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Posted on Aug 15, 2016 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Zipang Card Game Preview – release your inner Samurai!

Zipang Card Game Preview – release your inner Samurai!

Rick Martin

Zipang Portable Card Game preview. Publisher: Engine-ID Game Designer: Ko Sasahara Expected Price: To be determined

Passed Inspection: Easy to learn. Very fast to play. Lots of play options. Can accommodate up to 6 players.

Failed Basic: A little fine tuning needs to be done to the rules. Optional rules would be nice to add more depth. No solitaire playability.

By Rick Martin

“Zipang” is one of the ancient names for “Japan” aka “Nihhon”. Zipang Portable the card game is a sweet little card game coming out from Engine-ID. The card game is set during the Sengoku Jidia – the age of civil war in feudal Japan which lasted from approximately 1467 –1603.


Zipang Portable is the companion card game to an ambitious Zipang Samurai board game to be put out in the near future by Engine-ID. Currently prototypes of Zipang Portable can be purchased on-line from The Game Crafter for $24.95.

The rules are still in development but current editions of the rules are available for download. Designer Ko Sasahara is available by internet to answer questions and is actively courting the gamer community to help play test the game and provide feedback in advance of Zipang Portable’s Kick Starter roll out. Engine-ID is also very active on Facebook.

The game is playable by 2 to 6 players. Each player has a small hand of two cards and works to defeat the other plays by either attacking with samurai, ninjas, or other character types or by using the special abilities of the cards to steal money or even bribe the other players’ characters to have them turn against their owner.

Each card is rated for Battle Points and Honor Points and is beautifully illustrated in a style reminiscent of Ukiyo-e wood block prints. Each card also has flavor text in the form of a saying for a character type and these sayings also, very smartly, provide a memory aid for the player to remember the card’s special ability. For example, the Monk’s text is “Let us end this fruitless dispute” and the special ability of the Monk is to block opponent’s attack. The card types are as follows: the Bandit, the Captain, the Commander, the Crazy One, the Emperor, the Merchant, the Monk, the Ninja, the Nobleman, the Peasant, the Princess, the Shrine Maiden, the Tea Master and the Warlord.

Each player also has money tokens known as “mangoku” which was the value of monetary worth linked to a unit of rice harvesting volume for a given province (the ancient way that the Japanese valued their money). To initiate a turn, the player has to chip in one money token. When a player loses a battle, he loses a money token to the victor. If a player runs out of money, aka his treasury is dry, he loses the game.

Combat is simple; you chose a card to attack with and a player to attack. If your battle strength is greater than the battle strength total in the other player’s hand, you beat him and take his money and make him sacrifice his hand of cards. The other player can block by using the Monk, or at certain times paying 1 coin of money or having a total battle strength in his hand equal to or greater than the attacker’s battle strength.

In addition, when either the Emperor is played or at the end of a campaign, those that have more honor points in their hands win the game.

Different cards can be played in combination to achieve different strategic goals. It is this dynamic strategic option which makes this game so much fun to play. No one game is like any other. The game plays much differently based upon two players as opposed to having three or more players in the game. While the game can not currently be played solitaire, I am actually thinking of some house rules to try out.

A typical game takes from 10 to 20 minutes to play. The rules are only 2 pages long with a cheat card available to help the players’ remember the special abilities of the cards.

The rules are a little too vague in some parts – but the rules are still in development and this is very understandable.

This game is extremely addicting. Our game group met up to play a short game of Zipang Portable and then play something else. We ended up playing Zipang Portable over and over all afternoon!

If you are interested in simple but fun card games or in Sengoku era Japan, buy the advance copy of this game or chip in when this gets put on Kick Starter! Keep repeating in your best Samurai voice while playing Zipang – “Make wa shinai!” – “I will not be defeated!”

For more information: //title=”Sengoku Zipang Website”>

Armchair General Rating: 92 %

Solitaire Rating: 0

About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!