Category Archives: Ronin

Ronin (02/08/2014 – Tom)

Ronin

Ronin

This was our first game of Ronin with full strength squads and we chose the Skirmish scenario again. The objective was to kill enemy models, but both of us rolled the same secondary objective – neither side could lose more than 25% of their starting strength to score 5 extra VP , so 3 figures lost each would forfeit this bonus. There were to be 8 turns in the game.

Sohei faction

Sohei faction

We both tried long range fire with our archers while advancing but this was ineffectual. We knew from out previous game that arquebus shots at long range weren’t great, and added to the fact that you had to stand still and re-load for a whole turn meant that you were only likely to get 2 shots a game (if that), we reserved the black powder for up-close. When we did get close enough, all the rolls were pathetically low and had no effect, even though they ignored medium and light armour bonuses and treated the Samurai’s heavy armour as light. From memory, I think the best result in the whole game from missile fire was a stunned result!

Sohei attack

Sohei attack

I lined up a few flank shots while positioning my other troops along a road, hoping to gain an advantage by ganging up on someone.

Melee develops

Melee develops

As it turned out, I did get a 2-on-1 against a Samurai, but he went all defensive and I couldn’t land a hit on him. The Samurai leader took one of my Initiates apart, leaving him grievously wounded while my leader failed to even dent the armour of the Ashigaru he was fighting. I managed to put a light wound on the remaining Samurai and my last Sohei Monk also wounded his opponent, though both ended the melee stunned.

Hand-to-hand

Hand-to-hand

The game turned into a slogging match as we abandoned tactics and both piled more figures into the central melee until we ran out of turns. The end result looked a draw as I killed the Samurai Hatamoto with a lowly Initiate on virtually the last roll of the game – in fact it was a draw in terms of figures killed though we both forgot until later that one of Tom’s samurai had taken a head as an action and that meant that he scored 1 extra VP and took the game.

The Initiate fells the Hatamoto

The Initiate fells the Hatamoto

As a one-off game this fighting to the finish was OK, but if it were a campaign game then the number of badly wounded I had would have counted against me in the next game, so I would have disengaged a lot earlier. This is not a game for those who dislike tokens on the table – there was blood (tokens) everywhere due to the number of wounded. Some figures’ talents give the chance to re-roll both attack and defence dice – in the Samurai’s case these had a huge effect on the game – I lost count on the number of times they rolled a 1 on a defence roll so I thought I had them, only to re-roll and get a decent score which blunted my attack. Eventually their luck ran out when the Hatamoto rolled two low scores in a row and was killed by a lowly arqubusier. My Sohei Monks were fearless so didn’t have to roll for morale, but it seemed mighty hard to force a morale test – I will definitely give them a weapon skill for the next game which gives them a re-roll.

I’m still undecided on these rules. I have some ideas on how to speed up the calculations needed for every attack which to me seems to me to be the part of the rules which slows things down. Alternatively, the Lardies’ Summer Special has an article on how to modify Dux Britanniarum  for Samurai which I might try (subject to not having to paint loads more Samurai of course 🙂 ) <edit> and also I’m forgetting the upcoming “Daisho” rules from the chaps who gave us “In Her Majesty’s Name”  – looking forward to those.

 

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Ronin (09/03/2014 – Tom)

Clash outside the building

Clash outside the building

I’ve been toying with the idea of a Samurai game for a long while now and even bought some Dixon figures over 20 years ago with this in mind, but they never saw a brush. When the Ronin rules arrived from Osprey I tried to resist (I do not need yet another period!), but then someone bought me 2 of the North Star factions for Christmas and we were away. This is not a bad path to go down as Dave Bickley, the author of one of my favourite sets of ACW rules, is working on a Samurai set which look like they are a lot of fun and don’t need that many figures – see his Tales from GHQ Blog . If I’m going to paint up Samurai I want to use them as much as possible 🙂

So, me being me and having to paint complicated Samurai to boot, we played with unfinished figures, pitting 2 small factions against each other – 4 Sohei monks against 5 Bushi. We played the Skirmish scenario where VP were awarded against the level of each figure killed. The secondary objective which we rolled up was for both of us to gain an extra 5 VP by killing more than 75% of the opposing side – so effectively we had to kill 4 figures each to get the extra VP – this meant Tom had to wipe me out to get this bonus, an objective he took to with glee 🙂

