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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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