Wednesday, 30 May 2018

"Seize The Outpost"

I'd suggest grabbing a brew and making yourself comfortable - this second Test Of Honour AAR is still a bit more of a "blow by blow" account rather than a narrative, as I get to grips with (and try to point out) the rules in action.

Introduction from the Battle Guide
"The Mori clan lord has tasked Yoshihito with guarding this outpost, and though he privately feels it is beneath him, he cannot refuse the order.
His troops are spread out as the sun begins to set, when the attackers are sighted and Yoshihito yells for them to hasten to his side"
Yoshihito deploys up to 10 points worth of warriors on the table including himself. The remaining warriors are left off table as reinforcements. When any off table elements are activated, they must pass a Test Of Wits to allow them to move onto the table - if they fail, they they will gain one dice for the test for each subsequent test. The reinforcements will appear on any table edge except the one chosen by the Takeda clan.
Yoshihito and his Experienced Spearmen

"Though Tanjiro's wounds have healed, the humiliation of defeat still stings and he has been waiting for an opportunity to take revenge.
He has tracked his foe to a small outpost that he is guarding on behalf of the Takeda clan.
Seizing the outpost will teach him the lesson he deserves"
Tanjiro will deploy his complete force within 3 inches of a table edge of his choice.
Tanjiro attacks the 'open' side of the outpost
Objectives: Seize and maintain control of the objectives (represented by the steps in front of the Minka). To control an objective a warrior must be within 3" of it and there must be no enemy warriors within 3".
Ending The encounter: The battle ends at the end of turn 5, as darkness falls. Whichever side controls the most objectives at this point is the victor - the other side flees.

Turn One.
As soon as he sees his despised rival, Tanjiro strides forward, shouting his challenge!

With the Mori clan bowmen failing to appear, the Takeda sergeant stepped forward to support his leader,
but before the Takeda could achieve a general advance, Yoshihito's Loyal Spearmen  appeared on their flank. The bowman spotted them and fired, but their surprise appearance obviously spoiled his aim.
At this point Yoshihito answered Tanjiro's challenge, stepping out and cleverly putting his opponent between himself and the remaining archer.
Tajiro charged and aimed a vicious cut at the Mori samurai - Yoshihito attempted to block the cut and stumbled, losing his footing and falling to the ground. The razor sharp Katana struck home and cut down the samurai hero. 
(Yoshihito attempted to reduce the damage by taking a Test Of Honour, but failed. The Mori spearmen passed their Test Of Nerve after seeing one of their warband cut down.)
The Mori clan drew a "Samurai" activation, which they had to pass over to the Takeda since their hero was now out of the fight (a delightfully cruel twist in the rules!!) - Tanjiro  immediately used it to charge past his fallen opponent and attack the group of spearmen, cutting down one of them with a masterful strike.
The Takeda 'experienced spearmen' advanced towards the  outpost,
Both sides then drew 'Fate Tokens' before the Mori attempted to activate the sergeant of archery, who failed his Test Of Wits. The archer on the Takeda right then advanced far enough to give him a clear shot at the Mori spearmen, causing a light wound.
The Mori then drew the third Fate token, ending the first turn.

Turn Two.
The spearmen charged their samurai opponent, forcing Tanjiro to avoid an accurate strike.
Takeda drew the first Fate token of the turn, anf Mori drew a Samurai activation which was again passed over allowing Tanjiro to charge again - cutting down another of the Mori experienced spearmen, pushing back the remaining member of the group!
The Mori loyal spears charged, but failed to land an accurate strike and had to retire,
allowing the Takeda archer on the opposite flank another clear shot, which he fluffed!
The mori loyal bowmen passed their Test of Wits this turn and made a half move onto the battlefield,
and fired a volley at the opposition leader causing a light wound.
Much to the chagrin of the Takeda archer, who again failed to hit any of the spearmen target!
The Mori clan drew the secon Fate token, before the Takeda spears charged their opponents on the flank again. Causing another light wound and pushing them back once more.
The third Fate token was then drawn by Mori clan, ending turn two.

