Pawnbarian – Shogun Guide (All Chains)

A guide for the funky Japanese board game based character. Includes tips about upgrades, dungeons, and strategic moves.

Guide to All Shogun’s Chains

Shogun Basics

As you may know, the Shogun is themed around the ancient Japanese version of chess called shogi. While I imagine having some background knowledge of the game makes learning this character a little easier, it is definitely not required (I myself have never played shogi once lol).

The Shogun has 2 main features that separate him from the other characters: piece promotion and the Dragon Drop ability.

Piece Promotion

On your first move every turn, you automatically promote your rightmost eligible piece in your hand (keep this in mind, it’s not random!). Certain pieces are unable to promote, these are the King, the Gold General, and any other piece that has already been promoted. After playing a promoted piece, it will be returned to its regular demoted state.

One important thing to note is that promoting a piece does not always make them better! While this is not the case for some pieces, others (Lance, Knight, and Silver General) will lose some of their previously available move options. Keep this in mind if there’s a specific move option on one of these pieces that you really need.

Dragon Drop

On your turn, instead of moving a piece, you can click the Dragon Drop ability instead. It will have different effects depending on how many charges you have stored. Below is a list of all its possible effects:

  • 0 charges: +1 Shield and promote a card (rightmost eligible card, same as when moving)
  • 1 charge: Unleash a Diagonal Splash around the Shogun
  • 2 charges: Unleash a Cardinal Splash around the Shogun
  • 3 charges: Cantrip (you retain your action and will draw an extra card if you have less than 3 in hand)
  • 4+ charges: +1 Shield for every extra charge past 3 that you have.

This ability is a big part of why I consider the Shogun to be stronger than the other 2 characters. It charges once per kill and has no limit to the number of charges it can store. A very strong use for this is to take out many enemies at once, and then use the ability to block the rest of the incoming damage instead of requiring a safe square to run away to.

The ability also has great use even with no charges. Being able to stack up to 2 shields without moving can be a great away to keep yourself safe during poor turns, and the piece promotion usually helps as well.

Pieces and Movement

In general the Shogun has one big weakness when it comes to movement, many of his pieces are unable to move backwards, or can only do so in small steps. Therefore, you should try to end your turns as far down on the board as possible so you don’t get trapped.

Below is a list of all the pieces’ movements, and my tips on how to best utilize them.

Pawn

Moves forward 1 square. When promoted it matches the Gold General’s movement.

You start off with 3 of these, and they’re all cantrips!

One major difference from chess is that these pieces can only move and attack forward (unless promoted). Pawns are best used to start attack chains from the bottom of the board (especially since they’re all cantrips) but are much less helpful when you’re at the top of the board. Be careful not to let yourself get trapped up there (although if you do, Dragon Drop can sometimes promote your Pawns to help you out of a bad situation). Armor upgrades are very useful on these to give you extra protection after long kill chains. Diagonal splash is also somewhat useful.

Lance

Moves forward any number of squares. When promoted it matches the Gold General’s movement.

You start off with one of these, and I don’t personally find myself using its normal form too often. However the piece can still be fairly useful when promoted, so don’t ignore it completely. The cantrip upgrade is pretty useful for it, and armor is also nice.

Knight

Moves sideways 1 square, then forward 2, all at once. Can jump over enemy pieces. When promoted it matches the Gold General’s movement.

Compared to the knights in chess, this piece is pretty underwhelming and usually at the bottom of my priorities for upgrades. I usually only use the normal form to escape tight clusters when I have no other options. The promoted form can be useful, but it usually isn’t enough to make me focus on upgrading this piece much. Armor is best for this since its best use is for escaping, cantrip can also be alright.

Silver General

Moves diagonally or forward 1 square. When promoted it matches the Gold General’s movement.

These are pretty good for helping you back up when you’ve gone too far forward. Be careful of promotions on these, as you’ll lose your ability to move diagonally backwards. Cantrip, armor, and diagonal splash are all quite useful on these.

Gold General

Moves 1 square cardinally or diagonally forward. Does not promote.

These are alright for moving backwards but can easily be blocked by Brawler enemies. Their forward and sideways movement are what I find more useful most of the time. It benefits a lot from the cantrip and armor upgrades, and is also an acceptable target for diagonal splash

Bishop

Moves any number of squares diagonally. When promoted it becomes the Dragon Horse and gains the ability to move one square cardinally as well.

This is one of the two pieces in your arsenal that can move backwards multiple spaces and is therefore extremely useful. The promotion can give it some extra utility, but I usually just use it for the diagonals. Cantrip and armor are very strong on this. Diagonal splash can also help take out Nimble enemies.

Rook

Moves any number of squares cardinally. When promoted it becomes the Dragon King and gains the ability to move 1 square diagonally as well.

Your other flexible backwards moving piece, the Rook is great for running all the way back to the bottom after a long forwards attack chain. The promotion can also help a little for some enemies with the Brawler trait. Armor is very strong and cantrip is also pretty good. You could also take a cardinal splash on this if you’re really struggling with Nimble enemies (but there’s probably better things to be bought).

