I own a lot of Antoine Bauza games, primarily because he tends to design fun, fairly easy to learn games that are family friendly. Naturally, I was interested in trying out his latest co-op, Samurai Spirit.
I missed part of the explanation because I joined in a group about 1/3 of the way through the game when someone else left the demo (side note: it’s a little rude to just leave in the middle of a demo). But, the game was clear enough to pick up so I jumped in the action.
Samurai Spirit is a sort of unique set-collection type of game. Players are a team of samurai defending a village against an onslaught of invaders. Play is simple; you draw a card and must decide where to play it (there are a few other options on your turn but I won’t get into too much detail), but in typical Antoine Bauza form, there are twists to make your choices interesting. You can apply the card to your defense which has no effect on you, but only if an icon matches with an open slot on your player board. You can absorb the attack but will take “damage” and possibly have other negative effects, and if you take too much damage you’re out for the round. Or you can blindly place the card by the village, which won’t damage you but it risks damaging the village directly.
Players have special abilities that can help protect against certain cards or look ahead to set the deck up better for the team, but players must work together to try and prevent as much damage to the village as possible. If all the farms or villagers are destroyed, players lose.
The game has beautiful art, is really easy to play, and yes, it felt like your decisions were interesting. I would have rather played with a group of people I knew – I think there would have been a lot more discussion and planning regarding what to do – but since it was a learning game anyways I don’t mind.
It doesn’t have quite as unique a hook as, say, Hanabi, but the simple actions combined with planning, discussion, and special abilities, should make this a quality family co-op game. Hopefully I will get a chance to play more down the road; if you enjoy other Antoine Bauza games, you should look into this one.