Turn Three.
The lone spearman charged the samurai, but his strike was blocked (with more than 5 'swords') and the Takeda hero launched a "Quick Jab" counter, narrowly missing the spearman.
With night approaching, the attackers had a sense of urgency about them, as the battle on the flank continued - the Takeda loyal spears charge once more failing to land a successful strike.
The mori drew the first fate token of the turn, and then the Takeda experienced spears moved into the outpost.
at this crucial time, the Mori drew a samurai token, and Tanjiro charged the lone spearman again.....
..... and again the sword failed to get past the yari (This guy deserves a promotion!)
Takeda and Mori draws were both Fate tokens, so turn three ended.

Turn Four.
The Mori first draw is a Fate token, while Takeda draws samurai activation. Tanjiro continues his duel with the stubborn ashigaru spearmen, aware that more of his retainers are arriving to witness the fight - he charges......
...... and fumbles the strike (more X's than swords), allowing the spearman a counter thrust which causes the samurai to step back with another light wound!
The Mori clan draw is a commoner token, allowing the loyal archers to fire a volley at the wounded samurai,
their aim is good and Tanjiro fails to make an avoiding move (he also failed a 'Test of Honour' attempt to reduce the wound), and was Cut Down!
The spearmen and sergeant pass their 'Test of Nerves' on seeing their leader fall, and the sergeant advances into the outpost...........
 .... before using his ability........
........ to launch the experienced spearmen group against the impudent ashigaru foot soldier - who yet again stands his ground as the attackers fail to land an accurate strike!
The Mori draw a Fate token so can do nothing, and Takeda draws a commoner activation, sending the spearmen against the lone defender again under their own activation this time,
but with the same result!
The Mori bow sereant  finally activates, and steps into the fray before firing a well aimed shot at the opposing segeant in the outpost, causing a light wound.
Back out on the flank, the Takeda spearmen successfully charge their foe once more, only to have their strike blocked.
The surviving spearman takes cover in the building behind him - securing the objective, and keeping out of sight in case the enemy archers try to pick him off.......
.... which was was a timely action, since on the very next activation, one of the Takeda archers cut down one of the loyal spearmen group! (A successful strike which which the spears failed to block, and the damage roll had two extra dice because of the two 'light wound' blood drops).
The Mori draw a commoner activation token, but must pass it over to the Takeda clan since all of their own commoners have activated. The Takeda use it to advance the other archer into the outpost ready to secure objectives, since.........
........ the last token in the bag is the third Fate token!

Turn Five.
The Takeda sergeant secures the objective on the far side of the outpost,
and the Mori sergeant fires at the spearmen but misses.
The following two draws are bothe Fate tokens, and the light is fading quickly. The takeda archer advances into the compound to seize the second objective.
The Mori loyal archers adjust their position before targeting the enemybowman using their sergeant's ability,
their aim is good and he can't avoid the volley (he's just used his activation), and the damage roll sees him Cut Down!
His friends in the outpost also see him fall and must take a Test Of Nerve.........
which they FAIL and must retire away from the archers!!
The Takeda can only continue the fight out on the flank - the archer fires another shot at the spearmen, missing again. He'll probably blame the failing light......
... and the spearmen charge once more, encouraged by their companions cheers from the other side of the outpost.
Their strike is accurate, and the block poor, allowing a damage roll which is also good, cutting down one of the Takeda loyal spearmen.
The Takeda clan draw the last Fate token and the game ends, with the final position shown below.
The Mori clan have the lone ashigaru spearman inside one of the objective buildings (and within 3 inches of the objective marker, therefore claiming control of it), while the Takeda clan have a unit of spearmen and a sergeant within 3 inches of an objective marker, but since they are "retreating" I'm not awarding them "control" - they chose not to argue, since I allowed them to recover their fallen wounded before fleeing the outpost, leaving it still under Mori clan control.

Both samurai heroes accumulated "Skill Cards" drawn from the "Fate Deck" (which is made up of Skill Cards) each time their clan drew either the first or second Fate token during the game - though neither of them had an opportunity to use them during the game before being Cut Down.
They will now examine those cards and choose one each to carry forward, and since Yoshihito was awarded one Skill Card for his victory in the first scenario, he'll progress with two Skill Cards to Tanjirto's one.