King

Moves 1 square in any direction. Does not promote.

The King is a pretty flexible piece, giving you the movement of the Gold General with the Silver General’s extra backward diagonal options. While not great for running away, the King is a useful attacker and repositioner. Cantrip and armor are quite nice, diagonal splash may also help out a little.

How to Best Handle Each Dungeon

Because the dungeons have different enemies and mechanics, a different strategy is needed to handle each one. In this next section I will go over upgrades and small gameplay tips for each of the 3 dungeons.

Goblin Caves

  • High Priority: Armor, Cantrip
  • Medium Priority: Diagonal Splash
  • Low Priority: Heart, Cardinal Splash

The first dungeon is probably the easiest of the 3 for the Shogun. There are quite a few Goblin enemies with the Nimble effect, many cantrips or some diagonal splash are good for handling them. You’ll also want a fair amount of armor for the final boss as the board will quickly fill up with Blight. However, the Shogun can partially counter this with his ability, after finishing a long kill chain (particularly on Blightsacks) you’ll have a lot of stacks on Dragon Drop, this can help you build up enough defense to handle all the extra Blight on the ground.

Pro tip: Blight Matrons can spawn many Blightsacks that can ordinarily take extra turns and be annoying to deal with. However the Shogun can make quick work of them all by using Dragon Drop to diagonally blast them. This is best done as the last move of a board to save extra gold.

Golem Fortress

  • High Priority: Armor, Diagonal Splash
  • Medium Priority: Heart
  • Low Priority: Cardinal Splash
  • Do not get ever: Cantrip

Although I consider this the easiest dungeon overall, the Shogun does have a little harder of a time with it than the other 2, as he starts with 3 cantrips. However, the final boss of this dungeon is by far the easiest, as it has a wider blind spot and doesn’t spread tons of Blight all over the board like the other 2 (unless you let the Spewer Golems get out of hand, don’t do that lol). Cantrip upgrades should be entirely avoided here as every cantrip use will make the floor 5 “boss” and floor 7 boss spawn an extra unit and be immune.

Pro tip: You usually don’t want Dragon Drop to go past 2 charges here, as the Cantrip on the 3rd charge can activate Spark abilities. You’re much better off using it for some protection or to take out Brawler or Vigilant enemies.

Foul Shrine

  • High Priority: Cantrip
  • Medium Priority: Armor, Heart
  • Low Priority: Diagonal Splash
  • Not Needed: Cardinal Splash

The last dungeon, and by far the toughest one. While you will want some armor to keep yourself safe, the final boss of this dungeon is ruthless. Your best bet to take it out will be getting many cantrips (5, preferably 6 if possible) in order to chain kills and stack Dragon Drop charges in order to get extra kills off while tanking Void Grasp damage with the extra armor it gives you. While diagonal splash may be useful in dealing with some of the Brawler enemies. I didn’t find it to be super necessary here (I rarely got more than 1). Cardinal Splash can be entirely skipped here, its too much money lost for basically no value on the final boss. You’d be better off buying a Heart or diagonal splash if you have no cantrips or armor available.

Pro tip: While taking out multiple enemies with Void Grasp causes damage to you, this effect is ignored if there are no enemies remaining after the attack. Keep this in mind if you notice you’re able to sweep the rest of the board with Dragon Drop.

Chains

As Sariiger mentioned in their guide, the odd numbered chains simply increase floor difficulty slightly and usually don’t feel too different from the chain before them. The even chains however, do need to be adapted to. Let’s a take a look at each of them.

Chain 2: Leave Blight on the floor while moving.

This one is definitely kinda scary at first. At this point in the game you’ll usually want to avoid making extra moves to reposition, as doing so will further spread Blight to more tiles. This is especially important for the Shogun as many of his pieces only move 1 space at a time. Remember that on poor turns you can use Dragon Drop to gain armor while not moving, this will help reduce the spread of Blight.

Chain 4: Upgrades are more expensive.

I didn’t find this one super impactful since it only increases all prices by 1 gold. However if you are struggling to afford what you want, try considering how you could save a turn or 2 on the earlier floors (*cough cough* Dragon Drop).

Chain 6: Start with only 2 full hearts.

Since you’ll want to have as much HP as possible before fighting the final boss, it’s important for you to try and clear 2 of the floors leading up to it without taking damage. Early armor upgrades and smart use of Dragon Drop can help with this. Especially try and go damageless on Floor 1, as it’s often not too hard to do so (and if you get a bad bunch of enemies or unlucky draws you can always quickly reset).

Chain 8: Edge columns start with Blight.

This is definitely the most impactful of all the chains, as now 2/5 of the board is unsafe at the beginning. Shogun is able to work around this difficulty more easily than the other 2, as Dragon Drop with 1 charge can give you some armor while also skewering enemies diagonally. Early armor upgrades are also now even more useful.

Chain 10: Final bosses deal double damage.

The only one I found this to be tough for was the Foul Shrine boss. Make sure you have enough armor after a kill chain to accommodate for the extra hit, or else you might wind up just short of a win.