Preview: Shu's Tactics

Build your tactics, devise strategic plans, and write the story of the Shu kingdom.

Preview: Shu's Tactics

Build your tactics, devise strategic plans, and write the story of the Shu kingdom.

Designed by Thinh Lehuu
👤  1-2 players
🧩  Roll-and-Write
⚖️  Medium

This is a Preview based on a prototype. Everything you read here is subject to change. This prototype has been provided to me by the designer. The prototype contains only the first chapter.


Zhang Jue, together with his siblings Zhang Liang and Zhang Bao, has declared the beginning of the Yellow Turban rebellion, wreaking havoc on cities and villages across China. Liu Bei, a young man who can’t stand seeing innocent people being harmed by the war, has sworn brotherhood with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, and is now planning to build up an army to help the government quell the rebellion. The three men have requested assistance from wealthy individuals in town, and you have decided to aid them knowing their great potential and heroic personalities. Now go ahead and join force with the brothers to become a part in the history of the Shu nation.

Shu’s Tactics is a solo campaign roll-and-write game in which the player builds military tactics to reclaim cities and lands from the Yellow Turban rebellious army. During the game, you will train your army, craft items, draw up schemes, and recruit legendary heroes to extinguish the rebellion. The player will play through a set of chapters to complete the story of the Shu Han nation.


Shu's Tactics is a campaign style roll-and-write game in which you play through various chapters with changing conditions and rules. Each chapter you play a number of rounds (for chapter one this was 8 rounds) that consist of 2 phases: Preparation Phase & Action Phase.

Preparation Phase
The preparation consists of 4 steps which are outlined on your player sheet.
1. Enemy Defense - if the flag icon of the current round shows a waving flag the enemy will attack. For each arrow still visible in the round's column you lose a stamina point. If you suffer to much stamina hits, you lose the chapter.
2. Income - You can unlock income on your player sheet that is gained each round.
3. Roll the D20 / Shift Focus - alternating between rounds you either roll the D20 or shift focus. This determines which three cards are available to you. Two of these cards are used for orders, while the third is used as a scheme.
4. Enemy Reaction - Based on the chosen scheme the weather will determine how the enemy will react.

Action Phase
During the action phase you may take as many actions as you want and can. There are three main actions you can take:
1. Advance a Track - Spend an order to advance on a track matching the order used. There are 4 main areas that you can advance in. The Drillground can be used to unlock tactics. The Forge is used to unlock special abilities, income or extra points. In the Council area you can advance based on the current weather and gain various rewards and a lot of points. And lastly if you Travel you can unlock various benefits by surrounding icons.
2. Launch an Attack - Spend an order to launch an attack using an unlocked tactic. The number associated with the order determines the range of the attack. This lets you draw an Tetris shaped tiles on the enemy field covering various benefits as well as arrows.
3. Use Scheme - Lastly the player can use their chosen scheme once per round.

After the last round you calculate your score to see if you meet the chapters Win Condition. If you do, you're victorious!


Shu's Tactics is set to be released on Kickstarter using the same model as the successful Voyages. You will pledge for the digital files of the game and after the Kickstarter campaign you need to Print the components yourself. For a first time designer this can be an excellent way to get yourself out there. I expect Shu's Tactics will have similar success as Voyages. Let me tell you why.

To play Shu's Tactics you need to print the chapter sheet and the cards sheet (used to select actions, you don't need to cut them). You'll also need a D20 die and 3 tokens (I had some spare cubes laying around that I used). After that you are ready to go!

Each chapter has an introductory story that you can read to set the context of the chapter. During the game you can also encounter other story elements where you need to make decisions (you pick one of the options) that will either reward or punish you so you need to choose wisely. I really liked the encounters and it's unfortunate that some encounters can only be accessed by luck of the die. It's unclear how many encounters there will be in the final game, but I hope there will be a lot!

Shu's Tactics definitely draws some inspiration from tower-defence games that we're all familiar with. Some rounds the enemy will attack and If you haven't done enough to block those attacks you lose stamina, potentially losing you the game. You need to carefully balance building your engine and attacking enemy field to score well in this game.

And scoring well is definitely not an easy task! It took me 3 tries to finally beat the first chapter. You definitely need to strategise and prioritise well in order to win the game as doing a bit of everything will not get you the win in the end. It's a challenging puzzle.

The Action selection uses a D20 to determine which cards can be used that round. Now in a normal game I think a deck of cards would be used for the actions, but considering that this is a PNP game this is definitely a smart DIY solution. Besides that, the action selection offers some difficult decisions as you can only use 2 cards for orders (top part) and one card for the scheme (bottom part). You also need to consider the Weather of the scheme card you choose as that will trigger a reaction from the enemy. So you definitely don't want to repeat the same scheme every round.

To attack the enemy you need to unlock tactics (tetris like shapes) and once unlocked those can be used (only once) to attack the enemy. You need to carefully look how to place the shape in the field considering in what column the next attack will happen, what placement bonuses you would like and also if you can complete rows (as that will grant additional bonuses). However the fact that each tactic can only be used once means that you can't neglect unlocking new tactics. I really liked this attacking mechanism that reminded me a bit of Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time.

Another aspect I really liked was the Travel Area. Here you can unlock bonuses by fully surrounding a section. In the beginning this will grant you at most one bonus at a time, but once you start filling in more spaces a single Travel order can give you 2 or even 3 bonuses which has a nice combo feeling.

Besides the gameplay I really like the artwork of the game. Everything looks very vibrant and it's really beautiful to look at. The icons are also very clear and explained well in a separate glossary.

⭐ Flip-and-Write / Roll-and-Write hybrid with unique storytelling elements
⭐ Tower-defence similarities with interesting attack mechanics
⭐ Innovative action selection system
⭐ Gorgeous artwork and clear iconography
⭐ Low cost for a full game with plenty of content once released


Shu's Tactics has a lot of potential. Shu's Tactics will feature at least 3 chapters and that seems to provide plenty of replayability. I'm really curious what these other chapters will add to the game and how the story continues throughout. As far as I know, one Chapter will add heroes (so far 3 have been developed) that provide special abilities that can be used. Besides that the designer, Thinh Lehuu, has also mentioned that there will be a 2 player cooperative mode and a competitive mode. Really interesting to see how that is integrated into the game.

Shu's Tactics is launching on Kickstarter July 2022!