Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to another episode of Sculpting, Painting and Gaming.
Today we bring you the second of Teemu Kujala’s excellent posts concerning wargaming in the Sengoku Jidai period of fuedal Japan. Having been a wargamer for some years now, Teemu is an experienced gamer, and never has it been more evident than in this, a battle report from his club’s first Samurai Gaming Day.
We hope you enjoy reading it just as much as we enjoy the idea of populating your Sengoku Jidai wargames with our forthcoming Warring Clans miniatures. Due for release in July, these dynamic and detailed miniatures have been sculpted by the modern day Prometheus that is Stavros Zouliatis. Next week we’ll bring you the second part of our recent interview with Stavros, and—if you’re all good boys and girls—I’ll treat you all to pictures of his beautiful Samurai miniatures.
Until then, however, I leave you in Teemu’s capable—and surprisingly soft—hands.
As it is, collecting and gaming in the Sengoku Jidai period has never been so good. The sheer amount of rules and resources available have increased dramatically. Hence I set out to promote the era at our club in order to convince my friends to play and paint it.
Our first session was designed to introduce a small number of our club’s members to Osprey’s skirmish wargame Ronin, and I was ably assisted by my friend Joonas. Being a fellow enthusiast for this era, he was not only familiar with the rules but also had some painted miniatures for it. We introduced the club to gaming in this era with a scenario in which sohei monks were defending their Shinto shrine against an attack by a local koryo. You can see the sohei and a battle report here.
The session went so well we organised a day at the club dedicated to samurai gaming. We had plenty of games to choose from. Eventually we decided to run a skirmish level demo with Ronin rules and one mass battle. For the latter one I chose to use Gripping Beast’s Swordpoint rule set. Quite conveniently they had recently published a Sengoku Jidai period army list on their website.
Order of Battle
The skirmish game saw sohei once again facing a koryo warband, the latter having been sent to punish the peasants of a local village.
Villagers watch the battle from a distance.
While Joonas ran this demo, I prepared the larger battle. Just as armies march on their stomachs, also wargamers need to eat and, naturally, our nutrition of choice was sushi!
An army marches on its sushi!
The Main Battle
Following these earlier skirmishes, the local warlord mustered his army to face the peasants from his province—and their sohei allies—in a decisive battle. And so these two armies lined up for battle.
Two armies and their two headless players line up for battle
A close-up of the scenery
Evil warlord and henchman
The battle began with those forces in the left and in the centre advancing toward the enemy, with the samurai cavalry being particularly fast.
Shooting precedes movement (including charges) in the Swordpoint rules, hence the Discouraged markers were distributed. Unfortunately the salvo from the teppos didn’t yield the same results against the samurai cavalry, who then charged!
My peasants with pikes and my Sohei turned to face the threat, thus exposing their flank to even more enemies.
Battlelines remained stationary behind the temple as the mounted monks didn’t fancy charging ashigaru equipped with pikes. The samurai also didn’t commit to battle.
The fighting was at its fiercest in the centre of the battlefield, with elite samurai fighting fanatical warrior monks. The warlord’s samurai cavalry had destroyed the hapless teppo-armed commoners, but had themselves been charged by warrior monks to their flank.
Mid-game overview in panorama.
Our ronin unit had been somewhat unreliable throughout the game, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when they were the first to flee from the combat. Some warrior monks fought on bravely, but the enemy ashigaru engaged them in the flank.
On my extreme right flank another unit of warrior monks were slowly grinding the samurai cavalry into bits.
And still nothing happened in the left flank…
…So I ordered my sub-commander to engage!
But it was too little, too late as our centre had broken.
And so ended our first game of Swordpoint
Conclusions of the Samurai Gaming Day
- Even if some of the enrolled players couldn’t make it, the spark for Sengoku Jidai era gaming has now been struck
- And more gaming and painting will happen, and not just by me. This includes also the Rising Sun board game by CMON, which several of us now own
- Skirmish games are good for weekday evenings and for campaigns, which we do love at the club
Our first game of Swordpoint was a positive experience. Here are what we consider to be the pros and cons:
- Momentum tokens are a good concept and a neat way to indicate which side has the upper hand (the samurai army dominated the momentum game during our clash on Samurai Gaming Day)
- The battle line is well taken into account, even if we didn’t manage to exploit it to the fullest
- It’s not I go, you go
- Unit profiles are really simple
- Movement seems a little awkward as we’re used to a more relaxed concepts.
- There’s a little too much detail in the rules
Wargaming in this era remains a firm and popular feature at our club, and those of us who participate all agree we are very much looking forward to adding War Banner’s Warring Clans range to our collection of miniatures. I’ll be sure to to take plenty of pictures when they make it to our wargaming tables.
About Teemu Kujala
Teemu is an enthusiastic—and rather senior—wargamer from southern Finland. Having been a wargamer and miniature painter for more than 30 years, he graduated from the typical Games Workshop background to the Elysium fields of historical wargames. A father of three daughters, he intends to convert them to miniature painting with the arrival of the Harry Potter Adventure Game.
Read more from Teemu on his blog, 25 Years of Minis and Counting.
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