or will you seek knowledge and culture to claim the prize?
Bakufu may at first appear very simple, with the creators’ kickstarter pitching it as a game that takes just 5 minutes to learn, but there is depth here thanks to some cleverly thought out cards and a well-tested balance. Its portable design and 20 minute playtime make it an appealing option for gaming on the go, but does it have enough about it to add to your collection?

How Do You Play Bakufu?

There are five types of cards in Bakufu – Buildings, Characters, Rice, Soldiers and Enlightenment cards. Buildings allow you to increase either your defences or your production, great for longer term strategy. Characters have unique abilities such as stealing a card from an opponent’s hand, or forcing another player to skip their next turn. Rice acts as the currency that allows you to buy all other types of card. Soldier and Enlightenment cards are what you will use to score Bakufu’s victory points – either War or Peace. There are also handy reference cards to help remind players of turn order and track things like scoring and attack immunity.
Each player starts with 3 Rice cards in their hand and every turn consists of 5 easy steps:
  • Play a Character card from your hand, or choose to attack an opponent with Soldier(s)
  • Receive or rotate the ‘Attack Immunity’ card if you were the losing player in a battle
  • Add Rice cards to your hand
  • Purchase new cards from the central supply with your rice
  • Replace any cards that were taken from the central supply with new ones from the draw pile

The steps are simple and they lead to fast-paced action until a player chooses to attack an opponent and initiate a battle. At that point things become much more strategic as attackers and defenders work out how many Soldier cards to commit, and most importantly what order to play them in. Only the final Soldier deployed will survive, so sometimes the best strategy may be to withdraw from a battle so as not to waste all your troops. If the attacker wins they take a precious War Point along with a Building card from their foe’s castle, but if the defender is successful in matching or beating the attacker’s force then they will gain extra rice to spend on their next turn. Whichever side has lost, that player gains an Attack Immunity card that will give them time to rebuild their army and restock their rice without being harassed for the next few turns. Players can choose to pursue the War Points from successful attacks or the Peace Points from purchasing enlightenment cards on their turn, but interestingly there’s nothing to stop you from pivoting your strategy mid-game if the odds are turning against you. First player to reach 3 of either type of points will be crowned the new Shogun and win the game.

Dynasty Or Blip?

You’ve probably gathered that Bakufu isn’t intended to take the place of Gloomhaven or Mage Knight on your shelves, but a good casual game still needs to have some replayability and a bit of depth to make it a worthwhile purchase. Luckily Bakufu does have some twists that should keep things fresh over multiple games, particularly with the Character cards that can reverse a player’s fortunes in a single turn and lead to instant changes in strategy. These cards will often cost you a hefty chunk of your Rice card currency, but your opponents will surely be eyeing them up if you pass on buying one when it gets drawn mid-game.

The characters are deliberately designed this way, to be game changers, so that victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat and an early lead won’t guarantee success. It’s a great feature of Bakufu and one that adds a very welcome chance element to keep things interesting and competitive. In one game I used an Artist to steal another player’s Peace point and then purchased an Enlightenment card in the same turn to go from losing to an immediate Peace Points victory.

Buildings can also be a game-changer for players, and the fact that you can steal an opponent’s building after defeating them in battle means that you can quickly start to stack up heavy persistent bonuses. Having a couple of Rice Paddy buildings significantly improves your buying power every turn, and having a barracks can give you a free Soldier card from the central supply each round to rapidly build up an army. These details mean that although games are fast to complete there is a decent amount of depth here that will keep you coming back for more.

There may only be two ways to win (War Points or Peace Points), but the variety of ways to get them and the ever-changing fortunes of each player will have you wanting to experiment with different strategies from game to game. Do you want to put all your resources into a rapid build-up of your army, or would you rather try and play the long game and get buildings in place that will set you up for success in future rounds? Do you rely on a Merchant character card to swap your hand with an enemy Daimyo’s, letting them do the hard work for you? Or will you use a Priest to force another player to discard all their Soldiers right before they get to attack?

Bakufu isn’t a perfect game. There will be some players who find the Characters a little too overpowered, or who want the game to be a little deeper and more complex to keep them engaged for longer. We also noticed when playing with just two of us that it was easy to remember what cards your opponent has picked up and anticipate their moves, but with 3 and 4 player games this is less of an issue. Overall though I found Bakufu to be a great option to take out to a tap room or play between bigger games to give our group a mental rest. The artwork is good, the balance is well struck, and the satisfaction from beating your friends to those victory points is strong!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Simple to learn
  • Quick to play
  • Good replayability
  • Surprising depth thanks to Characters and clever mechanics like Attack Immunity

Might not like

  • Can be too easy to track what cards your opponents have in their hand, especially with just 2 players
  • Maybe *too* simple and quick for some players