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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  Samurai
Series:  Samurai
Theme:  Oriental
Format:  Board Games, Placement / Tile-Laying Games


French edition

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Product Awards:  
Deutscher Spiele Preis
4th place, 1999

Ages Play Time Players
14+ 45 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Hans im Gluck, Descartes

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Product Description

For centuries, Samurai have represented unfailing courage, imperturbable loyalty and internal harmony. There are three Samurai forces: peasants, clergy and nobility. The way to power leads through these three: peasants, represented by rice fields, clergy, represented by Buddhas and nobility, represented by high helmets. To become a Samurai, one has to be supported by one of these forces and have strong connections to the other two. Each player has an identical force and they deploy their forces to the spaces around the power figures. When a figure is surrounded, it is captured by the player with the strongest sympathetic force. To win, a player must gain dominance in one of the powers while getting better support from the other powers than the other players.

Product Awards

Deutscher Spiele Preis
4th place, 1999

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Hans im Gluck, Descartes

  • Artist(s): Franz Vohwinkel

  • Year: 1998

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 45 minutes

  • Ages: 14 and up

  • Weight: 1,053 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. An English translation of the rules is provided.


  • 39 figures:
    • 13 high helmets
    • 13 buddhas
    • 13 rice fields
  • 80 hexagonal tiles
  • 4 Japanese screens
  • 1 game board in 4 pieces

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.3 in 17 reviews

A wonderful strategy game
April 01, 2004

Stuart Dagger's excellent review details the nuances of Samurai, and I concur with them.

This is a great tile-laying game for both families and serious strategy gamers. Like Knizia's Through The Desert, it is ideal for introducing newcomers to the genre, because the rules are very straight-forward, and the game components are first-class. But pay close attention to the scoring rules when you devise and execute a strategy, for like yet another Knizia classic -- Tigris & Euphrates --- balance is key, and too much focus on one type of icon can take you out of running.

There's lots of value in this game. I'm glad to see that Rio Grande Games has re-released it, and I strongly recommend it for new and veteran strategy gamers alike.

Great entry into strategy gaming
August 05, 2001

I love this game--while [page scan/se=0874/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Tigris & Euphrates is a 'better' pure strategy game, Samurai is much easier for the new player to grasp, and the challenge is nearly as deep.

There's certainly an element of chance to the tiles (and with your competitors) that can give this game the same type of feel as the card game Hearts. (If you like the 'stick it to them' feel of Hearts, you'd love some of the play in Samurai.) That element of chance, combined with the random game set-up, makes this a new game every time I play it.

Give this one a spin--I can't believe it's rated so low!

by Fabri
Another Knizia little jewel
February 11, 2001

First of all, a premise. I played Samurai various times in the version between 2 players and I can't find an evening with 4 persons to play at this little jewel. So I cannot review this game in the 4 players version. I can only try to imagine how beautiful it can be.

In my opinion, this is a great tiles game (less complicated than Euphrat & Tigris, by the same author), easy to comprehend, easy to play but with some strategic passages that every player learns game after game. I don't spend much time and words about the way of playing (briefly, you have to surround figures with tiles, and the one who has the greatest value on the figure, catch it). Instead, I definitely recommend this game for its capability to entertain the occasional gamer as the strategic player, that can surely appreciate the chance to calculate the remaining tiles of the adversary (because every player's tiles and every captured figure are hidden by a screen). Maybe the most important tiles are the ones which permit to change two figures between them, enabling your competitors to take the one they've planned, and the one which permits you to replay a yet positioned tile on the table. Even the way to calculate the winner of the play is typical of Knizia's mind. You don't have to accumulate many tiles of all forms, because the winner is the one who has the majority of a figure. To solve the eventual draw between majorities, the winner will be the one with the most figures except the ones of the majority he owns. I suppose the 3-4 player version will be also more interesting.

Finally, a good entertainment that hasn't hard weaknesses.

Show all 17 reviews >

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