The Hagakure describes the samurai's code of honor. In the game of the same name by Board Game Box, however, it is less about fighting and more about eliciting as many tricks as possible from one's opponents with tactical skill. The number of rounds is limited depending on the number of players. The game is suitable for three to five players aged ten and up.

Nobori tokens for all - the game setup

For the game setup, the hand cards are distributed according to the number of players. For three or four players, certain cards are removed from the set beforehand. An overview card ensures that the instructions do not have to be consulted for every game. Each player also receives the Nobori chips of one color face down.

Banzai - Into the fray

The game is played clockwise starting with the player sitting to the left of the dealer. The number of rounds is defined by the number of players. With three players, nine rounds are played, with four players eight rounds are played, and with five players five rounds are played. Each round consists of three steps:

  1. Nobori tokens
  2. the fight
  3. evaluation

Nobori tokens

In the first step of a round, each player can play one Nobori token. Used skilfully, Nobori tokens have a tactical influence on the round and the final result. The following options are open to the player once:

  • 2x : Double the points in this round. You should be sure that your cards have a high value, because if you don't score a point, you will get four minus points instead of two.
  • 0 points: A player is awarded zero points for the round, no matter how many tricks he makes. This chip is very powerful and should be played cautiously (in our round we made the house rule that the chip may only be used once against each person per game).
  • Villagers: If there are 4 villagers among the winning tricks at the end of the round, two additional points are awarded
  • Swap: The player may swap his cards with the Yomi (pile of undistributed cards).
  • View: The player can look at the cards of the Yomi or the cards of a fellow player.

The fight

There is only one rule for playing a card: if a samurai is played, it must be served, and the old rogues are also considered samurai. Of course, since Hagakure is a trick-taking game, the cards all have a certain value. The villagers have the points from one to seventeen, the samurai from eighteen to twenty-seven and the old rogues count zero points.

Despite their low value, the old rogues have a special role: if an old rogue is played and at least one old rogue is added in the round, the player who plays the last old rogue wins the trick. It is also worthwhile to get hold of the lowest Samurai. This brings an additional point in the scoring.


Once all cards have been played, the scoring begins:

  • For each trick the player receives one point
  • The player with card number 18 receives an additional point
  • A player without a trick receives two penalty points (-2)

The points are noted on the block and the round starts again. After the last round the final scoring follows.

Conclusion from the old rogue

Especially the newly awarded Kennerspiel des Jahres 2020 shows that, contrary to many other opinions, stitch games do not have to be old-fashioned. Also Hagakure is such a classic trick-taking game. The Nobori chips give the game a tactical component, which is cleverly used over the limited number of rounds. The short manual is written in an understandable way and guarantees a quick start into the game. For individual components (Yomi, Nobori ...) in the game, the German meaning can be found in the instructions.

Overall, the game material is very high quality and beautifully illustrated. The theme of Japan is fresh and unspent, but not decisive for the game and mechanism. If you are looking for a small, easy to play (trick) game for the vacations, you can get it without hesitation.

Hagakure was kindly provided to us free of charge by Board Game Box. This has no influence on our rating.

Players: 3-5 | Age: 10+ | Playing time: 60 min | Published: 2020
Author: Frank Crittin, Grégoire Largey | Artwork: Claire Conan | Verlag: BOARD GAME BOX AG
Additional Informationen: boardgamebox.life/de/portfolio-item/hagakure

  • 31 Cards
  • 25 Nobori tokens
  • 1 Scorepad
  • 1 Rules

The Hagakure, literally “in the shade of the leaves” or “hidden in the foliage”, is a practical and spiritual guide for Japanese warriors. Hagakure is also called the Book of the Samurai.

competitive Trick Taking Japan Analog Games
17.07.2020 - Stefan

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