Rising Sun is the latest release that has come straight out of Kickstarter. My brother made his pledge about a year ago, and finally, last week, received an enormous box with this game in it. I thankfully had a chance to play it at the weekend, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would even go so far as buying it myself, if it had not been Kickstarted.
You see, the issue I have is that if you backed the game during its Kickstarter Campaign, then, because of the amount of stretch goals it had for hitting certain financial targets, allowed for so many amazing extras to be added to the game for the backers. That is one of the reasons why the box was so bloody big, surely because of the sheer number of models and extras that came with it. If you bought this from a shop now, then you would be missing so much, and, for me, who is a bit of a collector, or should I say, very OCD about wanting to own/watch/know everything about a particular thing that I like, then just having the core base game would simply not be enough.
Recently I have backed both the Resident Evil 2 game, and the board game known as Nemesis, which at this moment has gone over its goal by 4000%.
Both of these games are miniature based (along with Rising Sun) and contain so many extras that guying the core game does not give you no where near enough.
Take Resident Evil 2 the game for instance, if you bought it from the shop then you just get the base game which comes with 2 boss monsters, about 6 zombies, a couple of other enemies, and the 4 player-able characters. If you backed it then you get all that, plus one expansion which is another 4 zombies, 2 more bosses, more scenarios, new models, new items, and then if you add on the stretch goals, you get £150 quids’ worth of gear for £70. But of course then came the add-ons. I ended up spending £108 on mine (not including the shipping) purely because I wanted to own some of the extras that I felt were totally necessary. Some were unnecessary and felt pointless, but if you wanted to throw your money at it, then go for it, others were extra characters and new enemies, which are totally worth it for making the times you play the game completely different from one another.
It is the major problem that I have with Kickstarter. It is good in one respect as you get so much for your money, but I always end up spending well more than I originally intended to, and so much more than I would for a game. I was “umming” and “aarring” about £60 for Fallout: The Board Game, but now I have just done £100+ on Resident Evil 2.
Another annoying thing is you have to wait. I am living off of the updates from my Kickstarter app for any word on Nemesis. I want it now, but am really struggling having to wait. But again, if I waited until it was out and just bought it from a shop, then I would have so little for my money.
I did this with The Walking Dead: All Out War. I didn’t have the bottle to back it, as I was a Kickstarter virgin at this point and didn’t want to spend the extra, and I totally missed out on all the amazing stretch goals and other stuff they threw in there. Then I went to the UK Games Expo and bought the game with a few add-ons, probably spending more than I would have done if I had just backed it, and I ended up with next to nothing in terms of content. So you really do need to get involved from the start. I cannot stress that enough.
With regards to Rising Sun, my brother did about £150, but he got so content for the game, including expansions, extra monsters, upgraded tokens and cards, that it is just pointless buying the game if you did not back it.
Some of the extras are a little pointless, in my opinion, but they do really make this game look and feel amazing. Cardboard cards have been replaced with plastic tiles, and while this doesn’t add to the game, it just makes it very unique.
Other things include replacing the strongholds (player bases) with models instead of tokens, and each clan (which a player can play as) has complete unique models (4 different types in each) from one another! While this is pretty pointless as their colour differentiates them enough, the fact that they are completely unique to that clan makes it like your own personal fighting force.
Extra monster upgrades, which anyone can pick up in the game, is an add on that is properly worth it and really do mix up the game from the core set, so these kind of upgrades/stretch goals are really worth it.
This is why you need to get involved with these types of games from the ground floor and be a backer, otherwise it is just not worth it.
A good touch is that all the original components of the game are in the box as well. So you know I said that the strongholds are now models instead of tokens, and the cards are now tiles? Well they are in there as well if you ever wanted to play with them… which you would almost never do!
If you have never seen the game before, or am not bothered about owning the game, then there is a lot of amazing fun to be had with Rising Sun. I have gone an entire page in Word and not even mentioned the gameplay! As this is of course the most important aspect of a table top game.
