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Sword of the Samurai is a 1989 action strategy game from Microprose Software, made by much of the same team that made the similar Covert Action. The gameplay consists of a combination of several different phases as you rise in the ranks of feudal Japan, which is achieved, similar to Covert Action, through various mini-games. Through the success of these mini-games, your favor rises and your chance to succeed your superior increases. The eventual goal of the game is to declare yourself Shogun and unite Japan. Politics play a large role in this, from marrying the right woman, to knowing when to bow down to a stronger rival.

Game Phases

  • Samurai - As a Samurai, you hold only a small fief and control only a small band of soldiers. Your first goal is usually to find a wife to bear your children, and then to rise through the ranks of respect by either amassing a strong army or committing honorable acts. If successful, your Hatamoto will name you as his successor.
  • Hatamoto - As a Hatamoto, you have a much bigger fief, and thus control a much bigger army. Gameplay is otherwise almost identical to the Samurai phase.
  • Daimyo - The final phase, you now are given a strategic map of all of Japan, and can conquer enemy territories. Your armies are bigger than ever, you must manage quarreling and malcontent underlings, and either peacefully subdue or forcefully conquer your opposition in your quest to unify Japan.


  • Dueling - A one on one sword fight. You are able to block and swing your sword in various directions, in addition to moving about a small play area. It comes in several scenarios, including training, killing cornered assassinations, or even duels from wandering swordsmen. Failure can often lead to death. Victory grants you honor.
  • Melee - Viewed from overhead, you are confronted with a multitude of enemies you must defeat. Like dueling, it comes in a variety of differing scenarios, such as infiltrating mountain bandit bases to save damsels in distress, sneaking into a rivals castle to assassinate him, or defending a village from bandit attack. Victory can grant you honor, or in the damsel in distress case, a bride.
  • Battle - A strategy mini-game viewed from an overhead perspective. You are either on the offensive, or the defensive, and can pick from a few different formations and approaches to begin with. Your army starts off as pure infantry, and can get more varied troop types as your troop count grows. Eventually you will control archers, horsemen, and arquebuses (very early pre-musket guns). The attacking side always marches towards the defending side, and the side that either eliminates or routes the enemy wins. Victory often grants you more territory, and thus a larger army.

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