It's not every day you get to sit down and play a game with some of the most well-known people in board gaming media. However, that’s exactly what happened when Rodney Smith of Watch it Played, Paul Dean of Shut Up and Sit Down, TheOneTAR, MaggiBot and I converged on a table at BGG Con and set out to defend our quaint Japanese village from a merciless force of encroaching intruders. While the battle would be tough, we would fight fearlessly because we had the Samurai Spirit!
Our adventure began as I stepped out of my small hut in our quiet village and smelled the brisk and sweet air. We had planned on having a peaceful day with our friends and family, we planned to tend to our gardens and relax. Unfortunately, we hadn’t noticed the slight tinge of death in the breeze, and our plans were dashed when we were attacked suddenly by a full horde of blood-thirsty villains. The 5 of us were the only thing between these criminals and our frightened village. As human/spirit hybrids, each of us brought something unique and special to the table as we attempted to fend off the bandits in a bloody battle to the end.
Samurai Spirit is, by definition, fierce. If you ever truly wanted to feel heroic, this is the game for you, but it does so brutally. You have many choices ahead of you: to fight or to defend, to assist or to pass the responsibility to your allies. The intricate balance takes hold of you and shakes you awake each round. The game commands you, “DRAW CAREFULLY, PLAN AHEAD, DON’T DIE!”
During the game, you are presented with challenges. To overcome these, you can transform from human to animal samurai. If you remain human too long, you may face difficulty defeating the much larger bosses. If you become a Samurai Spirit too soon, you are that much closer to death. When the raiders that you fail to vanquish get through, they invade your home, destroying your fences and farms. You’re forced to watch as your village comes apart before your very eyes, leaving your people without protection, and even if they do survive the attack, surely they would starve to death. The blood of a hero was shed for the first time in our village when I thoughtlessly handed a 2-cost card to the person on my right, killing them outright. This triggered the end of the game and left everyone at the table disappointed as the body of our friend and ally lie unmoving at our feet.
Nobody told me that it was a true co-op, not a semi-co-op. Next time I’ll try to remember not to kill anyone, but I make no promises. My Samurai Spirit is not one to be tamed.