If you take the Dark Souls game that was Kickstarted, this had amazing models and fantastic stretch goals. It came in an enormous box and you go so much for your money that, again, buying the game from a shop is completely not worth it. The game itself turned out to sound wicked on paper and in videos, but when I played it, it was crap. The boss battles were a brilliant idea and do recreate the magic of the Dark Souls games, but the bits before the bosses were rubbish. Sure you die a lot and have to restart, so it is quite similar to the video games, but in a table top game, that shit is LONG! I remember we actually just stopped playing after two hours, and we had not done anything since we kept dying before the first boss! So we were not even halfway through!
I am getting proper side-tracked. I’m sorry.
Rising Sun… back to the point!
It is an area control game set in Japanese mythology. Everything revolves around clans trying to gain favour from the gods, raise (or lower depending on how you want to play) their honour, and taking control of sections of the map to gain its bonus. You battle it out against other players, form allegiances (which can be betrayed), upgrade your units or add new stuff in, and buy cards which will ultimately help you gain enough victory points to win the game.
First of all you pick which clan you want to be, or, better yet, randomly decide. Each clan has its own unique ability, starting location, income, and honour level. Once you have set it all up (and if you are using the enormous Kickstarter version with all the extras and playing with some of the expansions, this can take a long time), then you are ready to go.
A few example of the clans abilities; one allows you to move your strongholds and they count as an additional fighting force, one clan allows you to choose whatever action you want to take during your turn, one allows you spend money to add extra numbers to your fighting force, and another only costs 1 coin to purchase upgrades. So depending on this really does mix up how you can play the game. There are so many different ways to win, which is something that I really love about this game (even though I lost when I played), so you do want to utilise your clan’s ability to its full potential in order to take advantage.
At the start of the turn you can choose to make allegiances, which gives you additional bonuses when it comes to next phase of the game. You can turn on one another during the course of the turn, but it is probably best to do that later in the game, otherwise no one is going to want to ally with you.
For this reason, Rising Sun is best played with 4 – 6 players (6 being the maximum and 3 players is the minimum). This way, with 6, three alliances can be formed. If you are playing with an odd number of players, then they do not get as many bonuses as others players in alliances would get, but then you are not limited to what action you do as you are not worried about pissing the other person off and risking them betraying you.
You then add on the locations where battles will be taking place at the end of the round. These only happen in certain areas, and so if you are in that area, you will either battle any other player in there (of course allies can join together to take on a foe) or you gain the resource of that area if there are no enemies (you gain this afterwards even if you win the battle).
Then each player receives their starting money, which they gain each season – the game is effectively three seasons long, which I will describe the turn of a season now.
Once this has been sorted, the first player is dealt 4 of action cards to pick one to play (the clan I played as allowed me to pick whatever I wanted, which was massively helpful as you are not limited to whatever cards you pick up. Also it is worth noting that when you play this action EVERYONE does it! Enemy or ally alike! But by having an ally, you gain an additonal bonus from doing this action), which can either be;
Recruit (spawn more forces out of your stronghold – the player who did this and their ally spawn an additional model). When you spawn in a certain type of model (with a white base), these can either go onto the board and count towards your fighting strength in a particular area (of course spawning into a place with a stronghold) or you can send them straight to the gods, and after a certain number of actions from players, the person with the most people on the god’s card gain their favour, which is always beneficial, but might mean you are a bit spread thin elsewhere on the board.
Marshal is the next action (move as many models as you like one space. The player and their ally can also build a stronghold in any space on the board for 3 coins). This is of course how you move around the board and send your forces to new areas. They can only go to an adjacent space, or via a sailing route when travelling over seas (one clan can teleport units to any space they like, which is of course massively helpful).
Train (purchase upgrade cards, which can either be a new monster with extra abilities or a brute fighting strength – you can also deploy these straight onto the board, or these can be upgrade cards that might be something along the lines of gaining extra victory points when models die, or maybe gaining money before combat) If you have an alliance then the cost of the card is one less.
Harvest (everyone gets a cold coin, but you and an ally gain the benefits of the lands you control, such as gaining money, going up on the honour track, victory points, or maybe ronin tokens, which gives you additional combat strength).