Sohei Buntai

Sohei Buntai

In the game, each side takes turns activating a model for movement and completes their move before the next player does the same. Figures move 6″ and run 9″, but the run move is not a charge move, as you can’t go within 1″ of an enemy model while doing it. The turn sequence is slightly unusual in that this move phase is followed by a close combat phase followed by an action phase – in the action phase a model can also shoot. Therefore a bow-armed figure can fire in the move phase (but not if running) and also in the shooting phase, so bows can fire twice in a turn (though at reduced effectiveness). Because arquebuses have to stand still that move to re-load in the action phase they would be lucky to get 2 or 3 shots in per game – as they ignore light or medium armour and penetrate heavy armour this is a good thing.

Initial melee

Initial melee

While my archer provided ineffective covering fire at long range, my monks rushed towards the building, reasoning that the safest place for them was in combat. One of them took a light wound from the arquebus on the way there, but the first combat resolution involved the lone Samurai & an Ashigaru with spear against a Monk with armed with a naginata. Combat starts by determining which order models strike (very D&D, which we like) and the Ashigaru got to go first due to his spear giving +2 initiative. My Monk’s naginata was longer than the Samurai’s katana so he went second – so far all was as expected. The clever bit of the combat system now came into play – each figure has a number of combat tokens (Monk & Samurai 3, Ashigaru 2) which they secretly put into a pool and allocate to attack or defence. The attacking figure has to play an attack counter to attack, but after the defender gets the chance to play a defence counter to augment his defence the attacker can play another attack counter (if he has one) to augment his attack. The augmentation is simply handled by rolling an extra dice and discarding the lowest (or the highest if you have a death wish!). Both the Ashigaru and my Monk choose to augment so he rolled 3 dice as the attacker to my 2 as the defender. The Ashigaru rolled 6,6 & 1 against my 3 & 3. To his total of 12 (he discarded the 1 – predictable) he added his fight value of 2 giving a combat total of 14. I had little choice rolling two 3’s, but with a 3 fight and plus 2 for medium armour this gave me a total of 8. There is a wound table to be consulted which gives the effect of the strike, but basically a difference of 6 or more means you’re dead – not a good start!

Two wounded monks are ganged up on

Two wounded monks are ganged up on

At that point everyone piled in to the space between the two buildings, though one Monk was exposed to arquebus fire at close range and suffered a grievous wound. He was then engaged in melee by the Samurai alone and lost the initiative. Despite augmenting his defence he suffered a light wound, which combined with his grievous wound finished him off. The 2 Ashigaru ganged up on the other lightly wounded Monk, who also augmented his defence. In a stunning turn of events, I rolled 1 & 1 for defence on 2 dice against the first attack while the Ashigaru rolled a 6 and a 5 – the difference was greater than 6 so that Monk also died. The Bushi had rolled two 11’s  and a 12 in three combats – I never even got to roll an attack in close combat 😦

The inevitable outcome

The inevitable outcome

I had fared no better in the archery duel. First my Archer was lightly wounded then stunned by the Bushi archer – again a fistful if high rolls caused the damage. So it was a very quick and bloody game, though given that we were playing with minimal forces that was probably to be expected. I would have been better taking an arquebus over a bow if I was going to engage in long range sniping, and though we were probably too generous in the amount of time it took to re-load an arquebus it didn’t have a great effect on the game – I probably only gained an extra light wound because of it. Next time, by adding 2 figures to each side (one of them a Sohei Grand Master) the Monks should have a better chance. Most games I have seen on the internet seem to be around 150 – 200 points per side, which only equates to between 8 to 10 figures each and we’ll be at that level next time. I also think we need to add some scatter terrain such as barrels and crates as the board had long unbroken lines of sight and ranges are practically unlimited on a 3′ x 3′ board.

It’s a bit too early to give a verdict on the rules (due to the crazy combat rolls) but initial impressions are good enough to keep me painting and wanting more games over Easter (especially after I pick up some more of the brilliant 4Ground houses and fences at Salute).