About game:

The story told here is of the battle of Sekigahara, fought in 1600 at a crossroads in Japan, which unified that nation under the Tokugawa family for more than 250 years. The game allows you to re-contest that war as Ishida Mitsunari, defender of a child heir, or Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan’s most powerful daimyo (feudal lord).

The campaign is pretty brief, lasts only 7 weeks, during which each side improvise an army and a strategy with what forces their allies could muster. Each leader harbored deep doubts as to the loyalty of his units – for good reason – greatly depicted in games mechanics.

To conquer Japan you must do more than field an army – you must be sure it will follow you into combat. Cultivate the loyalty of your allies and deploy them only when you are confident of their allegiance. Win a battle by gaining a defection from the ranks of your opponent.

The game have some very interesting and unique mechanics. First, it utilizes no dice! Secondly, the cards used for game represent loyalty and motivation. Without a matching card, an army will not enter the battle! And thirdly – the actual engagements of forces. These are a series of deployments, from hidden unit stacks, based on hidden loyalty factors. You really can defeat much more powerful opponent whose forces refuse to fight!

Would you stand-up to the task and manage to prevail against your opponent, unifying Japan in the process?

Number of players:

This is one of the best 2-player wargames ever created and should be played mainly like this. The solo mode – while possible – will not provide as much joy and suspense from shifting loyalties as multiplayer version.

Playing time:

That title should be easily played in maximum 3 hours – but can end earlier if special conditions are met.


This is one of those fascinating games, where to start playing you really do not need a lot of time – rules are pretty straightforward and easy to grasp. Player aids are very helpful. But the true beauty, challenge and depth of the game starts when you set-up the table and start to plan your first moves. So a title with moderate entry barrier but hard to master!

What I like:
  • Theme – the game is great lesson in the history of Japan. It has full historical background of the events leading to that climatic resolution. What is more, all game elements, from components, through special history-based forces dispositions and loyalties, up to the additional information in the Rulebook make up the great narrative and boardgame experience.
  • Loyalty concept – that was a key element in this war and of course had to be depicted. But the way it was done surpassed all my expectations – the cards are such an easy but powerful way to do it, both for initiative set-up at turn beginning as well as especially for battles.
  • Components – this is a quintessence of a block game – simply beautiful and aesthetic. Just look at the board, the composition of black and yellow/gold colors – this looks gorgeous. 
  • Lack of dice and battle mechanics – The no-dice mechanics for battle resolution, involving loyalty checks of the belligerents and ability to fight only with units you manage to convince via proper card play – is simply ingenious! You add to this special abilities of leaders, gunpowder and cavalry units and get a really interesting tactical mix of options.

  • Re-playability – you may wonder if a game with one scenario and one set-up can be really able to give hours of joy and fun? Well, due to variable set-up of some forces and draw of the cards with various loyalties at the beginning of the each turn, every time you start the game you will have different options. An the set-up on the map is simply mind-blowing – so many options, so many axis of attack – the one you choose depends usually on what is in your hands as cards!
What I do not like or would like to see in the game:
  • Maybe just a wish to have more scenarios / more games by the same designer using that fantastic mechanics.
For whom?

I would strongly recommend that game both to veterans of wargames as well as the new players, pondering where to start their journey with that genre. The game is not overly complex, allows for quick set-up and rules explanation but is very deep in possible strategies and tactics. 

More about the game:

And now let us have a look at the components – all pictures taken during my plays:

Game set-up – this time playing as Ishida.
A close-up on the strategic situation mid-game (Turn 4)
Tokugawa successfully storming and taking one of Ishida’s castles
That was a large battle, with both sides being able to bring almost all their forces to attack!



This is definitely a must to play wargame. If you are reluctant to put to the table the block games, think about stickering as a worst nightmare and told yourself you will try such game only once in the lifetime – Sekigahara should be the choice!

I can wholeheartedly recommend that title to any player wishing to familiarize via boardgame with that very important part of Japanese history – it is a fast-playing and exciting strategic level wargame. You will spend many hours mastering it and thanks to great replayability, you will have possibility play it again and again. Highly recommended!

See you in another game review!