Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
A competitive samurai sword-fighting card game for two players.
A competitive samurai sword-fighting card game for two players.
170 backers pledged $7,772 to help bring this project to life.

About

Katana project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

$7,772

170

You are a samurai on a quest to become supreme military commander of Japan. Wield cards to attack, defend, and even reflect your rival’s strikes. Call upon the power of supernatural kami to aid you in battle. Master the ways of the blade to dominate foes, honor the kami, and rise as shōgun.

  •  Turn-Based Action—Wield cards to attack, defend, and even reflect your rival’s strikes in your quest to become the next shōgun.
  •  Unique Kami Powers—Summon kami, supernatural beings or phenomena capable of tide-turning abilities and kamikaze attacks.
  •  Innovative Stance Mode—Outsmart your opponent by playing the right card in Stance Mode, an action that occurs when your rival takes a turn.

Katana is a two-player only game with battles that last 15–35 minutes. The game is suitable for ages 10 and up. Gameplay is handled through cards. Each turn you use cards to take an action, respond to your opponent's attacks, and set a defensive stance. The ultimate goal is to eliminate your opponent's health to remain standing as shōgun; however, brute force is only one approach to the game, as other strategic paths are available.

What makes Katana unique is its intense, thought-provoking action. Distinct from the steel-clashing swordsmanship of medieval European knights, Japanese sword battles were surprisingly cerebral as samurai sized each other up and planned two, even three moves in advance of their opponent. The lethal nature of these encounters made samurai cautious, but effective warriors; one would think of any associated risks as well as the possible rewards that might derive from an action. Turn-based card battles correspond nicely to this, resulting in a test of wills between players eager to be the next shōgun.

Zephram joins Trevor and me for a game of Katana
Zephram joins Trevor and me for a game of Katana

Battle—Use cards to inflict damage and defend. When taking a turn, you may attack by playing an offensive card. To defend, simply play a card with a defensive value and subtract it from the attack value to determine if the hit landed. Bonus attacks can boost your offensive capabilities, whereas the ability to reflect attacks provides an edge to defenders.

Stance—After taking an action, you may play an action card face down. This is your defensive stance during your opponent's turn. When you opponent takes an action, you may reveal your stance card. However, if your opponent chooses not to attack, your stance will break and any benefit to be gained from it will be lost.

Placing a card in Stance mode
Placing a card in Stance mode

Kami—Divine beings and forces of nature called kami provide crucial support in battle. Every kami possesses two abilities: an active one that requires playing a purify card and a passive ability that is "always on." Not only do kami provide game-changing special powers, they can be called upon to sacrifice themselves in kamikaze attacks that inflict massive damage (crab bosses beware). Each time you activate a kami power, though, you must draw a shrine card. A mixture of good and bad events, shrine cards are yet another element of risk to think about when considering use of kami powers.

Purification and pollution—Japanese warriors were deeply spiritual and believed in the ritual dynamics of purity and pollution. In order to activate kami powers, you must play a purify card. Beware, though, as your opponent can prevent you from accessing your kami's powers by playing pollution cards. Fortunately, pollution can be eliminated by countering with a purify card. 

Click to read full instructions
Click to read full instructions

You can play a digital version of Katana right now using the Vassal engine. This open source platform supports recreations of table top games, which are created by users and shared with the wider gaming community. Thanks to the efforts of backer Brandon Minton—you're awesome, buddy!—Katana has its own Vassal module that you can download here. Make sure to install the Vassal client first, then load up the module to play Katana

Play the game on Vassal (thanks Brandon!)
Play the game on Vassal (thanks Brandon!)

Want to try the game before committing to a boxed copy? Pledge $1 and receive Katana—Print-and-Play Trial. Download a secure PDF with printable action, selected kami, selected shrine, and health/armor cards. Click the image to see the trial PDF (password required for printing).

