8 November 2017 | Battle for Rokugan

Lay Your Battle Plan

The Placement Phase of Battle for Rokugan


Over the centuries-long history of the Emerald Empire, the seven Great Clans have been in constant conflict. The Rokugani daimyō lead the armies of their clans on the battlefield as they compete for control of new territories and earn honor and glory for their clan. Soon, you'll be able to take your place among those warring clans and beging your own struggle for dominance, so today, we're starting our series of previews with a more detailed look at how to build your strategy in Battle for Rokugan!

Gather Your Forces

Battle for Rokugan is played over the course of five rounds, each consisting of three phases: upkeep, placement, and resolution. At the end of five rounds, the daimyō agree that enough Rokugani blood has been shed and the most honorable clan who controls either the most territories or the most valuable provinces will be named the victor.

At the beginning of each round, during the upkeep phase, you and your fellow daimyō will take stock of your resources before you take to the battlefields. In turn, each player will draw six combat tokens from their personal pool of tokens and examine them to formulate their battle strategies. There are seven different types of combat tokens that you may integrate into your strategy and send out during the placement phase, but there's no guarantee that you'll see every type of combat token each round.

From left to right: Blessing, Diplomacy, Army, Navy, Raid, Shinobi, Bluff

Once you and your fellow daimyō have drawn your combat tokens, you'll lay your strategies into action during the placement phase. This is the phase in which you must make your decisions regarding which provinces to defend and where to attack. Beginning with first player and proceeding clockwise, each daimyō places one combat token from their hand facedown on the map until each has placed five tokens, leaving one behind. 

The placement phase of the game is your chance to demonstate your tactical acumen and outwit your opponents. As you try to read your enemies' intentions and develop an effective master plan, you must choose carefully how to use the combat tokens that you drew at the beginning of the round. Your pool could be filled with military units, methods of nonviolent confrontation, and desperate efforts to be used when no other options remain. Because all combat tokens are placed facedown on the board, only you know the true power of each token that you place… but this also leaves you to wonder about the might of your enemies. Battle for Rokugan invites you to engage in a tactical game of cat-and-mouse, reading your enemies’ intentions and weighing the risks and rewards of each move. If you succeed, you can ensure the survival of your people and bring glory to yourself and those who have placed their trust in you. If you fail, your clan could fade into obscurity or be wiped from the map entirely.

A Direct Assault

When formulating a plan of attack, Battle for Rokugan provides you with several options through the combat tokens that you draw. Armies are the most common token that you will use to attack enemy provinces and defend your own holdings. To attack, a player can place an army token on a border that divides one of your provinces from one you wish to attack. If, however, you are a daimyō on the defensive, you could place an army token in any province you control. For example, below, the Unicorn Clan has placed a combat token on their shared land border to attack the Crab Clan. In response, Crab Clan has placed a combat token within their own province to defend it. As both tokens remain facedown until the Resolution phase, neither side knows how powerful their enemy's military—or even if the combat token is truly an attack—until battle is joined.

In the same example, the Crab Clan's province is on a coastal border and must also fear if the Unicorn or another clan have a Navy combat token. Navies allow you to attack distant shores beyond the reach of land armies. No man rules the sea, and to attack, you can place a navy token on any coastal border. Similarly, you can defend your coasts by playing your own Navy tokens facedown in a costal province. 

Sometimes, a direct attack will prove ineffective against a powerful rival. In this case, you may call upon the rare and secretive shinobi to launch surprise attacks in any province. The shinobi strike over great distances, and can be called upon to either defend or attack by placing a shinobi token in the center of any province. Shinobi deployed to one of your own provinces are used to defend your claim—but they can also be placed in any other province, potentially attacking and striking far behind enemy lines.

A Dragon Clan shinobi strikes behind enemy lines in a Crab Clan province!

Even the greatest armies or navies can benefit from the blessings of the kami. Occasionally, a clan daimyō’s strategic plan requires additional guidance from the kami in the form of a blessing combat token. Unlike other combat tokens, you may place a blessing token faceup on top of any of your facedown army, navy, or shinobi combat tokens. If you bestow a blessing on your attacking or defending forces, they cannot be targeted by card effects or clan abilities—and what's more, the strength of the blessing is added to the strength of your attack or defense!

Covert Tactics

Regrettably, at some times, the odds may not fall in your favor and you may not have drawn the necessary combat tokens to execute an effective attack. In these instances, the best strategy can be deception. The bluff token allows a daimyō to make a feint in the hopes of drawing out the enemy. To bluff, you can place this token as if it were any other combat token (except a blessing). Placing a bluff token can also give you the opportunity to save a more valuable combat token for a later round, as over the course of the placement phase you will use five of the six tokens that you drew at the beginning of the round. By saving your most powerful combat tokens for future rounds, your enemies may believe that you're falling behind, but in truth you are simply lying in wait.

War is inevitable in Battle for Rokugan, but there are alternatives to fighting that still give further your goals. When peace is desired, a diplomatic approach is best. The diplomacy token bestows a permanent peace token on a province—by placing your diplomacy token in one of your provinces, you protect it against all current and future attacks. This peace goes both ways, however. You cannot attack adjacent provinces from one of your provinces with a peace token.

The Dragon Clan executes a raid in a Unicorn province, causing them to lose their control and combat tokens.

Finally, as a last resort, a daimyō may choose to destroy a province rather than allow it to fall into enemy hands. You can execute a raid on a province that you don't control, so long as your target is next to a province under your control or in a province with one of your shinobi tokens. Successfully raiding a province strips it of all combat and control tokens, and permanently places a scorched earth token in that province, keeping that province from being controlled or attacked for the remainder of the game. Raiding a province in this way means that you lose the potential to obtain any honor the province would provide, but you also ensure that no one else can claim it either.

Once you and your rivals have placed your combat tokens for the round, the resolution phase commences, where all truths are revealed and the bloodshed begins. Have you read your opponents accurately? Will you be able to expand your territory or defend the provinces under your control? Will you earn the kami’s favor or will you be forced to turn to darkness in order to earn the victory you crave? Only time will tell.

Execute Your Strategy

Prepare your forces for battle. Conquer the Emerald Empire, bring honor to your clan, and win the Battle for Rokugan!

Pre-order Battle for Rokugan (L5B01) at your local retailer today or on the Fantasy Flight Games website here!

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