We cover one of the most iconic Kickstarter hits ever; we understand together why so successful in this full Italian review of Rising Sun, also discovering stretch goals and expansions
There is only one judge of the Samurai’s honor: himself. The decisions you make and the actions that follow are a reflection of who you really are. You cannot hide from yourself.
From Bushido, the Samurai Code of Honor.
Politics and honor among warlords | Rising Sun Italian review
Eric Lang is not new to games with a strong setting component (Blood Rage, Chaos in the Old World), but this time it has definitely exceeded. The courage of a theme that is anything but obvious, certainly less immediate than Vikings and Warhammer, pays off; the components touch dizzying peaks and the result is extremely satisfying.
But to open this Rising Sun Italian review, let’s start with the fundamental mechanics of the game.
The mechanics: when simplicity meets originality
Purpose of the game is to accumulate victory points in a three-age match structure. At least in this area, we start from that illustrious predecessor that is Blood Rage; from here on, however, the direction taken is extremely different.
We can accumulate victory points by establishing ourselves as the dominant faction in various territories and the structure of an era is composed of two simple blocks: preparation and combat. During the preparation, like any self-respecting warlord, we will have to seek allies; we do not find them in a deck of cards, nor in the game territories. They are seated next to us and there is a phase in which, after a heated discussion, made up of offers, counter-offers, skepticism and subterfuge, we will bond firmly to an ally. It is not a way of saying: our symbols will be welded together and, during that era, we will benefit from each other.
Performance of the shift
Once the alliances have been forged, we will be able to carry out the actions that a dudes on a map typically provides, i.e. recruiting and moving troops and monsters, various improvements, etc. The exception is the betrayal action; we can choose to break the solemn oaths sworn between Daimyo and wipe out an ally’s troops, but at a cost. In Japan, honor is a serious matter and to betray means to be considered as cutthroats; our clan will automatically be moved to the bottom of the honor track. The latter represents an extremely important statistic in the course of the game to break any tie.
Special mention goes to the combat system: without the presence of any dice and maximum expression of Lang’s favorite mechanic, pick your battle. Starting from the presence of the occupying forces on a territory, a secret auction is held to win a series of shares, common to all the challengers; the winner will then pay all the coins invested in this auction phase to the defeated player, forcing us to exercise great caution.
At the court of the feudal lord: the Daimyo Box | Rising Sun Italian review
A true Holy Grail for collectors, this stunningly illustrated box contains all of the content unlocked via Kickstarter; this means that if you have a copy of Rising Sun purchased regularly in the store and you combine them with this box, you will have everything that a backer would have (in addition of course to the expansions, but they are also purchasable through the GDO). For this reason, the price of the Daimyo can easily touch peaks above 200 € on secondary markets; So is it worth it? Let’s analyze what it contains.
First of all, an improvement to all the basic components: three-dimensional fortresses, metal coins and thick plastic tokens objectively make the game much more fascinating, vertical and attractive. Of course, not everyone succumbs to similar sirens, but it must be said that playing with similar components really gives a lot of satisfaction.
The monsters of the Daimyo Box
Second, the monsters. Although, of the ten additions, few are exciting, they appear at the same time some of the most interesting in the game, the Earth Dragon above all. Its ability to move miniatures before the battle begins results in strategic upheavals that impact not only the current battle, but subsequent ones (and previous ones in the form of prediction). Even Nure-Onna, which looks like a sea serpent, has a strategically very impactful effect, being able to move between coastal regions during the war phase.
In general, the movement effects in this game are invaluable and the ability to change the surprise balance of forces in a region is one of the best strategies to adopt. “Godzilla” (otherwise known as Daikaiju) should be mentioned, not so much for the effect (very heavy miniature that enters at the end of the game) as for the grandeur of the miniature, which mercilessly dominates the whole of Japan in its presence.
The Fox clan
We close the circle with the clan della Volpe, perhaps the true protagonist of the Daimyo. Given that the clans have asymmetrical powers, even quite relevant, that of the Fox has an early game that works so well that it has also conquered a lover of scaling like myself. Their ability to appear cunningly everywhere, for free, at the beginning of the war phase is surprising not so much for the effect itself (however, it must be known to exploit in the battle phase), but for the possibilities it opens up in the action selection phase. In short, if you want to play an even deeper and more spectacular version of Rising Sun, especially if the game has already convinced and conquered you, the purchase is worth the exorbitant prices that appear on the (now few) copies left.
