What is Shoudo?
The Imperial Regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi is dead, and with his death the fragile threads of peace in Japan have all but broken. His infant heir is attended by five regents, Hideyoshi's most trusted advisors, and for a time this manages to keep war at bay, if only barely. However, when one of the five succumbs to old age, Tokugawa Ieyasu wastes no time in making a play for the throne. Now all of Japan is consumed by the fervor of war, and the Sengoku Jidai roars to life once again!
In Shoudo, you play as one of 4 great clans during the Sengoku Jidai era - the age of warring clans. Your objective is to annihilate your enemy by destroying all 3 of their armies or to cripple their morale by capturing their Daimyo's castle. To do this, you must strategically maneuver your own 3 armies around the board, burning enemy territories while at the same time protecting your own. When two armies clash, whichever army has had fewer of its territories burned will have the upper hand, so you must strike a delicate balance between offense and defense.
The game board is made up of 40 Terrain cards, which are shuffled and dealt randomly in a 5-tall, 8-wide grid at the start of the game. 10 of these cards - the cards that belong to your clan - make up your lands, and they are the cards you must protect. 6 of these cards will be Territory cards, marking fields, villages, and other holdings which each support one of your 3 armies. 1 of your Terrain cards is particularly special - your Shrine card is the spiritual center of your clan, and if it is burned all of your armies will lose 1 strength, rather than just a single army. Finally, 3 of your Terrain cards are your Castle cards. Each of these is the starting point for one of your armies, and if it is destroyed so is that army. Make special note of the position of your Daimyo castle, as losing it will lose you the game.
On each turn you may move your armies up to 3 spaces horizontally or vertically across the game board. This movement can be divided among any number of your living armies, and can be used before or after taking actions. Each army may also take up to one action on each of your turns, which may be used to do one of 3 things:
Burn the territory or shrine card the army is standing on, reducing the strength of the corresponding enemy army by 1.
Attack an adjacent army or unguarded enemy castle. If your army wins, the opposing combatant is destroyed (if it is an army) or burned, destroying its corresponding army (if it is a castle). Be careful though - if your army loses, it is destroyed!
Restore your shrine if your army is standing on it and it has been burned. This allows each of your living armies to regain 1 strength.
By using movement and actions wisely, you can slowly weaken your opponent, and eventually you will be able to take their Daimyo castle, ending the game!
Thanks to popular demand, we’ve created a set of rules to play Shoudo with up to four players! This version requires two games and plays on an 80-card board, and adds elements of politics and diplomacy on top of the strategic decisions you’re used to making. Download the pdf and print it out to learn how to play this exciting new version of the game!