The day started off with a trip to Madness Comics and Games down in Plano. They are having a buy 2 get one free sale so I met Mervyn Dejecacion and Nevin Ball down there. Since we always usually play each other we coordinated our purchases so as not to get duplicates. I bought Kingsburg, having never played it but Nevin said it is good, Mervyn got Android, and Nevin picked up Neuroshima Hex!. Merv and Nevin then followed me back to my house where we waited on Mark Simonitch to arrive to play a 4-player game of Senji.
Mervyn and I had played a three player game with Mick Mickelsen at BGG Con 2008 and decided it would play better with more people. BGG Con was our first time playing it so we played a couple things wrong but still were willing to give the game another go. After today I can say that it does definitely play better with more people. A random draw of the factions resulted in Mark being Purple, Nevin being Black, Mervyn Red and I Green.
The object of the game is to be designated the daimyo by the emperor at the end of the game. The daimyo is the person with the most honor at game end which ends once someone achieves or exceeds 60 honor points. Mark started off with an 8 honor Samurai so had first crack of hosting the emperor. In Senji, the player hosting the emperor decides the turn order of many phases so it is a powerful position and the rules even state "you must not let a player host the emperor several times in a row or he will soon be victorious. You have been warned!"
Mark soon added on to his lead and was able to host the emperor for 3 turns. I had tied him for honor at the end of turn 2 but the hosting family gets to decide the tie breaker. Around turn 3, one could see how the players were going to try to achieve their goals. Mark and Mervyn were heavy into collecting Hanafuda cards which are basically the resources in the game. Nevin was pursuing a balanced strategy of collecting resources and building up to attack, and I was going for a military strategy forgetting about collecting resources. In the first turn, I lost one of my initial provinces and being sandwiched between the other three players on the map I had to build up my forces, forced into forgoing collecting resources.
At the end of turn 3, I had claimed the right to host the emperor and I kept it until the end of the game. By this time I had honor somewhere in the forties with the other players in the twenties and lower. My fear was that Mark or Mervyn would make a big jump in the end with their Hanafuda card resource strategy if I couldn't end the game quickly by military victories. As the game went on my forces were slowly depleted and Mervyn moved up to a close second place with Mark and Nevin taking 3rd and 4th, 25-30+ honor points behind.
On the final turn, I was at 57 points but did not seen any good attacking prospects. Merv made a last ditch attack on Mark and closed in to around 53 points. During the Autumn phase Mark made his move turning in resources (Hanafuda cards)worth 26 points and some family members for another 6 or 7 points to jump to 69 honor points. Mervyn could only turn in a set worth 4 honor, ending up with 57 honor, and I could only muster up 4 honor with family members to end at 61 honor. I believe Nevin ended up somewhere in the forty range.
It was a great game and a nice come from behind win by Mark. I definitely want to play this one again.
As Nevin had only and hour left to kill, we played Citadels to end the evening. I completed my 8 buildings first and managed to score enough for the win with Mark a close second.