How To Play: Samurai – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Mastering Samurai involves choosing territories wisely, managing tokens with strategy, and adapting to opponents' moves. Our guide covers key tactics from setup to winning strategies, including a deep dive into the 'How To Play Samurai' essentials. Perfecting your game means strategizing, adapting, and sometimes, a bit of luck.

Hey fellow board game lovers, Jamie here! Today, I’m diving into the captivating world of Samurai, a game that’s all about strategy, cunning, and a bit of luck. Whether you’re new to the scene or an experienced player looking to sharpen your skills, this guide’s got you covered. We’ll outline the game rules and dish out the best strategies for clinching a victory. So, grab your tokens, and let’s get strategic!


What’s in the box

  • 1 Game Board
  • 80 Wooden Game Pieces (20 each of four different types)
  • 4 Player Screens
  • 4 Player Bases
  • 1 Draw Bag
  • 40 Hexagonal Tiles
  • 8×3 Rectangular Tiles (24 total)
  • Rule Booklet

How To Play Samurai: Rules Summary


Let’s dive right into setting the game up. First off, we place the game board in the center of the table. The board showcases Japan’s islands, divided into several regions. Each player then chooses a color and takes the corresponding pieces. We scatter city tokens across their designated spots on the map. Players receive a set of hexagonal tokens representing different classes – high hats (samurai), Buddhas, and rice fields. Lastly, everyone draws five of these tokens from their bag to form their initial hand.

  1. Place the game board in the middle of the table.
  2. Choose colors and take matching pieces.
  3. Place city tokens on the board.
  4. Distribute and draw initial hexagonal tokens.


Once we’ve got the game set up, it’s time to play. Players take turns placing one of their hexagonal tokens adjacent to a city token on the board. The goal here is to surround cities with your tokens to capture them. You can capture a city if the majority of the surrounding tokens are yours. After placing a token, draw another one from your bag to keep your hand at five.

  1. Take turns placing tokens next to city tokens.
  2. Aim to surround cities with your tokens.
  3. Draw a token after placement to maintain a hand of five.


The game ends when all the city tokens have been captured or when any player runs out of hexagonal tokens. Players then reveal their captured city tokens. The person with the most tokens in at least two of the three classes (samurai, Buddhas, rice fields) wins the game. It’s a thrilling race to gain control over Japan!

  1. Game ends when all city tokens are captured or someone runs out of tokens.
  2. Reveal captured tokens to determine the winner.
  3. Win by having the most tokens in two of the three classes.

Special Rules & Conditions

Here are a few twists to keep you on your toes. First, some hexagonal tokens have special powers, like swapping positions or removing nearby tokens. Use these wisely to turn the tide of the game. Also, in case of a tie, the player with the most tokens in the remaining class becomes the winner. Lastly, strategic gameplay is crucial – plan your moves, anticipate your opponents, and adapt quickly.

  1. Some tokens have special powers – use them strategically.
  2. In case of a tie, the remaining class of tokens decides the winner.
  3. Adapt and strategize to outmaneuver your opponents.

Best Samurai Strategies

Master the Map: A Guide to Choosing Territories Wisely

Victory in Samurai hinges on strategic territory selection. Here’s how:

Capture High-Value Areas Early

  1. Identify regions rich in critical resources.
  2. Focus your initial moves on these areas to establish a strong foundation.

Expand With Purpose

  1. Don’t spread too thin. Choose adjacent territories to consolidate power.
  2. Consider territories that disrupt opponents’ plans.

Adapt to the Board

  1. Watch how the game unfolds and pivot your strategy as needed.
  2. Secure territories that become unexpectedly valuable.

Mastering Token Management: The Key to Victory

Token Management is crucial in winning. First, always spend tokens thoughtfully. It’s tempting to go big early, but patience pays off. Next, balance your token types. A mix of military, rice, and Buddha tokens keeps opponents guessing and allows flexibility in strategy. Lastly, keep an eye on your opponents’ tokens. Predict their moves and counteract strategically. By following these steps, you’ll maintain an upper hand.

  1. Spend Tokens Wisely
    Never rush to spend. Analyze the board and plan.
  2. Balance Your Token Types
    Mix your tokens to adapt to any situation.
  3. Watch Your Opponents
    Anticipate their strategies and counter effectively.

Turn the Tide: Adapting to Your Opponent’s Strategies

Winning isn’t just about your game plan; it’s about pivoting when your foes make their moves. Here’s how:

Watch Closely

  1. Keep an eye on opponents’ moves to predict their strategies.

Shift Gears

  1. If someone’s leading, adjust your tactics to block or surpass them.

Counter Tactics

  1. Identify the strategies beating yours, and switch up your game to counter.

By staying flexible, you’ll stay one step ahead. Remember, a great player adapts and overcomes.

Master the Art of Samurai: Final Thoughts

And there you have it, folks, the inside scoop on becoming a Samurai master. Remember, it’s not just about the game pieces or the board; it’s about outsmarting your friends with a mix of strategy, wit, and a little bit of luck. Whether it’s choosing your territories wisely, managing your tokens like a pro, or adapting to your opponents’ strategies, every move counts. Now, grab your samurai helmet (okay, maybe just your thinking cap) and get ready to conquer the islands. May your path to victory be as sharp as a samurai’s sword!

Want to know what we think of Samurai? Read our detailed review of Samurai here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.