An expansion for Small Samurai Empires 

As house Tokugawa rises to power, many of the daimyos prepare for the inevitable – an all-out war between the houses. No-one is safe, not even within the great castle walls.

Train your Samurai to be invincible warriors. Deploy archers, elite units and generals and use your unique tactics to bring an advantage to the battlefield. Prepare for siege and glorious battles. For glory and honor!

Late-pledge available! 

Small samurai Empires

Recruit samurai armies, deploy them across the board to control provinces, engage your opponents in battle, build castles to defend your territories and lead your samurai to glory!


“A brilliant example of how sometimes simple rules and streamlined game design can offer the framework for something really beautiful.”
Vangelis Kefalas



Small Samurai Empires is an action programming, area control strategy board game for 2-4 players.

In this game, players play as Daimyo – leaders of the great houses with the purpose of conquering Japan and becoming its most powerful emperor in history. In order to accomplish this, players will recruit samurai armies, move them across provinces to gain majority, harvest resources to enhance certain actions, attack enemy armies to take over provinces, and build castles to fortify their position in a province.

At the end of the game, players will end up with an amount of victory points depending on which provinces they controlled at the end of each era and their end game value. Whoever has the most points, becomes the Emperor of Japan!

2-4 Players, 13+ Ages, 30-60 min.

Game and Graphic Design, Art: Milan Tasevski


The game features an innovative area control mechanic that is driven by action programming, which gives you plenty of strategic and tactical choices while maintaining low rule complexity. It also features beautiful artwork and custom samurai meeples!


  • 1 x Map Board of Japan
  • 64 x Samurai Meeples (16 per player)
  • 12 x Castle Meeples (3 per player)
  • 4 x Hiding Screens
  • 44 x Order Tokens (11 per player)
  • 20 x Destiny Cards
  • 60 x Resource Tokens (30 Food + 30 Bushido)
  • 12 x Seeding Tokens
  • 1 x Score Board
  • 1 x Influence Board
  • 24 x Player Markers
  • 16 x Neutral Action Tokens  (Variant)
  • 4 x Region Agenda Tiles and Markers (Variant)
  • 10 x Mountain Tiles (Variant)
  • 9 x Shrine Meeples (Variant)


Deluxe Order Token sets are also available. These replace the standard Order Tokens found in the core game and are made of wood for increased durability and better player experience.




A game of Small Samurai Empires is divided into three Eras, and each Era is divided into two rounds. During each round, players will go through a Planning, and then a Resolution Phase.

During these phases, you will do the following:

Play Destiny Cards:
Each player plays one Destiny Card from their hand face down. Then all players reveal them simultaneously. The Destiny Cards modify the values of the provinces of each region – the more Destiny Cards a region has, the more valuable are its provinces!

Program Your Actions:

Place your order tokens face down on the available slots on the board during the Planning Phase. 

Resolve the Actions:

During the Resolution Phase, all players will resolve their actions one by one, starting from the bottom and going upwards (unless it is the 2nd round of the Era, in that case the players will resolve from top to bottom).

Available Actions: 

Recruit Armies – Recruit the samurai from the capital cities of the regions and use them to grow your presence on the board.

Move Armies – Move your armies across the board and try to outnumber your opponents to gain control of provinces.

Attack Enemy Armies – Attacking enemy armies is another way of shifting control of provinces in your favor.

Harvest Resources – Harvest Food and Bushido and use these resources for more recruitment and enhancing your actions.

Build Castles – A great way of fortifying your position in a province is by building a Castle. They also provide increase your influence in the region they are built, which at the end means more points for you!

Era End, Influence and Scoring:

At the end of an Era, for each province you control in a region, you advance that many steps on the Influence Board. To get their final victory points, each player multiplies their influence level for each region with the number of Destiny Cards for that region, and whoever has the most points becomes the eternal emperor of Japan!



Rulebook: Multilanguage (English, German, Italian)

Rulebook: French

Rulebook: Spanish

Rulebook: Dutch

FAQ and rules errata

Welcome to the Small Samurai Empires FAQ! Please read this FAQ carefully if you have any doubts about how some of the rules work in the game. If you still have any questions or would like to propose a question for this FAQ, please write us at [email protected]. Thank you!

Proposed Rules Errata

We are changing the following rules in the following section (old rule is marked with a strikethrough while the new rule is marked with red). If players are comfortable to play with the old rule, they can still use it.

Placing order tokens and covering opponents (2nd round of an Era, Page 10 in the rulebook)

Additionally, when players place their order tokens face down during the 2nd round Planning Phase, they may either:

a) Place them on a empty slot (usually in a 2-player game);

b) On top of their own tokens that they have placed in the 1st round for free or;

c) Place them on top of an opponent’s face up order token that was placed in the previous round, by paying 1 if it is your first time covering an opponent token during this round, 2 if it is your second time, or 3 if it is your third covering an opponent token this round.
c) Place them on top of an opponent’s face up order token if that opponent was not already covered in this round and if the player covering the opponent hasn’t covered another opponent already this round. When the players choose this, they have to pay 1 bushido to cover an opponent’s token.

