Japanese Shoguns Game

From about 1185 until 1603 Japan was ruled by a powerful shogun. The emperor was nothing but a figurehead. The shogun in charge was the guy with the biggest, baddest army to keep control through force. The ruling family changed from time to time and each of these changes was called a shogunate.

This is a Japanese shogun named Minamoto no Sanetomo. He was the third emperor of the Kamakura shogunate and the last of the Minamoto family to rule. He lived from 1192 to 1219 AD. His greatest enemies were his grandfather and mother, both who wanted power for themselves. They had his older brother assassinated after less than a year of his rule. Sanamoto lived his entire life in fear. His strategy for dealing with this was to devote all his time to writing poetry. He therefore became unimportant and powerless, never challenging his ambitious family members. Eventually he was waylaid and assassinated by one of his cousins, thus bringing an end to his line. Image from Wikimedia, public domain.

Read a few books on Japanese Shoguns and Samurai and then play this printable Japanese Shoguns Game we created.


Shoguns Game

Play a game of Shoguns. Each player is a military leader, a shogun, who is trying to come out on top in Japanese power. To win you must defeat the armies of your rival shoguns and amass more armies to yourself. 

Print the cards onto heavy paper and cut apart. If you have more players you can print the cards twice. You need:

  • A stock of pieces: marbles or dry beans. These pieces are your armies. Each piece equals ten samurai. Every player begins with six pieces, equaling 60 samurai.
  • A Shogun Card for each player.
  • One Emperor Card. The Emperor Card is placed in the center of the playing table.
  • One Castle Card for each player. Once a player has 70 samurai, he gets a castle as well. When the castle is in your possession you may roll two dice and take the higher number. When your pieces dip below 7 you lose your castle.
  • A six sided die for each player.

To play:

  1. Players each roll a die, representing a battle.
  2. The player with the highest number wins one piece (ten samurai) from each of the other players.
  3. When a player is ahead in numbers of pieces, s/he places his/her Shogun Card in the center next to the Emperor Card.
  4. In case of a tie between the highest rollers, the low rollers will each put their piece into a pot and the tie rollers will have a roll off, until only one winner is left. Winner takes all the pieces.
  5. If a player loses all their pieces they are out.
  6. The last player left is the winner and takes the Emperor Card, becoming supreme commander of all of Japan. This game could go on for a long time, so you may want to limit the number of rolls (15 or so) or make a goal army size (10 pieces or so, depending on how many players you begin with).

This exploration was created for Layers of Learning Unit 2-16.  Get the whole unit:

Unit 2.16

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