Battle for Rokugan Analysis: Looking At The Provinces
Battle for Rokugan is one heck of a game. Based in the feudal Japan of the Legend of Five Rings, it is an area control game in which the players play as one of the seven clans of Rokugan looking to gain the most honour. Honour (or “honor”, if you prefer to spell it that way) is gained through controlling the most and best areas. Areas in the game are split into Provinces, which are single areas, and Territories, which are multiple areas at a time.
In this article, I am going to make the assumption that you know how Battle for Rokugan is played and are interested in the strategy. To do this, I have spent a few nights this week analysing the game from an area control perspective. This has resulted in a 12 sheet spread sheet, several maps, and a whole host of graphs to try and figure out the ultimate Battle for Rokugan strategy. This is about to get technical.
Before we start however, I will be referring to different locations a lot throughout this article. As such, I have two maps to show you – an abstract one and a simplified one. To try and work out which clan is the best, we need to be able to refer to different territories and provinces in the game with ease.
The left image there is the Battle for Rokugan map with a number overlay. I took the image myself and darkened it in an attempt to make the numbers clearer. They weren’t so instead created an alternative. The image on the right is the image without any distractions. It is a minimalist version of the map. From here on out we will refer to this one, where the numbers with the stars underneath are the clan capitals.
Battle for Rokugan Strategy: The Data
After that, we need to look at the data. For this we look at what each province and territory contains. All this does is take a look at the province, how many points it is worth, how many land borders it has, whether it has a sea border or not, and then we get into the numbers.
Calculating Potential Force/Risk
Next, for the sake of this article, we need a method of determining the risk or danger of a specific area. For this, ignoring specific clan abilities (namely that of the Lion Clan and Crab Clan) it is possible to determine the maximum damage a faction can do per turn. Each faction plays five combat tokens each turn, and the general maximum damage this can be is restricted by the tokens each player has. Those five tokens could, in theory, be 5 Army, 4 Army, 4 Army, 3 Army, 3 Army (or Shinobi – who are a maximum of 3). This would result in a maximum of 19 damage per clan in a turn.
That means it could be a maximum of 19 damage per border a province has open, up to a maximum of 4 borders for 4 enemy players (in a 5 player game). For the sake of this we need to be able to consider provinces with more than 4 borders, as some provinces have as many as 7 open sides; so, for the sake of this “risk factor” we will ignore the player limit. Provinces with more borders have more places to be attacked from, so are (we assume) inherently more dangerous.
Lion Clan is the one exception to this as they have a 6 Army, but we won’t take clan abilities into account at this point.
Likewise, by navy, the maximum a specific clan can attack with (on an incredibly lucky turn) is 2 Navy, 1 Navy, 1 Navy. The Crab are the exception to this with additional Navy prowess, but for the sake of this calculation (and as mentioned above) we ignored the specific clan abilities.
This, to be honest, is more of an arbitrary measurement, but it is as good as anything else.
Next, we take the potential force and multiply it by the number of borders from which an enemy can attack any specific region. If we take the Dragon Province one value then we can see there are three ways of attacking it. These are through Dragon Province 2, Unicorn Province 7, and Lion Province 11. It is landlocked, so has no sea value.
This means we take our army value (5+4+4+3+3 = 19) and multiply it by 3, which is the number of provinces an enemy could attack from. This gives that province a risk score of 57.
Now, of course, you will never get attacked by more that 4 opponents, so this makes counting over 4 provinces purely theoretical; however, it is still a useful metric. If a province is adjacent to 6 other provinces, for example, then we look at 6×19 anyway. It is impossible to be attacked from all 6 provinces, but it is possible to be attacked from any 4 of the 6.
What this does is take the concept that it gives you 6/30 potential ways of being attacked, rather than 4/30. 1/5 is a higher chance than less than 1/7. Thus, weirdly, you are more likely to be attacked in that space.
For coastal provinces we add +16 as the maximum you can be attacked by sea in any given turn. There is no need to go into a theoretical of up to 7 additional opponents for this.
Finally we take off any defence given by capitals. This is removed per attacking player, turning the [5+4+4+3+3] into an effective [5+4+4+3+1].
Calculating Worth of Province
Once we have the total risk value, we can divide this per the points for each province. This gives us a worth (or “Risk per Point”) of each province. Simple.
Which Are The Riskiest Provinces In Battle For Rokugan?
Once we have calculated all of the above, and before we take Risk per Point (or “Risk per Honour”) into account we can actually see the riskiest provinces in the game. There are two ways of taking these. Firstly, these are theoretically the hardest provinces to hold onto as they have the most ways to attack. Secondly, they are also theoretically the provinces that add the most expansion opportunity.
From the above graph it is possible to realise a few things. Firstly, the majority of the territories tend to be around the “80” risk factor (I just realised we don’t have a unit in Battle for Rokugan analysis for “Risk”, so let’s just call it “risk”). There are, however, three clans that stand out.
The first is the Phoenix Clan, who have remarkably low risk, especially in the form of Phoenix 5 and Phoenix 6.
Secondly, both the Scorpion Clan and Lion Clan have a high risk of being attacked, with Lion Clan 11 being the province that is under the most risk of being attacked out of all the provinces in the game. It has 7 adjacent provinces, and no capitals offering defensive bonuses.
