Tuesday, 19 June 2018

"Breakthrough"

This is the fifth and penultimate scenario in the Test of Honour "Battle Guide" as I work my way through the introduction to the game and build up my miniatures and terrain.

Takeda Briefing:
Though your enemies managed to grab the spy, they still have many miles to travel before reaching the safety of their clan's territory.
You have managed to overtake them and now stand barring their way.

Mori Briefing:
Travelling with the beautiful geisha has been slow and has allowed your enemy to block your path in an attempt to steal her away from you...

The "Recruitment Limit" for the scenario is 21 points as per the previous encounter - since this is obviously an immediate follow-up, I think it makes more sense to keep exactly the same forces as there would have been no time or opportunity to change them.
Perhaps more importantly, I've decided to introduce a house rule "walking wounded" - the warriors cut down in the earlier battle were helped from the field and 'patched up' by their comrades, but will start this encounter carrying a "Light Wound" blood-drop marker.

The Mori deploy with a member of their buntai  escorting the geisha, and the scenario objective for both factions is to keep or take control of the spy and escort her off the opposite table edge.
Yoshihito stepped along the road cautiously, ensuring he could react to any attack from the waiting Takeda warriors, and was not surprised to see Tanjiro striding towards him with a drawn sword in each hand and hate in his eyes!
The two samurai clashed with a flurry of strikes and counter-strikes, the sun glinting from their razor sharp blades and the air ringing with the sound of steel on steel.
Each of the buntai leaders was determined to defeat his opponent, and attacked at every opportunity.
The Mori bowmen had advanced along the roadside fence, and fired at the Takeda leader as the duellists faced each other - missing their target even at such close range.
(This poor shooting was to become a feature of the encounter!)
With both bushi evenly matched, neither of them had managed to penetrate the others defence,  until Tanjiro used a skill given to him by the hands of fate.......
...... his attack caught Yoshihito, but only caused a light wound. Jiro, the ko gashira in charge of the Mori spearmen advanced cautiously behind the hedge and ordered the loyal spears to attack the enemy samurai,
one of their spears finding its way through the warriors defence but only causing a light wound.
As Yoshihita stepped back from the spearmen's attack, the ko gashira leading the Mori archers saw his chance and loosed an arrow........
His aim was good, the samurai failed to dodge the shot, but the arrow narrowly failed to cut him down, but caused a second light wound!
Attempting to seize the advantage, Yoshihito charged again...........
..... only to be repulsed by Tanjiro's dogged counter attack a moment later which evened the score
(2 blood drops each)
The situation at the end of turn one.
The fight on the road has effectively blocked that route for the Mori to escort the spy, and the second Takeda samurai is in a threatening position in that area. The spearmen on both flanks have advanced cautiously, but both groups of bowmen have taken up static positions, looking for opportune targets.
Kozue makes the decision to lead the spy off the road and through the hedge onto the Mori right flank, and try to get her away from the fight.
(Kozue and the experienced spearmen are carrying the blood drops from the previous encounter)
On the opposite flank, the Takeda ko gashira has advanced to threaten the enemy bowmen and his spearmen have charged their squad leader,
who is impaled on the tips of the yari and cut down!
First blood to the Takeda, but it could have been much worse for the Mori if any of the nearby warriors had failed their "Test of Honour" for seeing the ko gashira fall.
The spearmen on the opposite flank advance cautiously towards each other,
and the duel between the two samurai heroes rages on in the centre, as Yoshihito inflicts yet another wound on his enemy!
Yoshihara Suzu, the Takeda "Wise Samurai" lived up to his title, and instead of being drawn into the battle on the road, crossed the hedge and challenged Kozue and the spy.
Jiro charged forward with his yari, but was expertly blocked by the samurai's katana,
while the Takeda spearmen, on seeing the samurai appear on their side of the battlefield, charged their opposite number and managed to despatch one of the group.
The situation at the end of turn two, with everything still in the balance.
Summoning what was left of his failing strength, Tanjiro launched yet another blistering attack on Yoshihito, who was finally cut down in a spray of blood!
Once more, the Mori warriors had to test their courage after seeing their leader defeated and once more they all stood firm - except Kozue, who lost his nerve (and his grip on the spy) and retired away from the bloodshed.
Then, as the fight between the two groups of yari armed ashigaru continued, 
Suzu stepped forward to snatch the unguarded geisha before anyone else could react!
Kozue charged back and attempted to drive off the Takeda samurai, and restore the honour he had so shamefully lost by deserting his duty....
... his impetuous charge allowed him to wound his opponent, but the careless attack allowed a counterstroke (ie he fumbled the damage roll and Suzu struck back).
Suzu now had the initiative and began guiding the geisha spy to safety,
Jiro attempted once more to drive off the samurai,
but was forced back himself by the warriors superior swordplay.
Seeing the wise samurai's attempt to escort the spy away, Tanjiro attacked the Mori spearmen to prevent them becoming involved in the fight over on that flank,
with the Takeda spearmen keeping the Mori bowmen occupied,
it was down to Kozue to try and prevent Suzu escaping with the prize.
He attacked once again and this time drove his opponent back with another light wound.
behind him, the remaining spearman attacked and drove back the Takeda group, also with a light wound - could fate be turning in favour of the Mori again??
The position at the end of turn three.
At this point Tanjiro makes use of one of his skills,
allowing Suzu to put distance between himself and the pursuit,
which Suzu then immediately followed up with his own 'normal' move and escorted the geisha safely from the battlefield !
Situation at the end of the game, which in all truth is basically the same as the end of the previous turn apart from Suzu's triumphant exit from the table - claiming the first victory on behalf of the Takeda buntai!

