Rising Sun Strategy: Turtle Clan
Hard as the mind. Delicate as steel. Such is the mantra of the Turtle Clan, one of the toughest factions within Rising Sun, the Eric M. Lang miniature-based board game published by CMON (Cool Mini or Not). Recently, I had the honour of playing Rising Sun with friends, and I was introduced to the vast world that is the Rising Sun version of Japan/Japanese Mythology. In great beardy gamer tradition, I thought it would be time to discuss the optimised strategies for a few of the factions within the game to work out precisely how they should play. In the last strategy article, we looked at the Rising Sun strategy for the Koi Clan, and so now it is time to look at the faction that often causes the Koi Clan the most grief on the table. Now it is time to look at the Turtle Clan, and the strategies they allow.
Turtle Clan – What Is Their Rising Sun Strategy?
The Turtle Clan are really unique in the world of Rising Sun. Where all factions have interesting abilities, the Turtle Clan have one that makes them a force to be reckoned with, especially near the start of the game. Their ability is:
Shell of the Eternal – Your Strongholds count as 1 Force and can Move as if they were figures.
What this means is that, although the Turtle Clan’s strongholds are not figures (meaning they cannot be the victims of either Seppuku or taken Hostage), they have the ability to add force to combat as if they were. As well as that, they can move, allowing for the Turtle Clan to remain mobile through the game. They can build a force in one area, move, and build another elsewhere. Alternatively, they can place units elsewhere before collating all their fortresses in one area to just take it over.
As a clan, the Turtle Clan start with a fairly middle-of-the-road honour (or “honor” if you prefer that spelling). They also start off with Kyoto, which is the middle of the map. What this does is make them fairly vulnerable to attack from all angles, however, it also offers an incredible opportunity for growth – an opportunity that needs to be grasped with both hands in order to optimise the Turtle Clan strategy.
Of course, Rising Sun is split into a few different phases, and so we’ll explore each of those different phases individually in this article.
Tea Ceremony – Deciding Upon Allies
Who you side with during the Turtle Clan tea ceremony depends on the type of game you want to play. There is no huge need to weaken any specific clan in particular, but there are a few things you can do to watch your six.
For instance, siding with the Koi Clan will protect you from their phenomenal ability to turn coins into Ronin. If the Koi Clan is being played right they can defeat almost every faction with that ability, meaning it’s important to either keep them on your side or know when to fold.
In the Kickstarter, the Fox Clan are right on the Kyoto doorstep, in Kansai, making them an immediate threat. An alliance could, once again, keep them off your back. Alternatively, a pairing with the Lotus Clan in Nagato can keep them busy. This will force the Fox Clan to have to choose which way to focus their attention.
Also, keep in mind that the Lotus clan will need to expand at some point, and the only place they can go is Kansai. This may end in tears later on as, if they stay confined, the Lotus Clan will build up a force within their home territory that will make them difficult to deal with.
The same idea can be said, to some degree, with the Bonsai and Dragonfly clans. Where they won’t necessarily be of much direct help, they will be able to put pressure on the clans around you. Dragonfly can put pressure on anywhere on the board thanks to their ability, with the Bonsai Clan being able to put pressure on the Fox or Lotus Clans.
Finally, depending on how you want to grow as a clan, you can ask the Bonsai Clan to keep the Dragonfly Clan busy, to reduce competition for the Oshu region (which will probably have the Turtle, Koi, and Dragonfly clans interested), or the Dragonfly Clan to keep the Bonsai Clan busy from Nagato, which would otherwise have the Lotus, Bonsai, and Turtle clans after it in the standard game. This is a bit more redundant in the Kickstarter as the Fox Clan may very well be in the way.
Whoever you decide to ally with, make sure that it coincides with your number one goal as the Turtle Clan – conquest and expansion. Also, keep in mind how important allies are, as they double the extra abilities you get from the Mandates each turn. There is no point in your only being able to build one stronghold out of stubbornness, when you could build two.
Political Mandates – Building Your Forces And Your Fortresses
Rising Sun has a really interesting Political Mandates round because every player is trying to play the game differently. The precise combos change from clan to clan.
It almost goes without saying that, for a Clan whose fortresses not only get the benefits of being strongholds, but also the benefits of being a unit (without the downsides in regards to hostage taking), that the Marshall and Recruit mandates are incredibly important. More importantly, however, it is important to gain the second/ally action from the Marshall mandate so you, as the Turtle Clan, can start to build your forces.
Try and play the Marshall mandate before playing Recruit. This is because Recruits gets better the more strongholds you have. Use the Marshall ability to also move fortresses and expand. Spread out and try to get in front of the players who have a stronger end game (like the Koi Clan) earlier on.
The biggest strengths of the Turtle Clan is that (a) they get a fairly large seasonal income and (b) they are pretty good all-rounders for the game. That being said, since their main strategy is to build and maintain strongholds, using them for massive gain throughout the game, they will need to spend at least three, and preferably six, coins throughout the turn. This means two things.
