A game of Go

Go (also called Ishii, lit. "stones") was a strategic game.

Invention Edit

Isawa Nimuro, a contemporary of Sun Tao, used the knowledge he learned from the famous general to invent the game of go. [1]

Popular Game Edit

Go was the most popular and respected game in all Rokugan, for many it became a passion. In the 9th century the Emperor acknowledged the game's importance by releasing a list of the foremost Go players in the realm. A tournament to determine the best players was held every three years. [2]

Basics Edit

It was played on a rectangular board of 19 horizontal and 19 vertical lines (total 361 intersections), with black and white stones. The two players alternated placing one stone on the board with the objective of capturing as much area of the board as possible. Once placed on the board, stones were not moved; however, it was possible to remove the opponent's stones by surrounding them. One point was awarded for each captured stone, and for each intersection controlled by the player. The game ended when it was not possible to gain any more territory or to capture more stones. [3]

This game was very common among samurai, but not as common among heimin. At some events, such as Winter court, there might be Go tournaments where a skilled player could gain a good deal of renown.

Handicap Edit

Teawari was a handicapping system that gave the higher ranked player the white stones, so the weaker player got the first move. The handicapped player was sometimes permitted to put a set number of stones into play before the game started. [4]

Equipment of Go Edit

A full Go set included the board, a set of identical black and white stones, and bowls to hold stones that were not in play. The board itself was usually one solid piece such that it had legs like a table and sat directly on the ground with the playing surface at a height that players who sat on mats can comfortably play. The stones were circular, but had a bulge such that they were much thicker at the center than at the edges. Although they were always referred to as "stones" the actual composition could be a variety of materials, and very ornate sets were made from such exotic materials as ivory, ground and smoothed clam shells, or even obsidian (although its association with the Shadowlands made many Rokugani uneasy). The wooden bowls generally held all the extra stones until a player used them in the game. The lids to the bowls were turned over and used to hold opponent's captured stones.

Go boards were usually made with the golden-tinged wood from Kaya trees, [5] white stones carved from clam shells, and black stones carved from slate. [6] The most famous set was owned by the Go Master Miya Tasumi. [2] Although an ornate set might cost several koku, smaller travel sets existed as a less expensive and more mobile option.

Significance of Go Edit

Suana playing Go

Master Suana playing Go

Because the objective was for the player to extend his control but not to overextend, many viewed Go as a game of balance. Shugenja often saw it as a balance similar to the Celestial Order, while courtiers were familiar with such a balancing act in conversations and negotiations.

Another interesting aspect was that many consider Go to be symbolic of combat: the players as generals and the stones as his/her armies. For this reason, skilled bushi often were excellent Go players. Emperor Toturi III was widely known to be the best Go player in Rokugan, but because of his position as emperor he had little time for such games. [7]

Known Ploys Edit

The following were known ploys and tactics that could be employed in a game of go;

  • The Tattooed Friend - It required one player to trust not only in his own abilities, but that his opponent would commit an error that would cause them to lose. [8] [9]

See also Edit

External Links Edit


  1. Secrets of the Phoenix, p. 57
  2. 2.0 2.1 Winter Court: Kyuden Kakita, p. 51
  3. Night of a Thousand Screams, p. 21 sidebar
  4. Game Master's Guide; 2nd Ed, p. 73
  5. Emerald Empire; Fourth Edition, p. 46
  6. Emerald Empire; Fourth Edition, p. 60
  7. Rokugan, p. 127
  8. Night of a Thousand Screams, p. 22
  9. An Entertaining Game, by Shawn Carman
  • Legend of the Five Rings; Third Edition, pp. 31-32
Smallwikipedialogo This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Go (board game). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with L5r: Legend of the Five Rings Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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