Contributed by Daniel Villanueva. Unfortunately the e-mail address from which he sent this game no longer works. There were a few contradictions in the rules for resolving battles, so I have made some guesses about how to interpret them. Since I cannot contact the author I have not been able to verify whether these are correct, so I hope that if he finds this page he will contact me and let me know.

This is a combat card game played with a 52-card deck. It is somewhat inspired by the ccg 'Legend of the 5 rings'. 

Object of the game

Shogun is a strategy game for 1-4 players. [Presumably this should be 2-4 players, since a lone player would have no opponents to eliminate. JMM] The object of the game is to eliminate all other opponents from the game. You lose and are out of the game if you have no armies in any of your territories. 

Step 1:

Each player draws/is dealt 9 cards. 

Step 2: 

Players decides who goes first. Going clockwise, players take turns placing one card from their hand face-down in front of them in one of four spaces [in a row, left to right]. These four spaces in front of each player represent their four territories, each of which can be occupied by an army.  Players take turns placing cards face-down until all four spaces are filled for each player. This is the starting playing field. The card or cards in a territory are considered a single army.


The player who placed their card last then takes the first turn, and turn progression goes counter-clockwise. Each turn, each player performs exactly one of five possible actions:

  1. reinforce: reinforce an army by placing a card face-down from their hand onto the same territory as one of their existing armies (you cannot reinforce a territory in which you do not have any cards). 
  2. army attack: choose exactly one of your armies to attack exactly one of your opponents armies. You may only attack the opposing army in the territory directly in front of the attacking armies territory. In games with more than two players, each player plays as if all the other players are facing them directly [so if each player numbers their territories 1 to 4 from left to right, your army in territory 1 can attack any opponent's army in their territory 4, your 2 can attack their 3, your 3 can attack their 2 or your 4 can attack their 1]. During an attack, all face down cards in the attacking and defending territories are revealed and enter the battle phase - see instructions below for how to resolve a battle. 
  3. ranged attack: a player can discard a card from their hand and target exactly one card in one of the opponents territories with a ranged attack. When targeted with a range attack, the targeted card is revealed and its value is compared to the discarded card. The targeted card is also discarded if its rank or value is equal to or less than the discarded card (face cards beat cards with numerical value, and aces beat face cards [so the cards rank from high to low A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2]).
  4. move: a player can move exactly one card from one of their territories to an adjacent territory. Players can move a card to an empty territory, but cannot move cards to 'create' extra territories 
  5. draw: a player can draw a card from the deck. Reshuffle all discarded cards to create a new deck whenever the deck runs out. Players cannot take this action if there are no cards in the deck, and no discarded cards to shuffle. 

Resolving a battle

There are three types of card: aces, face cards K, Q, J which are known as 'commanders', and numeral cards from 10 down to 2. The following rules are applied in order to decide who wins the battle.

  1. If either army contains an ace, the army with an ace, or the most aces, wins the battle, [irrespective of any other cards in either army].
  2. If neither army has an ace or the armies have an equal number of aces, the aces are ignored and the following rules apply.
  3. An army with at least one numeral card beats any army with no numeral cards, irrespective of any commanders they contain.
  4. If both armies have numeral card(s) but one army has no commander, the army with one or more commanders wins.
  5. If both armies have at least one commander and at least one numeral card, the army with more commanders wins. If they have equal numbers of commanders compare the ranks of the commanders starting with the highest. The commanders rank from high to low king>queen>jack. For example K-J-5 beats Q-Q-9-8 because the king beats the queen.
  6. If both armies have commanders only, compare the commanders as in rule D above.
  7. If the both armies have equal commanders, or neither army has any commanders, add up the numeral cards in each army. The army with the higher total value of numeral cards wins.
  8. If the two armies are equally matched - same number of aces, equal commanders, equal total value of numeral cards, the result is a tie.

When an army wins, all cards in the attacking and defending territories are discarded, except for the lowest value card from either army [cards ranking as for a ranged attack]. This lowest card is placed in the winner's territory face-up. If there are two or more equal lowest cards the winner chooses one of them.

In the case of a tie, all cards in both armies are discarded.

Step 4:

Players continue to take turns until all but one player is eliminated. Eliminated players shuffle any cards in their hand into the deck. The last player left wins the game.


Advanced rules

Players can use advanced rules for greater complexity and challenge, as follows:

  • Clubs: add 1 to the value or rank of this card when attacking
  • Spades: add 1 to the value or rank of this card when defending
  • Diamonds: add 1 to the value or rank of this card when discarded for a ranged attack
  • Hearts: add 1 to the value or rank of this card when targeted with a ranged attack

[It is not quite clear how this affects kings and aces. The simplest solution would be that an improved king acts like an ordinary ace, and that an improved ace beats an ordinary ace.]

Rules to play for $

Before the game begins players determine buy-in and wager caps, if any.

before any cards are revealed from battle or ranged attack (including the discarded card for the ranged attack) the attacking or discarding player may first wager an amount of $ on the outcome of the battle or ranged attack. The defender may then also wager an amount of $ on the outcome of the battle or ranged attack. Other players not involved in the battle may then also wager an amount of $ on the outcome of the battle or ranged attack, progressing from the defenders left. [The bets do not have to be equal.]

Players then enter another round of wagering in which they can raise, stand, or parlay their wager. [So they can add money to their bet provided that their total bet does not exceed the agreed limit. A parlay bet is normally a bet on a combination of several events, but since these bets are on the outcome of just one battle or ranged attack, I don't understand what the term 'parley' means in this context.]

Once all players stand, all cards are revealed and the outcome of the battle or ranged attack is determined. Once the outcome of the battle or ranged attack is resolved. The player that lost the battle or ranged attack must pay out the players who won their wager. The player that won the battle or ranged attack is paid out by other players who lost their wager.

So if a player wagers against themselves [i.e. one of the participants bets that they will lose the encounter], the winner of the battle pays that wager to the loser of the battle or ranged attack.

Wagers cannot be placed on battles in which all cards involved are already revealed.

A player is eliminated if they have no more $. Their armies and cards in their hand are shuffled into the deck. Players that have been eliminated but still have $ may still place wagers.

Last updated: 2nd April 2018