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Sekigahara, 4th Printing

Status:  Shipping
Orders To Date:  292
  • Mounted Map
  • 119 wooden pieces
  • 1 and 1/2 sticker sheets
  • 110 cards
  • Rulebook
  • Two player aid cards
PUBLISHED: 2011, 2014, 2016
DESIGNER: Matthew Calkins
MAP & BLOCK ART: Mark Mahaffey
RULES LAYOUT: Neil Randall
PACKAGE ART: Rodger B. MacGowan
PRODUCERS: Tony Curtis, Andy Lewis, Rodger MacGowan, Gene Billingsley & Mark Simonitch
Price: $69.00


Fourth Printing Note: This printing is identical to the third printing, including the deeper (3") box.


The battle of Sekigahara, fought in 1600 at a crossroads in Japan, unified that nation under the Tokugawa family for more than 250 years.

Sekigahara 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 lasted only 7 weeks, during which each side improvised an army and a strategy with what forces their allies could provide. Each leader harbored deep doubts as to the loyalty of his units - for good reason. Several daimyo refused to fight; some even turned sides in the midst of battle.

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.

Sekigahara is replete with unusual mechanics:
  • No dice are used
  • Cards represent loyalty and motivation. Without a matching card, an army will not enter battle.
  • Allegiance is represented by hand size, which fluctuates each turn.
  • Battles are a series of deployments, from hidden unit stacks, based on hidden loyalty factors. Loyalty Challenge cards create potential defection events.
 Sekigahara is a 3-hour block game based on the Japanese campaign waged in 1600. The 7-week war, fought along Japan's two major highways and in scattered sieges and backcountry skirmishes, elevated Tokugawa Ieyasu to Shogun and unified Japan for 265 years.

Sekigahara is designed to offer an historically authentic experience within an intuitive game mechanic that can be played in one sitting. Great effort has been taken to preserve a clean game mechanism. (Despite a healthy amount of historical detail, the ruleset is a brief 6 pages.) Chance takes the form of uncertainty and not luck.

No dice are used; combat is decided with cards. Blocks = armies and cards = motivation. The combination of army and motivation produces impact on the battlefield. Armies without matching cards don't fight. Battles resolve quickly, but with suspense, tactical participation, and a wide range of possible outcomes.

Legitimacy is represented by hand size, which fluctuates each week according to the number of castles a player holds. Certain events deplete legitimacy, like force marches and lost battles. Recruitment, meanwhile, is a function of a daimyo's control over key production areas. Objectives (enemy units, castles, resources) exist all over the map.

The initial setup is variable, so the situation is always fresh. Concealed information (blocks and cards) lends additional uncertainty. In this way the game feels like the actual campaign.

Blocks are large and stackable. Every unit on the board is visible at once, and the strategic situation is comprehensible at a glance. Components use authentic clan designations and colors, and have a Japanese feel.

True to history, the objectives (castles and economic centers) and forces (armies of allied daimyo) are dispersed. Support for one front means neglect for another. The player is pulled between competing priorities. Each side wonders where his opponent wants to fight, and where he is unready. There is a great deal of bluff in the game.

Each player must rally the several daimyo of his coalition, managing the morale and motivation of each clan. The forces are dispersed, and while there are reasons to unify them, the objectives are also dispersed, and the timeframe compact, so skirmishing will occur all over the island.


Designer's Synopsis of How This Game is Different from Others on Feudal Japan:"Sekigahara is a simple 3-hour block game based on the campaign in 1600 that unified Japan. Hidden information on blocks & cards, but no dice. Cards are not events (this isn’t a typical “card-driven wargame”) but rather motivation (suited by clan). Units fight only when a matching card is produced."


Additional differences:

(1) A lot of ‘game’ in 3 hours: many decisions, historical feel. The mechanics are really simple. Feels more like the event in question than most 3-hour wargames. Doesn’t bog down.

(2) Elegant graphical design. Japanese kanji and symbology; minimalism in blocks, board and cards. Mark Mahaffey has done amazing work.