Further explained:
This means that a player can only cover one opponent token during this round, and only if that opponent’s doesn’t have a token that is already covered by another player this round.

(Three player game between players A, B and C):
It is the first turn to place order tokens for players in this round. Player A covers an order token of player B. Then, player B decides to cover an order token of player C. Now, for player C, the only option is to cover an order token of player A, since player A is the only player that is left with tokens uncovered by other players.


Other important rules about covering opponent tokens:

I: Each player can cover each of their opponents only once during an era. So, in a 2 player game, each player can cover only one order token of the opposite player, in a 3 player game each player can cover 2 opponent tokens (one of each opponent) and in a 4 player game each player can cover 3 opponent token (one of each opponent).

I: Players cannot cover an order token of a player which will not be able to cover tokens of the other players when their turn to place an order token comes.



Example (Three player game between players A, B and C):
It is the first turn to place order tokens for players in this round. Player A covers an order token of player B. Then, player B decides to cover an order token of player A. Now, because all of the opponents of player C have been covered by another player, player C cannot cover an opponent.


II: You cannot place an order token on another token that was placed this round (a face-down token).

III: Players may still play out the corresponding neutral actions when they place their order tokens, but only after they have paid the bushido cost for covering a token.


General Rules Questions:

Q: What does “Move by Ship” action do? What does it mean to move from any coastal province to another?
A: The “Move by Ship” action allows you to move up to 2 armies from any single coastal province to another single coastal province. Basically, the armies that you want to move this way must be in the same coastal province and must end their movement in the same destination coastal province.

Q: Once you have revealed your action and it’s no longer advantageous for you to take such action anymore, could you choose to simply not do it or do only part of it?
A: When it is your turn to resolve an action from your order token, you may choose to take a partial action (if the action allows it) or not play the action at all.

Q: Do I have to use the full movement on the movement tokens?
A: No, you don’t need to use the full movement points from a Move action. You may choose to use some movement points or none.

Q: What is the difference between a province and a region?
A: A province is one single territory on the board. A region is comprised of all provinces of a single color. There are 4 regions on the board:

Gray region (with 6 provinces)
Orange region (with 7 provinces)
Green region (with 6 provinces)
Purple region (with 4 provinces)

Order Token Placement Questions

Q: During the second round of an Era, do you get the neutral (placement) bonuses if placing on a space like in the 1st round? Do you need to pay bushido or food to play the neutral actions?
A: Yes, you can choose to immediately play the neutral action linked to the order token slot when you place an order token in the 2nd round of an Era. Additionally, it doesn’t matter if you place an order token over one of your own order tokens or over one of your opponents’ order tokens – you still get to play the neutral action associated with the order token slot.

It is not mandatory to play the neutral action.

Neutral actions are free – you don’t need to pay resources in order to play them.

Q: Do I have to pay bushido to cover my own order tokens during the 2nd round of an Era?
A: No, covering your own order tokens is free.

Q: When covering your tokens, do you count that as part of the 1 token cover per Era limit, or could you cover 1 token from your opponent and as many as possible of your own within the same Era?
A: Covering your own order tokens does not count towards the order token cover limit per era (please see Errata above for this rule).

Castles Related Questions

Q: Are you allowed to build a castle in a province’s Capital (starting point)?
A: No, you are not allowed to build a castle in a Capital City Province.

Q: How many castles can there be in one province of a region?
A: There can be only one castle total in a province.

Q: Can 2 or more players build a castle in the same region?
A: Yes, however, the castles would need to be built in separate provinces within that region.

Q: Are castles counted for the shrines majority? For instance if there a province with a shrine with no samurais at all but one of my castles in it, will I still get one point for that shrine even though I don’t have any meeples in that province?
A: Yes. This is because when checking for control over a province, castles give you 2 power (the same as you would have 2 samurai armies in the province). So if a player has only a castle in a province and no other player has 2 or more armies there, the player with the castle controls that province.

Q: Can I attack a Castle? If I get two hits action, can I destroy it?
A: No, a castle cannot be attacked nor destroyed.

Scoring and End of Era Questions

Q: In a 2 players game in the step 4 of the Era End Phase, when we add bonus points according most provinces in control, will a player that controls zero provinces in a region gain points for being in second place?
A: No, if a player doesn’t control any province in a region, they will not gain any bonus points.

Q: At the end of the game there are zero grey destiny cards. Is it correct that the multiplier for the grey region stays 0 (zero)?
A: That is correct.

Q: Does the Sacred Shrines variant replace the regular shrine scoring?
A: Yes, when playing with this variant, simply use the variant’s scoring.


Click to watch on Youtube ▶️

A brilliant example of how sometimes simple rules and streamlined game design can offer the framework for something really beautiful.

Vangelis Kefalas, Epitrapaiozoume.gr

Click to watch on Youtube ▶️

“To have so much strategy with so little actions… it is just mindblowing!

Danijel Ljubas, Life of a Board Gamer

Click to watch on Youtube ▶️

“If you are looking for an area control board game with new unique mechanisms, then you should definitely  take a look at Small Samurai Empires!”

Thomas Jacob, Brettspiel Hero


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