The first is that income needs to be managed carefully. Throughout the game, there are moments where money is useful, and bidding it during the War Phase is one such time. You don’t want to have nothing to bid.
The second is that there needs to be additional ways of gaining income each turn. War upgrades are one such way, and purchasing them would keep them out of the hands of the Koi clan.
The other useful tool for the Turtle Clan is to move a stronghold/Bushi into Oshu and then use the Harvest mandate. This will then gain you victory points from Kyoto, and coins from Oshu. Another option, if the Koi clan isn’t in play, is to also go for Edo, which is worth an additional couple of victory points and two more coins.
It is because of this that sending Shinto to worship a Kami such as Tsukyomi is a wise move. Tsukyomi gives two gold to whoever has the most Shinto on him. Later on, Susanoo is another Kami worth worshipping because he gives victory points per stronghold, and hopefully, those points can make all the difference to the game.
Keep an eye on the Season cards that can be purchased throughout the Mandate round. This includes Way of the Ronin, which allows for additional reinforcements in a region for combat (likewise, Hachiman is a great Kami for battle reinforcements). Another card that I have seen mentioned (most notably here) but haven’t seen played is Way of the Builder, which allows the Turtle Clan to participate in building strongholds even when it isn’t their Mandate and they aren’t allied with the faction who is playing the action.
There are a few others, that I haven’t even seen, mentioned in this BGG post, that are worth looking at. As I play more of the game I will undoubtedly update these strategy articles.
War Phase – Fighting With Fortresses
Ahh the War Phase. It’s an interesting phase at the best of times, being the best time to gain victory points during the game for most of the factions. For the Turtle Clan it isn’t any different. That being said, the War Phase needs to be played just right.
You see, the Turtle Clan shouldn’t be treated like any other Clan, and this is because of their amazing stronghold ability. The fortresses/strongholds are units that can never be taken, can never be replaced or betrayed, and who can never (ever) die. This makes them valuable, but also a little bit annoying at the same time.
First, let’s get the annoying bit out of the way, the Turtle Clan strongholds cannot commit Seppuku. They are not able to kill themselves for honour. Instead, they just kind of stand there, unaffected by the world around them.
Or, they would stand there if this didn’t make them complete juggernaut superbeasts bent on world domination, or something like that.
The way to view the Turtle Clan strongholds, in the game of Rising Sun is as indestructible units. They allow for you, as a player, to always have a military presence in a region with the same benefits of being allies with someone. The Turtle stronghold, once on the board, cannot be removed in any way. It cannot be killed. It cannot be taken hostage. It cannot be replaced using the Betrayal mandate. This makes them hugely valuable resources.
There is a Turtle Clan strategy that is based on, and revolves around, the Ronin. It revolves around using the strongholds as forces and presences in their own right, whilst using Ronin to back them up. Due to the lack of substantial money each turn, however, it is possible to lose the Ronin bid to other Clans (the Koi Clan would, once again, likely to go for the use of Ronin). A more preferable option with the Turtle Clan is to use real troops and even Oni for a more traditional War Phase. It is because of this that Oni/Monsters like the Water Dragon work well.
Use the fortress to add additional power to battles, understanding that you can never lose them. This allows for the Turtle Clan to bounce back from any defeat, as well as makes them less appealing to invade against in the long run. There is no way that an enemy can fully take a Turtle Clan region if there is a stronghold in that region. They will need to fight every War Phase, they will need to use resources.
In regards to what actions to bid on, Seppuku, as mentioned before, can kill off your non-fortress units but it will never fully concede a battle. Keep in mind that your opponent can still gain points even if you kill your units off, and there will still be a battle due to the stronghold. Hiring Ronin is useful if you want to bolster your fortresses.
Hostage is, of course, an option. It is a way of reducing the enemy power, being a way of taking unwanted Oni/Monsters off the board.
The other thing to go for is the Poets of War, and just hope for the victory points at the end of the battle. Turtle Clan battles are likely to be bloody, so keep that in mind when you are fighting, especially against a clan like the Fox Clan (in the Kickstarter version). Taking points from losing battles is a valid strategy for them.
Conclusion: Rising Sun Strategy for the Turtle Clan
The Turtle Clan are one of the more neutral and open clans in Rising Sun as their ability does not so much dictate their strategy but more opens up their style of play. They can be highly aggressive if they want, getting into every battle they can. They can be expansionist if that is a route they would rather go down, using fortresses to spread far and wide across the board. Alternatively, they can create fantastic strongholds of regions that are impregnable by any faction, letting enemies come to them. The possibilities are vast and varied.
Play them how you want, but keep in mind the power of those walking strongholds. They cannot die, and that, if played right, is the greatest strength of the Turtle Clan.
So, how do you like to play the Turtle Clan? Are they a faction you enjoy? What is your favourite faction to play? Let me know in the comments below.
Other Articles in this Series:
Koi Clan Strategy