The Kami Take the Field: The Kami Unbound Expansion | Rising Sun Italian review
Kami, or spirits in Italian; to the most certainly known for the expression Kami Kaze, or Divine Wind. In Japanese folklore and beliefs, typically polytheistic or animist, the Kami represent primitive elements and forces, with names that today have been borrowed from mass culture and that some may recognize; for example Yoshimitsu, the spirit of the waters, Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon, and so on.
The impact of the Kami
Thanks to this Rising Sun expansion, which we explore in this Italian review, the Kami break free and from a mere frame they become real protagonists.
Retracing the typical mode of large Kickstarters, particularly those of the CMON house, the game, initially conceived as a unicum, is then proposed in an essential part, the almost skeleton; the rest of the components, which dresses it and restores its natural integrity, are proposed as expansions. Well, in the case of the Kami, it must be said that their impact is decisive, perhaps more than the Norse counterparts in Blood Rage, and each of them comes with interesting and consistent effects. Strategic variability grows dramatically, but what’s interesting is how well this addition fits into the balance of the base game; ultimately, it is proof that the game was originally created by contemplating this and other expansions within it. The purchase is recommended, if desired also directly together with the base game.
“Oh My God, It’s Godzilla”: Monster Pack Expansion | Rising Sun Italian review
The quote in the title is quite misleading, I admit, and it is for two reasons. The first is that the reference may not be within everyone’s reach; the second is that “Godzilla” is actually one of the monsters of the base game. Anyway, being a leitmotiv of my evenings at Rising Sun, I wanted to include it anyway, hoping to make someone smile. But let’s move on to the analysis of the new monsters: is the additional content worth the expense? I hope this Italian Rising Sun review is helping you orient yourself.
First of all it should be noted that the contents of the box (or small box) stops at four miniatures; frankly rather miserable, especially for a glorious and epic game like Rising Sun. On the other hand, this allows us to analyze all four and understand if it is worth the almost thirty (!) euros of expenditure.
A monstrous and fascinating spider
Let’s start with the highlight, in my opinion: Jorōgumo. This terrifying creature has a very special miniature, a mammoth arachnid that stands on thin and pointed legs like pins (so much so that a plexiglass support is necessary to ensure the stability of the structure), but the upper part of the body looks like a young and very elegant Geisha. Sure, it’s the feverish birth of a delusional nightmare, but not only is the miniature and concept exceptional, so is the effect. It allows us to steal an opposing soldier at the beginning of each fight in which it is involved. Often, a similar swing in power ratios is instrumental in deciding the winner, and the fact that this creature is so simple and effective gives it a place in the top 5 of the Rising Sun monsters.
Two returning archetypes: Oni and Dragone
Then we find the Oni of Pestilence which prevents players with more honor than us from moving into the province in which it is located; so far, I have always found the Oni strategy (designed as a catch-up mechanism for players who play without honor) among the most difficult to pursue, as a shrewd opponent can easily mess up the different activation conditions of the Oni. The Oni of Pestilences is no exception, and although its effect might seem interesting to lock up a province and the surrounding ones, I still find it not among the best.
The Fire Dragon is part of the series of mythological leviathans that in Rising Sun have some of the most successful and impressive miniatures, an inextinguishable pleasure for the eye. On the contrary, its effect is deleterious, at least; in fact, as the world flares up around the dragon, allowing us to eliminate a miniature for each player, that includes us. One of the first unwritten rules a Rising Sun player learns is never abandon a monster to its fate and unfortunately the effect of the Dragon seems made on purpose to play alone, far from miserable mortals. Frankly, unless you pair it with special effects monsters like the Phoenix, it’s extremely onerous to play.
The tree of life or the tree of death?
We close with a flourish with Jinmenju, which looks like an anagram of Jumanji, but is instead a huge tree; one can suppose a tree of souls or the passage from the kingdom of the living to that of the dead, since its effect is …