Hit and miss
"Oh, crap. Now I'm stuck with it", I uttered as soon as I saw the Kickstarter email that notified me Senjutsu has successfully funded and collected my pledge. What happened in this case is I snatched an Early Bird Deluxe pledge on the first day it launched, then watched a playthrough, was filled with doubt, decided to un-back, and then forgot to. Now I can only hope my doubts were unfounded and it's a great solo game. Which it won't be. Because too random. Argh!
So, Senjutsu. This one came out of nowhere, none of us here at ST was aware of its existence until it popped up on KS. It was warmly received by reviewers but anyone with eyes and a questioning mind can see that the solo mode relies heavily on luck of the draw for the AI. To the point that wins and losses will most likely not feel satisfying. It won't come down to you outsmarting your opponent on the battlefield, but to you drawing a blind for the AI when a human opponent would have sliced you like salmon sashimi.
That said, Senjutsu is a beauty. Charming samurai minis, a variety of scenery, a solo campaign booklet with narrative, what's not to like. It even has a dog companion if you buy the add-on. All this will, of course, be useless fluff if the gameplay isn't fun. I had backed Way of the Samurai in the past, hoping it would be a good solo fighting card game but it ended up being frustrating due to the lack of luck mitigation. Now I'm afraid Senjutsu is a glorified Way of the Samurai and I won't be able to easily get rid of it if I hate it.
I guess I can always cancel the pledge and ask for a refund. But... what if the game is actually not bad? There are several games I enjoy despite or even thanks to their luck element. Luck makes games replayable and tense. One could argue luck also determines the outcome of fights. A skillful swish of the sword won't hurt the opponent if they dodge. A human opponent may not necessarily play better than the AI. Timing is key in Senjutsu: selecting the best moment to strike, the best moment to move away. You can perhaps read the enemy if you play against them a lot and get familiar with their deck. You can also customize your deck with cards you think will give you more advantage.
It remains to be seen. I'll be keeping my pledge and crossing my fingers I did the right thing. Made the right move. No need for ceremonial disembowelment-for now.