perjantai 13. heinäkuuta 2018

Samurai! - post updated.

Samurais and Songoku-jidai period in Wargaming

Notice: this is more or less the same content as published at

Have been my interest for years and years and I've been collecting my Sengoku-Jidai -period army for a long time - but haven't really had that many games, as there has not been other players with similar armies. After all Japanese mainly fought each other during this era. The few games I've had with them before have been quite weird indeed: Warhammer Fantasy fan made army list and fighting Late Imperial Romans, Pike & Shotte rules and fighting 17th century Swedes and then finally a P&S game against Mongols (I was soundly beaten), that at least had some historical relevance.

Read on!

Hence I’ve been recently most pleased with development of rules and army list being developed - by companies and fans alike - for this period; at Hamburger Tactica Wargames show I encountered a stunningly beautiful wargames table for this era. I was even more delighted, when I realized they were actually using Saga rules or Zen Saga, as they call it. I had the opportunity to have a game with them and that lead me to help them out in translating the battle boards into English. SOURCE.
Then along came Ronin from Osprey Wargames and I really liked that too. Further games and army lists followed and Warlord’s Test of Honor really boosted the era, which lead to more models and terrain (mainly mdf)  being produced. Best miniatures on the market in 28mm as I see it (and I have minis from all of them) are:

Best terrain producers are:


As it is, gaming and collecting the Sengoku-Jidai period has never been so good, due to the sheer amount of rules and resources for it. Hence I sent out promote the era at our club, in order to get my mates to play - and paint it.

Our first session was to refresh them Ronin rules with my mate Joonas, whom also is an enthusiast for the era and even has some painted miniatures for it. I set off to paint some more Sohei models to defend their Shinto shrine against the attack of a local Koryo. See the newly painted Sohei and a battle report here.

After this, it was time to go public and I posted a Facebook event inviting all our club members (168 of them in the fb group) for a Samurai Games Day. We had plenty of games to choose from. Eventually we decided to run a one skirmish level demo with Ronin rules and a one massed battle. For the latter one I chose to use Grippingbeast’s Swordpoint rule set, as I also wanted to give it a go. Quite conveniently they had recently published Sengoku-jidai period armylist on their website here.

Pictures from the Ronin game

Once again Sohei faced off against Koryo. Koryo warband was sent to punish the peasants of a local village and the Sohei stood against this despotic action.

Villagers watching the fight from a distance 

Lunch break

While Joonas was running this demo, I was preparing the larger battle. Just like armies march on their stomachs, also Wargamers need to eat and naturally our nutrition of choice was sushi!

The main battle

Earlier skirmishes between the local warlord and peasants from his province - allied with Sohei now had gathered for a decisive battle. 

Forces were approximately as follows 

  • 2 units of both mounted and on foot samurais
  • 2 units of ashigaru with spear / yari (pike)
  • 2 units of ashigaru with bow
  • unit of ashigaru with teppo


  • 3 units of trained monks
  • unit of mounted monks
  • unit of other monks
  • unit of ronin
  • unit of peasants
  • unit of peasants with yari
  • 2 units of ashigaru with bows
  • unit of ashigaru with teppo

Armies and headless players lined up for battle

Sohei and peasants have joined forces to fight the tyranny of the warlord. Few more minis need to be painted to complete 
the army.

Terrain close up

Evil Warlord with his henchman and army in panorama

Battle starts!

Throughout the center and left flank forces on both sides advanced towards the enemy... especially Samurai cavalry worryingly fast, at least if you
ask them teppo armed men...

In Swordpoint shooting precedes movement (including charges) and first “discouraged” markers were distributed. Unfortunately a salvo from teppos didn’t yield such results for the Samurai cavalry, whom then charged!

Evil Warlord Joonas commanding his elite forward

My peasants with pikes and my Sohei turned to face the threat, even if more enemies faced now their flank.

Behind the temple battle lines stood in a stand still; our mounted monks didn’t fancy the idea of charging ashigarus with pikes, and the samurais didn’t commit to battle either.

Mid battle

Commanders started to feel the toll of a full day of gaming, but our metal and plastic warriors clashed against one another with the sound of steel striking steel ringing in their ears!

In the center the fighting was at it’s hottest as elite Samurais faced off with fanatic Warrior Monks. Samurai cavalry had destroyed the hapless teppo armed commoners, but had then been charged by Warrior monks to their flank.

Mid game overview in panorama

Our Ronin unit had been somewhat unreliable all along, so it wasn’t that much a surprise, that they were the first to flee from the combat. Warrior bravely fought on, but enemy ashigaru had now engaged them in the flank too...

On my extreme right flank another Warrior Monk unit was slowly grinding the Samurai cavalry to bits.

Close up to the center

And still nothing happening in the left flank

So I had to command my subcommander to engage!

But it was too little and too late as our center had broken

And even the very depleted Samurai horsemen refused to die nor run away

Artillery wasn’t used, because we didn’t find the rules for it!

Left flank from Samurai perspective.

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 my CMON, which several of us now own
  • Skirmish games are good for week day evenings and for campaigns, which we do love at the club
  • First encounter with Swordpoint was positive, here are the pros and cons we found

+ momentum tokens are a good concept and nicely give an indication on which side is going strong (Samurai army was dominating the momentum game)
+ battle line is well taken into account, even if we didn’t manage to exploit it to fullest
+ not being IgoUgo
+ unit profiles are really simple


- movement seems a bit awkward as we’re used to a more relaxed concepts (like HC and BP from Warlord Games)
- there is quite a lot of detail in the rules

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