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“Hagakure”, a term meaning “in the shadow of the leaves” or “hidden in the foliage”, is a practical and spiritual guide for Japanese warriors that’s also known as “The Book of the Samurai”.

The game Hagakure is a trick-taking design for 3-5 players in which you try to score more points than any other player. The deck consists of thirty cards: villagers numbered 1-17, samurai numbered 18-27, and three “old fools” who have no numbers. (With 3-4 players, you remove cards 1-5 and 23-27 from the game.) At the start of each round, you deal 4-5 cards to each player, then place the remaining 4-5 cards in a pile called “Goze”. Each player starts with five “Nobori” tokens, each of which has a special power, and a player can choose to play exactly one of these tokens after looking at their cards. These tokens let you look at another player’s hand, swap your hand with the Goze, double your points, etc. The lead player plays a card from their hand, then each player follows, with the highest card played winning the trick, then leading to the next trick. If a samurai (a red card) is played, then each other player must play a samurai, if possible. Otherwise the game has no required plays. An “old fool” played on its own is worthless, but if a second or third “old fool” is played into a trick, then the player of the last such card wins the trick. Players earn 1 point for each trick won and 1 point for capturing the 16. A player who took no tricks loses 2 points. After 5-9 rounds, depending on the player count, whoever has the most points wins.


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