And then betray, which breaks your alliance and allows you to remove two models from the board and add one of yours in. Now in an odd number of players game, this is massively helpful for the player who does not have an ally, as they are just killing models and not suffering anything from it.
Some times picking these actions is not always the best course of action, as only the training action allows you to go first, the rest of these go clockwise from the next player, so you might not actually get to do your stuff until it is too late and the other players have totally changed your mind on what you are going to do.
So you want to make sure you pick an action that is going to help you and your ally, as well as not help your opponents. Of course the ally you have might change next round (as you can pick at the start of each season, you can even bribe people or offer them cards in exchange for allegiances).
So the next player picks their action and then everyone does it, then the third player picks there.
After this you gain favours from the gods, if people have been doing this, and the player who has the most models on the god’s card receives this favour. Depending on what gods you are using (as I think there are more in the various boxes that came with the Kickstarter game, maybe even the base game as well), but in the one I was playing, one granted spawning one type of unit onto the board, one gave two coins, one allowed another purchase (train) action JUST for you! And one raised you on the honour track.
(just quickly, being higher on the honour track allows you to break ties in terms of combat if a draw occurs, as well as some forces are stronger depending where you are. You can also get cards to grant you bonuses depending where you are on the honour track as well).
Once you have received these favours from the gods, the next player picks there action (then everyone does it), then another, then you receive favour from the gods again (so in-between people might have spawn in more units to bid on the gods’ favours).
Then you do two more turns of picking actions, then one more favour granting round… then it is time for war!
If I have a force of 4 models (each only counting as 1) in a location with another player who might have the same amount or more, we would then be in battle (so long as battle was occurring there this round, as a battle not taking place in a location can be a bit of a bugger if you have moved all your forces there, – which you might have done if you were actually trying to get somewhere else and didn’t have enough chance to move).
The players have a small screen (featuring all their clan’s abilities, starting money and location, as well as other things written on it) which is used to hide how much money they are going to bid on the War Advantages track. Here the person in the battle with the most money on that particular ability will gain the use of that ability. Money spent here is lost, depending on what you do, so it is always best to use it all to try and get the best possible outcomes.
The war advantages are:
Seppuku, which is where you kill all your forces (best done if you know you are going to lose) and you gain a victory point and go up one point on the honour track for each figure of yours killed. This can really work well with upgrade cards where you gain additional victory points for models defeated, and extra victory points whenever you would take some.
Take a Hostage, which removes a model from the battle. This can be a killer if you take one of the special big monsters that players has spent a lot of money on. They will also need to pay to get this back at the end of the war phase.
Hire Ronin, which allows you to use your ronin tokens to add +1 per token to your battle. So it basically increases your force’s strength.
And Imperial Poet, which gives you a victory point for each model killed. Yes you can bid on multiple abilities at the same time, so you can get both this and Seppuku if you play it right.
So after this, depending on who one, the loser loses all of his moneys from the board (these can be spawned in again next season with the Recruit action, even the big monsters).
If you won the battle, you gain the token, which will have a point value depending on what season it is, and these are used for end of game scoring, as multiples of these tokens can give you a 20 – 40 + victory points at the end of the game! (Which btw is the best way to play this game. If you can accumulate these tokens and win lots of battles, then you can smash it).
So then the new season begins, re-read the above from the point when I mentioned about picking an ally, and then once you get to this point again, re-read it once more, and that is the game! After that it is end of game scoring and job done.
Each season has a different collection of upgrades to purchase, and with the add-ons and Kickstarter content, you can get a load more to choose from, and you don’t play them all at the same time, making each game of Rising Sun really different from one another.
I think… that is it!
So the game itself is quite simple, but it takes a lot to work out how you are going to win, since there are a number of different ways you can do this.
Overall I loved Rising Sun and am looking forward to playing it again, hopefully with 6 players (instead of 4) and different upgrades and some more Kickstarter expansions.
The models are amazing, and each one is completely unique and just look brilliant.
As I mentioned, if you didn’t back this game, then you will be missing out massively, but if you do know someone who owns this game, then you need to get involved and have a crack as it is a great blast!