Both heroes were cut down and received Injury Cards in this encounter (They received a major wound and would have been automatically "Cut Down", but both took the option of attempting a "Test Of Honour" - rolling their five Honour dice trying to score three or more swords, which would allow them to reduce the wound to "minor" and accrue a 'Blood Drop' marker).
Yoshihito has deep cut to his left arm, and Tanjiro has a head wound - these injuries should have healed before the next encounter!

Conclusion: I enjoyed the first game, but this one was even better! It really ebbed back and forth throughout, and individual elements really became characters in their own right. As the game progressed, it actually developed an engrossing "Kurosawa-esque" feel to the action as I had to think less about the rules mechanics and just enjoy the scenario.
I'm fairly confident that the next scenario "The Battlefield" will be a more enjoyable read and nowhere near as much of a slog to get through.

My thanks to you for making it this far, and your comments and or questions are most welcome.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Preparing to "Seize The Outpost"

There was a little bit more preparation required after the first Test Of Honour scenario than I'd anticipated, hence this post before the upcoming AAR.

First of all, there was 'character progression' in the form of "Skills" to be adjudged and awarded using the supplied Skills Deck, which is shuffled and then one card is dealt for each opposing warrior 'cut down' during the battle - these cards are then examined before selecting one which is assigned to the group leader.
(There's a second use of the Skills Deck which will be introduced in the next scenario)
There was only one card to be dealt since only Murayame Tanjiro was cut down, and as a result, Saito Yoshihito gained the "One With Nature" skill which allows him to move through rough terrain without movement penalty.

Next, the second encounter in the Test of Honour "Battle Guide" requires three buildings, which could be represented on the table by the 2D terrain included in the 'starter' box.
Fortunately though, I'd previously acquired the three "Small Minka" (plus their Torii and bridges) from TT Combat when I was accumulating items for the Sengoku Jidai project - so all I had to do was get 'em built and painted after the "First Clash" encounter.
The Test Of Honour rules treat buildings in a simplified way as 'solid obstacles', stating that doors are locked/barricaded to prevent warriors entering. I can accept this abstract use of buildings as 'representative terrain' for mass battle rules, but not skirmish level, so will be allowing access and use of buildings in my games. I don't think I even have to amend the rules to accommodate this, but we'll see!

Finally, I needed to paint up some more minis for second encounter. "First Clash" was played with two equal, predetermined forces and ignored the game's points system. "Seize The Outpost" sees the two opposing samurai meeting again, but this time leading forces selected within a 'recruitment limit' of 15 points. (All warrior and upgrade costs are shown in the top right corner of their cards)
Tanjiro has been recovering from the injuries sustained in the previous encounter, and has kept his Takeda clan warriors from that skirmish, simply adding a unit of Experienced Spearmen and a Sergeant to the roster.
Meanwhile, Yoshihita has allowed one of his individual bowmen leave of absence to visit his family - craftily freeing up 1 point, and recruited a unit of Experienced Bowmen and a unit of experienced Spearmen.
These are Perry and AW miniatures respectively, and saved time assembling multi-part minis from the core set and painting time because they're not wearing sashimono!

So, it's been a busy Bank Holiday weekend regarding work, hobby and social - it was my Mum's 90th birthday on Saturday. I only mention this because I had to give my niece a lift to and from the Caernavon Arms where we had a family gathering meal...........
........ and they have a rather nice "Ship Room", complete with sloping paneled walls and windows!
Now here's the weird bit - when I dropped my niece back at home, I had to walk past a skip in front of a house that's been sold and the new owners are having a clear-out.......
.... and I found this pair of rather beaten up kids toys!
I dunno what they were, but I've got an incling about what they're going to be with a bit of work!
That's a 28mm mini I've posed on the back of the nearest vessel to give an idea of size / scale.

Serendipity, or Cosmic Ordering? I dunno, and will leave it to you to decide.