(3) ‘Randomization’ subordinated to uncertainty. Plays like poker sometimes. You know how strong you’ll be in a hypothetical battle, and your opponent knows how strong he/she will be, so you read each others’ actions to gauge whether you want to initiate it.

(4) Double game being played: (a) units in position, (b) units motivated enough to fight. Most games would be all about (a) and leave (b) to the dice, but here you know in advance the effectiveness of your troops, by looking at your cards. The game is true to history in this regard (the campaign turned on defections & abstentions). Unit combat performance was too essential to the outcome of this campaign to leave to the dice.

(5) The combat system, with hidden forces and sequential deployments, is novel. Christophe Sancy made a great graphical illustration of a climactic combat sequence. It’s posted on Boardgame Geek.

TIME SCALE 2 weeks per turn
Point to point
UNIT SCALE One block = 5000 soldiers

Customer Reviews
# of Ratings: 33
1. on 5/8/2018, said:
Most elegant war game out there.
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2. on 5/8/2018, said:
Very easy to understand, elegant and deep in terms of strategy make this one a winner. Highly recommended, even for non-wargamers.
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3. on 3/13/2017, said:
This has everything, style, great production vales and an engrossing game.
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4. on 1/2/2017, said:
Genial use of the card play. Very elegant components. Is hardly to find out a negative point
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5. on 2/26/2016, said:
My wife loves it. Of course I have yet to beat her at it.
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(8 people found this comment helpful, 5 did not)
6. on 7/21/2015, said:
No expert on this ilk of games, none of the rest of the games on this site appeals to me, more of board game player, but this game is solid. It is what you wish Risk was. Maybe because it is card driven that gives it its appeal as I am sure this is an outlier game for the hardcore Fanboy war gamers. One gripe is the play time, still not too bad. I love the old school blocks. Yes, would like to see a larger map, few other changes that have been posted in the comments. Not sure how a Kickstarter project would do to help with adding some "perk" changes. Given Kickstarter and I think Amazon's cut of the pie, Kickstarter most likely not an option.
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7. on 7/19/2015, said:
Great game, with a fresh take on the block and card-driven game systems. Hand management is a big deal here: you lose half your hand every turn, but you also replace everything you spend in a battle -- lots of card cycling going on! And those cards are needed to power the blocks so you have to carefully manage which battles to fight when (and often you'll pick a battle just to get some "free" card cycling). The game play is great, but the components could use some improvements. For me, the look of the game -- simplistic, clean -- is actually very good. Until you start putting the blocks (nice and chunky, much bigger than I'd imagined at first) on the board. Then, it's hard seeing the important features of the map itself! Where are the castles, again? Which locations are resource centers? Are those blocks in that city, or the one down the road? And why aren't there tracks to more easily display the current counts of resource centers and castles controlled by each player? In the 3rd printing, I would love it if: - the board were bigger, with space for big armies (and some of the other stuff below) - there were some 3-d markers for the resource centers and castles - the time track has double the spaces, to track every single turn (minor point, but still) - there is a space on the board for all player's control cubes. With 9 spaces, you could easily show which player controls more castles (by seeing who has more cubes there) and not have to count them repeatedly. Similarly, a way to record controlled locations. Finally, as a very minor aside, the reinforcement step should be at the END of the turn, not the start. That way, if for no other reason, there is no start-of-game exception to the rules -- so much cleaner!
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8. on 3/10/2014, said:
Simple, elegant and wonderfully themed take on block games. The game is card driven, has subtle strategies and multiple paths to victory. The game components are top notch.
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9. on 2/6/2014, said:
Good variation on the block game idea.
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10. on 8/21/2012, said:
One of my current top three entry level strategy games along with Columbia's "Julius Caesar" & Simmon's "Napoleon's Triumph". Problem of blocks covering castles & resource areas fixed by using castle pieces from "Shogun aka Samurai Swords" at castle locales and red blocks/disks from any Euro game.
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