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Samurai Swords (formerly known as "Shogun") is another fine entry in Milton Bradley's now defunct Gamemaster Series that simulates the era of the warring states in late medieval Japan. Players control daimyo lords attempting to become the sole ruler of all of Japan. In addition to waging titanic battles, players also build castles, hire mercenary ronin, and live in constant fear of the deadly ninja that can cripple an army in a single stroke. The game is especially fun with more than two players, when shifting alliances, secret deals, betrayals, and backstabbing only add to the challenge and the fun.

Samurai Swords inevitably suffers a little when compared to the superlative Axis and Allies, which is a shame because this is a great game in its own right. In some ways it may even have the edge over Axis and Allies - it's less complicated to learn, it takes less time, and it has more replay value because unlike in A&A the starting locations of players' forces are randomly determined every time. The pieces for this game are really cool too.

Overall Samurai Swords is an outstanding strategy game worth checking out, even if you already have Axis and Allies. It has a very different flavor than Axis and Allies and is a good change of pace. The fact that you can finish a game in a sane amount of time is an added bonus.