That being said, when we add up the risk by territory instead of by province we actually see a different story. There are more ways of attacking the Crab Clan than there are any other clan.
Which Clan Capital in Rokugan is the Riskiest?
Of course, you don’t necessarily start off with whole territories; however, you do need to start off with your clan capital. This province is likely to be your base of operation for the rest of the game, and is also probably (psychologically speaking) the province we all become most territorial over.
So, which is the riskiest clan to start with at the start of the game? Where are you most likely to be attacked from?
Well, this all depends on who starts the game where. There are a few extenuating circumstances that are worth discussing; however, the basis tells a very basic story.
How dangerous a province is will depend on who else is playing the game. For instance, if Crane and Scorpion are playing then Lion is quite unsafe. It borders both of those capitals, creating a cluster of three capitals on the board.
Likewise, if Dragon and Crab are the other two players then Crane and Lion are fairly safe clans.
Please note that these are not recommendations based on potential points or expansion, but rather they take the assumption that if you are less likely to be attacked then you are less likely to have points taken away from you.
As you can see though, all else being equal, the Lion and Scorpion clans are most likely to involve early game combat due to the sheer number of locations they can be attacked from. This includes combat with, and by, each other.
Points Per Territory (And Which Territories You Should Take)
The next thing to note, before we continue on with the full Battle for Rokugan analysis is how many points each territory is worth. This is because part of the end game is about taking territories, as you get 5 pts for each complete territory you own on top of the points within. This means we can break down the territories by how many points they are worth and by their risk factor.
From this we can already note a few things, namely that there are certain territories worth more than others. Not all territories or provinces are created equal in Battle for Rokugan.
As we can see, the Islands territory and Phoenix territories are worth the least points if you manage to control them. Likewise, the Crab and Mountains territory are worth 8 points each; however, that does not make them equal. To truly understand these, we need to understand the risk, number of provinces involved in those points, and the ratio between those two metrics.
When we take those metrics into account we are presented with a graph like the above. The Mountains are 8 points (honour) for only 3 provinces. These don’t have a huge number of open sides, making them easy to defend. Crab, on the other side, has a huge number of open sides, and the most provinces out of any territory.
Lion and Scorpion territories are next. They are risky territories, and this can help define a Lion/Scorpion strategy. Likewise, there is an outer provinces strategy. These will need to be explored in more detail in later articles, but for now let’s continue to break down the regions. For instance, we can break it down further and show, in a clearer graph, risk verses points, for going for a territory.
The graph above is kind of a double edged sword. The further below the red line the bar is the easier the points are to defend. The higher above the red line the easier it is to take territory from that province. Crane is safe points compared to the likes of Crab or Scorpion.
Points Per Province (And Which Regions You Should Go After)
Of course, as well as territories, you get points for provinces in Battle for Rokugan, and this is where we get less analytical and more strategic. The same kind of analysis can be done looking at the regions, showing the risk value per points.
There is definitely one that stands out there against the others, and that is the Scorpion Clan Province 13, which is only worth one honour and yet has six directions it can be attacked from. That makes Province 13 really risky to take and hold. Likewise, Phoenix Territory 6 is the exact opposite. It only has 3 directions it can be attacked from and is worth a value of 2 honour.
To make it simpler to see how much each province is worth we can actually map the points per province against each province.
For this graph, I have taken the raw danger value rather than “risk per points” formula. This is pure risk, with the red line being the points each province is worth.
There are thus four provinces that have a better return on investment for safety/risk per points worth.
The provinces with the best return on investment are:
- Phoenix Province 5
- Crane Province 16
- Mountain Province 23
- Mountain Province 25
Between them, those provinces are worth 9 points, and relatively secure positions in the game. It is worth taking, or attempting to take, those positions during the start of the game. In fact, if you can it is worth trying to take the entire mountain region.
Battle for Rokugan: One Game, One Million Strategies
Throughout this article we have been looking at the provinces and which the best provinces/territories in Battle for Rokugan are. The information in here is fairly broad, and the analysis fairly simple at this level – yet, it can entirely transform how we interact with the game.
By now we can look at the results above, looking at the danger factor (which is granted an arbitrary measurement related to total number of entry points into a region – which, in hindsight, would have worked as a measurement of its own) verses points, it is possible to see that there are certain provinces and strategies that start to open themselves up. There are also several questions as this article only looks at the most valuable territories to hold when we look at risk vs points. These are:
- What about supporting territories?
- If you are playing as Lion or Scorpion how do you defend those valuable provinces and where is it worth letting go?
- How do you support the Crab with so many entrance points?
- Where are enemies most likey to come from?
- How do you protect the more vulnerable high point positions on the map?
- How do you expand from a low point territory?
- How do you branch out from a territory like the Islands or like the Phoenix Clan?
- How do you expand from a low risk territory?
- Risk works two ways, as both risk of attack and opportunity – what is the best way to expand from clan territories like the Dragon Clan or Phoenix Clan territories?
These are all questions worth asking, although I don’t yet know the answers you’ll get. Undoubtedly, over time, we’ll explore them on this blog (so if you liked this analysis, make sure to subscribe!).
So, on that note, I’m going to draw this analysis to a close. What do you think of Battle for Rokugan? Who is your favourite clan to play as and why? Let me know in the comments below.