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Samurai & Katana
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Store:  Strategy Games
Theme:  Oriental
Format:  Board Games

Samurai & Katana

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 120 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Pascal Bernard

Manufacturer(s): Clash of Arms, Tilsit

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Product Description

It is the middle of the 16th century during a Japanese civil war. You are the daimyo of one of the greatest samurai clans. In order to end this war, you must seize the opportunity to become the new Shogun and to unify the country under your rule. But only an honorable daimyo can obtain the shogunal title. To this end, you will build castles, subject the minor clans, battle your rivals, wipe out the religious sects and conduct business with foreign countries. With different means at your disposal to hamper your opponents (ronin, ninja and dark forces), you must also prevent your rivals from gaining the most coveted title of Shogun. But be aware that effective methods are not always honorable.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Pascal Bernard

  • Manufacturer(s): Clash of Arms, Tilsit

  • Artist(s): Thierry Masson

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 3 - 6

  • Time: 120 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 1,315 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.


  • 1 game board representing 16th century Japan
  • 55 cards
  • 120 samurai miniatures
  • 18 castle miniatures
  • 19 small and major city counters
  • 24 koku counters
  • 6 clan reference cards

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4 in 6 reviews

Winning becomes an intriguing puzzle.
September 12, 2002

Our group of four has enjoyed playing 'S&K' even more than the Milton Bradley 'Samurai/Samurai Blades'. The game goes much faster for one thing. One's location on the game map is also not as crucial as in Samurai. You can make steady progress towards winning without having to conquer the whole map.

The other reviews have left out perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the game: the player with the fewest victory points at the end of the turn chooses the turn order for the next turn. Furthermore,the next player is not chosen until the prievious player has completed his turn. This ability to choose turn order is a huge advantage. If you cut down another player too much at the wrong time you may be handing him/her the means to engineer your defeat.

The game gives you many difficult choices throughout the play of your turn and you're never sure which action will seem to help you at first but prove to be your undoing in the end.

S&K is an excellent combination a conqust game with a 'Euro' style game. Highly recommended.

Great game that deserves more attention.
March 16, 2005

Samurai & Katana is a game that has not yet made a big impression on board gamming, for me, this was the game that made me stop playing Risk and start exploring every kind of board games. When I saw S&K was "back in stock", I thought I might as well post my coments on the game.

The only real problem the game has is the horrendously written rules! It took me maybe 5 games to get them right (at least I think I got them right). Most problems people has with the game on the internet comes from a poor understanding of the rules, and it's incredible how diferently the game's played from the actual rules (ahem... what I think are the actual rules).

Once you get the rules, the game's very simple to teach to new players and games are always very balanced and very interesting, the aspect I like the most is that you need money to keep your forces moving, and since castles allow for free movement, their placement makes a very important decision on the strategical/tactical aspect of the game.

Some games can get to be VERY long, but never boring, also, we've had some very fast games and in that case we usually play again.

The games plays best with 5-6 players, I just LOVE a 6 player S&K game! Borders are tight, deals are important, winning combats the honorable way is a serious thing to consider (because there's always an easy option: kill the samurai, or revolt the province), the deck does feel like it has very few cards, but it also somewhat balances card use, as if you use a powerful card, you can expect it will be on some one elses hands very soon, some times ruining your plans. Some times the player with the least honor (you need honor points to win the game) can be the richest player, as he does has a very important influence on power balance. Situation around the capital gets very intense, and some warriors prefer to stay away, just making sure no one gets an easy shot for the control of the whole imperial province.

In simple words, S&K feels very strategic and very authentic you face constant decisions and must have a good balance between economic, militar and politic power, yet, the game is in escense very simple. The more you play the better it gets, it's been 3 years of board gamming for me (and I've spent a VERY good part of my money on them) and S&K is always an option I'm willing to play!

Beware the rules are a very good example of how a rulebook can ruin a great game!

If you are looking for something new over A&A and Risk, then I would seriously recommend S&K.

by Haplo
Great game. Highly recommended.
April 23, 2002

I totally agree with the review below, except for the observation that it's an obvious strategy to attack a player to decrease his hand size. It seems to me that this is not realy a valid option, since you draw two new cards after each battle and the defending player even gets an extra card for winning. This means that you can't force a player to decrease his hand size, you can only force him to cycle through his available cards. Since you don't know whether the cards he draws as replacement will be better or worse than the cards he allready had you don't really gain anything with this tactic.

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