Katana—Print-and-Play Trial (password required for printing)
Katana—Print-and-Play Trial (password required for printing)
Katana—Rōnin Edition with Quick Start Guide
Katana—Rōnin Edition with Quick Start Guide
Katana—Rōnin Edition includes: Action cards (50), Kami cards (12), Shrine cards (24), Health cards (10), Armor cards (12), Samurai's Guide, Quick Start Guide, Tuck box
Katana—Rōnin Edition includes: Action cards (50), Kami cards (12), Shrine cards (24), Health cards (10), Armor cards (12), Samurai's Guide, Quick Start Guide, Tuck box
Katana—Daimyō Edition with close up of Kami deck
Katana—Daimyō Edition with close up of Kami deck
Katana—Daimyō Edition includes: an Action deck (50 cards), Kami deck (12 cards), Shrine deck (24 cards), 10 Health tokens, 12 Armor tokens, Samurai's Guide, Quick Start Guide, Drawer box
Katana—Daimyō Edition includes: an Action deck (50 cards), Kami deck (12 cards), Shrine deck (24 cards), 10 Health tokens, 12 Armor tokens, Samurai's Guide, Quick Start Guide, Drawer box




Katana—Daimyō Edition XL with close up of Collector's box
Katana—Daimyō Edition XL with close up of Collector's box
Katana—Daimyō Edition XL back and interior of box
Katana—Daimyō Edition XL back and interior of box
Katana—Daimyō Edition XL includes: an Action deck (50 cards), Kami deck (12 cards), Shrine deck (24 cards), 10 Health tokens, 12 Armor tokens, Samurai's Guide, Quick Start Guide, Collector's box
Katana—Daimyō Edition XL includes: an Action deck (50 cards), Kami deck (12 cards), Shrine deck (24 cards), 10 Health tokens, 12 Armor tokens, Samurai's Guide, Quick Start Guide, Collector's box

Inititally conceived during an interaction design class in autumn 2017 at Portland State University, Katana evolved into a larger design thesis project culminating in this Kickstarter campaign. I believe in the potential for gameplay to communicate historical concepts and cultural memory in ways distinct from traditional forms of scholarly discourse; in other words, historical experiences and a sense of past cultures can be generated through meaningful play. My fascination with Japanese history led me to develop a game that does more than employ history as a setting, but actually evoke the tension, spirituality, and political intrigue of early modern samurai. By backing Katana, you're not just accessing a neat game, you're also supporting meaningful historical gameplay.

Read my in-depth making-of article on Medium

Risks and challenges

Since the game design is complete and copies ready to print, there's minimal risk in backing the project. We need crowdfunding to meet the expense of printing the game, which is why we're on Kickstarter asking for your support. We're committed to shipping copies of the game to backers this summer. Unforeseen delays are possible for reasons beyond our control. Delivery may vary based on where you live. The exact schedule for fulfillment will depend on the time needed for printing, packing, and shipping; we'll post an update on our printing timeline when the campaign ends.

Missing and/or Broken Components—If your game arrives with missing or damaged components, provide proof and we will substitute them once we verify the damage.

Refunds—An order can be canceled and refunded before the campaign ends.

Shipping—If your package is lost, destroyed or damaged, the carrier will be held responsible. Customs taxes may be added if you live outside of the United States.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Katana—Print-and-Play Trial Edition

    Curious about what the game is like before pledging at a higher level? This printable trial version of Katana is for you. Your pledge unlocks access to a printable PDF with Action, Kami, and Shrine cards, as well as health and armor cards, and a Samurai's Guide. Instructions for printing and trimming cards included. Available immediately for download.

    Includes:
    • Print-and-Play Trial Edition (PDF)
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    12 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Katana—Print-and-Play Full Game

    Ideal for those residing outside the US, this unlocks a printable PDF with Action, Kami (all 12 designs), and Shrine cards (all 12 designs), as well as health and armor cards, and a Samurai's Guide. Instructions for printing and trimming cards included. Available at conclusion of Kickstarter campaign.