Another thoroughly enjoyable scenario to play, along with a chance to "field" the two buildings I've added to my collection. These are a pair of 'Country Dwellings' by Plast Craft Games and sold as part of their 'Fukei designed for Kensei' range.

I hope you enjoyed the AAR and will call by again soon for the final episode in this series.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

"The Spy"

In addition to painting and modelling in preparation for this scenario, I've also discovered that there are additional rules contained in the "Darkness and Deceit" booklet (included in the "Ronin" boxed set) that cover climbing and leaping, as well as fighting inside buildings and also rules for 'defended positions'.
As you can imagine, I'm quite pleased about this given the fact that I'd already disregarded the basic rule stating "Buildings are assumed to be locked and barred from the inside and cannot be entered", and these 'official' rules will be in play from now on. They'll also be taken into account when I write my personal 'review' of Test of Honour after completing the six introductory scenarios.

Without further ado then, here's the briefing from the "Battle Guide"

Murayame Tanjiro's Briefing
Desperate for news of your missing brother, you send a message to a geisha who is a favourite of the enemy clan's lord, but is actually loyal to your clan.
However, your letter is discovered, exposing the spy's true loyalties and she is forced to flee. You must track her down before she is caught.

Saito Yoshihito's Briefing
A spy has been uncovered in your lord's household, and she has fled carrying who knows what information that your enemies would benefit from knowing.
Your master has tasked you with finding the traitor and returning her, unharmed, for questioning and punishment.

The deployment map, showing three objective tokens placed at least 12" from the table edge, representing possible locations where the spy could be hiding.
The spy can be located by making a successful "Test of Wits" while in base contact with the objective token if there are no enemy warriors within 3".

Resplendent on a brand new felt game mat from Ceri Designs - I've not even had time to iron out the creases yet, here's the deployment at the start of the game......
Murayama Tanjiro has opted for  six individual yari (spear) troops along with his "Wise Samurai" companion, ko gashira (sergeant), and a group of bowmen to make up the 21 point Takeda clan buntai.
Saito Yoshihito is accompanied by his cousin rescued in the previous scenario, Muratagi Kozue (I'd painted the mini because I expected the following scenario to involve getting him home from the battlefield!). The rest of the buntai consists of a group of bowmen and ko gashira of bows Shinjai (he's lower class so has no "family" name) , and two groups of yari under ko gashira Tamaki Jiro.

The Mori were slow to get moving (they drew Fate tokens on their first two activations!), and could only look on as Tanjiro reached the first suspect.
NB: gratuitous shot of my latest tree creation - the result of pruning the Lavender as part of my "outside jobs this week!)
Yoshihito might have been slower than his opponents, but he'd reached one of the villagers at the end of turn one, and he was the first to get a chance to see if she was the spy at the start of turn two.......
 .... despite being under enemy fire.......
....... and aided by the Skill he'd picked up while being delayed by those Fate tokens,
Yoshihito hit the jackpot and finds the cunningly disguised Geisha spy, who now reveals her true identity, casting off her disguise now that her cover is blown.
All that remained was to escort her back off his deployment table edge, to once again thwart his arch rival.
However, seeing his nemesis leaving the village with the prize, Tanjiro charged forward yelling a challenge and some unprintable obscenities. . Kozue told his cousin to keep going and staunchly blocked Tanjiro's path, drew his katana and entered into a duel with the Takeda leader. He was cut and was pushed back, but still blocked Tanjiro's path, as the Mori bowmen pushed through the hedgerow to help cover the withdrawal.
 The Mori clan Loyal Spearmen clamber over the fence and advance to join the fight, hoping to isolate the enemy samurai, who has advanced well beyond his supporting ashigaru,
Suzu quickly makes his way past them - not heading to his leader's assistance, but heading for the gap and intending to make his way around the minka to intercept the spy and her escort....
but the gap is quickly plugged by the Experienced Spearmen and a vicious fight ensues as the Wise Samurai desperately attempts to battle his way through.
 Unable to reach either fight in one turn, the Takeda sergeant advances,
and orders the nearest of his spearmen to charge the group in the village,
hoping to at least 'pin' them and prevent them joining one of the main fights. Unable to get past the points of the group's yari, the spearman is forced back.
The duel between Tanjiro and Kozue duel continues as flurries of blows are countered on either side.
As the duellists pause for breath, (in ToH all melee phases end with the opponents 1" apart) the Mori bowmen fire at the opposition samurai......
... who heroically dodges the arrows.......
... and immediately resumes his attack...
.......cutting down Kozue in a spray of blood!
The situation at the end of turn two.
Yoshihito continues to make his way to safety with the geisha, determined to complete the mission and ensure Kozue's brave efforts weren't in vain.
Confident that his bow gashira Shinjai, along with the squad of archers would delay Tanjiro, but unaware that Suzu was winning the fight just beyond the minka....

.... cutting down one of the spearmen group and forcing them back, clearing the way to give persuit...... 


........ would he be in time?


Yoshihito exits the battlefield in the opening phases of turn three, seizing yet another victory for the Mori clan and leaving the final positions looking like this.


Well that didn't go the way I expected!
I was fully expecting a bit of a 'maul' to take place within the confines of the village, but this turned out to be quite a tense little encounter - once again, my hat is off to the writers.

I've tried to take another step in the transition from 'report' to 'narrative', which means not all actions in all phases were described, as we followed the key events. I hope this still allowed everyone to follow and enjoy the write up.
Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading, and your comments are as ever most welcome.