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Rising Sun Strategy: Koi Clan

The Koi Clan from Edo – fantastic fighters based within the heartland of Feudal Japan – warriors who are destined to be feared and respected on the battlefield. What is more, this is reflected in their Rising Sun strategy, as they are arguably more combat heavy than any other clan in the game.

It has literally only been a few days since I wrote the initial review for the CMON/Eric Lang game Rising Sun, but I want to get this down whilst I can still remember it. I played as the Koi Clan, and did really well in the game, so I wanted to share a strategy that worked well when playing as the Kois.

Before we begin, however, a brief rundown of the Koi Clan and what their special ability is during the game.

Koi Clan – Where Do They Fit Into Their Rising Sun Strategy?

The Koi Clan have a really interesting ability within the game of Rising Sun. Like all clans, they have their own unique power; however, unlike with the other clans their ability is more focused around combat than any other part of the game. This means the Rising Sun strategy for a clan like the Koi Clan focuses around keeping control of the War Phase, and in order to do that they have to play the Political Mandates just right.

Let’s take a look at the ability of the Koi Clan –

Eddies in the Stream – You may use coins as Ronin. At the start of the War Phase, convert all your Ronin to coins.

Rising Sun Strategy

The Koi Clan Screen

The implication of the Koi Clan is quite staggering when you sit back and think about it. The whole of the War Phase can be controlled and paid for with the right amount of money. It becomes possible to have 14 – 15 force in a battle, especially later on during the Autumn Season, even if you only have one miniature in a region. It’s incredible.

This means that, for the Koi Clan, there is a strong strategy surrounding preparing for that War Phase, beginning with deciding upon allies in the Tea Ceremony, to choosing the right Political Mandates.

Tea Ceremony – Deciding Upon Allies

When playing as the Koi Clan there are one or two clans who it isn’t a great idea to become allies with, and there are a couple where becoming allies seems natural. Remember that you need victory points and you need those points from dominating combat. This means the Koi Clan are a naturally aggressive clan. As such, they don’t team up well with the Turtle Clan. The reason for this is because you need to be able to kill miniatures off, rather than just incapacitate them in combat, in order to gain extra points. Where you won’t necessarily always be bidding on the Poets of War, it is nice to have the option if you can spare the coin.

The other one is the Dragonfly Clan. Where they have the ability to move anywhere, the Dragonfly Clan and the Turtle Clan may find it tempting to move into Oshu for easy points. Dominance in Oshu is exceedingly valuable, especially for the Harvest Political Mandate which, if you play it, will allow for you to take the three coins it offers.

Instead, good allies include those who will either divide your enemies forces, draw attention, or who are boxed in at the start of the game. This latter category can build up a lot of force within a small space of time in one area, making them strongholds, but unlikely to cause huge problems for you later on. An alliance will encourage them to push out and hopefully divide the forces against you, once again.

What this means is that the Lotus and Bonsai Clans make good allies as they can provide pressure in the centre of the board (around Kansai) with relative ease. The Bonsai Clan can also put pressure on the Dragonfly Clan if needs be.

In the Kickstarter version of the game, the Fox Clan make incredibly powerful allies, as they can put pressure on the Turtle Clan. The Turtle Clan, with their walking fortresses, are likely to try to take Oshu for their own. They need their attention split. Where you can never rely on your allies in Rising Sun, it is a strategy that can make the Turtle Clan feel uncomfortable.

Rising Sun Strategy: Koi Clan Pieces

Koi Clan pieces.

Political Mandates – Building Your Forces

In the second phase, the Political Mandates, it is important to build your forces; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean increasing the number of miniatures you have on the board. As tempting as Oni or Monsters are, their base force is only 1 each, meaning the money they cost is actually more valuable as potential Ronin.

Out of the five different mandates, there are only a few you will ever need the second action on. These, if you come across them, are valuable to play. The ones to look out for are:

  • Marshall – It is useful to have more than one stronghold in the game as it means you can generate more recruits. More recruits mean gaining a presence in more regions. More regions means more war and more end game points.
  • Recruit – Although you only need additional miniatures/units to gain a presence in regions, you can use the additional recruits to create Shinto and get them to worship Kami. The reason for this is some Kami reward money or Ronin (like Hachiman or Fujin), both of which are valuable to the Koi Clan Rising Sun strategy as they are effectively the same thing.
  • Harvest – Maintaining control of Edo is a must for the Koi Clan. Edo is worth two victory points and two coins per harvest. Oshu is worth an additional three coins if you can gain that as well.
  • Train – This is arguably the most important Political Mandate for the Koi Clan. What you are looking for is War Upgrades. There is no need for anything else, as realistically money and Ronin are all you need. This includes cards like Way of the Money Lender (+5 coins at the start of the War Phase), Way of the Shogun (+3 coins at the start of the War Phase) which can be bought twice, and any card that gives Ronin at the start of the War Phase.

Note that there are only two Train mandates, which means an alliance with the Lotus Clan could be a great Koi Clan strategy. They can turn political mandates to anything they want them to be.


The Koi Bushi can face incredible odds and still win.

War Phase – Hire Ronin

One of the greatest things about the Koi Clan is that they don’t need to be physically imposing on the board to be threatening. With a bit of luck it is possible to start each combat round with around 18 coins.

Keep focus on how much money your opponents state they have at the beginning of each combat phase. Keep in mind how much they are likely to place on each War Phase action, even though the odds are you will be the dominant financial force on the table by this point. All you need to do is place a decent sized bid on hiring Ronin. If they only have one or two coins then place two or three coins on that space. Make sure to get the money-Ronin onto the table.

Next, you enter combat, and put as many coins as you want as Ronin. Use as many as you need to win the combat.

The best thing is, whatever coins you use as Ronin behave as Ronin, meaning you don’t spend them in any one combat. Instead, they go back into your pile afterwards, to be both coins for bidding and Ronin in future combats.

If you can’t win the combat with Ronin alone, due to the opponent having a monster or Oni who are worth force, then using the hostage action can not only help gain points but also remove that Oni/monster from the battle. This is a great way of removing the Water Dragon or another such strong beastie. Then use the same hiring Ronin strategy.

Use this strategy to win combat in as many regions as possible. Use additional coins you don’t need to try to get additional points through the Poets of War.

The Koi and the Turtle Clans taking on each other in Kyoto.

The Koi and the Turtle Clans taking on each other in Kyoto.

The Risks of this Strategy

As the Koi Clan, seppuku as a way of gaining honour (if you play the above strategy) will probably not be an option. This means, be aware that your honour will likely fall during the course of the game.

This does make the Koi Clan vulnerable to draws, so before going into combat be sure you can defeat your opponents. Be sure to overbid (only slightly) if you can afford it.

Conclusion for the Koi Clan Rising Sun Strategy

The Koi Clan are a really fun clan to play in Rising Sun because their strategy requires a lot of balance. Ultimately, whether the Koi Clan are successful or not is down to mathematics. It requires planning the combat phase out before it actually happens, something which sounds like an impossible task but which is actually really do-able.

Other than that, just remember that for them money is the core crux of their strategy. Build your wealth and, with that mentality, you can charge forward into battle undefeated.

So, what do you think? Which is your favourite clan to play in Rising Sun? What do you think of this Rising Sun strategy? Let me know in the comments below.

Other articles in this series:
Turtle Clan Strategy

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