    Includes:
    • Print-and-Play Full Edition (PDF)
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    13 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Katana—Rōnin Edition

    Get your game on whenever, wherever with this travel version of Katana. Each copy includes a single deck with Action, Kami, and Shrine cards. Health and armor cards are included, along with instructional Samurai and Quick Start guides packaged in a tuck box.

    Includes:
    • 50× Action cards
    • 12× Kami cards
    • 24× Shrine cards
    • 10× Health cards
    • 12× Armor cards
    • Samurai's Guide (instructions)
    • Quick Play Guide
    • Tuck box
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    26 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Katana—Johnny's Box

    Requested by a backer: the Rōnin version of Katana, but in a drawer box. Each copy includes a single deck with Action, Kami, and Shrine cards. Health and armor cards are included, along with instructional Samurai and Quick Start guides packaged in a drawer box.

    Includes:
    • 50× Action cards
    • 12× Kami cards
    • 24× Shrine cards
    • 10× Health cards
    • 12× Armor cards
    • Samurai's Guide (instructions)
    • Quick Play Guide
    • Drawer box
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    8 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Katana—Daimyō Edition

    Take up your quest to become shōgun with the definitive version of Katana. Each copy includes three distinct decks of cards: an Action deck, large-format Kami deck, and square Shrine deck. Enjoy hand-painted wooden health and armor tokens, as well as instructional Samurai’s and Quick Start guides packaged in a sliding drawer box.

    Includes:
    • Action deck (50 cards)
    • Kami deck (12 cards)
    • Shrine deck (24 cards)
    • 10× Health tokens
    • 12× Armor tokens
    • Samurai's Guide (instructions)
    • Quick Play Guide
    • Drawer box
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    59 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $46 or more About $46

    Katana—Daimyō Edition XL

    Daimyō Edition featuring an extra-large box with tray insert to organize and hold game components in place.

    Includes:
    • Action deck (50 cards)
    • Kami deck (12 cards)
    • Shrine deck (24 cards)
    • 10× Health tokens
    • 12× Armor tokens
    • Samurai's Guide (instructions)
    • Quick Play Guide
    • Extra-large box
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    30 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    Katana—Rōnin Double Pack

    Two (2) copies of Katana—Rōnin Edition. Each copy includes a single deck with Action, Kami, and Shrine cards. Health and armor cards are included, along with instructional Samurai and Quick Start guides packaged in a drawer box. FREE SHIPPING!

    Includes:
    • 100× Action cards
    • 24× Kami cards
    • 48× Shrine cards
    • 20× Health cards
    • 24× Armor cards
    • Samurai's Guide (instructions)
    • Quick Play Guide
    • Tuck box
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Katana—Double Pack

    Two (2) copies of Katana: a Daimyō Edition and a Rōnin Edition. FREE SHIPPING!

    Includes:
    • Action deck (50 cards)
    • Shrine deck (24 cards)
    • Kami deck (12 cards)
    • 10× Health tokens
    • 12× Armor tokens
    • Samurai's Guide (instructions)
    • Quick Play Guide
    • Drawer box
    • 12× Kami cards
    • 24× Shrine cards
    • 50× Action cards
    • 10× Health cards
    • 12× Armor cards
    • Tuck box
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    Katana—Double Daimyō Pack

    Two (2) copies of Katana—Daimyō Edition. Each copy includes three distinct decks of cards: an Action deck, large-format Kami deck, and square Shrine deck. Enjoy hand-painted wooden health and armor tokens, as well as instructional Samurai’s and Quick Start guides packaged in a sliding drawer box. FREE SHIPPING!

    Includes:
    • Action deck (50 cards)
    • Kami deck (12 cards)
    • Shrine deck (24 cards)
    • 20× Health tokens
    • 24× Armor tokens
    • Samurai's Guide (instructions)
    • Quick Play Guide
    • Drawer box
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    13 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)