This is the perfect example of do not judge a book by its cover. Joraku had literally been collecting dust on my shelf for over a year because I was so thrown off by the delivery of the box. I’ve never been into war games and while I love feudal Japan–I just couldn’t shake the thoughts of Risk and Stratego from my mind. Wow, what a mistake I made in doing so.
Joraku is a 3- 4 (best with 3 to balance gameplay and game length) player area control board game that represents feudal Japan across 6 different lands and 3 rounds.
At a glance
With 4 beautiful sturdy tiles illustrating up to 7 locations of Japan, each location is going to feature 3 rounds of points available to collect based on the player controlling most of that region. The far left side is the point tracker up to 50.
Each player is given a single color of cubes and the matching daimyo token.
The cards are separated by color and strength. Cards are numbered 1- 6 (and a ninja!) and can be represented by red, yellow, or blue. These cards can also be distinguished by their color specific samurai.
Aside components used for actual game play, the players are given a region leader card, a bonus card, and a cheat sheet.
How to play
Players begin by randomly giving everyone a leader card, which will have a number 1- 6 on it. This correlates to a location on the map and is where you place your daimyo. Then Deal out a specific amount of cards based on the player count.
What to do.
Take turns playing a card from your hand (numbered 1- 6 or ninja) and either allocating up to three samurai cubes to that numbers region or using the value on the card as your action points (ninja places up to 3 samurais on any of the regions).
When players take turns placing cards, one rule is that players must play a card down of similar color as the previous card.
Ex. Player 1 places red 3 so player 2 MUST play a red card. If in the case they do not have a red card–so anything.
After everyone uses their turn. Add points based on who has the most control over the region and distribute points.
Like I mentioned previously. This collected dust while I avoided it at all costs. Turning my head and avoiding eye contact each time I went to my game shelf to find a new game to play. It radiated a Risk vibe and I couldn’t do it.
I eventually brought it out and was absolutely impressed.. yes, It’s still area control and yes, each player has two variable characters–one stronger than the other. But it’s so modern and fun that I regret my years I’ve missed I could have spent with this game.
The quality of the components is nothing less than what to expect with tmg. Solid cardboard and beautifully used colors.
The gameplay is simple to understand and play but heavy enough for hardcore gamers to explore. The strategy and forward thinking make this an incredible experience in my mind… And also takes far more than a few gameplay to be able to wrap my mind around.
Easy gameplay difficulty finding the best strategy to be successful. So I love it.
Joraku is fun, tactical, and beautiful trick taking board game. The modern risk–I had to say it. It’s the modern area control experience with updated content and availability for everyone.
You will like this game if your game group leans slightly toward the side ofstrategyy. It’s a great game for area control.
You will not like this game for you want something that plays quickly. Three rounds can take up to 60 minutes to complete. It is easy to play but players may find it tedious learning a strategy when playing with seasoned players.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Indietabletop. Communication major. Favorite mechanics include: Bluffing and Deduction, modular boards, and action point allowance. Favorite video game genres are Rpgs, Puzzles games, and Sim/Tycoons.