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.


  1. Another great AAR Greg, very nice tree and additional models you've got done. Especially like the work on your Geisha

    1. Many thanks Dave, I continue to be impressed by the game - the programmed scenarios do a wonderful job of introducing the rules and increasing the figure count as you play through them :-)

  2. Inspiring report, great pictures, terrain and minis are really superb!

    1. Thank you kindly Phil, glad you enjoyed the write up :-)
      I took more care with the photo's this time instead of just 'pointing and pressing' during the heat of the action ;-)

  3. These are just getting better and better Greg.

    1. Well, there WAS plenty of room for improvement Michael ;-)
      Seriously though, I'm just really enjoying the games so I guess my enthusiasm is influencing the blog posts.

  4. Another tense and closely fought encounter. I do like your geisha figure - you've done an excellent paint job on her. Which company makes her? I know of quite a few companies who make geisha figures and I feel i should recognise her but I don't.

    1. Cheers Bryan - from the moment Yoshihito discovered the spy, EVERY draw of an activation token was indeed quite tense :-)
      The geisha is the Warlord Games mini and was a 'freebie' when I bought the boxed set, though I believe she's available separately. I must look up some other geisha minis to add to my collection - after all, what better place for a geisha spy to hide than among a group of geisha?? ;-)

  5. Cracking report again. Enjoying this series of games your playing and the stories that unfold through them.

    1. Thanks Simon, four down and two to go - then I just hope my "home brewed" scenarios will just as enjoyable ;-)
      Mind you, I did spot some additional encounters in the back of the 'Darkness and Deceit' booklet :-)

  6. Great report, great tree, great painting and great game. Mate, this was a treat

    1. Cheers Andy :-)
      The Lilac bush tree idea was from a recent "Lukes APS" youtube video - one pruning session has produced about half a dozen tree armatures, and that one's my test piece. I chose the bent shape to hopefully tie it in with a little Zen garden ;-)

  7. Finding extra rule must have felt like it was Xmas again Greg :) The new tree looks great its nice to get some reward for hard work in the garden, the report was easy enough to follow thanks to you giving us such insight into the rules in the earlier posts.

    All looked great & it was very enjoyable so well done :)

    1. Many thanks Frank, glad you enjoyed it, and the following episodes should move even further away from being rules descriptions and be more of a narrative..... we'll probably never get full blown "Akira Kurosawa" movie action, but we'll try! ;-)

      The additional rules booklet (along with some extra cards) was inside the "Ronin" boxed set which I allowed myself to open this week, so yes it did feel like not so much Xmas, but my birthday again, which was when I got 'em :-)

  8. Good, tense report (once the Mori got going).
    The slow escalation of rules and figures seem a great way to go and does mean each 'action' doesn't require a whole host of new figures.
    Great looking Geisha and tree!

    1. Cheers Joe - in game terms Yoshihito was held up by drawing two "Fate" tokens in a row, in narrative terms he "stood calmly watching with steely eyes as the situation developed, developing the strategy in his mind" ;-)
      The "rules escalation" does work really well, and coupled with the well thought out scenarios makes for a great introduction to the game. One of my fears was that Test of Honour could quite easily have been a game cobbled together to boost sales of an 'inherited' (from Wargames Factory) line of miniatures, and I'm just so pleased to find that I was wrong :-)

  9. Another nice scenario, these seem a cut above the competition, and you are putting together a great story line with them. Very enjoyable read, your collection of miniatures is growing in a very healthy manner as is your command of Japanese termed.

    1. Domo arigato John-san :-)
      I've been "in to" Japanese related stuff for a LOT of years, including Judo, Kendo, Iaido, Shogi and Go as well as wargaming and 'wargaming related' stuff like the Bushido rpg and Legend of the Five Rings ccg.
      Wargaming was always 'mass battle' and usually to Wargames Research Group rules, and it was your samurai skirmish post that sent me back down this path, so I am very much in your debt buddy :-)

      Have no fear though - this isn't going to take over the blog, and the other genres WILL be making a return as soon as I've finished the Test of Honour "Battle Guide" ;-)

    2. It's tricky when there are a number of periods/genres that catch your imagination at the same time, how do you prioritise them, you can't play them all at once.
      You have four genres going on that are really interesting to me so I'm enjoying it all.
      This is my first summer gaming for decades and I'm finding it hard to reconcile wargaming with life in general at the moment, so I'm enjoying what you're up to.

    3. Very true, it can be tricky (or even a pain in the posterior at times), but I've consulted Confucius and he says "diversity is a key which can unlock many doors" ;-)