Shogun (1986 board game)

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Shogun, designed by Michael Gray,[1] was a board wargame first released in 1986 by game maker Milton Bradley as part of their Gamemaster series. It was renamed to Samurai Swords in its first re-release (1995) to disambiguate it from other games with the same name (in particular, James Clavell's Shogun, a wargame with a similar theme, released in 1983), and renamed again to Ikusa in its 2011 re-release under Hasbro's Avalon Hill banner. Set in feudal Japan, two to five players take control of a fictional warlord and pit their armies against one another in hopes of winning the title Shogun.

In 1988, Shogun won the Origins Awards for Best Pre-20th Century Boardgame of 1987 and Best Graphic Presentation of a Boardgame of 1987 .

Each player controls a number of daimyō, or generals, who command an army. Other forces on the board represent militia and garrisons. Players also have the option of hiring ronin (mercenaries). There is also a ninja, principally used as an assassin against enemy daimyō. Units include samurai swordsmen and bowmen, and ashigaru spearmen and gunners. Income, called koku, is derived from control of territories. Players attempt to destroy their rivals in battle and seize their territories. Some interesting features include the orchestration of armies in battle, the emphasis on generals (who gain levels, much like roleplaying game characters), and the unpredictable element of ronin placement.

The game uses six twelve-sided dice. The trays for units are designed to resemble Japanese fortresses, and each player receives a small katana (to display the order in which players take their turns).


Shogun was awarded the Origins Award for "Best Pre-20th Century Boardgame of 1987" and "Best Graphic Presentation of a Boardgame of 1987".[2]

David M. Ewalt of Forbes commented on the 2011 release of Ikusa: "The game formerly known as Samurai Swords (and before that as Shogun) gets another makeover. Still the same strategy classic where players compete to rule feudal Japan, but the box, board and pieces have been updated. Not cheap, but the redesign looks great and the game’s as fun as ever."[3]


  1. ^ "Simple Justice". Greg Costikyan. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  2. ^ "The 1987 Origins Awards". The Game Manufacturers Association. Archived from the original on 16 December 2012.
  3. ^

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