If you're playing Way of the Samurai 4, be sure to keep these tips in mind when playing. They can save you a lot of grief and replay time! Note that there will be some spoilers in here, as they help you with gameplay situations. I'll try to keep my tips generic enough that spoilers aren't revealed unless necessary.
The dojo is a great aspect of Way of the Samurai 4. When you recruit students, they carry over from game to game, so it's good to keep your dojo healthy. Once you recruit your sensei, they stay with you throughout the subsequent games. However, you have to defeat your sensei in combat on each new round to take your leadership role again.
During this combat (and any challenger combats too) make sure you do NOT kill the old man. If you do, everyone flees the dojo in horror and you have to start from scratch. This is true even if your sensei kills him by accident. Do your best to fight away from him.
Also, if you have already recruited the sensei and you kill them by accident, you lose the dojo. You can't continue with the dojo without that sensei. So you'll have to go through the whole tedious quest to get the sensei back again. So keep the sensei alive.
You start the game with an elderly smith. He wants to retire. If you don't move quickly enough to get him his replacement, he WILL retire and then you will be completely without a smith. There's no solution. You have to end that round and start again to get access to the various smith functions.
The same is true if you accidentally kill the replacement smith. Once he's dead, the old man retires, and you're left without a smith. Not a fun situation.
Male / Female
After your first pass through the game you get to play as a female character - but she comes pretty much naked. So be sure to get some female clothing on that first playthrough, so that your new female character can be clothed the way you wish. Or at least at all :).
Always carry healing items. You never know which unexpected person will practically kill you. Like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts say, be prepared!
Come by our forums and let us know of other tips and advice you've developed during your playing! Also, let us know what FAQs you have. We're here to help!