Tuesday, July 25, 2006

10mm Samurai Update

The last two weeks have seen things finally start to accelerate.

First off, all my orders finally came in. The bases I ordered from Litko Aerosystems arrived first, followed shortly by the last of my miniatures, namely the Pendraken from Arsenal. Here's where I must take an aside and offer my thoughts on my experience with Arsenal:

I ordered all my miniatures on the same day. I ordered my Irregular from Eureka, a company in Australia (and if you're wondering why it's because they have an excellent online shopping system and the shipping is quick and cheap), the GFI from the manufacturer and the Pendraken from Arsenal.

Of those three, I half expected the Arsenal to arrive first. The GFI minis had to be paid for via a check in the mail (they're not taking PayPal or credit cards online and I didn't feel comfortable phoning in my card number over a cordless phone, which is the only kind of phone I have) and the Irregular were coming from Australia, which takes about a week.

As it turned out, I received the Irregular first, followed by the GFI about ten days later. And I waited and waited on the Arsenal shipment. And waited...

So yes, I finally received the Pendraken from Arsenal about a month after I placed the order. Furthermore, my order was...well...not completely what I was expecting. Since for part of my order I had essentially tallied up 80% of the "Samurai Army Pack", they just sent me the whole pack as a bonus. Unfortunately, I got stiffed on a pack of peasants in the bargain.

But I'm not complaining, because the "Army Pack" contained peasant longbows and ashigaru longbows--two packs that I was greatful to have as it turned out!

The reason I found myself in need in bow-armed troops is because I finally found "my" set of rules. If you'll recall from my last update, at that time I hadn't found a ruleset that really struck my fancy. I was planning on using Chrysanthemum Throne, as it was the closest to what I was looking for, although it still left much to be desired. For one thing, it was quite oversimplified, not even including rules for archers. This is the reason I hadn't ordered any.

But two weeks ago, I opened up my copy of Army Builder, looking to see if there any data files for Fantasy Warriors. There aren't, but I discovered that there are data files for Taiko!, a set of rules from Flagship Games. I had totally forgotten about these rules. When I was initially researching rules, it had basically come down to Taiko! vs. Killer Katanas in the "which game am I willing to shell out $25 for?" category. I went for KK2--and I'm glad I did, because KK2 does include quite a bit of very helpful background info and army composition notes, as well as a nifty scenario generator. If I'd bought Taiko! first, I seriously doubt I would've opted for KK2 down the line.

That being said, Taiko! is the system I've been looking for. A perfect balance of CT's "gamey" approach and KK2/Bushi's historicity. It even has a workable points system, which is why someone saw fit to put 2/3 of it into Army Builder format. (I ended up having to script the other third, since that happened to be the Ikko-Ikki list, which happens to be Desiree's army.)

Oh, and Taiko! also passes the presentation test. It isn't fancy, but some thought was obviously put into the layout, which is a simple yet elegant watermark of a different mon on each page. Sprinkled throughout the book we also find rather nicely executed full-page, somewhat cartooney illustrations, each with a humorous caption. My top favorite shows a trio of rather hard looking samurai, perhaps ronin, indignant over the fact that the battle's getting under way before they can finish their lunch.

My only hitch with the rules is that they're written for individually based figures, ala Warhammer. I find this a bit strange, especially since the rules were written specifically for 15mm. And I'll be damned if I'm going to individually base my 10mm figures! So after some thought, I decided that it wouldn't affect the game if I simply treated a base of 10mm figures as one "figure" for rules purposes. Furthermore, since I haven't totally given up on CT as an alternative set of rules, I decided to base the figures according to the standards given there. Ironically, this results in a rather high figure density, something I was trying to avoid. We're playing with 1,000 point armies, which are a bit on the small side for Taiko!, but even then it took nearly all my freshly-bought lead. But oh well, the armies'll look cool and it's preferable to individual basing so I'm happy.

Des and I put our armies together using Army Builder and I spent this afternoon sorting miniatures into units. We're finally ready to start painting.

And speaking of painting, we went on a wild goose chase today looking for Future Floor Polish. We tried two Walgreens, a Home Depot and a Target and no one had it. It seems the cursed Swiffer has replaced floor polish for the most part. Ah well, I guess it's regular water mixed with rubbing alcohol for us.

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