Rising Sun Review

Quick Look: Rising Sun

Designer: Eric M. Lang
Publisher: CMON + others
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 3–5
Ages: 14+
Playing Time:  90–120
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

We played several games of Rising Sun with three and four players.
The variable aspects of the components available and the
order of battles creates different options and pathways to victory, even when
playing the same clan. This even allows for back-to-back play without falling
into a situation of expecting the same outcome.
Once we got into the game it moved easily. During play, it
didn’t feel like activity was slowed down or like you needed to be sitting
around waiting for the other players. Some of the actions take place in turn
order while others have everyone doing something at the same time. Because Rising Sun uses victory points, all
players are involved until the end of the game.
The variability and fluidity of the strategy makes Rising Sun suitable for more experienced
All of our games played in the expected time limit of 90–120
I enjoyed Rising Sun.
The game is fun and challenging. Rising
Sun has repeatability of play—you can finish a game, reset, and play again
and have a very different outcome.
Our group is keeping Rising
Sun available for the game table.

Pieces for one of the clans
Winning the Game
Rising Sun is won
by scoring the most victory points by the end of the game. That part is really
straight forward. However, there are multiple ways to gain victory points. This
range of possibilities varies as play progresses through the different seasons,
phases, and game turns. Players also have benefits and restrictions,
based on the clan they are playing, which influences their choices from the options
available to them at the time.
Each player represents a different clan. The clans have
characteristics that set them apart from each other. These differences include
a unique ability, money, starting position on the board, and starting honor.
The clan selection also determines the seating/turn order around the table.
An Oni

After everyone has picked a clan and figured out where to
sit, there is some basic setup to the game. This can be done prior to seat order
determination. These are simple aspects like having tokens ready and
determining which Kami and additional season cards will be used for the game.

Spring is now upon the land.

Rising Sun is
three rounds of play: Spring, Summer, and Autumn. At the beginning of each
season there is a Setup and a Tea Ceremony. Once these are complete, the
Political Phase is followed by the War Phase.
Seasonal Setup and Tea Ceremony
Seasonal Setup is a when the board is reset to a point for
the new season. This doesn’t turn everything back to the beginning of the game.
The setup allows a reset for the random determination of order for provinces, presenting
the season cards that are available, and returning hostages.

The Tea Ceremony is a time when players can create alliances
for the upcoming season. Alliances can provide benefits when choosing actions during
the remainder of the season. Alliances can also be broken, depending on actions
chosen in the Political Phase.

Political Phase
Each Political Phase has 10 events: 7 Mandate Turns and 3
Kami Turns. These actions allow each player to prepare their clan for the
upcoming battles by placing, moving, recruiting, building, betrayal, and praying
at the shrines.
An Oni

The Mandate Turns are governed by the options presented to
the player based on the mandate tiles they have to choose from. The Kami Turns
are interspersed with the Mandate Turns and grant benefits to players who have
gained favor by worshipping at the shrines.

When the Political Phase is complete the War Phase begins.
War Phase
The resolution of the provincial battles occur in the order
randomly determined at the beginning of the season during setup. The battle in
one province is resolved before moving to the next province. Players have several
actions to choose from when going into a battle: Seppuku, Take Hostage, Hire
Ronin, and Imperial Poets.
For the battle, each player involved (there can be more than
2 players fighting for control) secretly bids on their choices by using the
money they have. They can also choose to hold their money for a later battle.
The first three options influence the battle, whereas the Imperial Poets
influences victory points.
The winner of the battle is determined by who has the
largest army, in a tie, honor determines the winner. Each of the losing players
discard all of the coins they allocated to the battle. The winning player then
distributes their allocation of coins to the losing players.
Now you move on to the next battle. Once the battles are
completed you start the next season.

An Oni

Theme and Mechanics

There are multiple ways to gain victory points. This is not
a game of area control from beginning to end. You need to win provinces, but
you don’t need to keep them. You can also gain victory points by seasonal cards,
Seppuku, Taking Hostages, and Harvesting during the Political Phase.
This makes the strategy of the game fluid. Not only between
the different phases or turns, but even in the middle of a battle.

In the middle of a
battle my opponent was able to change our levels of honor, which gave him the
advantage by switching the favor of the Kami. Because this happened in the
first battle of the season, I had to change my strategy for the remaining

Artwork and Components
The artwork for Rising
Sun is impressive. Credit on the box is given to Adrian Smith (artstation page), but there
is a team of people sharing the credits for the board and the pieces.

There are going to be
game collectors purchasing Rising Sun
just for the artwork. For people who like painting figures, the 3D printed
miniatures have outstanding detail. I saw some pictures of painted Oni and was
impressed by the detail.

The Good

  • The figures are amazing.
  • The options on strategy are complex.
The Bad
  • The options on strategy are complex. Inexperienced strategy players will start with a disadvantage.
  • Not for a lighthearted gaming session.
Final Thoughts
Rising Sun is a fun strategy game that kept us on the lookout throughout the game. It is one of our go-to games for when we have just strategy players getting together.

Players Who Like
Strategy games.
Japanese mythology.
Cool figures.

Check out Rising Sun on:


Daniel Yocom – Reviewer

Daniel Yocom does geeky things by night because his day job won’t let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He’s written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines along with stories, after extensive research. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join in the geeky fun at guildmastergaming@blogspot.com.

See Daniel’s reviews HERE.

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